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This week’s featured article

JIJI

The government is set to lift at midnight Friday its evacuation order for the Fukushima Prefecture town of Naraha, most of which is located within 20 km of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Naraha will be the first of the seven Fukushima municipalities where the entire populations were instructed to evacuate to have the order removed.

It will be the third such order to be lifted for a municipality in the former no-go zone set within 20 km of the northeastern Japan power station, which suffered a reactor meltdown accident after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Naraha had a registered population of 7,368 in 2,694 households as of Tuesday. According to a survey by the government and others, some 46 percent of the residents hope to return home. Only a portion of them are likely to go back immediately, however, including 780 people at some 350 households who are doing long stays at their homes in the town to prepare for permanent returns.

The central and town governments will reopen a medical clinic in the town in October. A new prefectural clinic will be built as early as February. To handle sudden illnesses among elderly people wishing to return home, medical services will be reinforced through steps such as the distribution of emergency buzzers to those who need them.

In a bid to meet requests for shopping services, a supermarket in the town launched free delivery services in July. A publicly built, privately run shopping center with a supermarket and do-it-yourself store will be established in fiscal 2016.

Dosimeters will be handed out to help people check radiation levels, while 24-hour monitoring will be conducted at a water filtration plant. Tap water will be tested at households hoping to check for radioactive materials.

In August 2012, Naraha was redesignated as an area being prepared for the removal of the evacuation order and where people are allowed to enter during the daytime.

With decontamination work largely completed, evacuees have been allowed since April 2015 to return home for long-term stays to prepare for permanent returns.

First published by The Japan Times on Sept. 4.

Warm up

One-minute chat about “hometowns.”

Game

Collect words related to everyday life, e.g., work, house, food.

New words

1) lift: end; e.g., “They decided to lift the ban.”

2) evacuation: escape; e.g., “This is my evacuation route.”

3) launch: start; e.g., “They launched the new project last week.”

Guess the headline

Japan to lift ev_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ order for Fukushima town of Na_ _ _ _

Questions

1) How many towns have been in the same situation as Naraha?

2) How many people lived in Naraha?

3) What measures will be put in place to re-energize the town?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What service would be vital for any town you were moving to?

2) Do you think the timing of the lifting of the evacuation order is appropriate?

3) What would you do if you were from the towns under the evacuation order?

Reference

故郷とは特別なものです。どんなに長い間別の地で暮らしても、素晴らしい他の町を訪れても、やはり馴染みの深い故郷に戻った時には不思議な優しさに包まれるような気分になるものです。予期せぬ出来事により、自分の意思とは全く関係なく突然故郷を離れなくてはいけなくなった人々にとっては、その望郷の思いはさらに深いものでしょう。原発事故によって故郷を追われた人たちは、今回やっと愛着のある地での生活を許可されました。

しかし、これで生活が落ち着くわけではありません。事故からすでに4年半もの歳月がたち、町の在り方を昔のようにすることは非常に大変なことでしょう。町に戻る人が少なければ再建はますます鈍いものとなってしまいます。

この4年半の重みを感じながら、全国の人がこの問題と向かい合っていかなくてはなりません。

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