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Japan’s Worries: Go? Stay put? Believe the government?

SENDAI, Japan — To stay or go. To trust government reassurances or heed more alarmist warnings spread by Internet of radioactive clouds wafting over Tokyo. These are among the potentially life-altering questions being pondered by millions of Japanese in range of the crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

Evacuation orders have been issued to residents within 20 miles of the nuclear complex, about 180,000 people, with the Japanese government insisting those further away are not at great risk. But with each fresh report of a fire or explosion at the stricken plant, people living beyond the evacuation zone, including some in Tokyo 100 miles to the south or in Sendai about 50 miles north, have already decided to depart.

"The first few days I wasn’t that worried about the nuclear situation, but now I’m getting worried. It’s more serious," said Rotaro Sakai, a 24-year-old engineering student in Sendai, who queued up at 6 a.m. to snag a coveted bus ticket to Yamagata, to the northwest.

People seem to be basing their departure decisions on a combination of technical assessments and emotional tugs, leavened with a healthy dose of skepticism over government credibility.

Read the rest of the story: Go? Stay put? Believe the government? Japan worries | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.