Futaba town panel works out plan to return to hometown in 30 years

18 January 2013

A panel on the reconstruction of the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, held a meeting on Jan. 17 in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, where the town government has had its office since the outbreak in March 2011 of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

In the meeting, the panel, which is composed of local leaders, business officials and academics, for the first time presented short-, intermediate- and long-term targets for returning to the town.

Earlier, Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa indicated as a tentative goal that he hopes the return to Futaba will be accomplished in 30 years.

The short-term target covers roughly five years since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. The panel noted the need to put people's lives back in order and to prevent the town from becoming devastated during that period.

The intermediate target covers the period between five years and 30 years after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. During this period, full-fledged decontamination work and restoration of infrastructure will be undertaken. The panel also set a target of building a new community linking residents' evacuation areas with the town.

A period from 30 years after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster will be classified as a reconstruction period during which the town aims to implement the return of residents and reconstruct the town's traditions and culture.

Panel members, however, were divided over Idogawa's tentative goal to return to the town in 30 years. One member said the goal is his personal proposal and that the panel should discuss its plan independently from the mayor's goal.

Another panel member said, "Thirty years is too long. Residents would bid farewell to the town."

On the other hand, one member noted that the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine made some places impossible for residents to return for a period of 250 years. "No (Futaba) residents can return to their hometown in only 30 years," the member said.

Another panel member also said 30 years is too short, arguing that a new Futaba town should be built in a separate location.

(Translated by Kyodo News)