Monday marks one year since the lifting of an evacuation order for Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, that was imposed following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
However, less than 10 percent of the town’s registered population has returned.
The number of new housing built in the town this year reached 296 in June, 4½ times more than last year’s total. However, among Naraha’s registered population of 7,300, only 681 people had returned to live there as of Friday, according to the municipality.
Residents who have resumed farming, the town’s key industry, are also limited in number.
According to the Naraha government, about a quarter of the households were involved in farming before the accident. However, planting has resumed in only about 20 hectares of rice paddies this year, about 5 percent of the town’s farming area before the accident.
Shuko Watanabe, a 55-year-old cattle breeder in the town, restarted work in July, becoming the first farmer to start breeding for beef among the about 40 farmers who used to be in Naraha.
He breeds five Japanese black cattle while continuing to mainly live in Iwaki, also in the prefecture. Although he only has half the cattle he did before the accident, Watanabe thinks resuming work will encourage others to return to the town.
According to a Reconstruction Agency survey, about 8.4 percent of the 2,000 households that responded said they intend to return early. About 34.7 percent said they will return when certain conditions are met.
Combined with the 7.6 percent of the town’s population that has already returned, about half of the households intend to return.