80 percent of evacuees from 3 prefectures won't return to hometowns: survey
Eighty percent of those who have evacuated from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hit hard by the March 2011 disasters, will unlikely return to their hometowns, a survey has shown.
The Mainichi Shimbun recently conducted a survey on 118 evacuees -- 25 new respondents and 93 others who were covered by at least one previous Mainichi survey. Five of the 118 have evacuated from Iwate, 20 from Miyagi and 93 from Fukushima.
Of the respondents, 58 percent said they are considering settling down in prefectures other than their domiciles, and 22 percent said they have already done so. Only 20 percent said they have no intention of permanently living in other prefectures. The survey was the fourth of its kind carried out by the Mainichi.
Those thinking about settling down in other prefectures have kept steadily growing. The figure, which stood at 54 percent in a survey conducted six months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis, rose to 63 percent a year after the triple disasters and then 75 percent 1 1/2 years after the calamity.
In the latest survey, the Mainichi for the first time asked the respondents whether they have already settled down in other prefectures.
Asked why they want to settle down in prefectures other than their domiciles or why they have already done so, most people, 37, cited their concerns about possible radiation exposure, followed by 36 who pointed out that there are no prospects that they can return to their original neighborhoods in the foreseeable future.
Just half of the respondents said their family members are living separately, and 27 percent of them answered that their wives are taking shelter with their children while their husbands are living apart.
Of those who responded to the latest survey, 42 percent are living in apartments introduced to them by local governments without paying rent, while 27 percent are taking shelter at apartments that they found on their own and have local bodies paying the rent. Twelve percent are living in apartments and paying their own rent.
Roughly half of them said they are worried about their temporary housing while the rest answered they are not. Many of those who have voiced concern cited they do not know what to do after the three-year period of living in temporary housing ends while they have no prospects of returning to their neighborhoods.
The government has extended the two-year legal limit on the period of living in temporary housing units for those who have evacuated following the March 2011 disasters to three years, and is considering extending it by another year.
Regarding their financial conditions, nearly 60 percent of the evacuees surveyed said they are in financial distress just like in the previous survey, with 24 percent saying they are struggling to make a living and 35 percent answering their financial conditions are relatively tough.
Over half of those who have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, 58 percent voiced concerns about health hazards that could be caused by radioactive substances leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Many of them said they are worried about the health conditions of their children in the future while others said they might have been exposed to radiation while being evacuated.
Of the Fukushima evacuees, 42 percent demanded that atomic power stations be immediately decommissioned, and 56 percent insisted that nuclear plants be shut down on a step-by-step bases while a mere 2 percent said such power plants should be retained.
About half, or 46 individuals, fled their neighborhoods at the instruction of local governments while 47 voluntarily did so.
Eighty percent responded that they do not feel they are being discriminated against because of the nuclear disaster. The remaining 20 percent said they feel they are facing discrimination with many of them pointing out that people around them made offensive remarks about the nuclear disaster or strangers curiously looked at the Fukushima license plates of their cars.
March 05, 2013(Mainichi Japan)