Rice planting for commercial sales began on Wednesday in a village in Fukushima Prefecture for the first time since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.
A total of eight farming households in the village of Iitate plan to resume growing rice this year in a combined area of about 7 hectares after evacuation orders were lifted at the end of March for large parts of the village contaminated by radiation following the nuclear crisis.
The reduced total arable area compares to around 690 hectares before the disaster, according to the village.
The farmers will conduct radiation tests before shipping their rice. No rice grown in the village has shown levels of radioactivity exceeding the safety standard since experimental rice planting began in 2012.
"(I feel) comfortable. We want to get back even a step closer to the village of six years ago," said Shoichi Takahashi, 64, while working a rice planting machine.
The local municipality has supported preparation for the planting including installing electric fences around the area to prevent boar from entering the rice fields and working to ready soil following decontamination work.