40% of evacuees from Okuma town won’t return home

3 July 2012

About 40 percent of evacuees from the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, have no intention of returning home, four times as many as a year before.

Nearly 40 percent of the respondents replied that they will wait for the right time to return. Many of those who replied said that they would wait for up to five years.

Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe told reporters that he would make the utmost efforts to rebuild the town.

The findings were contained in an interim report on a survey the Okuma municipal government conducted on its residents, asking if they wished to return home. The report was released on July 2.

The survey, conducted in May and June, covered 10,025 residents of the town -- junior high school studuents and older. Of them, 6,481, or 64.6 percent, responded.

Of the respondents, 40.4 percent said that they would not return home to the town of Okuma, citing concerns over high levels of radiation, a lack of medical services there, and unfavorable conditions of their homes in the town.

In a similar survey conducted in June 2011, only 9.0 percent of respondents replied that they would not return home. In a separate survey conducted by the state-run Fukushima University in September and October 2011, 32.1 percent of respondents said that they would not return to the town.

Town government officials said that the share of those who replied they would not return home is on the increase as time passes.

Of all the respondents, 39.9 percent said that they will wait for the right time to return home. The figure broke down to 21.9 percent who replied that they would wait at locations designated by the municipal government and 18.0 percent who replied that they would wait at locations of their choice.

Of those who replied they would wait for the right time to return, 37.5 percent said they can wait for up to five years while 17.6 percent said they would wait indefinitely.

(Translated by Kyodo News)