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Japan Tells Fukushima Residents Area Will be Safe by 2021

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Residents who abandoned their homes after Japan's catastrophic Fukushima nuclear disaster will be able to return in 2021, according to government estimates reported on Tuesday. A team in charge of helping victims of the disaster say that cleanup efforts and “natural decontamination effects” will likely cut radiation doses by up to 76 percent in “difficult-to-return” areas, Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

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But Jin Kowata, a local official, told the newspaper he was skeptical. "The results are too optimistic,” he said. “I want [the central government] to release more accurate estimates for the nearer future instead of the ones for 10 years after the disaster.” The earthquake and tsunami that hit Fukushima on March 11, 2011, killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear crisis.

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