Gov't formally offers to lift evacuation order for Katsurao village on June 12

The government's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, responsible for assisting Fukushima Prefecture to recover from the 2011 nuclear power plant accident, formally offered on April 10 to lift an evacuation order for the bulk of Katsurao village on June 12. The offer was made at a meeting with villagers held in Tamura city to brief them on the plan. Covered by the move are two zones of the entirely evacuated village: one is an area where residency is restricted and the other is being prepared for the lifting of the evacuation order. Another zone designated as a "difficult-to-return area" will remain intact. The briefing session was held twice, in the morning and afternoon, with some 300 village residents taking part. At the outset, Katsurao Mayor Masahide Matsumoto sought residents' understanding of the government move. But some residents took issue with the offer, saying work to decontaminate the village, polluted by nuclear fallout from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, is still insufficient. Others questioned the advisability of lifting the order for the two zones at the same time. Some participants in the meeting said a medical institution should be put in place before the evacuation order is terminated. "Is it really safe to live there?" another resident asked, expressing concern over radioactive substances remaining. Other villagers called for deferment of the proposed action. But some residents favored it, saying they wanted the date when the order will be lifted to have been specified and expressing hope for continued government support for post-disaster reconstruction. Matsumoto said he would like to decide when to lift the order on the basis of views of village assembly members and residents. "Personally, I would like to follow the schedule of ending evacuation on June 12." (Translated by Kyodo News)