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In shadow of Fukushima nuclear plant, a town withers away

wall, while a clock suspended from the ceiling remains stuck at 2:50. Documents and other files are scattered on the floor around desks and shelves. Potted plants withered and died long ago.

Outside, on the rooftop of the Futaba town office, one can clearly see the isolation and desolation of this dying town where time has stopped.

For the first time since the aftermath of March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, an Asahi Shimbun reporter entered the town office of Futaba on Feb. 25.

All 6,400 residents have fled the town.

A notice pasted on the interior of the front entrance, underlined in red, reads: “Since this office is located within 10 kilometers of the nuclear plant, you have to stay indoors. Please don’t go outside.”

On the second floor, sheets of paper pasted on a board show information that Tokyo Electric Power Co. released about conditions at the nuclear plant.

“The pressure in the containment vessel has risen abnormally,” reads information that arrived before dawn on March 12, 2011.

Futaba officials evacuated the town office on the central government’s orders that day, a day after the disaster started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

About 96 percent of Futaba, including areas around the town office, has been designated a difficult-to-return zone because annual accumulated radiation levels exceed 50 millisieverts.


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