The number of people moving out of the three prefectures hit hard by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami exceeded the number of those moving in by 41,226 in 2011, according to a survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.
The number, calculated by subtracting the number of people moving in from the number moving out of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, increased by 30,680 over the previous year. It was the first time the population outflow surpassed 40,000 since 1970, when the nation enjoyed rapid economic growth, according to the ministry’s survey on population mobility.
Among the three prefectures, Fukushima suffered the largest exodus of 31,381 people. It was the first time since 1963 that the prefecture had seen population outflow exceeding inflow by over 30,000.
Miyagi saw 6,402 more people moving out than moving in, while Iwate saw a net departure of 3,443, the survey found.
In the city of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, the number of people moving out surpassed the number of those moving in by 7,232–the largest outflow among municipal governments nationwide. In Iwaki City in the prefecture, 6,194 more people moved out than those who moved in, according to the survey.
The survey also found that out of the 20 municipal governments with the highest population outflow-to-inflow ratios, 14 cities and towns were in the three disaster-hit prefectures.
However, there were some positive results in hard-hit regions. Sendai saw an increase in the number people moving in over those moving out by 6,633, as did the city of Morioka by 1,502. The latter’s population outflow exceeded inflow by 179 in 2010.
The influx of people to the two prefectural capitals is believed to have resulted from many people moving away from the respective prefectures’ coastal areas, which were hard hit by the tsunami, as well as from Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
In the Tokyo metropolitan area–including Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures–the excess of population inflow over outflow decreased by about 30,000 in 2011 compared to the year before.