The town of Futaba, which hosts part of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, on Thursday started allowing some residents to stay overnight at their homes for the first time in more than a decade.

People subject to the program are mainly those who have homes in areas that could see their evacuation order lifted as early as June this year.

The start of the program marks a step forward for the town to once again become inhabited after the quake-triggered tsunami on March 11, 2011, engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 plant and caused the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis, forcing all Futaba residents to evacuate.