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Asia Insight

Pandemic Olympics: Japan searches for meaning in isolated games

With foreign fans nixed, 'reconstruction' slogan rings hollow at Fukushima relay

FRANCESCA REGALADO and RURIKA IMAHASHI, Nikkei staff writers | Japan

FUKUSHIMA, Japan -- For the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, the start of the torch relay last week was a welcome beginning after investing seven years and over $12 billion. For 82-year-old Teiko Nemoto, it was a bittersweet end to the life she once knew.

The northeastern prefecture of Fukushima was chosen as the starting point to highlight the region's recovery from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster 10 years ago. Nemoto, who was born and raised in the town of Futaba -- within a 10 km radius of the melted Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors -- returned for the first time since the catastrophe with her son, a relay support runner behind the torchbearer.

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