Evacuation zones seen removed in bulk of Minamisoma city on July 1

The government’s task force helping Fukushima Prefecture recover from the 2011 nuclear accident has signaled that it intends to terminate evacuation zones in most parts of Minamisoma city as early as July 1. The policy was unveiled by Osamu Goto, deputy head of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, during a meeting of municipal assembly members held at the city office on May 13. To be terminated are two zones: one being prepared for the lifting of an evacuation order and the other where residency is restricted. A third “difficult-to-return zone” where radiation levels are relatively high will remain in place. The government side told the meeting that it has confirmed completion of decontamination work in and around residential areas, a condition listed by the municipal government for ending evacuation. The cleanup work has reduced midair radiation levels and living infrastructure is being put into place, according to the central government. Referring to the date for lifting the evacuation order, Goto said the government side "would like to do so in early July or mid-July, targeting as early as July 1.” The task force is expected to fix the date soon, possibly by the end of May, after consultations with residents and municipal authorities. To be covered by the move are 10,967 residents of 3,516 households in the two evacuation zones. The number of residents affected will be the largest in Fukushima Prefecture, exceeding those in Naraha town, Kawauchi village and Tamura city’s Miyakoji district where evacuation orders have been lifted. (Translated by Kyodo News)