Japan after the tsunami – 進まぬ震災復興 東京五輪が奪うヒトやカネ

Auch vier Jahre nach dem Tsunami lässt der Wiederaufbau an der Sanriku Küste auf sich warten. Die Bauvorhaben für die Olympiade 2020 in Tokyo verteuern die Baumaterialien und das Interesse der Bauunternehmer, sich in Tohoku zu engagieren ist drastisch gesunken. So müssen die Evakuierten noch einige Jahre in ihren temporären Containern ausharren.

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21642216-rebuilding-north-eastern-region-tohoku-being-bungled-grinding

Japan after the tsunami

Grinding on

Rebuilding the north-eastern region of Tohoku is being bungled

NEARLY four years after north-eastern Japan’s huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown on March 11th 2011, more than 170,000 people are still stuck in temporary housing along the ravaged coast. One of them is Sumiko Yoshida, a woman in her 70s who lives with her husband in cramped, mouldy quarters in Rikuzentakata, a fishing port that was washed away by the tsunami. More than 1,750 people died there, including the Yoshidas’ son, Isao, a city official who was helping others to get to higher ground. With no place to call home and no butsudan (household altar) for her son, Mrs Yoshida says she cannot properly mourn him—a photograph on a makeshift table has to do. She has suppressed her grief for so long, she says, that the tears will not come.

http://infographics.economist.com/2015/RikuzB4AFTA/RikuzA.html

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, says that the devastated north-east is a crucial test of his plans to revive the country’s economy. Indeed, an early campaign stop for the general election last December was one of many prefabricated housing blocks crammed into school grounds in Rikuzentakata. Yet other national priorities seem to trump the region’s reconstruction. A building boom fuelled by Mr Abe’s monetary and fiscal stimulus has sucked construction capacity away from the north-east to Tokyo, where deals are more lucrative. Locals ask why the capital is building an ostentatious stadium for the Olympic games in 2020, when the poor and elderly who lost their homes in the tsunami are still not rehoused. Takuya Tasso, governor of Iwate, one of the worst-hit prefectures, says the government is losing interest in the region.

From the start, reconstruction called for money, energy and vision. In the months following the disaster locals showed great resilience, and volunteers from other parts of the country flocked to help. Some 20m tonnes of debris were quickly cleared. Hopeful planners sketched out new towns built on higher ground, powered by renewable energy. Some people even wondered whether rebuilding the north-east could pull the whole country out of its economic stagnation.

Given those early hopes, the slow progress has been hugely disappointing. Up and down the coast, much infrastructure has not been replaced and only a sixth of planned new construction of public housing has been finished. Drive through the wasteland of Rikuzentakata, and satellite-navigation screens eerily show where every house, petrol station and municipal building formerly stood. The city is only at the stage of moving earth from a nearby mountain to fill in land that sank by a metre (three feet) during the earthquake.

As for Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi prefecture where 3,700 residents drowned in the tsunami, only 150-odd households have moved into permanent new housing, with 12,700 people still in temporary quarters. City officials in part blame the bureaucracy in Tokyo for delays in reconstruction. Ishinomaki’s mayor says it took six months for the farm ministry to allow paddy fields to be rezoned as land for a new city district.

http://infographics.economist.com/2015/RikuzAFTA2DAY/RikuzB.html

In many towns and villages, the early solidarity is now fraying as those with money build new homes. There have been disagreements between generations. Older residents are reluctant to leave coastal villages and family graves for good—many made a good living from oyster farming and fishing. Younger generations, by contrast, want to live in bigger, consolidated communities on higher ground behind the coast. Doubts that such towns will ever be built have quickened the region’s depopulation, under way even before the tsunami. The population of Iwate, the most northerly of the three prefectures that bore the brunt of the tsunami, has declined by 46,000 or nearly 3% since.

After the disaster the central government pledged ¥25 trillion ($213 billion) over five years. Yet the system bars much public money going directly to the victims. Those who lost homes can get a maximum of around ¥3m (many houses were uninsured). Many folk are in financial straits, often still paying mortgages on houses that were swept away and too poor to join communities planning to move to new towns.

