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Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant Could Become a Tourist Attraction

Aug 20, 2013 7:36 am

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‘Dark’ tourism is one thing, but voluntarily visiting a radioactive site is quite another. It’s hard to imagine this site becoming a popular lure for visitors.

— Eliza Ronalds-Hannon

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Kyodo  / Reuters

Experts believe it may take as much as three decades for Fukushima repairs to be completed, at which point some officials hope to make the site a tourist draw. Kyodo / Reuters

A group of authors, scholars, academics and architects has banded together to put forward a proposal for a new community – possibly named Fukushima Gate Village – on the edge of the exclusion zone and around 25 miles from the site of the second-worst nuclear accident in history.

They hope the new village will serve to remind future generations of the disaster of March 2011, J-Cast news reported, when the nuclear plant was destroyed by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a massive tsunami.

In addition, it is hoped the new community will provide employment for local residents, thousands of whom are still not able to return to their homes for more than a few hours.

Experts believe it may take as much as three decades for work to decommission the four reactors to be completed, as well as decontamination of large swathes of north-east Japan.

Tourists will be able to check into hotels that have been constructed to protect guests from elevated levels of radiation that are still to be found in pockets in the area. The village will also have restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as a museum dedicated to the impact the disaster has had on local people.

Research facilities will also be set up to look into renewable energy resources, while a highlight of any visitor’s trip will be tours to “ground zero” within the nuclear plant’s perimeter fence.

Dressed in protective suits and wearing respirators, tourists will be able to take photos of the shattered reactor buildings and the workers who are still trying to render the reactors safe.

The group behind the proposal said they hoped the village would eventually act as a place where people could go to mourn the victims of the disaster at the same time as visiting a place that has become historically famous.

The aim, they added, is for Fukushima to achieve a similar status as the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hold among Japanese people.

The group said they got the idea for the plan from the growth in so-called “dark tourism,” such as Ground Zero in New York, the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland or the “killing fields” of Cambodia.

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