TOKYO – The delivery of ready meals and other food items, via a drone service, began this week in a city affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster to tackle limited food supply and services, a company spokesperson told EFE on Thursday.
Retail chain Lawson and e-commerce giant Rakuten launched the service on Tuesday, delivering hot food and other goods to Minamisoma, located in the 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius, and which was evacuated after the nuclear disaster of Fukushima in 2011.
A number of elderly people who had returned to the city after the Japanese government lifted the evacuation order a year ago can purchase food items online, which will be transported to the destination in a drone – with a capacity of two kilograms (4.4 pounds) – still hot.
A Rakuten spokesperson told EFE on Thursday that the service, operating once a week for an hour, in Minamisoma – which had 60,000 inhabitants before the disaster – was undergoing a trial period.
In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the Japanese authorities had established mandatory evacuation zones and areas of restricted access around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, depending on the levels of radioactivity detected.
Some of the evacuation orders have been lifted gradually, allowing the residents to return to their homes in various affected cities.
However, many residents have complained about the lack of access to different services once they were back.
Lawson, one of the major retail chains operating 24 hours in Japan, has catered to the affected cities by sending the vans once a week, aiming to meet the demands of the residents.
The spokesperson said the service in Minamisoma is the first of its kind in Japan, adding that it could be expanded to the rural parts of the country, areas affected by natural disasters and the urban vicinity with senior citizens.
People aged over 65 are expected to account for 40 percent of the Japanese population by 2065, according to the Japan’s Ministry of Health.