April-August housing starts in Fukushima double pre-quake level

Housing starts in Fukushima Prefecture continued to increase in the April-August period (the first five months of fiscal 2016), totaling 8,329 units or double the level in the same period of fiscal 2010, the year before the Great East Japan Earthquake, according to local government data. As more than five years have passed since the disaster and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, the prefectural government believes the number of evacuees deciding to build new homes for permanent residence in their places of refuge and other areas has been on the rise, contributing to the uptrend of housing starts. But the ongoing shortage of building materials and manpower has spawned concerns such as prolonged homebuilding periods, prompting the prefecture and related organizations to expand consultation and support projects. According to data from the prefectural government and other sources, housing starts were on the decline year after year before the 2011 earthquake due to adverse effects of the global financial crisis, among other factors. But housing starts began to increase in recent post-disaster years, particularly in Iwaki city where many residents sought shelter from the Futaba region near the crippled nuclear power plant. Housing starts numbered 16,609 in fiscal 2015, which ended last March. The April-August total in fiscal 2016 represented an increase of 1,249 units from 7,080 in the same period of fiscal 2015. Figures broken down according to the prefectural government’s regional construction offices put housing starts in the first five months of fiscal 2016 at 2,091 units in the Soma-Futaba region, showing a 4.5-fold leap over the same period of the pre-disaster year of fiscal 2010, for the sharpest growth among the prefecture’s eight regions. Housing starts totaled 1,372 units in the Iwaki region and 1,991 in the northern region, each double the fiscal 2010 level. They were 1,882 in the central region, 379 in the southern region, 462 in the Aizu region, 108 in the Kitakata region and 44 in the Minamiaizu region, all representing increases ranging from 1.2- to 1.5-fold. (Translated by Kyodo News)