The mayor of Okuma, home of the damaged nuclear power plant, has been in exile for eight years – here he writes about finally returning. The residents of Okuma were among more than 150,000 people who were forced to flee their homes after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As one of the wrecked plant’s two host towns, Okuma, was abandoned for eight years before authorities declared that radiation levels had fallen to safe levels, allowing residents to return. Even now, 60% of Okuma remains off-limits, and only a tiny fraction of the pre-disaster population of 11,500 has returned since their former neighbourhoods were given the all clear in April. A month later, Okuma’s mayor, Toshitsuna Watanabe, and his colleagues returned to work at a new town hall. In the first of a three-part diary for the Guardian, Watanabe describes his feelings when, after years of displacement, he and other residents ended their nuclear exile.
Guardian 1st June 2019 read more »