Retail chain operator begins mobile sales in evacuated town of Tomioka

Ito-Yokado Co., a nationwide retail chain operator, launched a temporary mobile sales service on a restyled truck in the wholly evacuated town of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 21. The service, undertaken by the company’s Taira store in Iwaki city, got under way at a parking lot for commercial facilities in the town, where residents began temporary stays at their homes on Sept. 17 in preparation for the lifting of an evacuation order expected next April. The mobile service is intended to improve the town's shopping environment for returning residents and workers engaged in decontamination and other operations for reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The service is part of a project sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to secure means of transportation for livelihood-related services. The remodeled 4-ton vehicle is scheduled to stay from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Equipped with a refrigerator and a freezer, the vehicle has some 500 items for sale, including boxed lunches, fresh food such as meat, fish and vegetables, drinks, confectionery, toilet paper, kitchen goods, and clothing. Consumers can order merchandise not available on the vehicle so that they can make a purchase at the time of their next visit. The mobile sales service will be continued until a closed local store of an affiliated retail chain, York-Benimaru Co., reopens next spring. At an opening ceremony, Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto expressed hope that the service area "will become a place in which townspeople undergoing preparatory lodging can find a home." A congratulatory speech was also delivered by Kuniaki Fukui, head of the Public-Private Fukushima Soso Reconstruction Joint Team. The two officials joined others in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the start of the mobile sales service. (Translated by Kyodo News)