The Japanese government has lifted the evacuation order for most parts of a town in Fukushima Prefecture. It was issued after the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The directive for Tomioka Town was lifted at midnight on Saturday in all areas except for no-entry zones with high radiation levels.
The town became the 9th municipality to be released from the order. The decree was initially imposed on 11 municipalities in the prefecture.
The government also withdrew the directives for some areas in Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village at midnight on Friday.
Areas still subject to the government evacuation order now make up 369 square kilometers. That is one-third of the initial size.
About 9,500 Tomioka residents are now allowed to return to their homes.
But in a survey conducted by the Reconstruction Agency and other institutions last year, only 16 percent of Tomioka’s residents said they wanted to return to their hometown.
The town government had opened a shopping mall and a medical facility ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.
In the future, it will be a challenge for the town to revive industries, decontaminate no-entry zones, and provide continued support for residents living outside the town.