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80% of voluntary Fukushima disaster evacuees outside pref. won't move back: survey

FUKUSHIMA -- Some 80 percent of voluntary Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees now living in other areas of Japan have no intention of returning, results of a Fukushima Prefectural Government survey released on April 24 show.

The prefecture ended a housing subsidy for voluntary evacuees at the end of March this year, stating that the "living environment (in Fukushima Prefecture) is in good order" due to ongoing decontamination work and other factors.

Voluntary evacuees "still worry about radiation, and many of them have shifted the foundations of their lives to the places they've evacuated to," the prefectural official in charge of the survey said.

The survey covered 12,239 voluntary evacuee households that had been receiving the prefectural housing subsidy, of which 5,718 households had left Fukushima Prefecture. A total of 4,781 supplied answers to the prefecture regarding where they intended to live in the future, 78.2 percent of which stated that they would "continue living" in the area they had evacuated to. Another 3.5 percent stated that they would move, but not back to Fukushima Prefecture. Only 18.3 percent of respondent households said they intended to move back to the prefecture.

However, only 23.6 percent of voluntary evacuees living in Fukushima Prefecture said they would stay in their current locations, while 66.6 percent said they hope to return to their pre-disaster homes.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told reporters at an April 24 news conference, "It's essential to respect the evacuees intentions" about returning home. "However, we will work to create an environment where people can live with peace of mind, so evacuees can return home in the future."

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