Evacuation orders will be lifted shortly for four more municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, but the prospect of residents returning to their old homes in huge numbers seems unlikely.
The restrictions, in place since the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, will be lifted by April 1.
About 32,000 residents will be affected, but there is no guarantee that all will soon, if ever, return.
Naraha and Katsurao are among five municipalities that are no longer subject to evacuation orders.
However, only 11 percent of Naraha residents and 9 percent of Katsurao residents have returned.
One reason for the low rates is that evacuees have already established new domiciles elsewhere. Others are concerned about the availability of medical workers in areas where evacuation orders will be lifted.
The next step involves the 24,000 former residents of the zone where returning continues to be considered difficult.
The government intends to pay for the decontamination of certain areas within that zone so former residents can return.
According to one estimate, the program would only cover about 5 percent of the entire area that is designated as difficult to return.