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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

New evacuation zones


April 1, 2012


New evacuation zones set for 3 municipalities




The government has announced that parts of three municipalities near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will be reclassified according to three new categories based on annual radiation doses.

The no-entry and expanded evacuation zones, which were established last year for 11 municipalities after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, will be reclassified. The three new categories will be applied first to the cities of Minami-Soma and Tamura as well as the village of Kawauchi, government officials said Friday.

The no-entry and expanded evacuation zones will be reclassified by annual radiation doses as follows:

-- Areas where the accumulated radiation dose is 20 millisieverts or less per year will be designated as "zones being prepared for residents' return," for which authorities will relax conditions for residents to briefly visit their houses and permit entry for public purposes.

-- Areas with annual doses above 20 and up to 50 millisieverts per year will be designated as "zones with restricted residency," where residents can make brief visits to their houses although they are urged to remain evacuated.

-- Areas where the radiation dose exceeds 50 millisieverts per year will be designated as "zones where residency is prohibited for an extended period." Entries to these zones will be blocked with barricades.

For the first two categories, residents will not be allowed to stay overnight when visiting their houses, the officials said.

The government initially planned to apply the new evacuation zone categories to all the 11 affected municipalities at once. However, its discussions with the local governments over how their administrative areas would be reclassified did not progress as expected, because annual radiation doses can differ even within the same area, according to the officials.

Minami-Soma, Tamura and Kawauchi were the first among the 11 municipalities to reach agreements with the government over the reclassification. The new categories will be implemented in Tamura and Kawauchi on Sunday and take effect in Minami-Soma on April 16, the officials said.

The government will continue discussions on the reclassification with the remaining eight municipalities, they added.

(Apr. 1, 2012)

Off-limits order lifted for parts of 2 Fukushima municipalities



TAMURA/KAWAUCHI, Japan (Kyodo) -- The government lifted its off-limits order Sunday for parts of Tamura city and Kawauchi village in Fukushima Prefecture, located near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Residents from these areas, where radiation levels are relatively low, will now be allowed to freely enter the areas without taking protective measures against radiation exposure although they cannot stay overnight.

It was the first revision of the government's designation of evacuation zones in the current no-go zone within a 20-kilometer radius from the plant since the nuclear accident, which was triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster on March 11 last year.

Eimasa Tsuboi, 72, from Tamura said he wants to rebuild his family's collapsed ancestral grave first.

"I have to fix the grave," he said. "And today, I will open the door of my home and let the wind in."

In Kawauchi, Katsutoshi Kusano, 67, and his wife Shigeko, 66, visited their homes. "We hope we can clean our garden," they said.

Under the government's reclassification, in zones where radiation levels exceed 50 millisieverts per year and are expected to remain at or above 20 millisieverts over the next five years, the return of evacuees will be designated as difficult. The government's current yardstick for evacuation is 20 millisieverts a year.

In zones with radiation levels of between 20 and 50 millisieverts, there will only be a limited return of residents. In those with radiation levels of 20 millisieverts or less, preparations will be made for lifting evacuation orders.

In these latter zones, the order will be lifted as soon as infrastructure is restored and enough progress is made in decontaminating schools and other public facilities.

Soon after the March 11 nuclear plant disaster, the government issued an evacuation directive for residents within a 20-kilometer radius from the plant. Later, however, it designated areas with high radiation levels outside the no-go zone as emergency evacuation preparation areas where residents were required to evacuate within one month.

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