Minami Soma City, where the recovery and reconstruction road race and marathon is taking place on Sunday March 25 in the area that has higher radiation levels than radiation control areas in a nuclear power plant, will soon be able to welcome the residents back to the no-entry zone and planned evacuation zone.
Radiation? What radiation?
From Kyodo News (3/23/2012):
Most of Minami Soma will be habitable again, says the national government. No-entry zone to be abolished in April
In an effort to reorganize evacuation zones set up after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, the national government submitted its plan to Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture on March 23 that will reorganize the no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone in the southern and western part of the city into 3 new zones, with most of the area designated as "zone in preparation for having the evacuation order lifted" which would allow residents to return. The rest of the area will be designated as "zone where residents cannot return for a long time" and "zone with restricted entry".
The official in charge from the national nuclear disaster local response headquarters disclosed the plan in meeting in the City Hall between the national government and the city.
The details of the 3 zones will be given by the national government by the end of March. The city requested that the no-entry zone be abolished by the end of April at the latest. The meeting was closed to the public.
The Japanese government, in its never-ending irksome PR effort to appeal normalcy and vigorous recovery of Japan to the whole world, is going to return the residents to the no-entry zone (20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant) and the planned evacuation zone (mostly between 20 and 30 kilometer radius, including the very high radiation areas like Namie-machi and Iitate-mura) by simply renaming the zones.
The government is going to divide the former no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone into 3 new zones solely by the annual cumulative radiation exposure levels. As far as I know, it's only the external radiation levels that they are concerned with. (I have no idea if there are official translations for these names):
避難指示解除準備区域 (zone in preparation for having the evacuation order lifted): annual cumulative external radiation exposure of 20 millisieverts and below
居住制限区域 (zone with restricted entry): between 20 to 50 millisieverts
帰還困難区域 (zone where residents cannot return for a long time): 50 millisieverts and above
Again for your reference, pre-Fukushima average annual radiation exposure in Japan was 1.4 millisievert, including both external and internal radiation exposure (food, radon inhalation). This is the average, and eastern Japan had lower radiation exposure than western Japan.
In case of Minami Soma City, only a couple of homes in Kodaka District will be designated as the zone where they cannot return for a long time. But everywhere else will be good for the residents to return.
Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai, who became world-famous for his Youtube plea for help in March last year insists that the lifting of the no-entry zone designation does not mean there will be no more compensation for the residents.
Good luck with that, Mr. Sakurai.
Iitate-mura village chief Norio Sugano also eagerly awaits the re-organization of his village, which is entirely within the planned evacuation zone but has managed to keep a commercial business open (Kikuchi Seisakusho that has several factories in Iitate-mura).
Sakurai and Sugano have fared relatively well over the past year, having become world-famous as symbols of the nuclear accident, and having been able to retain political power over the residents.
On the other hand, Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie-machi is dead set against the re-organization, saying there is no plan in place for rebuilding infrastructure.