• Nahara officials have returned home to spur future repopulation. In December, Mayor Yukihide Matsumoto and three others were given a special permit from Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture to return to the town and live there. The four officials live in the town and commute to Iwake City each day to tend to Nahara affairs. Train service was restarted last June. Most of Nahara lies within the 20 km radius, between 10 and 20 kilometers from F. Daiichi. Nearly all of the town’s 7,500 residents were evacuated. The total ban on entry was lifted in August, 2012. Residents have been able to visit their homes and property during the day, but remain prohibited from overnight stays. Nearly half (~46%) of the estranged residents say they are willing to return home, while about 23% say they will not return. Those willing to return say they will wait until sufficient infrastructure exists to support them, such as roads and hospitals. Officials also want some
    leisure” facilities revived to stimulate resident return. Officials hope to have all restrictions lifted this spring. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501300010
  • Two convenience stores open inside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone. The FamilyMart chain has opened one in Nahara Town and the other in Tamura City. In Nahara’s Kamishigeoka District, the new store is located on the coastal national highway and will be open 24/7 to support evacuees making daytime visits and round-the-clock for workers at F. Daiichi 14 kilometers to the northeast. Residents say they hope to be allowed to return home permanently in the spring. The opening of the store is important in the effort to provide needed infrastructure to facilitate repopulation. Store manager Tomoe Murao said, “We want to do our best to help the residents of Naraha return home.” In Tamura, the store opened in the Miyakoji District where the evacuation advisory was lifted last April. Most of the evacuees have not returned home, however. FamilyMart set up the Miyakoji outlet at the request of the Reconstruction Agency and the Tamura City in the hope of increasing repopulation. Only a small fraction of Tamura is inside the exclusion zone, so infrastructure for the return of evacuees is good. However, there was no food store in the Miyakoji District until now. Whether or not it will persuade dissident residents to go home remains to be seen. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/30/national/familymart-reopening-lifts-spirits-irradiated-town-naraha/#.VMuTJ6McQdUhttp://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=461http://fukushimaupdate.com/24hr-convenience-store-re-opens-in-fukushima-restricted-zone/
  • Bus service has begun inside the mandated exclusion zone. The bus will run between Minamisoma City and Nahara Town. It will run twice a day over the 46 kilometer route. There will be no intervening stops between Minamisoma and Nahara. Radiation exposure for the trip is below one microsievert. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai said the start of public transportation is encouraging to local residents. However, most potential passengers say they will wait until the railway service is resumed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • PM Shinzo Abe says the decision on Fukushima Daini is Tepco’s to make. The nuke station is 10 kilometers south of F. Daiichi and was essentially unharmed by the 2011 quake and tsunami. Fukushima Prefecture opposes any restarts. Abe mentioned the situation when questioned by the head of Japan’s Communist Party, Chizuko Takahashi, in a Lower House meeting. Takahashi said Tepco should focus only on F. Daiichi decommissioning and not try to restart any unit at F. Daini. She believes all ten Fukushima units ought to be scrapped. Abe responded that cleanup at F. Daiichi is already a priority, but it has nothing to do with F. Daini’s future. He added that the decision is entirely Tepco’s. It should be noted that the oldest unit at F. Daini will not reach its 40 year licensing limit until 2021. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • The future Fukushima robotics facility is expanded. Last year, Tokyo announced it would establish a center to develop robots for decommissioning F. Daiichi in the Prefecture. Wataru Takeshita, state minister in charge of reconstruction, says pressure from local officials has convinced the government to make the facility for all robot development, not just for F. Daiichi. It is hoped this will accelerate the return of residents to the evacuated zones. The new plan allows companies to purchase land at lower costs, provide subsidies, and give tax breaks. Takeshita also said Tokyo will add measures to ease resident anxieties about radiation and cull the wild boars that have moved into the area. Takeshita said this expansion will provide a permanent facility beyond the decommissioning period.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201502020046
  • Another group tries to block nuke restarts with a petition. The focus this time is units #3&4 at Takahama station, Fukui Prefecture. However, the petition is not from Fukui residents. It comes from 29 people living in Shiga Prefecture. It was filed in Shiga’s Otsu District Court. Only small portions of two Shiga communities lie at the extreme edge of the 30 kilometer emergency planning zone, southeast of Takahama. The residents claim that the nukes were not designed to withstand worst-possible quakes and Shiga Prefecture has not finished its emergency plan. A similar petition was rejected by the same court last year. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015013000847