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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 March 3 - 9  > Shii talks with activists in Miyagi on ways to support 3.11 disaster victims
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2021 March 3 - 9 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Shii talks with activists in Miyagi on ways to support 3.11 disaster victims

March 4, 2021

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on March 3 held an online meeting with representatives of civil organizations in Miyagi, one of the three prefectures in the Tohoku region severely hit by the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami ten years ago, to find out the current need of the disaster victims to reconstruct their homes and livelihoods.

Ogawa Seiji, secretary general of a civil group working for a people-centric recovery from the March 2011 disaster, brought up the issue of 3.11 survivors who are still forced to live in their partially damaged houses because among government programs for the reconstruction of damaged homes, only the emergency repair program under the Disaster Relief Act has been available for them. Ogawa said, “The government should improve its program to support home reconstruction so that disaster survivors can use it based on the level of severity of damages.”

Regarding this issue, Ito Ken’ya, head of a volunteer group working to support the 3.11 victims living in partially damaged homes, stressed that the government should introduce a disaster case management program designed to assess damages incurred by each disaster victim and implement necessary measures based on the assessment in collaboration with experts.

Vice chair of the Miyagi local of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (Min-iren) Yazaki Tomoko (physician) reported on the results of a door-to-door survey conducted between October and November last year at public housing units for disaster victims. In the survey, more than 30% of victims surveyed said their health conditions worsened although their living environment improved after moving from temporary housing. In the same survey, the percentage of respondents who said they get depression exceeded 50%. As major factors for this, Yazaki cited that financial worries appear to drive disaster victims into social isolation and help to explain their hesitation in going to consult with doctors. She said, “The need is to discuss ways to extend help to these people.”

JCP Miyagi Prefectural Assembly member Miura Kazutoshi, who heads the JCP prefectural assemblymembers’ group, explained that local fishermen are experiencing difficulties caused by various factors such as the impact on fishery products from climate change and the double punch of the COVID-19 recession and the consumption tax increase to 10%. Miura said, “Many fishermen applied the government loan program to resume fishing operations. Their urgent demand is that a 20-year repayment period be extended to ease their payment burden.” The JCP prefectural assemblyperson also criticized Miyagi Governor Murai Yoshihiro for unilaterally terminating the medical fee exemption program for the 3.11 victims while pushing forward with neoliberal policies, including promoting large-scale public works projects and the “special fishery restoration zone” project under the pretext of “creative reconstruction”.

Shii said, “As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the 2011 disaster, it is necessary for the government to accurately assess the current situation of the 3.11 victims. The JCP will urge the government to continue and improve necessary support based on survey and assessment results.”

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