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Many Kumamoto local gov't heads see no quick solution to temp housing problem: survey

These three photos show the residential situation in the town of Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture. In the top photo, destroyed houses are seen just after the Kumamoto Earthquake struck in April 2016, vacant land lots are visible a year after the quake struck in the middle photo, while ongoing construction efforts are seen after two years in the bottom photo. (Mainichi)

KUMAMOTO -- Some 14 heads of 21 local governments in areas hit hard by the Kumamoto Earthquake believe it's difficult to ensure that some 38,000 people living as evacuees in temporary housing move into permanent housing within three years, according to the results of a Mainichi Shimbun survey.

The poll shows that the reconstruction of victims' houses and the building of permanent public housing for those in need lags behind because it's difficult to secure building contractors due to a boom in construction work related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, amongst other reasons.

April 14 marks the second anniversary of the Kumamoto Earthquake. The number of victims in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures totaled 267, including 50 direct deaths, 212 disaster-related fatalities, and five victims due to heavy rain after the quake. The earthquake destroyed 8,672 houses, left 34,720 dwellings seriously damaged, while partially damaging 162,136 houses. A total of 38,112 people continue to live as evacuees in temporary housing as of the end of March.

A temporary housing complex is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, on April 13, 2018. (Mainichi)

The Mainichi Shimbun emailed questionnaires to the heads of 21 local governments in Kumamoto Prefecture, where at least 50 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged by the Kumamoto Earthquake, and all the heads responded by March 30.

When asked whether they could secure permanent housing for those living as evacuees in temporary housing within three years, 14 local governments, or two-thirds, answered it was "difficult," while the remaining seven local governments answered that they "probably can."

The city of Kumamoto, where 17,689 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged, and the town of Mashiki, where 60 percent of all houses were destroyed or seriously damaged, said it would be "difficult" to secure permanent housing for those living as evacuees in temporary housing within three years.

(Japanese original by Ken Nakazato, Hayato Jojima, Kumamoto Bureau)

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