Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara gave approval Tuesday for evacuated residents of Miyake Island to return next February, ending an almost 4-year order barring them from their homes.
In a meeting with Sukeyasu Hirano, mayor of the village of Miyake, Ishihara said the metropolitan government would support the islanders’ resettlement. Miyake Island is under Tokyo’s administrative jurisdiction.
Hirano said the same day that the village authority decided to lift the order after examining the ongoing volcanic activity of Mount Oyama and safety measures.
But he said that any residents who choose to return to the island will be responsible for their own safety.
“I have spent a lot of time communicating with the residents on the risk” of returning to the island, Hirano told a news conference.
He said the village will ensure that residents who decide to return are aware of the risks.
Norishige Hozumi, deputy mayor of the village, said that although the volcano continues to release gas, residents can live safe, healthy lives.
The village authority plans to ban entry to areas where volcanic gas density is high, Hozumi said.
The village will monitor volcanic activity on the island and order residents to evacuate to safe areas elsewhere on the island in case of emergency, he said. The village will create an evacuation manual and conduct evacuation drills, he added.
About 70 percent of the islanders said they want to resettle on the island, according to a survey conducted by the village authority in May and June.
Miyake Island has been off-limits since September 2000, when volcanic activity intensified to the point where a total evacuation order was issued.
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