[The Great East Japan Earthquake]
About 70 percent of evacuees in Okinawa feel “uneasy, but keen to return home”

[The Great East Japan Earthquake]<br>About 70 percent of evacuees in Okinawa feel “uneasy, but keen to return home”

What do you think about returning home?

March 12, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 11, a year will have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Ryukyu Shimpo conducted a survey of evacuees to Okinawa from Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima before March 1. The percentage of respondents who answered, “I feel uneasy, but keen to return home” was 71.2%. To the question, “How long are you going to stay in Okinawa? 43.9% of people answered “more than two years,” which includes 24.3% who answered, “reside permanently.” Because there are many evacuees from Fukushima, people seem to be fearful of the effects of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and therefore hesitate to return home.

How long are you going to stay in Okinawa?

As many as 92.5% of respondents answered, “Okinawa is appropriate as an evacuation site,” and 34.9% would recommend that others move to Okinawa. Most people felt that “Okinawa is a good place to live,” followed by “the people are warm” and “there is relatively little risk of radiation contamination.”
According to the Okinawa Prefecture Department of Crisis Management and Disaster Prevention, Okinawa Prefecture and municipalities know of 987 evacuees from Miyagi (174 people = 17.6%), Iwate (nine people = 0.9%), Fukushima (691 people = 70.0%) and others (113 = 11.4%). From June last year, it has increased by around 20 to 70 people each month since the start of the survey by prefecture.

It is estimated that there will be an increase in evacuees who want to return home but are unable to do so, and evacuees recommending other people affected by the disaster to come to Okinawa.

An expert commented, “It is important not to allow these people to be isolated and to think about how we can create links between the evacuees and Okinawa. Providing ongoing support is necessary and it is time to re-evaluate the nature of that support.”

To the question, “How do you think about returning home?” 71.2% (47 families) answered, “I feel uneasy, but keen to return home.” “I want to go home” was 7.6% (five families), “I won’t go home” was 15.1% (ten families).

[Survey method] On February 15 and 16, the Ryukyu Shimpo distributed a questionnaire throughout the municipalities that offer refuge. The questionnaires were distributed at events at which the evacuees were expected to gather. There were responses from 66 families out of 177, representing a collection rate of 37.1%. Sixteen families are from Miyagi, two from Iwate and 48 from Fukushima.

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)

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