No. of evacuees drops below 100,000 for 1st time

The Fukushima prefectural government announced on Jan. 8 that the latest tally of residents in the northeastern region still living as evacuees since the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant has dropped to 99,991, falling below 100,000 for the first time. The survey showed that 56,463 evacuees were staying within Fukushima as of Dec. 31 last year while 43,497 others were outside the prefecture as of Dec. 10. The whereabouts of 31 were unknown. The local government updates the number of evacuees inside Fukushima a few times a week at a random interval while the central government's Reconstruction Agency does so for those outside the prefecture every month, publishing the tally late in the month. The number of evacuees inside the region, tallied on Jan. 8, represented a decrease of 11 from the total as of Dec. 28 to sink below 100,000. All the 11 people are voluntary evacuees and apparently returned to their homes or moved to other permanent residences. The number of evacuees has been declining since peaking at 164,865 in May 2012. The tally is based on the Disaster Relief Act. Under the law, evacuees who relocate from temporary housing to public residences for disaster victims or to newly purchased homes are regarded as ending the period of evacuation. Referring to the downtrend of evacuees, a prefectural official said, "Relocations to permanent housing are in progress along with returns to homes of voluntary evacuees and of residents in zones where evacuation orders have been lifted." (Translated by Kyodo News)