About half of those who are staying at evacuation shelters after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami have been left with no means to support themselves, a Mainichi survey has revealed.
Around two-thirds of respondents said they have no place to stay if they leave makeshift shelters while it is difficult for nearly 60 percent of them to rebuild and repair their damaged homes.
The survey was conducted between April 5 and 9 on a total of 100 individuals sheltering at evacuation centers in Iwate, Miyagi, F**ushima and other prefectures. Those polled had lost their homes in last month's Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami or left their hometowns in the wake of radiation leaks from the disaster-crippled F**ushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in F**ushima Prefecture.
The respondents included 40 evacuees in Iwate Prefecture, 30 in Miyagi Prefecture, 20 in F**ushima Prefecture and 10 others who have evacuated from areas near the damaged nuclear facility to refugee shelters outside the prefecture.
Thirty-nine people had family members or relatives who died or became unaccounted for in the recent disaster, while residential buildings have been completely destroyed for 57 respondents and partially destroyed for 19 individuals. Fifteen people said they had part of their homes damaged.
Nearly 80 percent of respondents in Iwate Prefecture had their homes completely destroyed, while the figure was 67 percent for evacuees in Miyagi Prefecture.
Only 32 respondents answered they have places to live after leaving makeshift shelters, including temporary housing facilities, apartments, relatives' houses and their own homes.
A total of 19 people said they intend to reconstruct or repair their houses at their original locations, while 12 said they will move to different places and build new homes. However, 37 individuals had no prospects of restoring their residence and 19 answered it is impossible to rebuild.
Meanwhile, 59 respondents or their breadwinners have been forced to suspend business operations or have been left jobless after the disaster.
Twenty-eight people said they have a means to support their livelihoods after leaving evacuation centers, and 23 respondents answered they will be able to find a way to provide for their families again if they can find a new place to settle down.
As much as 80 percent of the 30 evacuees from F**ushima Prefecture, including those staying outside of the prefecture to avoid radiation risks, have been unable to go to work or lost their jobs due to the disaster and the nuclear crisis, with two thirds of them left without a means to support themselves.
Asked if they want to return to areas they used to live before March 11, 54 of those who participated in the survey answered they definitely want to return, while 26 said they would like to go back after the local community and industry have been restored. However, 19 people said they no longer want to return to their devastated hometowns.
Forty-four percent of respondents find it difficult to reconstruct the ravaged areas, while the figure was higher at 57 percent among all evacuees from F**ushima Prefecture.
When asked what they want the national and local governments to do for evacuees, the largest number of respondents, 37 people, said they want the authorities to reconstruct their collapsed houses, followed by 25 individuals who responded that economic assistance for areas hit hard by the disaster is urgently needed. Job assistance and information disclosure have also been sought for by nine people.
A 42-year-old oyster farm operator at an evacuation shelter in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, expressed his anxiety about the future, saying, "The oyster farm has been washed away by the tsunami, and it will take at least three years before I can resume my business. I wonder if I'll be able to make a living again."
"We managed to survive the earthquake and tsunami, but radiation leaks (from the crippled nuclear plant) make it harder for us to restore the community," said a woman in her 40s at a refugee shelter in the F**ushima Prefecture city of Minamisoma -- one of the municipalities located in close proximity to the nuclear power station.
Nearly 70 evacuees answered hot meals are served at their evacuation facilities three times a day, but two people said they have only been able to get cold food.
Asked about their physical and emotional conditions after the disaster, 36 people said they had colds and other medical problems, 40 were suffering from insomnia and 11 had high blood pressure. One person was transferred to a hospital.
Almost half of those surveyed said they feel strong anxiety about the continuing aftershocks and the possibility of another tsunami, and the figure was especially high among those in Miyagi Prefecture, with 60 percent of them expressing their concerns.
News Source: Daily Mainichi
102-year-old F**ushima man facing evacuation commits suicide
IITATE, F**ushima -- A 102-year-old man, apparently deeply troubled at the prospect of being forced to leave his home in this village close to the crippled F**ushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, has committed suicide -- a stark indicator of the emotional toll exacted by the nuclear crisis evacuations.
Iitate was included in the central government's expanded evacuation zone announced April 11 and required residents to evacuate within one month. According to local sources, the man took his own life on April 12, in the midst of a discussion with his eldest son and the man's wife about evacuating.
News Source: Daily Mainichi