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Fukushima village hit by 2011 meltdowns starts raising dairy calves again

A dairy calf is led off a truck in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 16, 2019. (Mainichi/Mina Isogai)

IITATE, Fukushima -- Local farmers have resumed raising dairy calves for the first time in over eight years in this village that was hit by radiation following the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Feliz Latte, a dairy company jointly managed by five farmers who were forced to evacuate from areas hit by the nuclear disaster, transported its 22 calves aged 8 months to a cowshed operated by a village-run company on July 16.

The dairy company was established in the city of Fukushima using subsidies from the national and prefectural governments to promote reconstruction in the area following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the meltdowns.

The firm plans to raise the calves in the village until they reach 22 months old and then move them to its farm in the city of Fukushima.

Prior to the disaster, the village had a total of 12 dairy farmers who used to raise about 240 dairy cattle. However, all of the farmers evacuated from Iitate due to the disaster. The evacuation order was lifted in 2017 for most parts of the village.

Kazumasa Tanaka, 48, president of Feliz Latte, said, "I hope to help the reconstruction by creating an environment where young people can easily engage in dairy farming when they return to the village."

(Japanese original by Mina Isogai, Fukushima Bureau)

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