First tranche of public housing for Fukushima evacuees hit by delays

[Translated by The JapanTimes] About 40 percent of the first batch of public housing for people displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster will not be ready by the end of fiscal 2015, forcing those who evacuated to wait longer for permanent abodes. At a Reconstruction Promotion Council meeting Aug. 4 in Fukushima, the prefectural government revealed that 1,600 housing units, or about 40 percent of the first 3,700 planned in the prefecture, will likely face delays of up to nine months. Residents who evacuated from the area after the March 2011 core meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant were scheduled to move into the units by March 2016. But construction delays have forced the prefecture to talk with the central government about extending the deadline, officials said. According to the prefecture, it is taking longer than expected to conclude deals with landowners of construction sites for large housing complexes. Work to transform forests and rice paddies into residential land is also going slowly. In Iwaki, where most of the units will be built, several large complexes will likely be delayed because forestland still needs to be cleared. But in Koriyama, all units are likely to meet the deadline as the city plans to build them on land owned by the prefecture and other public plots. The prefecture is examining the plans for each complex and might decide to alter construction methods to minimize the delays, officials said. In addition to the first batch of 3,700 units due in fiscal 2015 ending in March 2016, 1,190 more expected to be built in the same time frame are likely to be delayed by a year, they said. “I want to see the completion of housing units as soon as possible, so evacuees can live with a sense of security,” Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato told officials at the meeting. A total of 4,890 public housing units are to be built in 15 municipalities across the prefecture with subsidies from the Reconstruction Agency. The prefecture held a lottery in July to select residents for the 528 units to be completed in the latter half of fiscal 2014.