Village emptied by nuke crisis holds coming-of-age day

Kyodo

The village of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, on Tuesday held its first coming-of-age day ceremony since it was removed from the radiation no-go zone in January and the mayor urged its evacuated citizens to return home.

Kawauchi, located just 20 km southwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, was one of nine municipalities designated by the central government as being within the no-go zone.

Last year, the village held its coming-of-age festivities, which fete people turning 20 years old, in the city of Koriyama, where it had relocated its administrative office.

In January, Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo called on villagers to return home and the administrative office reopened in March.

The ceremony this year was held in the village’s community center for around 30 new adults. They are among 40 from the village who came of age in the year through March 31.

“Right after the quake, I wasn’t even sure whether I could go to a university. Many people supported me while I was away from my hometown. I would like to contribute to rebuilding my hometown in the future,” said Kengo Sanpei, 19, who was in his final year of high school when the disasters struck and now attends a university in Tokyo.

Mayor Endo told the ceremony that he hopes young people will work together to rebuild the village.

Around 350 of the roughly 2,800 inhabitants of the village have returned home.