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Takaaki Ide, a farmer, factory worker and former evacuee, has returned to his home in Kawauchi, Fukushima. I wrote about the Ide family in my TED book, Would You Stay? When I met them in 2012, they were living in temporary evacuation housing in Koriyama city, 20 miles west [as the crow flies, 27 miles or one hour by road] of their family farm in the Abukuma mountains. One of the first things Takaaki told me then was how he missed the trees that surround the home. <br />
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Today, Takaaki and his wife Yumiko are delighted to be back home but they’ve kept their new factory jobs in the city. “I still collect mushrooms but the radiation is too high, we can not eat them,” he says. He worries about their future: “I worry a little about the nuclear power plant but more I worry, will my son come home? He’s 28 years old. I worry — will I have good health to keep working?”<br />
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Takaaki takes me to see a windmill farm on the mountaintop above their farm. This is the energy future for Fukushima, he tells me — the soil is contaminated but the wind blows clean.<br />
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In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan and destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Some 488 thousand people evacuated from the three-part disaster; in 2015, nearly 25% remain displaced.<br />
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A massive effort is now underway to decontaminate towns in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. In Tomioka, 5 to 8 miles from the nuclear plant, thousands of laborers are cleaning or demolishing every building, and removing and incinerating all topsoil in inhabited areas. In the adjacent forests and mountains, radiation levels remain higher and will not be cleaned.<br />
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Naraha, 12 miles south of the nuclear plant, is the first town to reopen after the disaster. Residents were allowed to return home full-time on Sept. 5, 2015. To date, an estimated 440 residents have returned, out of a pre-disaster population of 7,400. <br />
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I returned to Fukushima one week after Naraha reopened and spent a month there, interviewing
Takaaki Ide, a farmer, factory worker and former evacuee, has returned to his home in Kawauchi, Fukushima. I wrote about the Ide family in my TED book, Would You Stay? When I met them in 2012, they were living in temporary evacuation housing in Koriyama city, 20 miles west [as the crow flies, 27 miles or one hour by road] of their family farm in the Abukuma mountains. One of the first things Takaaki told me then was how he missed the trees that surround the home.

Today, Takaaki...
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