PM Kishida tells Katsurao residents of decision to remove evacuation order

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao on June 5 and notified local residents of the government's decision to remove its evacuation order on part of the municipality which was implemented in the wake of the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The decision concerns what is designated as one of the Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Base Areas. It is located inside the so-called "difficult-to-return" zone. As for non-designated areas in the zone, Kishida told the residents the government "will strive through the 2020s to make it possible for people who are willing to return to go home.” He reiterated his policy to "complete the lifting of all evacuation orders still in force by all means in the future." Kishida also attended a festival commemorating the fourth anniversary of the opening of Azeria (Azalea), a facility built in the village for exchanges of people. "I am glad, from the bottom of my heart, that I can tell you right here the decision to lift the order," he said in a speech. "The government will continue to tackle reconstruction of Fukushima responsibly, keeping firmly in mind that the elimination of the evacuation order is not an end goal but a start," Kishida told reporters later. "We would like to respect the thoughts of residents while moving ahead with our work carefully and heeding individual issues and requests from the municipalities concerned," he said. Kishida also visited the site of a project designed to restore "satoyama" -- a community that sustainably co-exists with nearby forests and mountains -- and revive broad-leaf forests in the Miyakojimachi district of Tamura city. He stressed the need to develop the forestry industry "from a long-term perspective." The evacuation order for the reconstruction base area in Katsurao is scheduled to be lifted at 8 a.m. on June 12, giving the first opportunity for people to resume residing in the difficult-to-return zone. (Translated by Kyodo News)