FUKUSHIMA -- Authorities are set to lift an evacuation order in an area around JR Yonomori Station in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Tomioka, northeastern Japan, which has been affected by the nuclear disaster, national and local government officials said.
The agreement was reached between the national government and the Fukushima prefectural and Tomioka municipal governments on Dec. 20. The order will be officially lifted at 6 a.m. on March 10 next year.
This is the first time that the schedule for lifting an evacuation order in an area, designated as a "difficult-to-return" zone following the outbreak of the disaster, has been fixed.
The area covers East Japan Railway Co. facilities including Yonomori Station on its Joban Line and a 1.1-kilometer stretch of a road around the station. The central government has already completed decontamination work in the area.
The national government and local bodies have consulted over the specific area, schedule and other matters with the intention to lift the order around the railway station to coincide with the planned resumption of services on a 20.8-kilometer section of the Joban Line between Tomioka and Namie stations in March 2020.
At a news conference, Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto said, "We'd like many people to visit our town safely. We'll do our best to achieve the goal of lifting evacuation orders in all of the places designated as 'difficult-to-return' zones."
In early March, evacuation orders are also expected to be lifted in an area around Futaba Station and the northeastern part of the prefectural town of Futaba, designated as zones where preparations are being made to lift evacuation orders, as well as an area around Ono Station in the prefectural town of Okuma.
Many residents of Fukushima Prefecture were evacuated after the outbreak of the crisis at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011.
(Japanese original by Naoki Watanabe, Fukushima Bureau)