Meanwhile, it is often the bosses of construction companies, rather than local officials or central government, who pick and choose what is built. When Rikuzentakata’s city government recently asked companies to bid for the construction of a new junior high school, developers said the budget was a third too low, and the project failed. A consequence is that local banks are brimming with government cash that is not being spent. In Kesennuma, a fishing port in which over 1,360 people died, the first new public-housing block for evacuees has only just opened. Construction firms are generally refusing to build such housing, says its mayor, Shigeru Sugawara. Japan’s reconstruction agency insists that project budgets are reasonable. But with labour and materials costs high, and a boom elsewhere, construction firms can cherry-pick what they take on.

In Kesennuma, for instance, they are happy to pour concrete into the first of over 70 new sea walls planned for the city of 67,000. These are walls, up to 90m wide and 15 metres high, which the central government decreed in 2011 were necessary to protect the north-eastern coastline. Up to ¥1 trillion is to be spent on them. Yet the sea walls are using up money that could be better spent elsewhere. The monstrosities are both unpopular and of little use. Even the land ministry admits that the planned walls would not have coped with the earthquake and tsunami of four years ago. Local leaders say they are moving ahead with the walls mainly because the central government insisted on them.

As for the evacuees, the real deadline for their rehousing may prove to be 2020, says Satoru Ito, who set up a non-profit organisation to help residents of Rikuzentakata after he lost his mother and home in the tsunami. For if they are still in temporary housing by the time of the Olympics, Mr Ito asks, “what will foreigners think?”

東日本大震災から間もなく4年。被災地の復興はいっこうに進んでいない。津波で家を奪われた人々はいまだに仮設住宅で先の見えない生活をしている。アベノミクスと東京五輪開催が起こした建設ラッシュは、被災地から人手や資材を奪い、一層復興を遅らせている。

 2011年3月11日に起きた東日本大震災と津波、その後の福島第一原発のメルトダウンから間もなく4年がたとうとしている。いまだに17万人以上の人々が荒れ果てたままの海辺に並ぶ仮設住宅で先の見えない生活をしている。

防災対策庁舎前で犠牲者の冥福を祈る復興工事の関係者たち(2014年9月11日、宮城県南三陸町)
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防災対策庁舎前で犠牲者の冥福を祈る復興工事の関係者たち(2014年9月11日、宮城県南三陸町)

そのうちの1人、70代のヨシダスミコさんは、津波に流された港町、岩手県陸前高田市の窮屈なカビ臭い仮設住宅で、夫と暮らしている。陸前高田市では1750人以上の人が亡くなった。ヨシダさんの息子イサオさんも、市職員として人々を高台に避難させていて命を落とした。

自宅と呼べる場所もなく、息子のための仏壇も持っていないヨシダさんは、息子をちゃんと弔うことができないと嘆く。間に合わせのテーブルに置かれた遺影だけがその役割を果たしている。彼女は長い間悲しみを抑えてきたので、涙はもうでないと言う。

■もうけが大きい東京の建設案件

安倍晋三首相は、東北の被災地復興は、自らが進める経済再生計画の極めて重要な試金石になると述べている。実際、安倍首相は、昨年12月の衆院選の早い段階で、陸前高田市にある学校の校庭にびっしりと並んだプレハブ住宅の1つに遊説に訪れた。

しかし今は、その他の課題が被災地復興よりも優先されているようだ。安倍首相が進める金融及び財政刺激策によって建設ブームが起こっており、東北地方に行くはずの人手や資材が東京に奪われている。東京で行われる建設案件の方がもうけが大きいからだ。

東北の人々は、こう疑問を口にする――津波で家を失った高齢者や貧しい人々がまだ新しい家に移っていない状態なのに、なぜ東京は2020年五輪のために派手な競技場を建設しようとしているのか。震災の被害が最も大きかった県の1つ、岩手県の達増拓也知事は、政府は東北への興味を失いつつあるのだと指摘する。

