Residents in Odaka up 239 to 1,488 as of March 31, 16.4% of registered population

The number of residents in the Odaka district of Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture, stood at 1,488 as of March 31, accounting for 16.4% of the registered population of 9,079. An evacuation order issued after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant was removed in July last year in the bulk of the district except in a "difficult-to-return" area. Compared with the end of February, the number of residents represented an increase of 239 and the ratio to the registered population showed a gain of about three percentage points. The figures were published by the city office at a press conference on April 12. In July last year, evacuation was lifted in two of three zones -- a residency-restricted zone and a zone being prepared for the termination of evacuation. The number of residents as of July 31, 2016, was 311. The latest number thus represented a nearly fivefold increase over a period of about nine months since the evacuation order was partially removed. As factors behind the growing population in the district, Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai cited the reopening of four elementary schools, Odaka Junior High School, both this spring, and the opening of Odaka Industrial Technology and Commerce High School on April 11 as well as an increasing number of resumed business operations in the district. According to the municipal office, residents who have returned home from evacuation have called for the opening of commercial facilities. The city expects to complete such facilities and a reconstruction base in Odaka within fiscal 2018 ending March 2019 in an effort to further improve the living environment. (Translated by Kyodo News)