The Japanese government has lifted an evacuation order covering some parts of Fukushima Prefecture. The directive was initially placed for areas of 11 municipalities after the 2011 nuclear accident at the Daiichi power plant.
The order was lifted for some areas in Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village at midnight on Friday. The government also plans to withdraw the order for some sections of Tomioka Town at midnight on Saturday.
The order remains in effect in no-entry zones and the whole of Futaba and Okuma, 2 towns that host the damaged plant.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held a news conference on Thursday.
Suga said populations and areas subject to the evacuation order have declined about 70 percent since it was imposed. He added the removal marks a new beginning for reconstruction.
The government will work to allow people to rebuild their lives in areas where the order was lifted. It plans to restore gas, electricity, and other forms of infrastructure and encourage job-creation by attracting companies to those areas.
The government will use state funds to promote decontamination work and infrastructure projects in some no-go zones.
It hopes to build reconstruction hubs there by the end of March 2022. They will house residents and workers engaged in efforts to decommission reactors at the plant.
But the government needs to come up with ideas on how to rebuild communities. A growing number of evacuees have decided not to return to their hometowns partly because they have established their lives elsewhere.