A new zoning system went into effect Tuesday in Iitate village, Fukushima Prefecture.
The village, which is located 40 kilometers northwest of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been divided into three zones—one zone that has been declared safe for short visits, one which still requires decontamination work and the third which will remain a no-go zone for many years.
The central and prefectural governments said decontamination work in the second zone should be completed within two years.
Iitate was known for its premium beef cattle before the nuclear disaster. Around 6,000 people fled the once idyllic farming community, leaving behind houses and shops that were once the focus of village life.
The third zone has been barricaded off and many former residents have expressed concern about the future of the village. Decontamination work in the second zone is scheduled for houses and other buildings, but not farmland in the third zone. Since agriculture and livestock are the village’s main industries, residents said they are afraid they will be forgotten in reconstruction plans.
Administrative functions for the village have been moved to a small town 20 kilometers away, while villagers have been scattered, many to newly built prefabricated housing.
Rice and livestock farmers say they want to return home, but added there is no point if they can’t continue farming.