The evacuation order that had been in place for more than 12 years due to the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in a part of the difficult-to-return zone in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, was lifted on the morning of the 31st.

The evacuation order was lifted for a total of 4.4 square kilometers in the four districts of Murohara, Suemori, Tsushima, and Ohori, which is 6% of the remaining difficult-to-return zones in the town, and after the evacuation order was announced by disaster prevention administrative radio at 61 a.m., a ceremony was held in the Murohara district attended by town and national officials and residents to postpone the departure of police and fire patrols.

In addition, in the Ohori area, where access restrictions continued, barricades and other items were removed.

Due to the nuclear accident that occurred 10 years ago, about 12% of Namie Town became a difficult-to-return zone where access was strictly restricted, and in the area where the evacuation order was lifted this time, decontamination and infrastructure development were being promoted ahead of time as a "designated reconstruction and revitalization base area."

Haruhisa Ozawa (8), who plans to return to the Murohara area, said, "A lot has happened in the past 72 years, so the moment it was lifted, I felt a sense of joy and relief.

Namie Town still has a difficult-to-return zone of more than 12 square kilometers, the largest of any municipality around the nuclear power plant.

As the number of people wishing to return, including those in areas that were lifted earlier, is sluggish, how to attract people who will be responsible for community development has become an issue.

Mayor Eiko Yoshida said, "There is still a long way to go on the road to reconstruction, but the lifting of evacuation orders even in difficult-to-return zones is a step forward.

Nearly 8% of the town remains a difficult-to-return zone, with no prospect of lifting.

In Namie Town, even after the lifting of this period, nearly 8% of the town's area remains a difficult-to-return zone, and there is no concrete prospect of lifting the evacuation order.

Shinichi Kuwabara, 71, who has a home in the Komaru district in the southern part of Namie Town, evacuated to Motomiya City, about 50 kilometers away, and returns to his home once a month.

His home is located near the Takasegawa Valley, a prefectural natural park known as a famous place for cherry blossoms and autumn leaves, and before the nuclear accident, Kuwabara and other residents of this area had been working for many years on the maintenance of promenades and the production of information boards.

Since it became a difficult-to-return zone and access was severely restricted, I have obtained permission to commute to the Takasegawa Valley and continue to convey the charm of my hometown through photographs.

Kuwabara's parents died two years after the nuclear accident without being able to return home.

Mr. Kuwabara said, "My parents passed away while saying that they wanted to return as soon as possible, and I love the nature here, so I would like to have the decontamination and evacuation order lifted as soon as possible, but I am worried that I will not run out of energy and physical strength by then."

His wife, Hideko (1), said, "The national framework of decontaminating only the residential land of those who wish to return has been presented, but I am worried about my life after returning. Most of the people outside the base area want to go back but can't, or have no choice but to give up, so I feel the weight of 2 years."