Gov’t eyes launch of preparatory home stays in Namie town this fall

The central government is considering permitting residents in the wholly evacuated town of Namie to begin temporary stays at their homes this fall in preparation for the lifting of an evacuation order issued after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The move was unveiled at the first meeting with Namie residents held in Tokyo on June 23 as part of efforts to end the town’s evacuation. The government also showed a plan to allow residents “special” temporary home stays in mid-August ahead of the preparatory lodging and indicated that it will specify by the turn of the year when to lift the evacuation order. At the meeting, government officials explained that a formal decision on the schedule will be taken on the basis of opinions expressed at the gathering after consultations with the town office and municipal assembly. After the meeting, Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba told reporters that it would be difficult to carry out the proposed special stays in mid-August because of the time required for hearings with residents and talks with the assembly, adding that the municipal authorities are “considering implementing the trial home stays around mid-September.” The meeting was attended by about 100 residents. Municipal and national government officials briefed them on several issues, including the outline of a report on the removal of the evacuation order submitted by a study committee comprising experts, the town’s efforts for post-disaster reconstruction, and progress in decontamination and reactor-decommissioning work. Some residents expressed concern about the level of radiation dosage while others complained of difficulties preparing for preparatory and permanent returns due to dilapidation of their residences. (Translated by Kyodo News)