Sunday, September 22, 2013

Still Praying for Tohoku: Little Change in Yamada, Iwate...

 Yamada in September 2013.  The small town in Iwate Prefecture 
was almost completely submerged by the 3/11 tsunami.  
(Photos: Scott Ree of Namida Project)

Map of Iwate Prefecture.  (Source: JNTO)

Map of Tohoku. (Source: Web-Japan)



Disaster victims expressed anger when they were informed of the industry ministry bureaucrat’s remarks.

“They were uttered by someone who does not know anything about the disaster area,” said a 59-year-old man who lives in temporary housing in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. “He may be smart, but he does not have the mind and heart of man.”

A 60-year-old woman who runs a restaurant in a temporary shopping area in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, said: “We are trying to restore what we built over the years (and lost). As long as there is someone like him, reconstruction is impossible.”
With so many survivors still living in cramped temporary housing units, Yamada said, a lot of people aren’t happy to see the government spending so much cash on Olympic-related events.
But the problem of solitary deaths among survivors could be more widespread, as many moved into accommodations rented by municipal offices over a broader area, potentially severing community links, the survey suggested Wednesday.

Complaints are also being raised over the differences in assistance levels in the Tohoku region. Many survivors are stuck in temporary housing because they lack the funds to rebuild.

Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear power plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co., subsidizes payments for mortgage interest and provides assistance of up to 3 million yen to keep residents in the town.

The town’s population has fallen from more than 10,000 to around 7,700.

“The reason why we offer better subsidies than other municipalities is that we are more attentive to the issue,” a town official said

At least 81 evacuees have died alone in temporary housing in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures since the 2011 quake and tsunami, a survey says.
"Disaster areas critically short of manpower" (Jiji via JT, Sept. 10, 2013)

"Tohoku still in dire need of medical support" (Jiji via JT, Sept. 11, 2013)
Thirty months after tsunami devastated the Tohoku coast, residents are still facing a lack of medical services because of delays in restarting damaged hospitals and clinics and the closures of others.

"Trillions for rebuilding Tohoku go unused" (Jiji via JT, July 13, 2013):
The Reconstruction Agency said Wednesday that ¥3.4 trillion — 35.2 percent — of the ¥9.74 trillion in the fiscal 2012 budget slated to rebuild areas hit by the March 2011 disasters went unused.

The year before, 39.4 percent of the reconstruction budget, or around ¥5.9 trillion, went unspent, indicating the recovery effort has suffered from poor planning...

Last year, ¥4.73 trillion was allocated to rebuild roads and embankments, as well as to relocate residential areas, but 43.9 percent in this category was unused.

Of the ¥655.6 billion earmarked for washing away contamination from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, 67.9 percent was unused, the agency said...

Unless rebuilding moves forward, devastated communities will keep shrinking, further slowing the process, observers said.
"Tohoku Has Been Rent Asunder for Future Generations" (引き裂かれた東北を後世に残す) (Roger Pulvers, The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, March 13, 2013)

Quake victims allowed to stay in temporary housing another year" (Asahi, Feb. 25, 2013)
Victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake will be allowed to stay in temporary government housing for an additional year as new public housing construction lags in the three hardest-hit prefectures, sources said.

The central government's decision to extend the temporary housing limit to four years came after it was found that only 55 percent of the new houses planned in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.

The extension also means around 110,000 people still living in prefabricated temporary housing will have to continue to endure harsh living conditions.

About 300,000 people now live in temporary housing, including accommodations offered by the private sector and whose rent is subsidized by the government.

Today is the last day of Washi Candle Garden decorated with washi (Japanese paper) 
illuminating messages from Tohoku residents and Tokyoites.
 ("Candles to remember Tohoku" by Magdalena Osumi, JT, Sept. 19, 2013)


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