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Japan eases limits in nuke "no-go" zone

16,000 people allowed back into their homes temporarily for the first time since last year's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant disaster.

Fukushima power plantEnlarge
The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is seen through a bus window in Okuma on November 12, 2011. Japan took a group of journalists inside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for the first time, stepping up its efforts to prove to the world it is on top of the disaster. (David Guttenfelder/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan is letting up to 16,000 people back into their homes around the leaking Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the Associated Press reported.

It is the first time since the disaster last March that the government has allowed residents back into the "no-go" zone.

For about a year, a 12-mile zone around the plant has been off-limits to about 100,000 residents because of radiation contamination.

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The area was evacuated last March after an earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear meltdown in three of the Fukushima plant reactors.

AFP says the revised zones for Tamura, Minamisoma and Kawauchi go into affect April 16.

Residents are not allowed to stay overnight and some will be required to wear protective gear when they return.

It is unclear how many people will actually go home but, the BBC reports, most residents will likely wait until conditions improve.

The plant was declared "stable" in December, allowing officials to focus on how to clean up the contamination and allow some people to return, AFP wrote.

The area around the crippled Fukushima plant is expected to take decades to restore.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/120330/japan-eases-limits-nuke-no-go-zone