Cabinet Office figures showed that as of June 30, 99,236 people evacuated from the disaster area are still unable to return to their homes. The number does not include those who have already moved into temporary housing, so overall evacuee numbers are considerably greater.
The number of evacuees was just 13,000 fewer than it had been two weeks earlier and Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s target of having housing available for all those who seek it by the mid-August Obon holiday period seems unlikely to be met. Obon is an annual Buddhist event for honoring one’s ancestors. It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
Fukushima prefecture, where the clean-up of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor continues, is the hardest hit of the main disaster areas that also include Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.
Currently, 36,000 Fukushima prefecture residents remain evacuated outside of the prefecture, which has seen 46,000 jobs lost in the wake of the disasters.
The magnitude 9 Great East Japan Earthquake struck March 11, centering on Tohoku, and was followed by a huge tsunami. The natural disasters sparked the man-made disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor that Kan said Saturday could take several decades to clean up.