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Daiichi was built in the 1960s and ’70s, and for decades, Futaba and Okuma shared the wealth that was promised from the nuclear plant — huge subsidies for infrastructure projects and tax revenue that was sometimes triple the towns’ normal budget. It was welcome money for the fishing and farming communities, especially as young people moved to cities for school and work.

“This was a lifeline for them, getting that money every year,” said Daniel P. Aldrich, a professor at Northeastern University who has studied the benefits. He says Japan followed a pattern of offering more money than the rural communities that hosted the plants had ever seen while convincing residents the facilities were safe.

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