Minamisōma City Hall
Location of Minamisōmain Fukushima Prefecture
|• Mayor||Katsunobu Sakurai|
|• Total||398.58 km2 (153.89 sq mi)|
(1 October 2017)
|• Density||140/km2 (360/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)|
|- Tree||Japanese Zelkova|
|Address||2-27 Motomachi, Haramachi-ku, Minamisōma-shi, Fukushima-ken 975-8686|
Minamisōma (南相馬市 Minamisōma-shi) is a city located in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 October 2017[update], the city had an estimated population of 55,880 in 26,093 households, and a population density of 140 persons per km². The total area of the city is 398.58 square kilometres (153.89 sq mi).
Minamisōma is located in northeastern Fukushima Prefecture, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Abukuma Plateau to the west.
Minamisōma has a humid climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The average annual temperature in Minamisōma is 12.4 °C. The average annual rainfall is 1285 mm with September as the wettest month. The temperatures are highest on average in August, at around 24.7 °C, and lowest in January, at around 1.7 °C.
Per Japanese census data, the population of Minamisōma peaked at around the year 1990.
The area of present-day Minamisōma was part of ancient Mutsu Province, and has been settled since at least the Jōmon period. Numerous Kofun period remains have been found in the area. During the Edo period, the area was part of the holdings of Sōma Domain. After the Meiji Restoration, it was organized as part of Iwaki Province. With the establishment of the municipalities system on April 1, 1896, the area was organized into a number of towns and villages within Sōma District, including the town of Hara on September 1, 1897. Hara was raised to city status on March 20, 1954, becoming the city of Haramachi. The present city of Minamisōma was established on January 1, 2006, from the merger of Haramachi with the towns of Kashima and Odaka (both from Sōma District).
2011 earthquake and tsunami
Minamisōma was partially inundated by the tsunami which resulted from the Tōhoku earthquake on March 11, 2011, and suffered heavy damage. As of April 9, 2011, 400 residents were confirmed dead, with 1,100 missing.
Minamisōma is about 25 kilometres (16 miles) north of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the site of the nuclear accident that followed the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Much of the city lies within the 30 kilometer mandated evacuation zone near the plant, and thus most of the residents were forced to leave. Approximately a week after the earthquake Minamisōma was in the news again as the town's mayor Katsunobu Sakarai asserted that his people had been "abandoned" in the wake of orders for all remaining residents to stay in their homes inside the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
In March 2012, the city was divided into three zones: in the first, people were free to go in and out but not allowed to stay overnight; in the second, access was limited to short visits; and in the third area, all entry was forbidden because of elevated radiation levels that were not expected to go down within five years after the accident.
On April 15, 2012 some of people of Minamisōma were able to return to their homes when the evacuation zone was reduced from 30 kilometers to 20 kilometers from the reactors, with the exception of a wide area on the western border of the city with the town of Namiie. At the time the evacuation order was lifted the centre of city was still scattered with ruins and lacked electricity and running water, while schools and hospitals remained closed. On July 12, 2016 the evacuation order was lifted for all areas of the city except the western border region with Namiie; this permitted all of the remaining evacuees (with the exception of one household) to return home. In August of the same year, elementary schools and junior high schools, which has been closed since 2011, were allowed to reopen.
Minamisōma has 16 public elementary schools and six public junior high schools operated by the city government and four public high schools operated by the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education.
- Jōban Expressway – Minamisoma IC, Minamisoma-Kashima SA
- Japan National Route 6
- Japan National Route 114
Sister city relations
- ruins of Odaka Castle
- Sakurai kofun
- Daihisan stone Buddhas
- http://www.city.minamisoma.lg.jp/index.cfm/1,html Minamisōma official home page] (in Japanese)
- Minamisōma climate data
- Sōma population statistics
- "Eerie quiet reigns in evacuation zone". Japan Times. Associated Press. 9 April 2011. p. 4.
- David Jones (18 March 2011). "Mayor of Town Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant Claims People Abandoned". Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- John M. Glionna (March 31, 2011). "Anger and abandonment in a Japanese nuclear ghost town". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- "Excessive cesium found in 11 cows". yomiuri.co.jp. Archived from the original on 2011-07-12.
- "Evacuation order lifted for parts of Minamisoma". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. April 17, 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- "Evacuation order lifted for 10,000 residents of Minamisoma". Japan Times. July 12, 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- "US-Japan Sister Cities by State". Asia Matters for America. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- Sasaki, Takashi (2013). Fukushima: vivir el desastre (in Spanish). Translated by F. Javier de Esteban Baquedano. Gijón, Spain: Satori Ediciones. ISBN 978-84-941125-3-9.