Photo/IllutrationYuki Kokatsu, left, smiles as she finds her Japanese dictionary in Ono Elementary School in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 2. She was a second-grader of the school at the time of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. (Yosuke Fukudome)

  • Photo/Illustraion

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture--Seven years after being forced to leave her belongings behind, Yuki Kokatsu returned to her second-grade elementary school classroom here for the first time.

Yuki, now 15, spotted her melodica instrument on the floor, and said, "I found it."

The third-year junior high school student also found 30 other items she had left when her family was forced to evacuate due to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, including a Japanese dictionary and a jump rope. She put them all into her cloth bag to take home.

“I feel that I was able to recover my lost possessions. I will keep and treasure them,” said Yuki, who had evacuated to Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Yuki and other former Ono Elementary School students at the time of the disaster returned to their school on March 2 to retrieve their belongings.

After the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, which was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, all the residents of Okuma town evacuated to other areas.

Ono Elementary School is located in an area that remains designated as a difficult-to-return zone. However, the radiation level around the school has been lowered due to decontamination work. Because of that, former students and related people have asked the Okuma town government to allow them to enter the school building.

According to the Okuma town government, six groups visited Ono Elementary School on March 2. A total of 39 groups are expected to do so through March 4.