Fireworks grace Fukushima’s J-Village ahead of Olympic torch relay

About 300 fireworks illuminated the winter night sky on Jan. 2 at the J-Village sports complex, straddling the towns of Naraha and Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, ahead of the start there of a torch relay across Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. People enjoyed the first such event at J-Village, once used as a forward base to battle the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear power plant accident, as they wished for progress in post-disaster reconstruction. The event, organized by a group of 1976 graduates from Naraha Junior High School, was timed with an alumni reunion held in commemoration of all reaching the “kanreki” age of 60. They sought to heat up the torch relay set to kick off on March 26. As fireworks began to explode above the J-Village compound at around 5 p.m., town residents and other people loudly cheered each time a firework burst ripped through the dark night. “I wish evacuated residents will increasingly come back for permanent residency and enliven their hometown,” said Hideki Matsumoto, a 59-year-old association staff member. “We would like to send out information on our town’s rehabilitation to the rest of the world through the Olympic torch relay starting in J-Village.” (Translated by Kyodo News)