Nearly three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government will for the first time allow a small number of people to return to their homes, officials said Monday. On April 1, the government plans to lift its evacuation order for about 300 people with homes in Tamura city, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of the destroyed nuclear power plant, AFP reported. The order was put in place after a massive tsunami — triggered by Japan's powerful 2011 Tohoku earthquake — crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Residents can choose whether or not to move back home, but they will lose their monthly compensation for emotional distress caused by the accident if they return, officials said. However, government payments for job loss and property loss will continue. Officials hope to allow up to 30,000 people to move back within the nuclear exclusion zone, created to protect residents from the harmful effects of leaking radiation. Areas will be declared suitable for habitation if the maximum exposure level is 20 millisieverts of radiation a year.