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Many feel less interest in 2011 quake disaster hit areas: survey

There is a general loss of public interest in the areas hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, according to many respondents to a nationwide survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun on March 5 and 6.

    In the poll, 51 percent say they "sometimes" feel that the Japanese public's interest in the disaster areas has faded, while 28 percent said they "often" feel so, for a combined total of nearly 80 percent that sense a fall in interest.

    The Mainichi Shimbun had also asked about the public's interest in the disaster areas in a March 2013 poll, two years after the quake. In that survey, as in the new poll, 51 percent said they "sometimes" felt that interest had fallen, and 26 percent said they "often" felt so, showing little change in these impressions. In the latest poll, 9 percent said they "don't feel much" that the public's interest has faded, while 4 percent said they "rarely" feel so.

    On the question of the government's support efforts and involvement with projects to help the disaster-hit areas recover, 5 percent of people asked in the new poll said they "greatly approve" of the job the government has done, 41 percent said they "somewhat approve," 36 percent said they "don't approve very much" and 9 percent said they "don't approve at all." The positive appraisals added up to 46 percent, while the negative appraisals totaled 45 percent. In a June 2011 survey taken not long after the disaster, the same question received 38 percent positive evaluations and 57 percent negative evaluations.

    Meanwhile, in the latest poll, 53 percent of respondents said they oppose the reactivation of nuclear reactors, which has been initiated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet since last year, while 30 percent supported reactivation.

    On the question of what should be done with the nation's nuclear power plants, 62 percent of respondents in the new survey said, "We should reduce them over time," 19 percent said, "We should get rid of them now," and 9 percent said, "We don't need to reduce them." Compared to an August 2011 poll, the "reduce over time" option fell 12 percentage points and the "get rid of them now" option grew by eight percentage points.

    In the most recent survey, among those opposed to restarting idled nuclear plants, 64 percent said that nuclear plants should be "reduced over time," while among those who support restarting idled plants, 71 percent chose that answer, showing that regardless of support or opposition to reactivating nuclear plants, there was a large desire among those polled for a future reduction of nuclear plants. Among respondents opposed to reactivation, 35 percent said that the country's nuclear plants should be "gotten rid of right away."

    Among supporters of the Abe Cabinet, 48 percent were in favor of nuclear reactivation and 36 percent opposed it. Among those who did not support the Cabinet, 73 percent opposed reactivation and only 14 percent supported it.

    The poll was conducted through phone calls to numbers randomly chosen by computer. Responses were received from 1,017 people in 1,736 homes with eligible voters. Answers were received from 59 percent of those called.

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