Number of refugees from Fukushima to Okinawa on the rise

Number of refugees from Fukushima to Okinawa on the rise

Changes in the number of people evacuated to Okinawa because of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Fukushima (red), Miyagi (orange), Iwate (gray), Others (yellow)
Unit: people

November 11, 2011 Kiyoshi Ujiie of the Ryukyu Shimpo

The number of evacuees coming to Okinawa from Fukushima Prefecture is still growing despite eight months having passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. According to the Prefectural Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Division, an average of 50 people per month have taken refuge in Okinawa from Fukushima since this June, when they began to compile statistical data on the number of evacuees by prefecture. Yasushi Ohama, a deputy councilor and a member of the Prefectural Acceptance Team, analyzed the data and said, “Many evacuees from Fukushima came from locations more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear power plants. There is significant anxiety about the levels of radioactivity.” We can tell that the scope of anxiety related to the radioactive pollution from the accident at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant is now expanding.

According to the Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Division, as of November 3,
804 people, including those who left on their own volition, are known to have evacuated to Okinawa, with the majority, 529 of them, coming from Fukushima. The number of evacuees from Fukushima as of June 16 was 273 people, so the total has increased by 256 since then. “Until April or May the majority of the evacuees were from Miyagi Prefecture – people whose homes had been affected by the tsunami, but after temporary housing was constructed most of the people then came from Fukushima,” said Deputy Councilor Yasushi Ohama.

Sadao Kimura, executive director of the Association of People from Fukushima Prefecture in Okinawa, which is headed by Mikio Furukawa, said, “Recently evacuees have come from Fukushima City and Koriyama City, which are located 50 kilometers away from the nuclear power plants. Young mothers and children are especially noticeable.” Ai Tatsuno, representative of the group Protect Children from Radioactivity in Okinawa, suggests that, “In the affected areas there is a tendency for those who leave the prefecture to be accused of betraying the local area, so I imagine that mothers who have initially hesitated to move, have probably started to make those decisions by themselves.”

Deputy Councilor Yasushi Ohama said, “The system for accepting evacuees, such as the private-sector housing rental system for evacuees in Okinawa, is working well. As we move forward, we would like to work with job-placement offices to provide more information about employment opportunities so evacuees can support themselves in Okinawa.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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