The Fukushima Prefectural Government has decided to stop accepting new applications for home support, submitted by out-of-prefecture evacuees, after December 28, 2012. Currently, under the Disaster Relief Act, prefectural governments around the country are renting homes within a certain rent range for evacuees from Fukushima and billing the Fukushima Prefectural Government, with the national government covering the costs in the end. Twenty-three prefectures around the country are accepting applications for the support.
However, Fukushima Prefecture says it has decided to end the support as the number of out-of-prefecture evacuees has decreased after July and some evacuees are returning home. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has also asked the prefecture to stop the program. Support for people already in the homes will generally continue through March of 2014. Meanwhile, from Nov. 15, Fukushima Prefecture will start such support for evacuee families who return to the prefecture, if they have children 18 or younger or a pregnant woman in the household. According to the prefecture, although there were over 62,000 out-of-prefecture evacuees in June, the number has dropped to less than 60,000 in October.
The purpose of the discontinuation of home support is to encourage evacuees to return to Fukushima Prefecture, but some, including evacuee support organizations, say that “anxiety over radiation remains strong and ending the support is premature.”
Presently, there are several hundred new applications for out-of-prefecture evacuations every month, and 500 to 800 people are still moving out of the prefecture each month. According to research conducted by Fukushima City (the prefectural capital, population about 285,000), 45% of households with a child or children 15 years old or younger say “they wish to evacuate.”
Since specific support measures are still undecided in the “Nuclear Accident Child Victims’ Law” established this June, evacuation would become more difficult without home support under the Disaster Relief Act. A mother of one evacuee family says: “There still are requests for evacuation to neighboring prefectures. As the risk of radiation remains, there should be a measure that allows people to evacuate at any time. The national government should not leave all the responsibilities to Fukushima Prefecture and should support responsibly.”
There is a need for a new housing support system from The Reconstruction Agency under the Disaster Relief Act. At least until then, we would like to demand the continuing acceptance of new applications for home support.
Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation
Supplementary Reading -Mainichi Shinbun Newspaper