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Fukushima

Fukushima (fŏŏkōō´shĬmä), city (1990 pop. 277,528), capital of Fukushima prefecture, N Honshu, Japan, on the Kiso plain. A silk-textile center, it is a major commercial city of NE Japan, also producing cameras, automobiles, fruits, and bonsai trees.

Fukushima prefecture (1990 pop. 2,129,647), 5,321 sq mi (13,781 sq km), is partly mountainous. Its main agricultural area is watered by the Abukuma River. Rice and tobacco are the major crops; fishing, forestry, and gathering seaweed are the principal occupations. The Joban coalfield is the center of the region's coal mining. Fukushima (the capital), Koriyama, Iwaki, and Aizuwakamatsu are the chief cities.

Coastal areas of the prefecture were devastated by the tsunami that followed the Mar., 2011, NE Honshu earthquake. At the Fukushima No. 1 (Fukushima Daiichi) nuclear power plant, the destruction led to cooling system failures in the plant's reactors and fuel-storage pools, which caused meltdowns at three of the six reactors, explosions due to suspected hydrogen gas buildup at two reactors, and other problems. As a result of what became the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, radioactive material was released into the atmosphere and ocean. The radiation releases led to concerns over water and food contamination, and complicated the tsunami cleanup in the region around the plant. People were banned from a 12-mi (20-km) evacuation zone beginning in Apr., 2011, and later were evacuated from more distant locales, especially to the north and northwest.

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