Because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that unfolded in March 2011, six towns and villages that had to be evacuated — Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao and Iitate — plan to build “out-of-town” communities where reinforced public apartments play a central role. The prefecture plans to build 4,890 units to house people from these and 13 other municipalities."Majority of Tohoku mayors say recovery slow or nonexistent," (via JT via Kyodo, March 2):
The prefecture has not come up with good ideas to expedite public housing, and the evacuees are facing the very real possibility they could be in temporary lodging for years to come. The fastest project to be completed so far is the 20-unit complex in Koriyama, which won’t start accepting residents until October.
When the evacuees move in, the prefectural government plans to let groups of residents who formed close ties in the shelters occupy neighboring units at the new apartments so those relationships can be preserved.
This is a lesson learned from the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, when the shift to permanent public housing severed bonds the evacuees had formed in its aftermath, leaving them socially isolated and leading to a surge in solitary deaths.
The chiefs of the radiation-tainted towns of Namie and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture meanwhile said no progress was being made at all on reconstruction, even though all their residents have fled to avoid the radiation spewed by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant."THREE YEARS AFTER: Stress-related deaths reach 2,973 in Tohoku," (by Shinichi Fujiwara and Shiori Tabuchi, Asahi, March 7):
In Iwate and Miyagi, municipality heads said the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure including roads, railway and port facilities has been slow.
Many mayors expressed concern that public attention is increasingly shifting from Tohoku’s plight to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The death toll from the March 2011 disasters stood at 15,884 as of Feb. 10, with 2,636 still unaccounted for, according to the National Police Agency.
As of the end of January, in the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2,973 people had died from physical and psychological fatigue since the disaster struck on March 11, 2011, the survey showed.
Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, accounted for 1,660 of those deaths, compared with 1,607 deaths directly caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.
The stress-related death toll was 879 for Miyagi Prefecture and 434 for Iwate Prefecture, according to the survey.
In Fukushima Prefecture, more than 130,000 people have been evacuated because of the nuclear accident, and the emotional strain from living away from home is taking a toll.
“Older people tend to get ill due to changes in their environments,” a prefectural government official said. “Stress from anxiety about an unforeseeable return home also affects their health and can lead to death.”