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» Deeped feeling of isolation in disaster affected areas three years after disaster

A follow-up survey conducted by Mainich News paper of evacuees from the Great East Japan Earthquake disasters found deepened feelings of isolation as people leave temporary housing communities and reconstruction of pre-disaster communities lags.

In response to the question “Do you have someone besides family nearby who you can easily confide in,” 20 percent answered “not at all” and 14 percent answered “not very much,” for a combined 34 percent. The result suggests that even now, over one-third of the disaster victims are lacking communication with neighbors and feeling increasingly isolated. A survey one year after the disaster had only 28 percent of respondents answering in this way, showing the numbers have worsened rather than improved.

In response to the question “Are neighbors you had relations with before the disaster still nearby,” the most common answer was “not at all,” at 33 percent. Combined with “not very much,” the total reaches 57 percent. Response to the same question was 55 percent in the survey taken one year after the disaster.

Among residents of Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation from the effects of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster continues, many of those surveyed expressed the difficulty of maintaining community ties. Masaru Suzuki, 46, of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture, who serves as chairman of a local restoration committee, wrote, “We can’t use the civic hall anymore, so it’s difficult if we want to get 10 or more people together. Because of the Personal Information Protection Law, we don’t know where residents have evacuated to, and it’s very hard to get information out to all the residents.”

More disaster survivors complained of physical and mental health problems. In response to a question on their health, 31 percent of respondents said they were in poor condition, a slight increase from the 29 percent that answered so in the survey one year after the disaster. Although 69 percent said they currently are not in poor health, that includes 21 percent of the total respondents who said they had at one time since the disaster been in poor condition. Many respondents complained of physical health problems from spending a long time living in evacuation, as well as anxiety from not being able to return to their pre-disaster lives.

Eisaku Ishii, 68, a liquefied petroleum gas seller in Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, wrote, “I got diabetes while living in evacuation. I also hurt both knees and can’t sit on tatami mats anymore.”


<Media Report>
3.11 survivors show deepened feelings of isolation: survey (Mainichi Newspaper)

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