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Few Fukushima evacuees opt to return home

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2016

    Black garbage bags filled with grass and soil believed to be contaminated by radiation are kept in a snow-covered field in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

FUKUSHIMA, Japan >> More than 80 percent of households voluntarily evacuating from Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings’ Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apparently have not returned to the prefecture even after the prefectural government stopped providing free housing, according to a survey by the Fukushima prefectural government.

More than six years have passed since the nuclear accident occurred. Many people have started new lives in the locations they evacuated to outside of the prefecture, finding jobs and seeing their children advancing to higher education. More and more voluntary evacuees have settled down in their new homes.

The survey was conducted on 12,239 households who voluntarily evacuated from areas outside the evacuation zone, including households in a part of eastern areas of the village of Kawauchi and other places where evacuation orders were lifted by June 2015, when the Fukushima prefectural government announced a plan to stop providing free housing.

Before the termination at the end of March this year, prefectural government officials visited individual households concerned to learn their intentions regarding where they would live from April. The prefectural government compiled the survey based on the results obtained from 8,744 households whose intentions the prefectural government could learn.

Of them, 4,781 households evacuated to areas outside Fukushima Prefecture, and 3,736 of those said they would continue to live in the prefectures where they had evacuated to.

Furthermore, 169 households said they would move to other prefectures from their current evacuation destinations. A total of 81.7 percent of those living outside Fukushima Prefecture said they would continue to do so.

The prefecture failed to learn the intentions of about 3,500 households. An official at the prefectural government said, “There might be more voluntary evacuees who will not return to Fukushima Prefecture.”

Of the 3,963 households who evacuated to other municipalities within the prefecture, 2,639 households, or 66.6 percent, said they would return to the municipalities where their homes are located.

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