Temporary shopping mall opens in evacuated town of Namie

A makeshift shopping mall opened on Oct. 27 in the compounds of the municipal office of Namie town, which remains entirely evacuated in the wake of the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Dubbed "Machi Nami Marche," the facility is set to become a new center for exchanges among townspeople after evacuees' temporary stays at their homes start in November to pave the way for the lifting of an evacuation order. The temporary mall, set up by the municipal government, has 10 shops in the retail, eating/drinking and service sectors. They opened for business on Oct. 28. "We've got a place ready for returning townspeople to get together and enjoy eating and shopping," Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba told an opening ceremony. "It has become a symbol of our efforts for reconstruction." Representing a group of shop operators managing the mall, Masanobu Akutsu, who runs a specialty shop of the "Namie Yakisoba Taikoku" pan-fried noodle chain, pledged to "work together to restore the town's hustle and bustle." Baba and Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry who heads the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, joined other officials in cutting the ribbon at the ceremony to celebrate the occasion. They also visited the shops for a preview ahead of their formal opening. (Translated by Kyodo News)