被災地の復興には、そもそも最初から資金とエネルギーとビジョンが必要だった。震災後の数カ月間、地元民たちは素晴らしい回復力を見せた。被災地を助けようと、各地からボランティアも集まってきた。これによって、約2000万トンのがれきがあっという間に取り除かれた。

希望に燃えた担当者たちは、再生可能エネルギーによって賄われる新しい街を高台につくる構想を描いた。東北の復興によって日本経済が景気低迷から脱出できるのではないかと考えた者すらいた。

■失われつつある連帯感

こうした最初のころの希望を考えると、復興がなかなかはかどらない現状は極めて残念だ。海岸線を見渡しても、新しくなったインフラはあまりない。計画された公営住宅の建設もわずか6分の1しか完了していない。

分別して集積されたがれき(2011年5月25日、宮城県石巻市)
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分別して集積されたがれき(2011年5月25日、宮城県石巻市)

陸前高田市の荒れ地をクルマで走ると、カーナビの画面には以前そこに建っていた住宅やガソリンスタンド、市庁舎が不気味に映し出される。同市は現在、地震で1メートルも沈下した地盤を埋めるために、近くの山から土を運んでいる段階だ。

一方、津波で3700人の住民が亡くなった宮城県石巻市では、新しい恒久住宅に移ったのはわずか150余世帯。いまだに1万2700人が仮設住宅で暮らしている。市当局は、復興が進まない原因の一端は国の官僚主義にあると非難する。石巻市長によると、新たに町を作るため水田だった土地を市街化区域へと区分変更するのに、農林水産省は6カ月もかかったという。

多くの町や村で、震災直後に存在した連帯感が失われつつある。お金のある人は次々と新しい家を建てているからだ。世代間の意見の相違も顕著だ。年配の人は海沿いの村や家族の墓から永久に離れたくないと思っている――彼らの多くがかきの養殖や漁業で良い暮らしをしてきた。一方、若い世代は、海岸から離れた高台の、より大きく統合された共同体で暮らしたがっている。

そのような町が果たして建設されるのかという疑念が、津波が発生する前から進んでいたこの地域の過疎化を加速している。津波被害を受けた3県の中で最も北に位置する岩手県では、震災以来、人口が4万6000人減少している。これは県の総人口の約3%に当たる

震災後、政府は5年間で25兆円に及ぶ復興予算を約束した。だが、制度的な問題のために、公的資金の多くは被災者の元に届いていない。住宅を失った人がもらえるのは最大でも300万円程度(多くの住宅が保険の補償対象外だった)。多くの人が経済的に厳しい状態にあり、津波に流された家のローンを今も払い続けている場合もある。そして、経済的余裕がないために新しい町への移転を計画するコミュニティーに加わることができない。

■建設会社は仕事をえり好み

何を建設するかを決めるのは、自治体でも政府でもなく、建設会社の社長である場合が多い。以前、陸前高田市で中学校の新校舎を建設する入札を行ったところ、業者たちは予算が3分の1低いと言い、入札は不調に終わった。こうした事態が増え、使われない政府の現金が地方の銀行にあふれかえっている。

1360人以上が犠牲になった漁港の町、宮城県気仙沼市では、避難者向けの公営住宅の第1号が完成し、入居が始まった。同市の菅原茂市長は、こうした住宅建設のほとんどの案件を、建設会社は拒否すると言う。復興庁は、公営住宅建設の予算は妥当な金額だと主張する。だが、ほかの場所で建設ラッシュが起き、労働コストや資材コストが上がっている今、建設会社は引き受ける仕事をえり好みできる。

例えば人口6万7000人の気仙沼市に70カ所以上建設することになっている巨大防潮堤は建設会社にとって人気のプロジェクトだ。これは最大で幅90メートル、高さ15メートルの壁で、政府が東北の海岸線を守るために必要だとして、2011年に建設を命じた。最大1兆円が防潮堤の建設に費やされることになっている。

防潮堤は、別のところでもっと良い使い方ができるはずの予算を食いつぶしている。この巨大建造物は住民の間で人気がないばかりかほとんど役に立たない。国土交通省ですら、この壁は4年前の地震と津波に耐えられなかっただろうと認めている。自治体のリーダーたちは、防潮堤の建築を推進しているのは、主として、政府がそれを求めているからだと語る。

避難民の住宅問題を解決する本当の期限は2020年になるかもしれない。津波で母と家を失った後、陸前高田市の住民を助ける非政府組織(NGO)を設立したイトウサトル氏はこう言う。もし、東京オリンピックのときにまだ彼らが仮設住宅に住んでいたとしたら、「外国の人たちはどう思うだろうか」とイトウ氏は問う。

(c)2015 The Economist Newspaper Limited. Feb 7th 2015 All rights reserved.

