1. Working spirits being lost: A concern of my friend, a shopkeeper
He has lived half a month in a resort area in Fukushima Prefecture. He is awarded with an accommodation and two meals per day up to US$50. The
prefecture bears the cost. The scenery around is marvelous, two meals are not bad.
Although the lunch costs something, but not much, nothing special to do day after day, TV programs are not effective in killing time. Visited a couple of nearby vista points, but no more places to visit …
His job was nothing to do with the NPP. He lost his shop and all customers. He used to get some jobs anyway, although some ups and downs depending on the economy. In low economy, he could find jobs unless he made no selections, while in high economy he could choose what he had wanted to do. But now, living in an unfamiliar location, in a resort area with few people around, he can’t find energy to work.
He is not forced to work for living. He can survive for at least three months with no incomes. There is no possibility to return home for months, probably more than one year. Even if he can, there are no certainties at all to go back to his former jobs. Nothing promising to terminate the accidents is foreseen.
After three months of this resort life, some other means will take effect for evacuation. Thus, he can spend a year or even longer without doing anything productive. He may lose the energy to work. He is concerned about it.
2. Renting of an own apartment was a mistake?
A couple of measures have been taken for accommodation by the prefectural headquarters; rent houses, temporary houses (equipped with a sets of five pieces of electric appliance donated by the Red Cross), or three-month secondary evacuation to hotels or ryokan. The people in the
Big Palette have applied for all of them. Unfortunately, no measures seem to work in a big scale.
All these measures have conditions for selection: a higher priority to a family having an aged member over 75 years old, a pregnant lady or an infant, a very sick member, a member in need of caretaking, or more than three children between 3 and 15 years old, etc.
The result so far is zero temporary houses, and less than 1,000 people who moved to rent-houses or hotels. Some bigger spaces are being given these days to the families in the Big Palette. This is not because the
number of people decreased, but because another big room in the Annex was opened as the evacuation space.
A new rule was recently announced: up to US$600 can be awarded per month to the families who rent a house by themselves. Everybody thought they could find their favorite houses to rent. But the reality is the same conditions above are applied. I wonder how many families can use
this new system.
The population of Tomioka-cho and Okuma-cho together is about 20,000. People in the evacuation camps are only its 20% or so. Other 80% moved to their relatives in Fukushima Prefecture or Kanto district to stay together or stay at the rent-houses on their own expenses in Koriyama
and other nearby cities. Most of them have a sick member, aged member below 75, education concerns about their children or pets to keep.
By various reasons, or having some affordability, they had rented their own houses or apartments. They have to bear the utilities costs. They had to choose this means, because they cannot go and live in their own
houses. Nobody thinks they are living a gorgeous life. The people staying at a hotel or ryokan with US$50 daily supports have a much more gorgeous life.
The conditions and priorities set by the prefectural headquarters exclude most of refugees and save their budget by focusing on the limited groups of people. Priorities to weak people are quite reasonable, but if the system excludes most average people, is it a real relief system?
A theory is being argued recently that those in the evacuation camp would get the redress equivalent to the amount for accommodation which those staying at a hotel are paid. If so, it causes the biggest unfairness to those who moved to private rent-houses or apartments on their own expenses. Renting of an own apartment was a mistake?
3. Concerns ahead
The snow and the climate thaw even in the Tohoku district as May approaches. Shivering coldness is decreasing in the Big Palette, too. Colds, flues and norovirus may be over, but instead, as the tsuyu, rainy season, approaches, new concerns will arise, e.g., food poison or contagious diseases. It is a hard season of a year for refugees under stresses and with lost appetites and strengths.
As the evacuation life is prolonged, our houses are also a big concern. The backsides of the houses (in the shade) are easy to get moldy in tsuyu every year. The houses were especially closed tight upon evacuation. No good ventilation is likely. Most houses damaged by the
earthquakes lost their roof tiles. Those houses will decay due to rain leaks. Typhoons in autumn will be a big concern.
Weeds will cover the gardens. Rice pads and fields will go quickly back to the wild, unless properly farmed. Living environments can be maintained only by constant maintenance. If it is abandoned, the living environments will become miserable in half a year. People’s concerns are endless.