25 Décembre 2015
December 24, 2015
Dec. 25, 2015 - Updated 04:53 UTC+1
Japan's latest national census has found that the population of Fukushima Prefecture, home to the troubled nuclear power plant, has dropped by a record 5.7 percent since 2010.
The census was conducted in October and preliminary data were released on Friday. The census is held every 5 years, making this the first one since the March 2011 disaster hit northeastern Japan.
There were around 1.9 million people living in the prefecture as of October 1st. That's about 115,000 less than 5 years ago.
The population peaked at about 2.1 million in 1995 and has been falling since then.
The population of the Soso area of the prefecture fell by 42.9 percent. It contains restricted areas due to radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Meanwhile, the population of the Iwaki area, which has taken in many evacuees, grew by 2.1 percent.
Prefectural officials attribute the record drop in the population to residents who evacuated elsewhere following the nuclear accident. They say the area's aging population also played a role in the decline.
The population of Fukushima Prefecture has decreased by approximately 110,000 since before the outbreak of the March 2011 nuclear crisis, according to preliminary figures for the 2015 Population Census.
The prefectural government attributes the decrease to the evacuation of residents out of the prefecture because of the nuclear crisis in addition to the declining birthrate and aging of the population.
According to the figures released on Dec. 25, the prefecture's population stood at 1,913,606 as of Oct. 1 this year, down 115,458, or 5.7 percent from 2,029,064 in the previous census conducted in 2010. It was the sharpest decrease in history and marked a postwar low.
By gender, there were 968,639 women in the prefecture, a decrease of 7.3 percent from the previous census, while the population of men came to 944,967, down 4 percent.
Regarding a gap in the percentage of the decrease between men and women, an official of the prefectural government said, "There are still many cases where women are evacuating in other prefectures with their children, fearing the effects of radiation, while leaving their husbands in Fukushima. Moreover, a massive number of male workers flowed into the prefecture for disaster recovery projects, such as decontamination work."
Twelve cities, towns and villages, where evacuation orders were issued in at least some areas following the disaster, saw their populations decline.
The population was zero in Okuma, Futaba, Tomioka and Namie -- four of six municipalities where evacuation orders are still effective in all areas. The population of Katsurao, where the municipal government is aiming to enable residents to return home by next spring, was 18. These people are currently residing in their homes in preparation for full-scale returns and have expressed their will to stay there for at least three months. The population of Iitate was 41, with these people choosing to stay at nursing care homes for the elderly in the town without evacuating to other areas.
The town of Naraha saw an 87.3 percent decline in its population from 7,700 in 2010 to 976 even though the evacuation order was lifted this past September.
The population of Kawauchi, where the evacuation order was lifted in some areas in October 2014, plummeted 28.3 percent from 2,820 to 2,021.
In contrast, municipalities in the prefecture that host many evacuees and workers engaged in disaster recovery work saw their populations increase from the pre-disaster period. The populations of Iwaki and Soma rose 2.1 percent and 2 percent, respectively. This is the first time in 20 years that these cities have seen increases in their populations.