An annual Fukushima prefectural government survey of households still evacuated after the 2011 nuclear accident has found that those with family members complaining of mental and physical disorders accounted for 62.1% of the total in fiscal 2015. The ratio was down 4.2 percentage points from the previous year but showed the stark reality that the protracted evacuee life has had a heavy burden on families forced to live away from home following the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Given continued recognition of post-disaster deaths as related to the devastating earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident, the prefectural government is urged to offer long-term assistance to evacuee families.
The results of the survey, which covered evacuees in and outside the prefecture, were announced on June 20. Of the families with members having psychosomatic disorders, households living away from their homes in evacuation zones accounted for 65.3% (down 4.5 points from fiscal 2014). It topped those households voluntarily evacuated from areas not designated for evacuation which constituted 55.8% (down 0.7 point).
Asked about details of the disorders (multiple answers permitted for each question), the largest proportion — 57.3% — cited sleeplessness, followed by 54.6% who said they are “unable to enjoy anything” unlike in pre-disaster days while 50.5% have come to “get tired easily,” 43.8% felt “irritated,” 41.6% “dismal and depressed,” and 39.1% “isolated.”
Sleeplessness was a disorder cited by most families living away from their homes in evacuation zones, at 59.3%, and “getting tired easily” was chosen by most households voluntarily evacuated from areas not designated for evacuation, at 52.9%.
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.
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Almost 60% of respondents to a recent opinion poll in Fukushima Prefecture said they feel that the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant is fading from public consciousness, up more than 7 percentage points from a similar survey two and a half years earlier. The latest poll was conducted jointly by Fukushima-Minpo Co., the publisher of the namesake newspaper, and Fukushima Television Broadcasting Co. on residents in the prefecture. It is the ninth in a series of surveys taken since the disaster.
Of the valid responses, 59.3% felt public consciousness with regard to the nuclear disaster is wearing thin with time, which was 7.1 points higher than in the third survey conducted in October 2012. The results reflect the need for the authorities to step up efforts to make the current conditions in Fukushima, which continues to be affected by the nuclear disaster, known to the rest of the nation.
As for perceived misunderstandings about the threat of radiation, 61.3% did not feel any sign of them subsiding. The survey also asked the respondents whether they felt Fukushima Prefecture’s current situation was being correctly understood by the Japanese public, with 71.6% saying no, much more than the 5.8% who replied positively.
In particular, 82.3% of respondents who felt the nuclear disaster is fading from public awareness and 81.9% of those who saw no sign of an end to misplaced concerns about radiation said Fukushima’s conditions are not being understood by the rest of Japan.
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Home-cooked meals in Fukushima Prefecture subjected to radioactive cesium tests were all found to contain less than the minimum detectable dosage, according to the results of a fiscal 2014 survey on radioactive contamination of home-prepared food released by a local cooperative union on March 6. Coop Fukushima, based in Fukushima city, said radioactive cesium content in two days’ worth of meals of 100 households was below the limit of 1 becquerel per kilogram.
In the survey, six meals prepared over a two-day period from each household were tested with the cooperation of members of Coop Fukushima, Coop Aizu and Coop Southern Fukushima Prefecture. All of the households surveyed used ingredients available in the prefecture, including tap water.
The survey has been conducted since fiscal 2011, with checks done on meals of a combined total of 600 households. The proportion of meals which measured above the detection limit was 10 percent in fiscal 2011, 4.5 percent in fiscal 2012, 3.0 percent in fiscal 2013 and zero in fiscal 2014. “Testing by the prefectural government and efforts by producers, among other factors, led to the decrease,” said an official of Coop Fukushima.
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The Reconstruction Agency’s latest survey has found the proportion of evacuees from Iitate village, Fukushima Prefecture, desiring to return to their hometown increased 8.1 percentage points to 29.4 percent from the previous survey in November 2013. The results of the fiscal 2014 survey for the village were released by the agency on March 6.
Iitate was the last among the prefecture’s municipalities to see the outcome of a round of surveys taken during the current fiscal year through March 31 concerning evacuees’ intention to return to their hometowns. Among the seven towns and villages for which each survey asked about residents’ desire to return, the proportion of people thinking of going back grew in five municipalities.
An official of the Reconstruction Agency said the increase was probably because “decontamination work has progressed and more residents are thinking more positively about returning.” Another factor that is believed to have led to more people expressing their desire to go back is the addition to the survey’s response choices of a note saying “includes a desire to return in the future.” Of the respondents from Iitate, 32.5 percent said they have not yet decided, down 3.6 points from the previous survey, and 26.5 percent said they have decided not to return, down 4.3 points.