Japan on Sunday started the first evacuations of homes outside a government exclusion zone after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled one of the country’s nuclear power plants. Some 4,000 residents of Iidate-mura village as well as 1,100 people in Kawamata-cho town, in the quake-hit northeast, began the phased relocations to public housing, hotels and other facilities in nearby cities. Their communities are outside the 20-kilometre radius from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, officially designated as an area of forced evacuation due to health risks from the radiation seeping from the ageing and damaged plant.
The government told people in communities such as Iidate-mura they had to leave, but authorities are unlikely to punish those who choose to stay.
"I am sure all of you have lived in Iidate-mura all your life and never moved," mayor Norio Kanno told a group of residents preparing to leave their homes.
Read the rest of the story: Japan widens evacuations outside plant zone.