Some of the people affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan will have to stay in temporary housing up to 10 years after the disaster, a Kyodo News survey found Sunday.
Around 59,000 people, many of whom are elderly, were still living in the prefabricated makeshift housing in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures as of late January, although the number has decreased by almost half from its peak. The country will mark the fifth anniversary of the disaster on Friday.
Forty-six municipalities in the northeastern prefectures were asked when they expected the evacuees to leave the housing complexes.
One municipality — the town of Otsuchi, Iwate, where nearly 2,900 people, a quarter of the town’s total population, are still living in temporary housing — said it would be around March 2021 at the earliest.
Devastated by tsunami on March 11, 2011, the town has been working on moving people to higher ground, but it has faced difficulty finding appropriate land, the office said.
Many other polled municipalities said it would take until 2019 to complete the transfer of evacuees from makeshift housing.
A total of 17 local governments said they could not make any forecast, including 11 in Fukushima, where the ongoing crisis at a tsunami-hit nuclear plant forced some residents to leave their homes.
After the 1995 massive earthquake that struck Kobe and other western Japan areas, it took five years for all the evacuees to leave their makeshift shelters.
Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, with the central government underscoring that the event will be an opportunity to show the world Japan has rebuilt from the 2011 calamity that left over 15,000 people dead or missing.