No-go zone near nuclear plant once hosted picnics

Mari Yamaguchi

TOMIOKA, JAPAN (AP) — Part of the town of Tomioka, about 10 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is still a no-go zone 10 years after a meltdown sent radioactive fallout over the area.

The no-go zone is about 12 per cent of the town, but was home to about one-third of Tomioka’s population of 16,000. It remains closed after the rest of the town in northeastern Japan was re-opened in 2017.

Only those with official permission from the town office can enter the area for a daytime visit.

Part of the area, called Yonomori, used to be a commercial centre dotted with shops, houses, a 7-Eleven convenience store and a popular regional supermarket chain called York Benimaru.

The area also includes Yonomori Park, surrounded by streets lined with cherry trees, where townspeople used to gather for hanami parties, picnicking under the blossoms and walking through a tunnel of flowering trees.

Bags of dirt with possible radioactive waste temporarily placed at a park during a tour guided by a Tomioka town official in a ‘difficult-to-return’ zone in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture. PHOTO: AP