Al Jazeera
March 2014

Can Japan revive its nuclear ghost towns?

NIHONMATSU, JAPAN   It's from a distance that Naoki Kobayashi tries to manage the reformation of his town Namie, which sits empty 10km away from the leaking nuclear plant that has wrought chaos on the lives of those in its radioactive reach.

In the relocated town office in Nihonmatsu, roughly 66km west of Namie, Kobayashi and his colleagues are wrestling with a major dilemma: How do you rebuild a town when you're not sure anyone - especially the young - even wants to go back?

At least that's the upshot from questionnaires sent to former residents.

Of the 60 percent who responded, about 30 percent said they don't plan to return to Namie, and another 30 percent indicated they're not sure they'll ever go back.

"We had 21,000 people in Namie, but it's impossible to rebuild for 21,000 … It's mostly the younger people who don't want to come back, and the main reason is fear of radiation," said Kobayashi, an administrative officer for Namie's revitalisation and recovery department.
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