Two stores reopen in decontaminated hamlet

JIJI

Three years after the worst nuclear accident in Japanese history, residents returning to Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, finally have somewhere to do their shopping.

Two makeshift stores opened in Tamura’s Miyakoji district on Sunday as part of a local drive to persuade residents to return to their homes following the end of decontamination work.

The hamlet is the first area within the 20-km exclusion zone to be reopened since the triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.

The stores, opened in prefabricated buildings, were set up with funding from the prefecture and central government subsidies. Staffed by workers from the Tamura Municipal Government, they will sell farm products, daily necessities and other items six days a week.

About 100 people visited the stores in the first hour after they opened, buying locally produced cucumbers, eggs and other items.

Independent businessman Masaya Tsuboi, 70, said he had a good time at the outlets.

“I feel great to be able to do shopping at stores in my hometown,” he said.

Housewife Fumi Yoshida, 78, said the stores will “make daily living much easier.”

The district had its no-go status partially lifted in April 2012, when daytime visits were permitted. This allowed residents to prepare for the full lifting of the evacuation order.