Gov’t eyes lifting evacuation order for Katsurao village on June 12

A central government task force assisting Fukushima Prefecture in recovering from the 2011 nuclear power plant accident is considering lifting an evacuation order for the bulk of Katsurao village on June 12. The move is to cover two zones of the entirely evacuated village: one being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order and the other an area where residency is restricted. Osamu Goto, deputy head of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, unveiled the plan at a meeting of all village assembly members held on April 5 at the village office. Katsurao Mayor Masahide Matsumoto, who is advocating the start of permanent returns this spring, told reporters he has no objection to the government plan, showing readiness to accept it. Katsurao will be the fourth municipality in Fukushima to have evacuation orders removed following the Miyakoji district of Tamura city, Kawauchi village and Naraha town. It will be the first time for an evacuation order to be lifted for a residency-restricted zone. The whole village was evacuated following the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. In April 2011, a month after the accident, the village was divided into a no-go zone and a planned evacuation area. The demarcation was revised in March 2013 when the Noyuki district in the northeastern part of the village was designated as a “difficult-to-return zone,” parts of the neighboring Hiroyaji and Iwakado districts as a residency-restricted zone, and the rest as a planned evacuation zone. There is no prospect of the difficult-to-return zone being removed without any government policy shown yet. Improvement of living conditions remains challenge To lay the groundwork for the permanent return of residents, it is required to put into place living infrastructure such as medical services and grocery stores. The village office plans to reopen its only medical clinic but has yet to secure a doctor. It is asking the prefectural government to arrange for the dispatch of one. The living foundation is far from sufficient. There is no food shop and returning residents will have to depend on home delivery service from outside the village. The village is urging its chamber of commerce and industry to open one. Village head Matsumoto says living conditions will be improved gradually so that evacuees can consider returning home with peace of mind. Katsurao village population by evacuation zone Zone preparing for lifting of evacuation order 1,290 of 397 families Residency-restricted zone 62 of 21 families Difficult-to-return zone 118 of 33 families Total: 1,470 of 451 families (as of April 1) No. of registered applicants for preparatory lodging at home 104 of 43 families (as of April 4) (Translated by Kyodo News)