英エコノミスト誌の記事は、日経ビジネスがライセンス契約に基づき翻訳したものです。英語の原文記事はwww.economist.comで読むことができます。

Finding a place to call home still plagues Japanese displaced by quake and tsunami

BY MIMI WHITEFIELD

MWHITEFIELD@MIAMIHERALD.COM

01/08/2015 7:00 AM

arahama_ariel1 arahama_ariel2

SENDAI, JAPAN

For Kiichi Kida, the reason he doesn’t want to leave the land where the Great East Japan Earthquake shook his home and then triggered a killer tsunami that swept it away begins 500 years ago. That’s where he starts the story of his fight to stay on his land in Arahama, a southeastern coastal district of Sendai that was devastated on March 11, 2011 when 36-foot waves — looking more like a black stew of broken trees, bobbing cars and unmoored houses than water — rushed far, far inland. His ancestors, he explains, were samurai who lived on Shikoku, an island in western Japan. After they hung up their swords five centuries ago, they moved to the Arahama area where fish were plentiful and the mountains full of game.

Now, little remains of Arahama beyond the stone foundations of the homes once occupied by Kida, 69, and his neighbors. The city has told them they can’t rebuild on their ancestral lands because they are too close to the coast.

APTOPIX Japan Earthquake (1)

Waves of the 2011 tsunami hit residences after a powerful earthquake in Natori, Miyagi prefecture (state), Japan, March 11, 2011. It was the largest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history. | AP

The local government would like to buy the land and turn it into a park or other public facility, but it can’t force people like Kida to sell.That tug-of-war in Arahama points up the problems of reconstruction and rebuilding lives nearly four years since the twin wallop of the earthquake and tsunami claimed nearly 16,000 lives — 2,623 are also still listed as missing — and destroyed 127,305 homes. More than 1 million others were damaged.

In Arahama, 187 people died and six are classified as missing. It once had a population of 3,400, but now Arahama is little more than a ghost town. A wall of water that swept over the pine forest separating the community from the wide beach snapped off the trees like toothpicks and turned them into spears that came crashing into homes. “It’s the city’s opinion they should move to a safe place, rather than rebuild — expensively — on a coastal site,” said Kenichi Suzuki, who has been working with tsunami victims on behalf of Sendai’s Wakabayashi ward office. But that collides with a traditional way of thinking that some residents still embrace. “They believe that the ancestor spirits still reside in these areas and they should protect the land for them,” said Akiko Sugita, secretary general of Japan’s Foreign Press Center. “Public authorities want to encourage them to give up the land and move on, but it is taking a long time.”

Even for the third-largest economy in the world, putting communities back together is a struggle. During the disaster, 470,000 people were forced out of their homes. Some 240,000 people, including 80,000 evacuated because of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster that followed the quake and tsunami, are still displaced. They live in temporary housing or bunk with relatives and friends. “Home rebuilding is our top priority,” said Yoshifumi Ayusawa, of Japan’s Reconstruction Agency. But shortages of building materials and construction workers, land ownership issues and the relocation of residents from areas no longer considered inhabitable have slowed the process. This fiscal year work is expected to be underway on 87 percent of the public housing planned for those who lost homes. Over the span of five years, the cost of reconstruction is expected to reach $220 billion. The plan is to close the reconstruction agency dealing with the triple disaster known as 3-11 by March 2021 but the expectation is that dealing with the fallout from the nuclear plant will take far longer. Some 1.35 million tons of debris were cleaned up in Sendai after the tsunami and quake and the mountains of destroyed cars were sent to the recyclers long ago.

