The town of Okuma, which had all of its roughly 10,000 residents evacuate after the deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, agreed to the date proposed by the government.
“We have determined the radiation level in the environment has fallen sufficiently as a result of decontamination work,” said Yoshihiko Isozaki, the head of the government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters.
“We took into account the town’s wish to lift the order as soon as possible,” Isozaki said at a press conference following a meeting with Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe at a temporary town office in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture.
Watanabe had been seeking to have the order lifted so that the town’s new office in one of the targeted areas could be opened as planned on April 14 and start operating on May 7.
“We’ve reached this stage at last, but there is no prospect of having the order lifted across the town,” Watanabe said.
[…]As of the end of February, only 374 people were registered as residents of the targeted areas.
“People have the freedom to go back if they want to, but personally I am against living in areas where there are no children and no places to work,” said a 72-year-old man, who has relocated to the nearby city of Iwaki.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen when they remove (nuclear) debris” at the crippled plant, co-hosted by the towns of Okuma and Futaba, he added.