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Fukushima town holds festival for first time in 7 years after evacuation orders lifted

Fireworks light up the skies of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 11, 2017, at the finale of a summer festival held for the first time in seven years. (Mainichi)

TOMIOKA, Fukushima -- A local summer festival was held in this town on Aug. 11 for the first time in seven years following the lifting of evacuation orders that were implemented in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

    Some 400 local residents joined the event. The town has a population of roughly 13,300, but only about 200 residents have returned since the lifting of evacuation orders in most parts of the town four months ago. Others have settled in other areas, while some remained concerned about the lack of medical and welfare facilities. Nevertheless, many locals, including families with children, returned to their hometown on this day to enjoy the traditional summer festival.

    Kanako Inamoto, 24, who now lives with her parents in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki, performed taiko drums for the first time since she joined a local taiko performing group this past spring. "I will continue to treasure my hometown," she said.

    At the finale of the festival, about 1,500 fireworks were shot into the sky to commemorate the victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and to pray for disaster recovery. The fireworks show was part of an inter-prefectural event held mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, and a total of 10,000 fireworks lit up 15 locations.

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