Japan: Entry Ban Lifted in Parts of Evacuation Zone Near Fukushima

TAMURA/KAWAUCHI, Fukushima Pref. — An exclusion ban was lifted Sunday for parts of the city of Tamura and the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture, allowing residents to enter freely without taking measures against radiation exposure.

But residents from these areas, which are close to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, will not be allowed to stay overnight, although radiation levels remain relatively low.

It was the first revision to the evacuation zone banning entry to areas within 20 km of the plant since the nuclear disaster triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster on March 11 last year.

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Japan Lets Kids Return Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan will let children and pregnant women return to certain areas near the Fukushima nuclear plant, the trade minister said on Friday, following an improvement in living conditions after a huge earthquake and tsunami in March.

Schools have been shut down in these areas located within the 20-30 km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where about 60,000 people lived prior to the radiation leaks from the nuclear plant.

Though evacuation was not mandatory for residents as the radioactivity was within limits, some 30,000 left these areas, a spokesman at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

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Japan afraid of telling truth to Fukushima evacuees

A former adviser to the Japanese cabinet has revealed the government has known for months that thousands of evacuees from around the Fukushima nuclear plant will not be able to return to their homes.

Nearly seven months after the meltdowns at Fukushima, about 80,000 people are still living in shelters or temporary housing.

Former special adviser to Japan’s prime minister and cabinet Kenichi Matsumoto has told the ABC that the government has known for months that many who live close to the Fukushima plant will not be able to return to their homes for 10 to 20 years because of contamination.

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Japan PM visits Fukushima

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday visited the prefecture at the centre of a nuclear crisis sparked by the March quake and tsunami, amid reports his government may reduce the evacuation zone.

Kan, in his fifth visit to Fukushima prefecture since the disaster, held talks with governors from 12 villages and towns from the region, Jiji Press news agency said.

"I will take measures by listening carefully to your opinions," Kan was quoted as saying at the start of the meeting at a hotel in Koriyama, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

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Thieves raid evacuation areas pillaging through homes and even ATMs

Fifty-six ATM thefts have been reported in the three disaster-hit Tohoku prefectures since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with the amount of money stolen totaling 684 million yen, according to the National Police Agency. About 420 million yen, or 60 percent of the money, was stolen from within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Deserted in the wake of the disaster, ATMs in convenience stores and financial institutions in the area in particular have become targets for theft. According to the NPA, further ATM thefts are unlikely to occur as cash left at empty stores and banks has now been collected.


Japan’s Government may Scrap Nuclear Evacuation Zone at end of August

The emergency evacuation preparation zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may be scrapped by the end of next month, it was learned Thursday. The government will soon set preconditions for eliminating the zone and start discussions with local governments, as the Step 1 phase to stably cool the plant’s reactors has been generally achieved by the mid-July target in Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s timetable for bringing the troubled plant under control. People in the two sections of the emergency evacuation preparation zone have been asked by the government to make preparations to evacuate or stay indoors in the event of an emergency. Many residents in the zone already have left.

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Japan to limit access to zone near nuke plant, but when, where, and how?

Authorities were considering restricting access to the evacuation zone around Japans crippled nuclear plant Wednesday to limit radiation exposure to residents who may want to return to their homes.

"We are considering setting up caution areas as an option for effectively limiting entry" to the zone, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.It was unclear when the ban might be imposed.

About 70,000-80,000 people were living in the 10 towns and villages within 12 miles 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which has been leaking radiation after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami wrecked its power and cooling systems.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the nuclear plants operator, has begun pumping highly radioactive water from the basement of one of its turbine buildings to a makeshift storage area in a crucial step toward enabling work on restoring the cooling systems.

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