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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Saitama was unaware of 2,400 Fukushima evacuees living in prefecture

SAITAMA -- The prefectural government here was unaware of about 2,400 people taking shelter in the region after evacuating from Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear crisis, it has been learned.
The Saitama Prefectural Government found out about the omission after asking all municipalities in the prefecture earlier in July about the number of evacuees they host from the nuclear disaster. The prefectural government had previously tallied the number of only those who lived in temporary housing units it and some municipalities under its jurisdiction provides free of charge. It regularly asked only some of the local bodies about the number of evacuees.

The Reconstruction Agency tasked with efforts to help areas hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear crisis recover from the disasters said it will urge other prefectural governments to release all available figures.

The prefectural government's fire and disaster management division asked all the 63 municipalities in the prefecture on July 8 about the number of evacuees they host. After tallying the figures, the prefectural government revised upward the number of evacuees from 2,640 as of June to 5,044.

Of them, the prefectural government reported 2,992 evacuees, including those who it newly confirmed were living in public housing, to the Reconstruction Agency as a provisional figure.
About 2,400 evacuees who have been newly confirmed are mostly those who have voluntarily evacuated to the prefecture following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster. The figure is expected to further increase, and many unconfirmed evacuees may not receive administrative information such as on healthcare and education and measures to support evacuees.

The prefectural government had previously tallied only evacuees living at temporary housing units it and more than 20 municipalities under its jurisdiction provides for evacuees. It sent an email with a list of the number of evacuees attached to these local bodies and asked the municipalities to report any change in their figures.

This is attributable to the fact that the national government has failed to define evacuees from the nuclear disaster or show any specific method of tallying evacuees.

Yohei Shibusawa, head of the division, told the Mainichi, "We stuck to hard figures (of those living at public temporary housing units)."

A citizens organization supporting evacuees taking shelter in Saitama Prefecture conducted a survey on all 63 municipalities in the prefecture in 2013 and 2014 and found that 1.7 times to two times more evacuees were living in the prefecture than prefectural authorities had announced. The group then pointed out that the prefectural government had failed to grasp the number of evacuees it hosts.

The Reconstruction Agency has announced the number of evacuees across the country every month based on figures provided by prefectural governments. As of July 10, the agency put the number at 247,233 throughout the nation.

July 30, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
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