A survey conducted by prefectural officials in Fukushima showed Thursday that in the wake of the nuclear disaster that began almost five years ago at the stricken Daiichi nuclear facility, more than 10,000 children still remain outside of the northeastern prefecture due to environmental and economic concerns.
A total of 10,557 children remain outside of the prefecture after they were evacuated after the multiple meltdowns, sparked by an earthquake-triggered tsunami hitting the Daiichi complex on March 11, 2011, with 4,760 of them coming from regions that were officially designated by the government as evacuation zones.
Both municipal and central government measures have been taken to try and encourage the return to the prefecture of its youngsters, as the region faces increasing economic pressure from a diminishing workforce.
Such methods have included offering free health care for minors as well as provisions made for repatriation costs, to take the financial burden off families who might otherwise be unable to afford the costs of returning to their home prefecture.
The region has, however, seen numbers of child evacuees decrease, as environmental conditions improve, with data showing that the number of evacuees registered as of April 2012, stood at 18,000.
But prefectural officials were quoted as saying Thursday that far more needs to be done to institute ways to enhance the conditions for parents to raise their children in the nuclear disaster-afflicted prefecture — the current population of which is 1.91 million.
Official population data released recently by the government revealed that four towns that were evacuated in Fukushima in the wake of the 2011 disaster still remain uninhabited.
The broader Tohoku region in northeastern Japan, which includes Fukushima, has seen a total population decline of around 5 percent since the last survey was taken, according to Japan’s latest census. Enditem