As the people of Pripyat, a once bustling Soviet city built for the workers of Chernobyl, will tell you, evacuation from a nuclear disaster is a one-way ticket. Nearly 26 years later, time is frozen. The hammer-and-sickles still hang from the lamp-posts as they did on the day the town’s residents were told to get on the buses. A similar fate awaits many of the 80,000 evacuated a year ago from Fukushima. The Japanese government is raising hopes of an early return to the evacuation zone, and there are parts of villages to which former residents could move back this spring – if they wanted to. But life without neighbours, or the region’s traditional livestock and fishing industries, would be a shadow of its former self.
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