Drones deliver food to town hit by Fukushima nuclear disaster

02 Nov 2017


Residents of Minimisoma, a town devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster are getting drone-delivered food as obtaining supplies can be difficult due to limited shop access.

Residents of the town were allowed to return last year.

Convenience store chain Lawson in association with e-commerce firm Rakuten launched the drone service last year, in the Odaka district of the city of Minamisoma, which has a large population of older people.

The district lies within 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station, the site of the nuclear disaster triggered by an earthquake and tsunami six years ago. People were forced to leave their homes due to radiation concerns (See: Japan raises Fukushima disaster to Chernobyl's Level 7).

The Japanese government allowed return of the resident in October 2016 following decontamination efforts.

"The town is starting to regain its former liveliness as its residents continue to return home," Lawson spokesperson Ken Mochimaru told the BBC.

"However, improving the shopping environment for daily necessities, food, and other products represents a high-priority challenge," he said.

Shoppers can order hot food like fried chicken and household items, that are delivered by drones to a nearby Lawson store. It is then delivered by a mobile food van that operates at a community centre in the area. The service will undergo trials over the next six months.

According to the operators, the drone delivery service, which is the first of its kind in Japan can carry up to 2kg of goods.

Lawson operates mobile vans across Japan, especially in rural and mountainous regions where access is difficult. The service also serves ageing populations in urban areas.

Japan, with a quarter of its population aged over 65, is expected to see the number of its seniors increase over the next two decades, as the total number of people in the country shrinks.

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