The meltdown of the Japanese nuclear power plant last year forced the evacuation of 100,000 people, many of whom are still displaced. Our Dean Meminger is in Japan and has the story of one town that is being prepared for the return of its residents.
FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE, JAPAN -- The village of Kawauchi has been a virtual ghost town for a year. 12 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the village was evacuated. Homes, businesses and schools empty.
"We have no students here, I'm very sorry about that. It is the worst thing, I think," said Toshihiko Takahama, Kawauchi High School Principal.
But the cleanup of anything that might have radioactive contamination continues, as preparations have started for a welcome home celebration. During the first week of April, families are expected to move back to Kawauchi and school will resume.
Principal Toshihiko Takahama says every page of every book has been wiped along with all of the furniture. It’s an attempt to clean away radioactive particles from the power plant that had a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami.
"These things, the floors, the walls, the ceilings, the blackboards and the top of the shelves. Everything they clean up," said Principal Toshihiko Takahama.
As a precaution, trees and plants around the school have been removed and on the children's playing fields about two inches of soil was taken away.
In terms of business, not much at all. The owner of a soba noodle shop says he has to use his savings to keep the doors open.
"The village economy will not go back to the way it was because our village population was 2,900 and our economy was supported by two nearby towns of which are now in evacuated zones," said restaurant owner Shigeru Ide.
Although residents of Kawauchi Village are being encouraged to return home, those who live beyond a certain point can't come back. It's considered a part of the hot zone, and perhaps too dangerous. Police are blocking the roadway.
The village's mayor says he believes it’s safe to return but admits no one knows exactly what will happen in years to come.
"In the future when energy policy is planned we need to be more humble. We cannot change the past so we have to think about what we can do for today," said Yuko Endo, Kawauchi Village Mayor.
The mayor says he knows the world is watching.