The Fukushima prefectural city of Tamura’s Miyakoji district will be the first of the prefecture’s 11 municipalities to have its government-issued evacuation order lifted, allowing residents who fled after the outbreak of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster to return home starting April 1.
While some have rejoiced over the government’s decision, many are dissatisfied. A Mainichi Shimbun survey was taken between January and February this year of all Miyakoji households, to which 73 percent responded. Of these respondents, 47 percent said they wanted the termination of the evacuation order to wait until spring of 2015 or beyond, while 39 percent said they hoped it would happen this coming spring.
Secondly, the divisions that emerged between residents can become a major obstacle. Miyakoji residents were still relatively laid-back in the summer of last year, but they had harsh things to say about the situation by the time December rolled around. Some complained that when they opposed to termination of the evacuation order, they were accused of just being after compensation money, while others lamented that relationships between community members were broken beyond repair, and that they were constantly having to be careful not to step on anyone’s toes.
Eastern Miyakoji comprises four sections. In early 2014, one section asked for the evacuation order to be rescinded. Meanwhile, two sections with relatively high levels of radiation argued for an extended evacuation and additional decontamination, and another division was unable to reach a consensus. The national and city governments held meetings with each of the sections separately in January, but discussion of a possible timing for lifting the evacuation order was discussed only at a meeting with residents who wanted to return to Miyakoji. The voices of those yearning for a prompt termination of the evacuation order influenced the government’s Feb. 23 announcement to do so for the entire eastern part of Miyakoji in April. Ultimately, the divisions that had cut through Miyakoji residents had reinforced the government’s decision.