Fukushima: More than 100 evacuees from areas within 3 kilometers of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant paid first temporary visits to their homes on Friday in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture.
The 132 people from 73 households who also included some from outside the 3-km zone were to be followed later in the day by 35 evacuees from 23 families from the neighboring town of Okuma who are scheduled to visit a nursing care facility also inside the 3-km zone.
The evacuees got on minibuses in the morning at a transit point outside the 20-km evacuation zone to head for their homes.
The Japanese government plans to consider lifting the evacuation order for residents within 20 km of the power plant from around January, the deadline for phase 2 of the road map for crisis settlement worked out by the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, officials said.
But the government will not lift the order for residents in areas where radiation levels are very high, the officials said.
The government's most recent survey showed that the radiation level reached a maximum 84.7 microsieverts per hour in Okuma and 40.1 microsieverts per hour in Futaba, against the annual exposure limit of 1 millisievert for ordinary people.
The government allowed the evacuees to visit their homes and the welfare facility temporarily, noting that the amount of radiation for evacuees during a five-hour stay would be less than 1 millisievert.
The government since May has organized temporary home visits for many evacuees from the 20-km zone circling the plant where nuclear meltdowns occurred in the wake of the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster, so that they can collect personal belongings.
But it did not permit such visits for evacuees from areas within the 3-km radius until this month.