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Many of the 3.11 related deaths in Fukushima Prefecture came after repeated shelter transfers

Many of the 3.11 related deaths in Fukushima Prefecture came after repeated shelter transfers


This aerial photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter shows reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant of Tokyo Electric Power Holding Company, on February 9, 2022. (Mainichi)

FUKUSHIMA – Of the 1,514 people in Futaba Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture whose deaths were confirmed as being related to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, which caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster and forced large-scale evacuations, at least 1,025 people have moved to shelters. New at least three times, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper found.

The Mainichi Shimbun asked local governments in Fukushima Prefecture to disclose documents provided by bereaved families regarding the certificate of “earthquake-related deaths,” which refers to deaths from people’s physical conditions worsened by evacuation and other disaster-related conditions. The documents included written dates of the events that led to the people’s death.

It appeared that 11 new indirect deaths were documented in Futaba County during the past year, while 136 of the total number occurred after 2016, indicating that the prolonged evacuation affected many people.

Across Fukushima Prefecture, 2,331 disaster-related deaths have been certified—nearly 1.5 times the prefecture’s 1,605 direct deaths recorded as a result of building collapses, tsunami sinking, and other such causes.

Focusing on 1,514 cases in the Futaba district, which consists of six cities – Nami, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha and Hirono and two villages – Katsurao and Kawauchi, the Mainichi Shimbun found that at least 1,025 people had moved to new shelters three or more times before they died. Of these, 248 were moved to other places, 267 four times, 211 five times, and 299 six or more times.

Examining 2,034 indirect deaths — 1,514 in Futaba Prefecture and 520 in Minamisuma Prefecture, where evacuation orders were issued within a 20-kilometre radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant — the Mainichi Shimbun found that 70% of those who died were in their 80s or greater. About 80% of them had a previous medical history, and pneumonia and heart disease were the most common causes of death. There were also many who suffered from depression or exacerbated dementia due to prolonged evacuation.

According to the Reconstruction Agency, more than 90% of residents of Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures whose deaths were certified as disaster-related died within one year of the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. In contrast, in Futaba and Minamisoma Prefecture, nearly half of the deaths occurred after At least a year after the disaster.

Indirect death requests are still made from bereaved families. However, as time progressed, determination of causation became more difficult, and the rate of testimony declined.

(Japanese original by Rika Teramachi, Fukushima office; and Shuji Ozaki, local office in Minamisuma)




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