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Japan reopens city abandoned after 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown

Japan reopens city abandoned after 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown
While Okuma may have looked like a Japanese Chernobyl after the nuclear meltdown in nearby Fukushima, it is now rebuilt and its evacuation order has been lifted. Yet something eerie remains about the renovated ghost-town.

While other cities like nearby Futaba remain strictly off-limits, an advanced group of around 50 people have already returned to the mostly empty Okuma, where the government’s decontamination efforts have been concentrated.

While this is a rather small portion of over 10,000 residents that had fled in the wake of the disaster, on Wednesday some 40 percent of the city was declared safe enough to be reoccupied permanently.

In addition to removing the top-soil, replanting trees and scrubbing down everything that had potentially been contaminated, the government is also trying to entice residents to return with a newly built town hall, a convenience store, and state housing projects. Officials say that lifting the evacuation order, even partially, will help stimulate recovery in the area.

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However, a survey in 2018 showed only 10 percent of the city's residents wanted to return, while about 60 percent had no plans for going back, according to Asahi Shimbun. Okuma is still home to a temporary storage facility for radioactive waste collected in the decontamination efforts.

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