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Fukushima Pref. beach opens to swimmers for 1st time after tsunami, nuclear disasters

Children play at Haragamaobama Beach, which opened for swimmers for the first time in eight years in the city of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 21. (Mainichi)

SOMA, Fukushima -- Haragamaobama Beach here was opened to swimmers on July 21 for the first time in eight years after the area was struck in March 2011 by a massive tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The beach is the first in the northern part of the prefecture to reopen after the disaster. Three beaches earlier opened in the southern city of Iwaki.

Haragamaobama Beach attracted about 56,500 people in 2010. However, 207 people in the area died in the March 11, 2011 disaster, and the tsunami littered the beach with debris.

The beach is about 45 kilometers away from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, which was struck by meltdowns following the quake and tsunami. The city has not found any detectable levels of radioactive substances in seawater quality tests it started in 2016. It reopened the beach after preparing tsunami evacuation routes.

Sayaka Mori, 29, a nursing care worker in the northern prefectural city of Minamisoma, came to the beach with her 3-year-old daughter and played at the water's edge. "I grew up at my home in front of the sea. It was natural to play at the beach. I want my child to know the delight of playing in the sea," she said.

(Japanese original by Ryusuke Takahashi, Minamisoma Rocal Bureau)

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