A man living outside Fukushima Prefecture writes, “When I said that I came from Fukushima, I was told, ‘You are an evacuee, aren’t you?’ I cannot forget that.”
More than 60 percent of current or former evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear crisis said they were victims of bullying or discrimination in areas they evacuated to or witnessed or heard of such incidents, according to a new survey.
The survey, released Feb. 26, was conducted jointly by The Asahi Shimbun and Akira Imai, professor of local governments’ policies at Fukushima University, in January and February.
“It is probably the first time that the actual conditions of ‘bullying evacuees’ became clear in large quantities and concretely,” Imai said. “The recognition that evacuees are victims of the nuclear accident is not shared in society. That is leading to the bullying.”
The series of surveys started in June 2011, three months after an accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
In the latest survey, the sixth, The Asahi Shimbun and Imai sent a questionnaire in late January to 348 people who had replied to the series of surveys.
Of these, 184 people of 18 prefectures, including Fukushima Prefecture, gave valid responses. Of the 184, 147 were still evacuees.
The latest survey asked for the first time whether they were bullied or discriminated due to the fact that they evacuated because of the nuclear accident. Thirty-three of the 184, or 18 percent, said that they or their family members became victims of bullying or discrimination.
In addition, 81 of the 184, or 44 percent, replied that they saw or heard of those actions around them.
In a section in which respondents can freely describe their experiences or opinions, a 35-year-old woman wrote, “I was told, ‘Why do you work despite the fact that you have money. I felt sad, wondering whether I have no right to work.”
A 59-year-old man wrote, “When I bought in bulk, I was told, ‘Oh! An evacuee.’”
Meanwhile, 60 of the 184 respondents, or 33 percent, responded that they have neither been victims of bullying or discrimination nor have they seen or heard of any acts.
A 48-year-old woman wrote, “Superiors or colleagues in my workplace in the area where I have evacuated have treated me normally. I have been able to encounter good people.”
The survey also asked the 147 respondents, who are still evacuees, whether they think they are unwilling to tell people around them the fact that they are evacuating. Sixty-one, or 41 percent, replied that they think so.
In the free description section, a 49-year-old woman wrote, “I have the anxiety that talking (with other people) will lead to discussing compensation money.” A 31-year-old woman wrote, “I have a concern that my children could be bullied.”
Meanwhile, 50 of the 147 respondents, or 34 percent, replied that they don’t have that anxiety about telling people. In addition, 26 of the 147 people, or 18 percent, answered that they don’t know whether they think so or not.
A 56-year-old man wrote, “I dare not tell people who do not know that I am evacuating. I cannot move my life forward if I continue to say that I am an evacuee.”
Currently, about 80,000 people are living in and outside Fukushima Prefecture as evacuees.