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12,000 evacuee households from Fukushima fret over benefit loss via Asahi Shimbun


“With cleanup efforts moving ahead, the living environments are getting better,” Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said at the time.

The decision will affect the so-called voluntary evacuees, who lived in areas that were never designated evacuation zones, and evacuees from areas where evacuation orders were lifted in 2014.

Briefing sessions have been held by the prefectural government since December 2015 at about 40 locations within and outside the prefecture to explain details of rent subsidy measures for low-income households, which will replace the free housing benefits.

In late September, prefectural government officials faced a barrage of questions from about 70 residents of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, who packed a meeting hall in a temporary housing complex in Koriyama, also in the prefecture.

The village of Kawauchi had 2,739 residents as of Oct. 1 and at least 889 of them were living for free in rented housing, prefab temporary housing units and elsewhere outside the village.

Fumio Sakuma, 67, is one of them. His wife, who has a kidney disease, takes a 40-minute drive to hospital three times a week to undergo dialysis. Sakuma said he is anxious about having to relocate with his sick wife.

“We would feel grateful if we were allowed to stay here for one or two more years,” he said at the meeting.

Municipalities in disaster areas in Fukushima Prefecture, in the meantime, are hoping that the end of the free housing benefits will see a return of residents.

“Assistance measures by the central and prefectural governments cannot continue forever,” said Yuko Endo, mayor of Kawauchi. “We might as well take a step forward to rebuild our livelihoods.”

The town of Naraha, also in Fukushima Prefecture, has seen less than 10 percent of its residents return.

“More than five and a half years have passed since the onset of the nuclear disaster,” said Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto. “It’s time for every one of us to think about standing on our own two feet.”

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  1. norma field says

    This article fails to mention the health concerns, especially for their children, that preoccupy the evacuees; nor is there any mention of the narrowly drawn evacuation zones that produced the “voluntary” evacuees in the first place.

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