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At around 11 a.m. on Oct. 18, members of the media and local residents crowded around in front of a house in the Onami district in the city of Fukushima.

The gathering was partly because Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was about to attend the kickoff of the city’s radiation decontamination work on all residences in the area in a program that is slated to run two years.

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