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Iitate village to aim for lifting of evacuation order by spring 2017

21 April 2015

The village of Iitate, where an evacuation order is in place in the entire municipality due to the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant, is arranging to aim for the lifting of the order, except in zones where residents' return is deemed difficult, “by the spring of 2017 at the latest." To speed up preparations for residents' permanent homecoming, the village office is seeking to move administrative functions from their temporary location in the Iinomachi district of Fukushima city back to the village as soon as next spring.

The evacuation order for the village was issued four years ago on April 22. The village government will work to create an environment conducive to residents' return, such as constructing village-run residential complexes and community halls, in addition to the existing task of providing support for evacuees.

In March last year, the village office set March 2016 as its target for the return of residents to all areas except for the difficult-to-return-to zones. This was based on the Environment Ministry's goal of completing decontamination work around residential areas by the end of March this year. But the completion period has been extended to the first half of this year, and work to clean up farmland and roads is expected to end sometime in 2016, prompting the village government to revise its aim for the timing of residents' permanent return to their homes.

The village office will discuss the matter with the central government and the village assembly as early as in June and set its new homecoming goal somewhere during a one-year period starting next spring. At this point, the local government is considering a plan to have the order lifted simultaneously for both zones where habitation is restricted and zones where preparations can be made toward lifting the evacuation order.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

24 April 2015

Weeping cherry trees form spring-colored tunnel in Kitakata city

About 1,000 weeping cherry trees aged more than 20 years are in full bloom over a distance of about 3 kilometers in Kitakata city. The area is currently at the height of the cherry blossom season, and visitors can enjoy the sight until this weekend. Tourists will be welcomed by a dark pink "flower tunnel."

The walkway constitutes part of what used to be Japanese National Railways' Nicchu Line which became defunct in 1984. It is a popular spot for railway buffs who enjoy taking photographs with a steam locomotive that used to run on the line on display. Fukushima-Minpo Co. chose the path as one of the 50 recommended walkways in Fukushima Prefecture.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

25 April 2015

Tomioka town mulls establishing disaster museum

The town of Tomioka is considering establishing a disaster museum to hand down to future generations the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The candidate site for the facility is located in front of JR Tomioka Station, adding a new landmark to the town in anticipation of the resumption of train services on the Joban Line in the area by March 2018.

The table shows the museum's content as envisioned by the town office. The facility, aimed at preventing disaster memories from fading, is expected to display disaster-related materials which the town has gathered, such as a police patrol car that was struck by the quake-triggered tsunami and Tomioka Station’s ticket gate and station sign. Symbolic areas of the disaster-damaged town, such as a coastal rock that used to look like a gigantic candle, will be introduced using past photographs.

The museum will also feature three-dimensional images that will be shown with the cooperation of Tohoku University. The images will include videos of the town's disaster management headquarters at its cultural exchange center that vividly show the confusion just after the occurrence of the nuclear accident, and scenes of the badly damaged Tomioka fishing port. Through the images, visitors will be able to feel as if they were actually in the areas shown.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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