6 Avril 2012
April 6, 2012
No-return zone around Fukushima plant proposed
Japan's reconstruction minister has proposed designating an indefinite off-limits zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Tatsuo Hirano told reporters on Friday that the zone would be within the context of local reconstruction plans for the next 10 or 20 years.
Hirano said the zone would probably include the parts of the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the plant. He added that the towns' mayors are responding positively to the proposal.
He said the government will consult the towns and other municipalities in deciding the size of the zone.
He said new guidelines to compensate affected residents would be needed.
Such a zone is to be designated for safety reasons, regardless of radiation levels.
Hirano had suggested that some areas near the plant remain unsafe because a large amount of radioactive water is stored there.
The government is also rezoning Fukushima's existing evacuation areas according to 3 new categories based on radiation levels, so that residents can return home in stages.
Futaba Town Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa told reporters that he agrees with Hirano's plan to create an off-limits zone to better ensure safety.
But Idogawa said a line should be drawn according to radiation levels, instead of automatically restricting entry within a certain radius around the nuclear plant.
A 63-year-old man from Futaba Town said he has never felt at peace over the past year as an evacuee. The man lived about 4 kilometers from the crippled plant.
He said that if his neighborhood is to be declared off-limits, he wants a temporary town to be created elsewhere so that residents can settle there.