KAWAUCHI, Fukushima Prefecture--The population of forest green tree frogs is about to explode in Kawauchi. Government leaders hope the same thing will happen with the human population in this depleted village near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The village in January adopted the slogan “Kaeru Kawauchi” (Return to Kawauchi) to encourage those who evacuated from the village to come home.
“Kaeru” can also mean “frog,” which are well-known inhabitants of Hebusunuma pond, a government-designated natural monument, in Kawauchi.
The forest green tree frogs have started laying their eggs, forming white, softball-sized masses on the branches of trees of their protected habitat. Their croaks can be heard echoing around the otherwise quiet pond.
Chikara Yamaki, a park attendant, said 104 egg masses had been confirmed by June 13, and he expects more.
“The peak spawning period has yet to come,” he said.
In 2010, 375 eggs were confirmed. Frog eggs were not counted last year because of the nuclear accident.
Most of the Kawauchi residents were forced to relocate after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis. Part of the village was within the no-entry zone, and the remainder was designated a voluntary evacuation zone.
Although the village’s status as a voluntary evacuation zone was lifted in September, only 255 of about 3,000 people had returned by June 14, according to the village office.
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