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AKIPRESS.COM - For the first time since Japan’s nuclear disaster three years ago, authorities are allowing residents to return to live in their homes within a 20-kilometer no-go zone around the Fukushima plant, The Hindu reported.
The decision applies to 357 people in 117 households from a corner of Tamura city after the government determined that radiation levels are low enough for habitation.
But many of those evacuees are still undecided about going back because of fears about radiation, especially its effect on children. Visits inside the zone had previously been allowed, and about 90 people already live in the area with special permission.
On 11 March 2011, a huge earthquake and ensuing tsunami led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and displaced more than 100,000 people. Many of them are still living in temporary housing or with relatives, and some have moved away to start life over elsewhere.
Evacuees now receive government compensation of around $1,000 each a month. Those who move back get a one-time $9,000 as an incentive. The monthly compensation will end within a year for residents from areas where the government decides it is safe enough to go back and live. New stores and public schools are planned to accommodate those who move back.
The radioactive plume from the Fukushima plant did not spread evenly in a circle and so some areas outside the 20-kilometer zone are still unsafe to live. Decontamination on an unprecedented scale is ongoing in Fukushima. Some places may not be safe to live for decades.