The Japanese government has taken an unprecedented step to revive areas near the Fukushima power plant, offering hefty sums of money to those agreeing to move there. There’s a catch though – they’ll have to stay for five years.
The repopulation program, aimed at 12 municipalities surrounding the nuclear plant that were crippled during the 2011 earthquake, is set to be launched by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency next year, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.
The program was designed to revitalize the region as even after the evacuation orders had been lifted, former residents of the area proved to be not very eager to return, the reconstruction minister, Katsuei Hirasawa, said. So far, only 20 percent of residents have returned to the Fukushima station surroundings that remain largely deserted.
The agency will provide financial incentive packages ranging from 1.2 million yen ($11,600) to families from other parts of Fukushima Prefecture, and up to 2 million ($19,300) to those willing to relocate from other parts of the country. The main requirement is that a family lives for five years in the agreed location.
Single individuals are encouraged to come and live around the nuclear plant as well. These packages are somewhat lower, ranging from 800,000 yen ($7,750) to Fukushima prefecture-dwellers to 1.2 million for those coming from elsewhere in Japan. A special offer also awaits those industrious enough to start businesses up in the municipalities, as they are eligible for a package of up to 4 million yen ($38,700).
The government does not appear to be hugely optimistic about the prospects of its reconstruction program, setting the modest goal of 300 people moving in during the first year.
The Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 2011 after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake which triggered a 15-meter tsunami. The catastrophe forced the evacuation of 150,000 people from within 20km of the plant, as well as other areas hit by nuclear fallout. The cleanup work, ongoing since the disaster, is expected to drag on for many more years.
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