04/02/2014, 00.00
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Three years on from Tsunami, first group of residents return to live near Fukushima

The Japanese government has granted permission to 350 people to return to the city of Tamura, inside the "red zone" at risk radiation: the level of radiation "now allows the zone to be inhabited". 80 thousand were evacuated from this district, unclear how many want to return .

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A little more than three years after the devastating earthquake that struck Japan, the Japanese government has allowed the first group of residents from the "red zone" near the Fukushima nuclear power plant to return home. The group is composed of about 350 inhabitants of the district Miyakoji in the city of Tamura (located within 20 km considered "high risk" ): According to the local authorities the radiation levels "permits habitation in the area" .

On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake shook the eastern coast of Japan, causing a devastating tsunami that forced 470 thousand people to evacuate their homes. Approximately 16 thousand people died immediately after the tragedy (thousands more disappeared), but the number of victims continues to rise because of the damage to the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, which resulted in a deadly radiation leak. According to government figures there were 15,884 confirmed victims: 2,636 others "disappeared".  While police believe it impossible that they are still alive they must remain in this category until the discovery of their corpses.

An estimated 80 thousand people were evacuated from the main zone, but it is not clear how many of them will return home. Many residents, despite the government's permission, fear radiation. 69 year old Kimiko Koyama says: "Many of our friends and neighbors will not come back.  There is no work, it is inconvenient and many young people are afraid of radiation".

Others see it differently. Yutaro Aoki says, "People want to come back and lead a dignified life, the kind of life that allows them to feel the ground under your feet". Large scale decontamination procedures are still underway, and in all probability many areas are still too dangerous to be inhabited.

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