FUKUSHIMA – In 30 to 40 years from now, a majority of the young people living in 12 radiation-contaminated municipalities in Fukushima do not plan to be living in the same place where they experienced the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, it has been learned.
A survey by a panel from the Reconstruction Agency found that more than 50 percent of those respondents between the ages of 10 and 29 stopped short of choosing their prefectural hometowns as the place where they want to be living three or four decades from now.
The 12 municipalities were tainted by fallout from the triple core meltdown that crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s poorly protected Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station in March 2011 — a man-made disaster triggered by the quake and tsunami.
Many of the locales are partially or entirely within the evacuation zone designated around the power plant.
Based on the survey results, the panel plans to draw up proposals on the future of the 12 municipalities as early as this summer, informed sources said.
The survey, conducted in February and March, covered members of some 13,000 households randomly selected from the 77,600 still remaining in the 12 municipalities. Valid answers were only obtained from about 5,100 of the households.
The survey said the proportion of respondents willing to stay in the municipalities where they were residing at the time of the disaster topped 60 percent among those in their 30s or above. For those between 10 and 29, including elementary and junior high school students, the share dropped below 50 percent.
While a majority of those between their 30s and 60s expressed hope of working in their hometowns in the future, the ratio was less than 40 percent for younger people.
“The results are very shocking,” said Satoshi Endo, mayor of the town of Hirono, adding that the town, one of the 12 municipalities listed, needs to create a future vision that appeals to children.
About 60 percent of those who evacuated Hirono have not yet returned.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government will present a clear vision so young people can have hope about their hometowns, a senior official said.
The Reconstruction Agency established the panel last December to discuss the future of the 12 evacuated municipalities.
The proposals will be reflected in the agency’s budget request for fiscal 2016.
The remaining 11 municipalities were the cities of Tamura and Minamisoma, the towns of Kawamata, Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie, and the villages of Kawauchi, Katsurao and Iitate.