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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Evacuees' distress

April 29, 2014

Almost half of evacuated Fukushima households split up by disasters still divided: poll



FUKUSHIMA -- A survey of Fukushima Prefecture households that remain evacuated in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster has found nearly half of the households whose members lived together before the disasters are now split up.

In the prefectural government survey, released April 28, 67.5 percent of evacuated households have members who have complained about health problems since the disasters, indicating that prolonged evacuation has weighed heavily on evacuees.

It is the first comprehensive survey of Fukushima evacuees including those who voluntarily fled homes located in areas other than designated "evacuation zones."

The Fukushima Prefectural Government conducted the survey between Jan. 22 and Feb. 6. It sent questionnaires to 62,812 households by mail, and 20,680 of them, or 33 percent, replied.

The survey found that 48.9 percent of evacuated households whose members lived together before the disasters are still divided. Members of about one-third of these households (33.3 percent) were living apart in two separate locations. Another 12.1 percent were split up between three locations, 2.9 percent between four locations, and 0.6 percent between five locations or more. A total of 44.7 percent of the evacuated households have been taking shelter together in one location since the outbreak of the disasters.

The survey showed that members of 70.2 percent of the households from "evacuation zones" had complained about health problems following the disasters. The corresponding figure for those who evacuated voluntarily was 54.9 percent. Symptoms such as "worsening of chronic diseases," "insomnia," and "being less unable to enjoy life" were at least 10 percentage points higher among those from "evacuation zones" compared with people who evacuated of their own accord.

The survey also shows that 50.6 percent of the households that voluntarily evacuated have moved the residential registrations of all of their family members to new addresses. Meanwhile, 86 percent of the households who fled the evacuation zones have not changed their residential registrations.

A Fukushima Prefectural Government official commented, "As for those households that voluntarily evacuated, many of them have been moving their residential registrations to new addresses in order to receive administrative services smoothly. As for those from the evacuation zones, many of them are probably worried that they may not be able to receive compensation (if they change their residential registrations)."

When the households that had voluntarily evacuated were asked about where they would reside permanently in the future, 36.3 percent of them chose the answer "undecided." Altogether, 27 percent of them said they want to settle down where they have been taking shelter, surpassing the 17.1 percent of households that said they want to return to the municipalities where they had lived before evacuating.

Of the households that had voluntarily evacuated to locations within Fukushima Prefecture, 35.4 percent said they wanted to return to the municipalities where they lived before the disasters. The condition the biggest number of the households -- 35 percent -- set for returning to their municipalities where they had lived before evacuating was "the elimination of the effects of radiation and associated concerns."

In response to the survey results, the Fukushima Prefectural Government said it intended to speed up its program to build public housing for disaster victims and decontaminate areas affected by the nuclear disaster. The prefecture also intends to build infrastructure such as hubs for business establishments and medical services to resolve the problem of prolonged evacuation.

April 29, 2014(Mainichi Japan)




Survey: Half of Fukushima evacuee households split up; distress rife in families




FUKUSHIMA--Nearly half of households that evacuated following the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been split up while close to 70 percent have family members suffering from physical and mental distress, a survey showed.

The number of households forced to live apart exceeds the number that remain together, according the survey, the first by the Fukushima prefectural government that attempted to survey all households that evacuated.

The results were announced on April 28.

Between late January and early February, Fukushima Prefecture mailed the surveys to 62,812 households living within and outside the prefecture.

Of the 20,680 respondents, 16,965 households, or 82 percent, originally lived in the evacuation zone near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, while 3,683 households, or 18 percent, lived outside the zone but voluntarily evacuated after the nuclear accident unfolded in March 2011.

It was unclear if the remaining 32 households were originally within the evacuation zone.

Some 44.7 percent of the households still lived with all family members at their new homes. The figure included single-person households.

But 48.9 percent of households said their family members now live at two or more locations, including 15.6 percent whose family members are scattered at three or more locations, according to the survey.

The results showed that many households in municipalities near the nuclear plant originally contained many family members, but they were forced to give up living together as their lives in evacuation continued.

Families are often divided over the degree of fear about radiation contamination. Locations of workplaces and schools also split families, while many members end up living in separate temporary housing.

The prolonged life in evacuation, now in its fourth year, is taking a toll. The survey revealed that 67.5 percent of all households had family members showing symptoms of physical or psychological distress.

More than 50 percent said the cause of their ailments was that they “can no longer enjoy things as they did before” or they “have trouble sleeping.”

“Being constantly frustrated” and “tending to feel gloomy and depressed” followed, at over 40 percent.

More than one-third of respondents, or 34.8 percent, said their “chronic illness has worsened” since they entered their lives as evacuees.


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