A tourist looks at an abandoned house in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Image Credit: AFP

Tokyo: Residents are allowed to return to the remote Japanese town housing the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant for the first time in 11 years, a major milestone for cleaning up the worst atomic disaster in decades.

Futaba, located in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, lifted evacuation orders for some areas on Tuesday. Residents were removed from their homes following the nuclear meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

The move comes as Japan shows renewed interest in atomic power to offset higher oil and gas prices and the effect of a weak yen on the resource-scant nation. While the Fukushima plant itself remains inoperable, radiation levels around the site have dropped over the last decade and evacuation orders are steadily being lifted for surrounding towns.

Nevertheless, Futaba faces a long road ahead to rebuilding the town. Most of the town remains off-limits, and a survey last year showed only 11% of its citizens want to return to their hometown.