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Fukushima Pref. swimming beach destroyed in 2011 disasters opens for 1st time in 12 yrs

Children play at Iwasawa Beach in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 16, 2022. The swimming beach opened that day for the first time in 12 years. (Mainichi/Ririko Maeda)=Click/tap photo for more images.

NARAHA, Fukushima -- Children in this northeast Japan town were delighted on July 16 as a swimming beach destroyed in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami opened for summer for the first time in 12 years.

    In the massive quake 11 years ago, local ground subsidence caused the sandy shore at Iwasawa Beach to slip beneath the sea, and mud from a landslide buried the beach parking lot. The following tsunami also washed away the lifeguard tower and other facilities. Naraha being located within 20 kilometers from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, all residents were evacuated from the town after the nuclear meltdowns at the plant. The evacuation directive was lifted in 2015, and 4,232 people -- or 64% of 6,647 registered residents -- were back living in the town as of the end of June this year.

    Renewal work on the beach was finally completed in March this year, and facilities including a lifeguard tower, toilets and showers have also been reconstructed. In the beach opening ceremony and a ritual to pray for safety held on July 16, municipal Naraha Elementary School students sang their school song. They also entertained people with a hula dance show.

    First grader Yuzuki Nishio, 6, was elated to take a dip in the sea, and said, "The waves were big and fun. I want to come here every day."

    This is also a place where Yuzuki's father Daisuke, 32, who was born and raised in the town, often came. Seeing his daughter delighted at the beach, he said with deep feeling, "It's finally a place where people can come again."

    (Japanese original by Hideyuki Kakinuma, Iwaki Local Bureau)

    In Photos: Disaster-hit swimming beach in Fukushima Pref. reopens after 12 yrs

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