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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 June 11 - 17  > Prolonged evacuation increases Fukushima victims’ deaths
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2014 June 11 - 17 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Prolonged evacuation increases Fukushima victims’ deaths

June 12, 2014
More and more Fukushima victims are suffering from health problems and have died in solitude or died suddenly due to the physical and mental fatigue caused by their protracted evacuation after the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Data recently released by the Reconstruction Agency showed that the number of Fukushima people’s deaths related to the nuclear disaster reached 1,704. Of them, 323 were residents of Namie Town, half of which is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” by the state.

Among all Namie residents, 14,668 are taking shelter within Fukushima’s 30 municipalities, including Nihonmatsu City.

At a temporary housing complex located in the Dakeshita district in Nihonmatsu City, 48-year-old Yamada Yasuko, who served as an executive of the residents’ association, said, “Eight people have died here over the past three years.” She also has lost her health because she had to move from shelter to shelter.

An official of the Namie’s welfare department said that an increasing number of elderly living in temporary housing units has shown a sign of dementia and applied for nursing care services. “Their lives at shelters are mentally stressful because they always feel anxiety concerning their future,” said the official.

Tanba Fuminori, associate professor of public administration at Fukushima University, pointed out, “Long-standing, extensive evacuation from the nuclear disaster has broken up and destroyed families and communities, which led to an increase in disaster-related deaths.”

As measures to reduce disaster-related deaths, Fukushima Prefecture has decided to deploy 190 staff in 29 cities, towns, and villages. They will visit disaster evacuees to provide counselling services regarding their health and livelihood problems, and 17 staff will cover Namie residents living in 27 temporary housing complexes in Nihonmatsu and three other municipalities. The national government is just leaving the matter to the prefectural government.

Tanba said, “The central government, along with the prefectural government, should make the utmost effort to support Fukushima victims.”
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