That's the sense I get by reading the statements by the government officials in the past few days, and the change in the evacuation policy may be finally coming sometime next week.
More than a week after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommended the expansion of the evacuation zone beyond 20-kilometer radius and the Japanese government brushed it aside by saying "we will give due consideration", "IAEA guideline is but only one of the parameters" and "we hope we can decide in time", and after Iitate Village finally decided, on its own without waiting for the government "guidance", to evacuate women and children to a safer location, the national government is saying it may be amenable to re-consider the evacuation zone setting.
And tens of thousands of people in the affected area have had to be exposed to additional radiation while the government fiddles their usual tune of bureaucratic face-saving.
This one from Asahi Shinbun (1:27PM JST 4/7/2011):
The Kan Administration has entered the final stage of making the decision on re-designating the current evacuation zone within the 20-kilometer radius from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant into a much stricter "warning zone" [the residents cannot enter] but allowing the residents to return to their homes temporarily. The temporary return will be only for few hours, and the residents will be accompanied by the police or the public workers. The final decision will be made around April 11, one month "anniversary" of the earthquake.
Regarding the temporary return of the residents to their homes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in the press conference on April 7 morning that the government "has been receiving the requests to return home to get the valuables and the necessities, and we're considering these requests." He also said that the temporary return will not be for long, and it is to get the necessary minimum from their homes."
... 半径２０キロ圏内では、原子力災害対策特別措置法に基づく避難指示を出している。ただ、住民の一時帰宅の動きが続き、福島県は国により厳しい規制を要 望。枝野氏は７日の会見で「警戒区域をやるかどうかも詰めている」と語り、災害対策基本法に基づく立ち入り禁止の「警戒区域」に切り替えた上で、一時帰宅 を例外的な措置と位置づけて認める方向だ。
In the area within the 20-kilometer radius, the evacuation order has been issued under 原子力災害対策特別措置法 (nuclear disaster special measures). However, the residents keep going back home, and the Fukushima Prefectural government has asked the national government for a tighter restriction. During the April 7 press conference, Edano said the government is debating whether to designate a "warning zone". The likely outcome is that the current evacuation zone will be re-designated as a "warning zone" under the Nuclear Disaster Special Measures, which means the residents are prohibited from entering the area, and the residents will be allowed to return home only temporarily as an exception.
Also, the government is considering re-designating the "stay indoors" zone between 20 to 30-kilometer radius to the "evacuation" zone after they create a new standard [for evacuation] based on the cumulative radiation level.
Well how about that? Isn't that pretty much what the so-called "critics" have been saying all along, to use the cumulative radiation level as a basis for decision?
But the Kan Administration is learning the art of "spin" very fast. (That's gotta be the help that the Obama White House has been sending to Japan.) The administration emphasizes the fact that it may be allowing the residents to go home - great news! Never mind that it will be only for few hours, and never mind that after that the residents can never go back again.
At this point, things may be too radioactive for the residents to take.
And the government has been saying all along, "it is safe".