National

Fukushima soccer facility, repurposed after 3/11 disaster, fully reopens

Kyodo

The J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture resumed full operation Saturday, eight years after it was converted into an operational base to cope with the nuclear disaster that hit the prefecture in 2011.

The facility, established in 1997, has already been selected as the starting point for the Japan leg of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay, a move aimed at highlighting the country’s efforts to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The torch relay will start at the facility in March 2020.

Until March 2017, the training center was used as a logistics hub and a lodging facility for workers involved in the cleanup and other disaster response operations at the crippled facility located some 20 kilometers to the north. The operational base function has been moved to the power plant.

The training complex has been renovated, and an indoor practice field and hotel with conference rooms have been added.

A large part of the complex had already resumed operations by July 2018, with the exception of two playing fields.

Also on Saturday, East Japan Railway Co. opened a new station near the J-Village.

“I hope (the full reopening) will contribute to Fukushima’s revival,” said a 42-year-old woman arriving at the station on Saturday morning.

The woman, who lives in the prefecture, was planning to visit the J-Village site.