FamilyMart reopening lifts spirits in irradiated town of Naraha


FamilyMart Co. reopened a convenience store Friday in the town of Naraha, most of which remains a designated evacuation zone from the 2011 core meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture.

The store, located along a national highway on the Pacific coast, was closed after being engulfed in fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was tipped into crisis by the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

The outlet will be open 24 hours a day, giving a lift to evacuees making temporary visits to their homes and workers helping to rebuild the deserted area.

Many former residents and workers dropped by the FamilyMart when it re-opened at 10 a.m. Friday.

Among them, Naraha resident Hideko Morimoto, 67, who fled to the nearby city of Iwaki during the crisis, said the store’s reopening makes her feel like she, too, can return to Naraha, thanks to the large number of products on offer, including vegetables.

Most of Naraha lies within the 20-km no-go zone set up around Fukushima No. 1 following the triple meltdown. Over 7,000 of the town’s residents were evacuated to other areas amid the crisis, but the municipal government and some former residents aim to return to Naraha this spring, after decontamination work is completed.

Tomoe Murao, 57, who runs the convenience store with her husband, said she wants to contribute to the evacuees’ return to Naraha.