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2011 disaster victims still living in difficult conditions: Akahata survey

March 11, 2014
Although three years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, around 267,000 people are still evacuated from their homes and 97,000 of them are living in temporary housing units. Akahata published survey results on the evacuees which clearly reveals their harsh living conditions.

This is the 6th survey of this kind by Akahata since the 2011 disaster. Akahata reporters visited shelter housing units and temporary shopping districts in the three hardest-hit prefectures and interviewed 300 residents. Of them, 98 people are from Iwate Prefecture, 103 from Miyagi Prefecture, and 99 from Fukushima Prefecture.

The rebuilding of the disaster victims’ houses falls far short of minimum goals. Asked if they have prospects of moving out of their temporary housing, 57% of the respondents said, “No”, and 27% answered “no idea”, totaling 84%. The reasons why they have to keep living in temporary housing were: delay in construction of public housing (37%) and lack of funds for building a new house (14%).

Employment and business conditions are bad. Of respondents who used to be corporate employees before the 2011 earthquake, 32% are still unemployed. Of those who engaged in agriculture, fishery or independent businesses, 63% answered that they have no hope for resuming their businesses, and 15% said that they have a hard time restarting their businesses, totaling 78%.

The prolonged evacuation status is causing damage to people’s health. A total of 52% of the respondents replied that their health condition is “bad” or “fairly bad”. Regarding the measure to exempt the disaster victims from paying medical and nursing care service fees, 93% of the respondents called for the continuation of the measure.

Many interviewees expressed their opposition to the policies of the Abe Cabinet which ignores the demands of disaster victims.

Regarding the consumption tax increase scheduled for April, 67% said it will severely affect them and 29% answered it will affect them to a certain extent. The planned tax hike will clearly deliver a heavy blow to the reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas.

While 74% of the respondents were opposed to Prime Minister Abe’s move to restart nuclear reactors, only 5% were in favor of it.

An 80-year-old woman, who has been evacuated from Fukushima’s Namie Town to Fukushima City, said, “I want to die in my hometown of Namie, not in a shelter housing unit. Forced to live apart from my son, I have a hard time making ends meet. The nuclear power energy policy should be abandoned.”
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