But the memories of March 11 are everywhere.

The bridge where traffic became so congested that people couldn’t escape still stands. At the Yuriage Junior High in nearby Natori, the clock is still stopped at 2:46 p.m., the hour the 9.0 earthquake — the greatest magnitude ever recorded in Japan — hit 40 miles offshore.

Along the more than 300 miles of Japanese coastline affected by the tsunami, tide walls are being constructed or rebuilt, and the concrete barriers — the highest will be nearly as tall as a five-story building — aren’t without controversy.

Critics claim this Great Wall of Japan won’t be sufficient to protect against a tsunami of the magnitude that ravaged the coast on March 11, are an eyesore that cuts off the sea from fishing communities and could adversely affect the environment. The government says they are needed to save lives in a country that experiences 1,000 earthquakes a year.

In Sendai, the tsunami walls are being raised from almost 20 feet to 23.6 feet. Work also has begun on raising land that sank as much as three feet after the quake and elevating a 6.2-mile stretch of the Sendai Tobu highway to 20 feet. New stairways and signs indicating people should climb the highway embankments in the face of a tsunami are being put up. The highway project is expected to take five years to complete but officials say it is vital because during the 2011 tsunami elevated sections of the highway prevented waves from flowing even further inland. “We think that with these two barriers (the elevated highway and the walls), we will be able to protect against a tsunami of the once- in-100-years variety,” said Suzuki. But the waves that pounded the northeastern coast of Japan in 2011 were of the once-in-a-millennium variety. Simulations show that with the raised embankment and higher tsunami walls, flooding on the west side of the elevated road would be less than 6 1/2 feet. Through such simulations, “we’re gaining more knowledge about how tide walls can save lives,” said Katsumi Abe, of the Miyagi Harbor Restoration agency. “We expect when the repairs are complete, this area will be safer than before.”

But Kida doesn’t think so: “I’ve opposed the walls from the beginning. They are changing the land. Every time it rains, the water flows toward the sea and those flows shouldn’t be interrupted. We think Sendai City isn’t putting enough focus on nature.” As the fractious debate continues, memories of the snowy March day when coastal residents’ world went under water are still causing psychological scars. Kida is determined to hold on to his plot even as he readies a home site further inland. “My ancestors are here and I want to protect this area as long as possible,” he said. “People should have a choice where they want to live; they shouldn’t be forced. The decision to establish restricted areas is up to Sendai and the other towns and cities along the coast, Abe said. But Kida said his ancestors came “hundreds of years before Sendai was established. I am not leaving because the city says I have to.”

He heads an organization called The Group that Wants Restoration of Arahama. “We think that living on the shore is natural in an island like Japan. Modern technology should make this possible,” Kida said. On his former home site, he has put up two buildings that seem quite permanent but technically aren’t homes. One, which has electricity and cooking facilities, is the club house for the Arahama group. The other, which includes a bathroom, will be Kida’s personal office. One of his neighbors — the only one in the community to resume fishing — has built two rough fish shacks on the land where his home once stood, and Chickako Syoji, who does office work for the Arahama restoration group, has put up a tent near her former home’s foundation stones. She dreams of someday having a seaside library on the spot. It wouldn’t be a conventional library, but rather a place where local people could come together to tell their stories and bring in books they wanted to share with others. “It won’t be a big square building with a lot of books,” she said. “My son is a librarian. It’s still in the concept stage and we’re still figuring out the details.”

But despite the hopeful dreams, Arahama and Yuriage are still desolate. Here and there a lonely pine that escaped the onslaught punctuates the coastline or a battered concrete block home stands.

