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Families with children who lost their parents in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami face poverty


In Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, where settlement work continues in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011, the lights go on as middle school students return home from school at dusk on March 10, 2015 (Mainichi / Kimi Takeuchi)

Of the homes that lost a parent or parent in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, nearly half now have an annual income of less than 2 million yen (about $ 19,000), compared to 6% of the same families before the disaster, the Mainichi Shimbun revealed Survey of families’ children and their parents.

Among the guardians, about 30% were irregular employees, while about 20% were unemployed, which is over 50%, indicating the financial pressures faced by single-parent families and families raising children orphans in the disaster.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as of March 2019, there were 1,554 children under the age of 18 at the time of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami who had lost one of their parents in the disaster, while 243 children had lost both.

The survey was conducted on Mainichi Kibo Shogakukin (Mainichi Kibo Shogakukin) grant recipients and former recipients, which since fiscal year 2011 the Mainichi Shimbun and Mainichi Welfare Foundation have been providing high school and college students who have lost one or both parents in March 2011 disaster to help them continue their education. The questionnaires were mailed to the families of all 601 scholarship recipients in October of this year, 423 of whom reached the intended recipients. The rest were returned because scholarship recipients were not at their last listed addresses. Of these, 178 orphans (79 males and 99 females) and 161 parents (47 fathers, 104 mothers, 10 grandparents, etc.) responded. In some cases, children and guardians from the same household responded, while in others, only children or guardians responded.

Children are seen heading home after school on their bikes amid the rubble of the Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, in Utsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, on April 6 of that year. (Mainichi / Ryo Mochizuki)

The guardians who responded, whose average age was 53, had an average of 2.2 children (grandchildren in the case of grandparents) before the disaster. At that time, 75 people lived in Iwate Prefecture, 75 of them lived in Miyagi Prefecture, and seven lived in Fukushima Prefecture, among other prefectures. Among the children, whose average age was 21, 61 were in university, middle college, or graduate school, 49 were in high school, 46 were working adults, and 11 were in vocational school.

Questions about changes in family income have been directed to parents. 51 percent said that before the disaster, their family had income of 4 million yen (about $ 38,000) or more, but that number dropped to 18% after the disaster. Meanwhile, household income with annual income of less than 2 million yen has jumped more than sevenfold, from 6% before the disaster to 45% after the disaster. This is much higher than the countrywide percentage of households with annual income of less than 2 million yen (including elderly families), which, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare 2019 survey, is 19%. It is believed that many families surveyed in the recent survey experienced a decrease in income because parents who were supporting families financially died in the disaster.

Among the trustees who responded to the survey, the percentage of regular workers has decreased over the years, from 49% before the disaster, 44% immediately after the disaster, to 34% today. Meanwhile, the proportion of non-permanent employees increased from 26% before the disaster, to 31% immediately after the disaster, to 35% today, while the proportion of unemployed increased from 13% before the disaster. , To 18% immediately after the disaster, to 20% today. It appears that there were quite a few parents whose workplaces were destroyed, resulting in them losing their jobs. Many guardians today are under the age of 60, which means they are not yet at retirement age, which indicates that the work situation has not yet recovered.

Only 32% of families said their homes escaped damage, 49% said their homes were destroyed, and 17% said their homes were partially damaged. The highest number of times any family moved was five times, twice the rate. Four families cited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant crisis as the reason for their moves, while eight families cited financial reasons. 44% of responding families said they lived in a house they owned that was not where they were living at the time of the disaster, while 16% said they lived in a house they rented that was not where they were living at the time. Disaster. Those who lived in the same place made up 36% of the respondents.

The survey asked families about the financial implications of the spread of the coronavirus, and the responses showed that the virus had a direct impact on family pocketbooks already suffering from the 2011 disaster. An irregular 57-year-old worker in Iwate Prefecture who lost her husband wrote, “Work stopped between April and June. (This year), and I had absolutely no income. ” A 50-year-old woman who lost her husband and lives in Miyagi Prefecture wrote, “My work is terminated and I am currently looking for work.” “Sales are down, it’s financially tight,” wrote a 46-year-old man in Iwate Prefecture who lost his wife and ran a restaurant.

“The problems became more complex than they were immediately after the disaster, when it was easy to see the damage, such as collapsed houses,” says Yosuke Imai, president of “Chance for Children,” which supports educational opportunities for children affected by disasters. “The problem is not limited to economic issues. We see the effects of the disaster in the emotions of the children, or in the illness of family members. Long-term help is needed.”

(Japanese origin by Shunsuke Sekiya and Kim Suyeong, City News Administration)


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