Fukushima families 'put at risk as they are pushed to return to their abandoned homes'

Families who had to flee their homes after the Fukushima nuclear disaster are now being pressured to return despite high radiation levels in a "looming human rights crisis", a charity has warned.

Greenpeace say many people would be effectively forced into returning home in the radiation zone under threat of destitution under a "re-population" policy.

Japan has announced the lifting of evacuation orders in some areas close to the blast starting from March 2017.

However, Greenpeace say its investigations show nuclear contamination in the areas remain "far in excess of internationally recommended maximum dose limits".

Survivors now face the "impossible choice" of returning home or losing housing support and seeing compensation payments withdrawn a year later, it said in a report titled Unequal Impact.

Greenpeace said radiation levels in the resettlement zones were too high. Credit: PA

Greenpeace said the International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends a maximum exposure limit to artificial radiation of one millisievert (mSv) per year for members of the public.

However, Japan has said that areas can be resettled if radiation drops to a level of 20 mSv per year - the same as a nuclear worker's maximum limit, the report said.

Greenpeace said the policy would leave many with "no choice" but to return to contaminated areas as a result of the "cynical" policy.