original article: http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160303/p2g/00m/0dm/075000c
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — Some 10,000 children whose families fled Fukushima Prefecture because of the March 2011 nuclear disaster have yet to return, prefectural government officials said Thursday.
Five years after the earthquake and ensuing tsunami triggered the radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, families with children continue to have serious reservations about environmental safety, according to a recent survey by the prefectural government.
As of last October, the number of such minors who have evacuated to areas outside the prefecture stood at 10,557. Among them, 4,760 were from 12 coastal municipalities designated as evacuation zones in the nuclear crisis, the survey said. The prefecture has 59 municipalities.
With young people absent from those areas, reconstruction may be difficult in the future, experts say.
“We need to implement more measures to improve the child-rearing environment (for their parents) to enable those children to return home” because the children are with their families, a prefectural government official of the children and youth division said.
The prefectural government has allocated subsidies to make medical costs free for children under 18 since October 2012. Since last year, the local government subsidizes moving expenses for those evacuees who want to return to their hometowns.
Some families are estimated to have transferred their resident registration to the municipalities to which they have fled, most likely making the actual number of evacuee minors from Fukushima higher, prefectural government officials said.
There were about 18,000 child evacuees as of April 2012. The number gradually declined after evacuation orders for some municipalities were lifted because radiation doses have dropped due to decontamination works. As of Feb. 1, the prefecture’s population stood at around 1.91 million.
original article: http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20151201/p2a/00m/0na/001000c
An organization providing educational support to children who were affected by the triple disasters of March 2011 released a report Nov. 30 indicating that households in which the father is either unemployed or is on short-term employment contracts have doubled compared to pre-disaster numbers.
Many students thus said they believe they will have to give up going to college or graduate school due to family finances.
The white paper, which investigated children’s poverty and gaps in educational environments and resources, was compiled by Chance for Children, a public interest incorporated association based in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, based on a survey it conducted from May to September 2014. The organization received responses from 2,338 households who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, to whom they have offered assistance. According to the organization, this marked the first time a survey of this scale was conducted regarding children’s educational circumstances in areas directly affected by such massive disasters.
The report showed that 13.1 percent of fathers in the surveyed disaster areas were either unemployed or short-term contract employees, about double the 6.3 percent recorded prior to March 2011. Conversely, regular employment suffered a drop of 9.4 percentage points, down to 78.5 percent. The percentage of households with a yearly income of less than 2.5 million yen jumped by 8.5 percentage points compared to pre-March 11, 2011 figures, to 36.9 percent.
Asked what their ideal educational trajectories were, 56.2 percent of third-year junior high school students who responded to the survey said they wanted to attend “university or more (graduate school).” However, asked what they believed was realistic, only 44.3 percent said “university or more (graduate school),” showing an 11.9-percentage point gap between ideal and realistic educational goals. Some 13.4 percent of students cited tight household finances as the main reason for this gap. In a similar survey taken of students and their parents in fiscal 2011, only 4.3 percent of students pointed to household finances as a factor in choosing realistic educational paths, illustrating a rise in the proportion of students being forced to choose “realistic” educational paths that run counter to their own wishes.
Meanwhile, a look at the income of households with junior high or high school students who have refused to go to school showed that the lower the income, the greater the likelihood that students refuse to attend school. Students coming from households with an annual income of less than 1 million yen accounted for 17.9 percent of students with a history of truancy. A greater number of students from low-income households also said that they felt they did not have a place where they felt safe, or that they had experienced suicidal tendencies.
“The effects of the 2011 disasters are seen not only in education, but also in everyday life and elsewhere, and their multiple causes — such as household finances and interpersonal relationships — are intertwined,” says Chance of Children’s representative director Yusuke Imai. “The central government, local governments and communities must collaborate to support students by expanding (non-loan) scholarships and institutionalizing a system of social workers specializing in children.”
An NHK survey has found that the number of evacuees who have died from poor health since the 2011 disaster has topped 3,000.
NHK asked local authorities about the deaths of evacuees as of the end of March. Most victims are believed to have died due to poor health brought on by the fatigue and stress of moving to temporary shelters.
The survey found that 3,076 people have died in 10 prefectures. The number rose by 388 from last year’s figure.
More than a half of all the victims are from Fukushima Prefecture. The number of people who died from poor health was 88 more than those killed by the quake and tsunami.
Many of the Fukushima victims are from municipalities near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The prefectural government in Fukushima says radiation levels in local forests in the year ending in March are down by half compared to 2 years ago.
Officials released the data in a meeting with people who work in the forestry industry in Fukushima. They have been monitoring radiation levels at 362 sites in the prefecture’s forests.
They say the average radiation for the sites was 0.91 microsieverts per hour in the year following the March 11, 2011, nuclear disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
The officials found that the average radiation level fell by about half to 0.44 microsieverts during the year ending in March 2014.
They say the amount of radioactive materials in new leaves was about one fifth of those contained in leaves that started growing before the disaster.
The prefectural government forecasts forest radiation will drop to around 30 percent from the current level over the next 20 years.
One official from the prefecture’s forestry planning department says workers’ fear of radiation has caused some forests to be abandoned. That’s causing concern about long-term management of forestry resources.
He added the prefecture will continue to monitor radiation and provide more information.
FUKUSHIMA–Nearly half of households that evacuated following the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been split up while close to 70 percent have family members suffering from physical and mental distress, a survey showed.
The number of households forced to live apart exceeds the number that remain together, according the survey, the first by the Fukushima prefectural government that attempted to survey all households that evacuated.
The results were announced on April 28.
Between late January and early February, Fukushima Prefecture mailed the surveys to 62,812 households living within and outside the prefecture.
Of the 20,680 respondents, 16,965 households, or 82 percent, originally lived in the evacuation zone near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, while 3,683 households, or 18 percent, lived outside the zone but voluntarily evacuated after the nuclear accident unfolded in March 2011.
It was unclear if the remaining 32 households were originally within the evacuation zone.
Some 44.7 percent of the households still lived with all family members at their new homes. The figure included single-person households.
But 48.9 percent of households said their family members now live at two or more locations, including 15.6 percent whose family members are scattered at three or more locations, according to the survey.
The results showed that many households in municipalities near the nuclear plant originally contained many family members, but they were forced to give up living together as their lives in evacuation continued.
Families are often divided over the degree of fear about radiation contamination. Locations of workplaces and schools also split families, while many members end up living in separate temporary housing.
The prolonged life in evacuation, now in its fourth year, is taking a toll. The survey revealed that 67.5 percent of all households had family members showing symptoms of physical or psychological distress.
More than 50 percent said the cause of their ailments was that they “can no longer enjoy things as they did before” or they “have trouble sleeping.”
“Being constantly frustrated” and “tending to feel gloomy and depressed” followed, at over 40 percent.
More than one-third of respondents, or 34.8 percent, said their “chronic illness has worsened” since they entered their lives as evacuees.