” Fukushima Prefecture included more people in surveys for 2013 estimates on demand for new public housing after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns than it ended up allowing into the housing, and the estimates based on those surveys were never publicly released, it has been learned.
The estimates were reported in a document obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun. This document was created in May 2013 by a Tokyo consulting company paid around 30 million yen by the Fukushima Prefectural Government for the work. The estimates were based on fiscal 2012 surveys by the Reconstruction Agency and the Fukushima Prefectural Government of evacuees from 11 municipalities near the crippled plant.
The estimates were made based on three types of evacuees seeking a place in the housing: people wanting to live there until evacuation orders for their home municipalities were lifted; people wanting to live there after evacuation orders for their home municipalities were lifted but until a livable environment had been established; and people wanting to live in the housing permanently.
The estimated numbers of residences required for the three types of evacuees were between 3,136 and 5,663 for the first group; between 2,743 and 4,172 for the second group; and between 3,366 and 4,837 for the third group. Only the first category, however, matches up with the standards for “long-term evacuees” — the only type of evacuee allowed to apply for the residences. Additionally, two of the 11 municipalities covered by the estimates, the city of Tamura and the town of Naraha, had their evacuation orders lifted in April 2014 and September 2015, respectively, making their residents ineligible for the housing.
The units were first proposed during the Democratic Party of Japan administration, and in September 2012 the Fukushima Prefectural Government announced preparations to build the first 500 residences. At this point, the project was being funded from reconstruction funds, and which evacuees would be eligible for a place had not yet been decided. At the end of that year, however, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito took over the government, and at a January 2013 meeting on disaster recovery, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the creation of a plan to allow evacuees to return home quickly, and to secure homes for long-term evacuees. The Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima was revised in April 2013 to allow special government funding for the new housing, and to restrict eligibility to long-term evacuees.
The unreleased documents obtained by the Mainichi state explicitly that “under the current system to restrict entry into publically managed housing to long-term evacuees,” others hoping to keep living in the units after their evacuation orders have been lifted “may not be included.”
A representative for the Fukushima Prefectural Government said, “It’s not good to say that the national government ‘toyed with us’ by its policy shift, but the survey on evacuees’ wishes and the establishment of the new fund (with its eligibility restrictions) happened in parallel.” The official added that prefectural staff had to start applying the restrictions “in a hurry” to keep in line with national government policy.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government has announced 4,890 planned public housing units for nuclear disaster evacuees, but even when combined with around 2,800 such residences for tsunami survivors, the number of residences covers only 17 percent of the around 43,700 Fukushima households that remained without a permanent home as of the end of last year. “