Trains resume runs in hot zone

JIJI

Trains resumed operation Sunday on part of the Joban Line in Fukushima Prefecture, marking the first runs in the hot zone since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.

“I’m happy to be back in Naraha by train,” said Tomohiro Sakamoto, 7, after arriving at Tatsuta Station on the 9:24 a.m. train with some 160 other people. He and his family boarded the train to visit their hometown for the first time since the calamity.

The train arrived after East Japan Railway (JR East) reactivated the 8.5-km stretch between Hirono and Tatsuta stations early Sunday. Most of Naraha, just 10 km away from the meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant, has been under an evacuation advisory since the crisis began.

Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said last month that he hopes to see residents return permanently next spring, after decontamination work was declared finished. Residents are allowed to enter town only during the day due to radiation.