It’s been almost 6 years since the major earthquake and massive tsunami hit northeastern Japan.
The disaster on March 11th, 2011, left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.
According to the Reconstruction Agency, more than 123,000 people are still evacuees, many of them in temporary housing as of mid-February. The number is down about 30 percent from a year ago, but many continue to live with inconvenience and discomfort.
After the 1995 earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people in and around Kobe, western Japan, all evacuees left temporary housing within 5 years.
In the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, more than 35,000 people still live in prefabricated temporary houses. A factor behind the situation is a delay in building public housing and work to elevate residential land.
In Fukushima Prefecture, no-entry zones remain around the damaged nuclear plant, with radiation levels higher than the safety standard and no clear idea about when residents can return.
The government recognized the deaths of more than 3,500 people as related to stress and fatigue caused by living as evacuees. Ninety-six percent of the deaths occurred within 3 years after the disaster, but the unprecedentedly prolonged evacuation is seriously affecting evacuees’ health.