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Evacuation order for Fukushima village to be lifted in June

The government is planning to lift an evacuation order for part of the Fukushima Prefecture village of Kawauchi on June 14, more than five years after the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, it has been learned.

The government's nuclear emergency response headquarters disclosed the plan on April 28. The central government and the Kawauchi Municipal Government will hold a joint briefing session for local residents on May 8 to gather opinions and discuss the matter in order to formally decide the date when the evacuation order will be removed. Once the order is lifted, the entire village of Kawauchi will be free of any nuclear evacuation zones.

The Ogi and Kainosaka districts in the eastern part of the village will be subject to the move. The area -- which is home to 52 residents in 19 households -- has been designated as a "zone preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders," where the annual accumulated radiation doses are 20 millisieverts or less.

The evacuation orders that were in place for areas other than the Ogi and Kainosaka districts were lifted in October 2014.

During a meeting of the Kawauchi Municipal Assembly, Osamu Goto -- the deputy head of the central government's nuclear emergency response headquarters -- sought understanding from the village with regard to lifting the evacuation order for the remaining districts, citing reasons including the conclusion of decontamination work in those areas. Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo is set to accept the request.

Meanwhile, only two local residents from one household have thus far signed up for a program allowing residents to temporarily stay over in evacuation areas to prepare for permanent return. The Kawauchi Municipal Government expects, therefore, that only a few households will return even after the evacuation order has been lifted in the districts.

The central government issued evacuation orders for 11 municipalities around the plant following the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Among these, the orders were lifted in the Miyakoji district of the city of Tamura in April 2014, followed by those in part of the village of Kawauchi and the town of Naraha.

Evacuation orders for the city of Minamisoma and the village of Katsurao are also expected to be lifted shortly, with the exception of areas designated as "difficult-to-return zones" due to high radiation levels.

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