The Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture, which was damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake, is set to resume operations around May next year, while the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture is also eyeing a restart.

The wide-area evacuation plans compiled by each prefecture, however, face scrutiny for their effectiveness as a “last line of defense” to save residents in the event of a nuclear disaster.

In September, a meeting was held in the town of Rifu, 46 kilometers southwest of Tohoku Electric Power’s Onagawa plant, to distribute iodine tablets that help prevent, to a certain degree, exposure of the thyroid gland to radiation in the event of a serious nuclear incident.