The Japanese government on Friday advised residents living between 20 and 30 km of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to voluntarily evacuate areas, citing the difficulties in their daily lives there.
“The government has instructed municipalities within the 20 to 30 km radius of the Fukushima plant to encourage residents to voluntarily move more than 30 km from the plant,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference, adding that the government will provide transportation for those seeking evacuation.
“As an increasing number of people in the zone have already voluntarily evacuated, business and the distribution of daily necessities in and out of the area have been disrupted. It is getting difficult to maintain daily living of those who remain there,” the top government spokesman explained.
Previously, the government set an exclusion zone covering areas within a 20-km radius of the plant, while urging people within 20 to 30 km to stay indoors.
“This is not a mandatory evacuation,” Edano said, not ruling out the possibility that the government will expand the designated evacuation zone, depending on radiation levels.
The US and British governments have urged their citizens to stay 80 km or more away from the plant, located 230 km north of Tokyo, for fear of radiation exposure.
Japan’s nuclear crisis was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and caused radiation leaks.
Meanwhile, work to restore power and key cooling functions at the plant resumed in the morning, after it was disrupted on the previous day when three workers were exposed to high radiation, with two of them hospitalized due to possible burns to their feet.
Firefighters also continued efforts to cool down reactors’ spent fuel pools by spraying large amounts of seawater.