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Coming of Age Day ceremony held in Namie

January 8, 2018









Town holds first ceremony for new adults since nuclear disaster



By YUKI CHAI/ Staff Writer


NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture--A Coming-of-Age Day ceremony was held here Jan. 7 for the first time since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced the evacuation of the entire town.


About 110 of Namie’s 183 “new adults,” who have turned or will turn 20 years old this fiscal year, attended the ceremony about 8.5 kilometers north of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken nuclear plant.


They were in their first year of junior high school when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear disaster almost six years and 10 months ago, forcing around 21,000 residents in Namie to evacuate.


The tsunami killed 181 people in the town, including a boy and a girl who would have been new adults this fiscal year.


During the ceremony, many smiling acquaintances were reunited for the first time since the disaster.


“I did not think it was possible to have the Coming-of-Age Day ceremony in the town,” said Yutaka Matsumoto, 20, a university student who lives in Sendai. “Seeing my old friends brought back a lot of memories.”


Although the evacuation order was lifted for almost all affected areas of Namie at the end of March 2017, only 440 people had returned to their home by autumn. The majority of the town’s new adults live outside Namie.


Koki Yamamoto, 19, a university student who currently lives in Saitama Prefecture, focused on positive elements during his speech at the ceremony.


“We feel that we have a bond that is stronger than before,” Yamamoto said. “Hearing some good news about the town will provide emotional support.”


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