“When we first came back to see Arahama, it was swept clean; there was just this vast space and it was horrifying,” said former resident Adachi Tadashi, a community leader. He later found his crushed house 2.5 miles inland. Homes, businesses, boats and the top soil from farmlands also were washed away in Yuriage. Now the wide open fields make it resemble a rural area and vegetation is beginning to reclaim the roads in a 158-acre protected area where no home can be rebuilt. “Part of the reason the damage was so great here was because we weren’t acting responsibly,’’ said Koichi Sakurai, who worked in a Yuriage seafood processing plant and fish market that was destroyed by the tsunami. “People in this area weren’t expecting a tsunami or perhaps only a small one.” Instead, he said, the giant waves came five times, killing 750 people in a district that had a pre-tsunami population of 5,000. “Evacuation drills only took place once a year — and usually only elderly people participated,” said Sakurai. “But it was a drill in name only.’’

He shows a terrifying aerial video of people moving leisurely toward higher ground as, apparently unbeknown to them, a menacing wall of water just a few rows of houses away rushes toward them.

No tsunami warning was given in Yuriage, Sakurai said, because the earthquake had already knocked out emergency communications equipment. In other areas, the rising water damaged emergency equipment. “They thought all they had to do was install the devices and their job was over. Residents have lost faith in the authorities and that is one reason reconstruction is so slow in this area,’’ Sakurai said. Abe, of the Miyagi Harbor Restoration agency, said lessons were learned during the tsunami and new emergency facilities will be built on higher ground. Meanwhile, the work of repairing docks and fish packing and distribution houses continues. The ports in Miyagi Prefecture sustained damage of around $2.2 billion but all are now at least partially operational. Many people don’t want to return to Yuriage even though they still owe debt on their destroyed homes, Sukurai said. “If I had the money, I would be rebuilding elsewhere,” he added. Many former residents are still living in temporary housing far inland from Yuriage.

“My mother is 85 years and she says she doesn’t plan to have a funeral in temporary housing,’’ Sakurai said. “I’m grateful for temporary housing but now very few people are appreciating it.” Scattered around Sendai, a city of 1.7 million, are 20 temporary housing sites with 1,500 units. Many more families, said Suzuki, have rented apartments on their own. Around 130 families live in temporary quarters on a city-owned site earmarked for the Arai elementary school. Some residents have tried to brighten up their low portable dwellings with plants and flowers but others have fallen into depression. Teams of mental health workers visit periodically. “Some are really depressed and for them, small problems can seem very big. Everyone is feeling stress but some people are annoyed by the very trivial,” said Tadashi, 72, who is a leader at temporary housing as he was in Arahama. “They complain their neighbors are too noisy or they hear pigeons and sparrows walking around on the tin roofs because people are feeding them,” he said. “We listen to their stories even if we can’t solve them. I do think this has helped me grow as a person.” To keep spirits up, there is karaoke and dancing at the community center, and a group of women has learned to play songs, such as Orange Tree on the Hill on the koto, a traditional instrument.

Katsuyoshi Hayasaka, 74, who headed the Arahama Residents’ Association has taken up a similar role at the Arai community. During the tsunami, he helped to organize community residents who sought refugee at the Arahama Elementary School and were rescued by helicopter from the roof. At the school, he tried to keep his neighbors together and drew up lists of who was there and who wasn’t. “It was very cold and the teachers tore down the curtains and wrapped the children in them,’’ he said. Now he feels a similar sense of responsibility for the people at Arai. Syoji also lives there with her 89-year-old mother Tsumeko. They are packed in but the tiny apartment does have air conditioning and everyone was given a refrigerator, microwave, rice cooker, small television, washing machine, blankets and a pot to boil water. Still, Tsumeko is happy. When the family’s home was swept way, the wooden memorial plaque for her ancestors was lost. It later turned up in a lost-and-found and she beamed as she displayed the nicked but still intactihai to a visitor.

Syoji had hoped to only be in temporary quarters for two years but she said there have been delays in finishing the public housing where she hopes to move. Sendai plans 3,200 units of new public housing but in October, just 660 units had been completed.At Arai-higashi, where a new 197-unit building recently opened, residents gathered at the community center on a rainy afternoon after the remnants of a typhoon had blown through. Even though the complex hasn’t been fully completed, they were moved in anyway because the need was so great. The rent varies at Arai-higashi depending on income, but it is about one-third the cost of regular public housing.About a third of the residents used to live in Arahama, and about 40 percent are 65 years or older — an age when change comes hard. With Suzuki’s help, they had just formed a residents association. “We’re planning on building a community here,” said Kimio Oyashi, 71, the newly minted association president. “We’re pretty satisfied to be here. The size of our apartments is about double what it was in temporary housing. And there you could hear everything the neighbors were doing.” “We’re making efforts to get our lives back together. We just have to keep trying,’ said Teruko Sumi, who recently move in with her two chihuahuas. Unlike most public housing buildings, pets are allowed at Arai-higashi.

