Nuclear Wasteland: Inside the Ghost Towns of Fukushima

Eight years on from the tsunami and nuclear meltdown, much of Japan’s Fukushima province remains derelict and deserted. But are the radiation fears stopping people returning misplaced? Rob Gilhooly reports from Tomioka. Pictures by Simon Townsley

There was a chilling silence in the town of Tomioka in the days after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shoes were left in porches, half-read newspapers lay abandoned next to cups of tea, long gone cold. As night closed in on the seaside town, lights glared out from a few bare windows, while news of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant just six miles away drifted from a solitary radio.

Nobody was home.

Eight years on, little has changed. Before March 11, 2011 – the day the tsunami engulfed the nuclear facility, forcing the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents across the region – the town had a population of 15,960. Now, just a few hundred people have returned despite the lifting of the evacuation order in April 2017.

During the day, some residents wander around Sakura Mall, a publicly-funded shopping centre opened in the hope of jumpstarting a mass repatriation. But as night falls it’s almost like going back to 2011. Just a scattering of homes have lights on. Half-drunk cups of tea litter the tables.

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SOURCE: The Telegraph