Photo/IllutrationBags of contaminated soil are lined up in a neighborhood near JR Futaba Station in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Futaba, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, hopes to lose its "ghost town" status in spring 2022 when some residents may be allowed to return after more than a decade living as evacuees.

However, it is envisaged that only about 10 percent of the town will be habitable by then.

The timeline for the return of some evacuees was agreed to by town authorities at a special meeting Aug. 2.

Futaba was the first to present a road map for the return of its residents of the seven municipalities in the prefecture whose access to their jurisdictions is still restricted under the designation of difficult-to-return-to zone by the central government. High levels of radiation still exist there.

Ninety-six percent of Futaba’s land falls under the same designation.

The Futaba government has been operating out of Iwaki, also in the prefecture, since residents were ordered to flee after the triple meltdown unfolded at the nuclear plant in March 2011.

Futaba town hall expects to apply soon for state funds for the rebuilding hub project. If it gets the green light, decontamination and construction work will be financed by the central government.

A 555-hectare plot of land around JR Futaba Station will be set aside to build housing and infrastructure for the program.

The area was selected since radiation levels there are comparatively lower than in other parts of the town.

Futaba officials are hoping that 2,000 inhabitants will return to live in the town five years after the lifting of the evacuation order around spring 2022.