2 Avril 2012
In line with a review of evacuation zoning that has been in place since the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the no-entry restriction was lifted on Sunday for Kawauchi and Tamura, both in Fukushima Prefecture, kicking off a project to allow residents to return home.
Transfers and the establishment of checkpoints were completed on Saturday.
The public administrative functions of Kawauchi village, which were temporarily shifted to Koriyama in the prefecture, had already returned to the town. School will also resume this month.
With the lifting of the restrictions for no-entry zones (within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant), Kawauchi will be made up of zones being prepared for residents' return (annual radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts or lower) and those with restricted residency (above 20 millisieverts to 50 millisieverts).
Before now, residents wishing to visit their homes had to get a permit to show at checkpoints set up at the entrance to the no-entry zone. Each permit specified the date when entry was allowed.
Although residents still cannot stay overnight in the village, they are free to return home briefly or to enter temporarily for public works.
Meanwhile, the neighboring towns of Tomioka, Naraha and Okuma remain off-limits.
On Saturday, barricades weighing about 600 kilograms each and measuring about five meters wide and 80 centimeters high were placed by the government's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters at six locations on the roads that link Kawauchi with the three neighboring towns. A checkpoint was also shifted five kilometers to the east to the border between Kawauchi and Tomioka at midnight.
"Residents can return home freely while we start improving infrastructure, marking a step forward in our post-disaster reconstruction," said Juichi Ide, an official of the Kawauchi village office who witnessed the establishment of a barricade.
"We can now return home without an entry permit," said Katsutoshi Kusano, a 67-year-old Kawauchi resident. Neighboring areas around Kusano's house have become a zone being prepared for residents' return. He said he would return home temporarily on Sunday