Gov't to lift evacuation order for last part of Kawamata town next March

The central government's Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters unveiled a plan on Aug. 10 to lift an evacuation order for the Yamakiya district of Kawamata town, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 31, 2017. Part of the district is designated as a residency-restricted zone and the rest as a zone readying for the lifting of the order, imposed after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The move is in response to requests from the town office and municipal assembly. The government is poised to discuss with the local authorities and evacuated residents ways of paving the way for their permanent return and then take a formal decision on the planned removal of the evacuation zones, located in the town's southern area closer to the crippled plant. The majority of the township has already been removed from the list of evacuation zones. The plan to lift the evacuation order next March was explained by Osamu Goto, deputy head of the headquarters, at a meeting of all assembly members held at the town's central community hall. He handed a document listing answers to requests concerning the elimination of the evacuation areas to Kawamata Mayor Michio Furukawa and assembly head Hiromi Saito. "We expect to see the living environment improved by the end of March 2017," Goto said as he briefed the town side on the reasons for the proposed date for ending evacuation. "We also expect to see progress by then in thorough cleanup work, restoration of areas affected by torrential rainfall, and action to secure the livelihoods of residents, all as sought by the town." At the meeting, assembly members said some replies to the town's requests are insufficient, and the two sides failed to make progress regarding meetings with evacuated residents to be held as a precondition for a formal decision on the date for terminating evacuation. The government side is set to offer additional answers early in an effort to obtain local understanding of the planned lifting of the evacuation order. "The termination of evacuation is simply a first step," Furukawa said. "We will draw up measures together with the national government to prevent the daily living of returning residents from being adversely affected after the removal of the evacuation order." (Translated by Kyodo News)