Fukushima kids graduate under cloud

Kyodo

About 18,000 children graduated from public elementary schools in Fukushima Prefecture on Friday, where the nuclear crisis forced more than 6,200 elementary school pupils to evacuate.

The ongoing radiation disaster overshadowed this year’s ceremonies. Ten out of 495 schools in the prefecture couldn’t hold ceremonies because they have been shut down by the crisis.

Some students from the no-entry zones celebrated their graduation in the towns where they are now staying.

Thirteen students from two schools in the town of Tomioka had their graduation ceremony in a disused auto parts factory in the town of Miharu where they have been attending classes.

About 60 students from two elementary schools in the town of Okuma received their certificates at an old high school in Aizuwakamatsu. Part of the troubled Fukushima plant lies in Okuma.

Aside from these problems, even before the disasters the schools were facing lower enrollments due to the declining birthrate. For the whole prefecture, 200 to 300 fewer students were graduating each year. Radiation fears have accelerated the decline, forcing 1,600 graduating students to flee.