FUKUSHIMA – As the fifth anniversary of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis approaches, the number of residents of the northeastern prefecture who are still living as evacuees has fallen below 100,000, a survey by the prefectural government revealed Friday.
According to the survey, 56,463 evacuees were staying within Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of December, while 43,497 were outside the prefecture as of Dec. 10. The whereabouts of 31 were unknown.
The total came to 99,991 in the December survey, down from 121,585 last January.
The total peaked at 164,865 in May 2011, two months after Japan’s worst nuclear accident occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.
The survey covered those staying in temporary housing facilities or taking shelter at relatives’ houses and other places. It excluded those who have bought houses in the areas they fled to or settled in public housing for disaster victims.
“Many people have started new lives where they were evacuated to, while others have returned to their homes,” a prefectural official said.