Fukushima residents to return six years after nuclear meltdown (VIDEO)
Six years after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami rocked Japan and triggered a meltdown of the power station, the majority of the affected residents within the Fukushima prefecture can return home following forced evacuation orders, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
Residents of the towns Namie, Iitate, and the Yamakiya neighborhood in the town of Kawamata, totalling 22,100 people, were told they could return home Friday – with the exception of some no-go zones where radiation levels are still too high, according to Nippon.com.
Further evacuation orders were lifted for the town of Tomioka on Saturday. Residents took part in a candlelight vigil on Friday night in memory of those who died in the disaster, thought to number more than 8,000.
So far, the homecoming has not been as successful as government officials had hoped, as not many people are willing to go back. In fact, only 14.5 percent of residents have returned to areas that previously had their evacuation orders lifted, according to the Japan Times.
The government’s fiscal 2017 budget set aside 23.6 billion yen ($212 million) to restore the healthcare system and other essential facilities to encourage the return of evacuees.
Okuma and Futaba, the two towns closest to the Fukushima nuclear plant, are the only remaining municipalities still deemed as “difficult-to-return zones.”
Activist hunters have started culling radioactive boars that freely roam the ghost towns near the crippled power plant in anticipation of returning residents.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster, which brought about the closure of all of Japan’s 44 working reactors, is said to be the world’s second worst after the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy.