February 25, 2015
Less than one-fifth of evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster say they want to return to their homes, despite government efforts to speed up reconstruction in areas with lower radiation levels.
The finding came from a survey by the Reconstruction Agency conducted between August and October last year that covered about 7,100 evacuee households in Namie; 2,400 in Futaba; 4,000 in Okuma; and 5,600 in Tomioka.
Between 51 percent and 60 percent of the households responded to the poll, including those living outside Fukushima Prefecture.
The four towns, all situated near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, are divided into three zones based on annual radiation dosage levels: “difficult-to-return zones” with 50 millisieverts or more; “no-residence zones” between 20 and 50 millisieverts; and “zones being prepared for lifting of evacuation order,” with 20 millisieverts or less.
The central government has placed priority on decontaminating and reconstructing infrastructure in the latter zones to enable residents to return to their homes.
However, the survey showed that just 19.4 percent of evacuee households from “zones being prepared for lifting of evacuation order” in Namie wanted to return, while 14.7 percent of those in the zones in Tomioka felt the same.
Among evacuees from no-residence zones, 16.6 percent of households from Namie and 11.1 percent from Tomioka said they plan to return home when they are allowed.
Among those evacuated from difficult-to-return zones, 17.5 percent of households from Namie and 11.8 percent from Tomioka said they hope to resettle in their homes some day.
About 80 percent of all households in Namie and 70 percent of those in Tomioka are from no-residence zones and “zones being prepared for lifting of evacuation order.”
Still, even if the government lifts the evacuation order for these areas, only a handful of evacuees are likely to return, which would crimp revitalization plans for the towns.
Meanwhile, 32.4 percent of households evacuated from no-residence zones in Okuma, which cohosts the crippled plant with Futaba, said they want to return home.
The higher figure reflects preferential construction by the central government and town office of key facilities to promote the town’s reconstruction, spurring hope among residents to return. Decontamination work and restoration of a local highway route are also nearing an end in Okuma.
However, just 3 percent of Okuma residents are from no-residence zones, while the rest are from difficult-to-return zones.
Source: Asahi Shimbun