LOCAL LINKS:
 LATEST NEWS
 Top Stories
 U.S.
  Severe Weather
  Bird Flu
 World
  Castro
  Mideast Crisis
  Iraq
 Business
 Personal Finance
 Technology
 Sports
  Sports Columns
  NASCAR
  Baseball
  College Hoops
  NBA
  NHL
  Tennis
  Golf
 Entertainment
 Health
 Science
 Politics
 Washington
 Offbeat
 Podcasts
 Blogs
 Weather
 Raw News
 NEWS SEARCH
 
 Archive Search
 SPECIAL SECTIONS
 Multimedia Gallery
 AP Video Network
 Today
 in History
 Corrections
Apr 1, 6:24 AM EDT

Japan lets first evacuees live in nuke no-go zone


AP Photo
AP Photo/
World Video
Multimedia
Archery on horseback still draws crowd
Ainu Rebels reclaim cultural pride
Japanese defend whaling tradition
Japan deals with 'Minimata Disease'
Latest News
Obama: US-Japan treaty applies to disputed islands

Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM

Japan, US struggle to bridge gap on freer trade

Japan PM sends offering to war shrine

Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Interactives
Nuclear plants that have leaked tritium
Not enough money to close old nuclear plants
How a nuclear power plant works
Latest News
Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

Navalny's conviction in Russia a chilling message

EU official against cutting Russia gas ties

Putin: no blocks to boosting relations with West

Russian state media claim AP skews Putin coverage

Analysis: Putin likely to ignore West on Ukraine

TOKYO (AP) -- 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 tiny part of a 20-kilometer (12-mile) evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant.

The decision, which took effect Tuesday, 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 undecided about going back because of fears about radiation, especially its effect on children.

More than 100,000 people were displaced by the March 11, 2011, nuclear disaster, when a huge earthquake and ensuing tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, causing meltdowns in three reactors. Many of the displaced people live in temporary housing or with relatives, and some started over elsewhere.

Areas within the evacuation zone have become ghost towns, overgrown with weeds.

Temporary visits inside the zone had previously been allowed, and about 90 people were staying with special permission, according to Tamura city hall.

New stores and public schools are planned to accommodate those who move back.

"People want to go back and lead proper lives, a kind of life where they can feel their feet are on the ground," said Yutaro Aoki, a Tamura resident who works for a nonprofit organization overseeing the city's recovery.

Much of Tamura lies outside the evacuation zone. The city has a population of 38,000, including evacuees living in temporary housing.

Evacuees now receive government compensation of about 100,000 yen ($1,000) each a month. Those who move back get a one-time 900,000 yen ($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.

The radioactive plume from the Fukushima plant did not spread evenly, so some areas outside the 20-kilometer radius are unsafe. Decontamination on an unprecedented scale is ongoing in Fukushima, but some places may not be safe to live for decades.

---

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at twitter.com/yurikageyama

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.