Ōkuma, Fukushima

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Flag of Ōkuma
Location of Ōkuma in Fukushima Prefecture
Location of Ōkuma in Fukushima Prefecture
Ōkuma is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 37°24′16″N 140°59′1″E / 37.40444°N 140.98361°E / 37.40444; 140.98361Coordinates: 37°24′16″N 140°59′1″E / 37.40444°N 140.98361°E / 37.40444; 140.98361
Country Japan
Region Tōhoku
Prefecture Fukushima Prefecture
District Futaba
 • Total 78.70 km2 (30.39 sq mi)
Population (Dec. 2012)
 • Total 104
 • Density 1.3/km2 (3.4/sq mi)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
- Tree Momi fir
- Flower Nashi pear
- Bird Black kite
Website www.town.okuma.fukushima.jp
Ōkuma town office in 2007

Ōkuma (大熊町 Ōkuma-machi?) is a town located in Futaba District, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

In 2010, the town had a population of 11,515[1] and a population density of 146.31 persons per km². The total area is 78.70 km².

The town is the site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The town was evacuated on March 13, 2011 following the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Residents of certain areas of the town were allowed to temporarily return beginning in December 2012.[2]


Ōkuma lies in the center of the Hamadōri region of Fukushima, bordered to the west by the Abukuma Highlands and to the east by the Pacific Ocean. It is set between the cities of Namie and Futaba to the north, Tamura to the west, and Kawauchi and Tomioka to the south.

Mt. Higakure (日隠山 Higakure-yama), with a height of 601.5 meters, is within the city. The Kuma River (熊川 Kuma-gawa) also flows within the city.


Under rule of the Shineha and Sōma clans[edit]

While historical records are unclear, it is believed that the area of present-day Ōkuma was ruled by the Shineha clan beginning in the mid-1100s. Later, during the Sengoku period, in December 1492 the Sōma clan defeated the Shineha clan, and the area transferred to the Sōma clan's control.[3][4]

During the Edo period, the Kumagawa Post Town (熊川宿 Kumagawa-juku) was established along the Iwaki-Sōma Road (岩城相馬街道), also referred as Coastal Road (浜通り Hamadōri), in the area of present-day Ōkuma. The Iwaki-Sōma Road connected the region to Mito in the south and Sendai in the north. Modern-day National Route 6, which runs through Ōkuma, generally follows the same route as the Iwaki-Sōma Road.[5]

Creation of the municipality[edit]

In 1888, the national government passed the Municipal Government Act (市制町村制 Shi-sei Chōson-sei), and in accordance with the act, on 1 April of the following year the villages of Ōno (大野村 Ōno-mura) and Kumamachi (熊町村 Kumamachi-mura) were inaugurated as parts of the district of Shineha (標葉郡 Shineha-gun).

On 1 April 1896, the Shineha district merged with the district of Naraha (楢葉郡 Naraha-gun) to become the present-day district of Futaba. Over half a century later, on 11 November 1954, the villages of Ōno and Kumamachi merged to form the present-day town of Ōkuma.

From coal mining to nuclear power[edit]

Beginning during the 1870s, coal mining became an integral part of the economy of the Hamadōri region. This continued through the beginning stages of Japan's post-World War II rapid economic growth period, leading Fukushima Prefecture to lag behind the country as a whole in industrial and economic development. In the tail end of the 1950s, the prefecture began promoting electricity generation as a way to alieve the economic problems on the horizon from the impending closure of the coal mines.

On 30 September – 22 October 1961 the town councils of Futaba and Ōkuma, respectively, unanimously voted to invite Tokyo Electric Power Company to build a nuclear power plant on the border of the two towns.[6] In September 1967 construction began on unit one of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. By October 1978, units one through four, which are on the Ōkuma side of the plant, had been commissioned. Units five and six (on the Futaba side) were commissioned by March 1979.[7]

2011 Tōhoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster[edit]

On 11 March 2011 the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami occurred. The tsunami hit and flooded the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, located on the Pacific coast of Ōkuma, and set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. By the following morning, the Japanese government had ordered residents to evacuate to outside of a 10 km radius of the power plant. Many residents were evacuated to the nearby city of Tamura, among other cities.[8]

Shortly thereafter Ōkuma set up a temporary town office in the Tamura City General Gymnasium (田村市総合体育館 Tamura-shi Sōgō Taiikukan). The temporary town office was later moved on 3 April to Aizuwakamatsu. Ōkuma residents had scattered to about 20 evacuation centers located in the cities of Tamura and Kōriyama and the towns of Miharu and Ono, and by 30 April approximately 1,800 residents had expressed the desire to also move to Aizuwakamatsu.[9]

On 10 December 2012 Ōkuma modified the areas of the town under evacuation orders and permitted residents of select regions of the town to return to their homes. Within the first 19 days 104 residents returned,[2] however other residents of Ōkuma, like some other communities in Fukushima, are "starting to come to terms with a sobering realization: their old homes are probably lost forever, and they must start anew elsewhere."[10]


Trains on the Jōban Line formerly stopped in Ōkuma at Ōno Station, however following the earthquake on 11 March 2011 and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, trains no longer operate in the town. As of 5 June 2012, trains on the Jōban Line from Tokyo go no further north than Hirono Station and from Sendai run no further south than Haranomachi Station, thus stopping well before Ōkuma in both directions.[11]

National Route 6 and National Route 288 also go through the city.

Sister city[edit]

Since March 1991 Ōkuma has been a city sister to Bathurst, New South Wales in Australia.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Satoshi Narita (5 August 2011). "統計Today No.41: 被災3県(岩手県、宮城県及び福島県)の沿岸地域の状況" (in Japanese). Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Statistics Bureau. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b 東日本大震災:福島第1原発事故 大熊町、避難区域再編後の住民立ち入り 19日間で104人のみ (in Japanese). Mainichi Shimbun. 12 January 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  3. ^ 武家家伝_標葉氏 [Samurai Family History: Shineha Clan] (in Japanese). 戦国武将の家紋. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Fujiwara, Ichirō (1 December 2011). 相馬の歴史講座 [Lecture on Sōma History] (in Japanese). Sōma City. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  5. ^ 百街道一歩の岩城相馬街道 [A Step on a Hundred Roads: Iwaki-Sōma Road] (in Japanese). 3 September 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  6. ^ 横須賀正雄 (1968). 東電・福島原子力発電所の用地交渉報告. 用地補償実務例 第1 (in Japanese) (日本ダム協会): 60–61. 
  7. ^ "Fukushima Daiichi Information Screen". Icjt.org. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  8. ^ 【覆された備え11】再避難 強いられ分散 所在確認 今も続く (in Japanese). The Fukushima Minpo newspaper. 29 April 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  9. ^ 東日本大震災特報 写真特集 (in Japanese). The Fukushima Minpo newspaper. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  10. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (11 March 2013). "Uprooted by Tsunami, Church's Flock Regroups". New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  11. ^ 長期運転見合わせ区間 [Area of Long-Term Train Cancellations] (in Japanese). East Japan Railway Company. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Council Sister City". Bathhurst Regional council. Retrieved 2 Feb 2014. 

External links[edit]