Tani Endo, who used to live in Arahama, is feeling much better since the first traumatic days after the tsunami. “It was almost like watching a movie — not our real lives. People were all stacked together after the disaster and we all had to sleep in the same room. “I try to forget but when I look from this building I can see the place where all the pines trees were in Arahama and now there is nothing there,” she said. “But this is a nice place and we have our privacy. Now we are smiling again.” “More than 3 1/2 years have passed,” said Oyashi. “Many people who are here lost everything and we think living in a safe place is most important. Only a small percentage of people want to return — mostly the rice farmers. But for former office workers, it is just too scary.” Sokichi Shoji, 78, and his wife Sachiko have done their best to make their new apartment seem like home even though it is only about a third of the size of their former house. They have brought in plants, artificial turf and stones to recreate the tranquility of a zen garden on their small balcony.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article5653362.html

Fixes for temporary housing expected to cost ¥78 billion

Fixes for temporary housing expected to cost ¥78 billion

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe total accumulated cost of repairing and refurbishing temporary houses for disaster victims will likely reach ¥78.03 billion through the end of this fiscal year, according to the governments of the seven prefectures where they were built after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Prefabricated temporary housing units originally designed to last for up to two years have now been used for more than three years. Numerous problems have emerged as a result, including leaking roofs.

An expert panel from the Cabinet Office will begin reexamining the period of use and other aspects of the temporary houses to prepare for future disasters, including a huge earthquake predicted along the Nankai Trough off the Pacific Ocean.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, local governments in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba built the temporary houses based on the Disaster Relief Law. Temporary houses were also built in Nagano Prefecture for victims of another quake in the northern part of the prefecture, which occurred just after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

A total of 53,194 temporary housing units were built in the seven prefectures at initial construction costs totaling about ¥290 billion. The units in Chiba, Tochigi and Nagano prefectures were dismantled as of the end of May this year. Currently, 93,017 people live in 42,590 temporary housing units in the remaining four prefectures.

The law stipulates that temporary houses will be usable for two years and have a per-unit acreage of about 30 square meters. The assumed construction cost per unit was about ¥2.39 million at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Many of the temporary houses have similar structures to the prefabricated offices at construction sites. They are zinc-roofed and their walls are thin.

Measures to cope with cold weather were especially insufficient. After construction was completed, additional work was done at the request of residents to reinforce heat insulating materials in the walls and double-layer windows.

Total costs from fiscal 2011 to 2013 in the seven prefectures stood at about ¥73.18 billion. In Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the initial construction costs and the additional work as of January 2013 reached a combined average of ¥6.79 million per unit.

Temporary housing residents are expected to relocate to publicly run housing units for disaster victims. But only 8 percent of the necessary units have been completed, meaning the temporary houses will be used for the foreseeable future. This could present a problem, since some temporary housing units have started to tilt because of weak soil, and residents are increasingly complaining of such problems as leaking roofs and mold.

The prefectural governments of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima allocated a total of about ¥4.86 billion for repairs and other additional work in their fiscal budgets this year, and extended the period people can live in temporary housing to five years. These measures mean necessary repair costs will likely continue increasing.

To extend the durability of the temporary houses, their foundations must be rebuilt using ferro-concrete. But this alone will cost ¥300,000 to ¥400,000 per unit.

If a Nankai Trough quake occurs, about 400,000 temporary housing units will be necessary in the eight prefectures that presented forecast figures, according a The Yomiuri Shimbun survey in December last year.

Consequently, the Cabinet Office panel, which handles how the central government should assist disaster victims, is set to submit proposals about temporary housing for disaster victims.