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The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake left 110,000 people in three prefectures without shelter. Most of these people moved into emergency evacuation centers while the authorities prepared temporary housing for them.

About 53,000 prefabricated housing units, called kasetsu, were built in accordance with a national law that covers emergency disaster housing. This law, enacted in 1947, states that residents will not stay in these units for more than two years. However, as the sixth anniversary of the disaster arrived on March 11, 35,000 people were still living in these makeshift apartments, the size of which, in accordance with the law, is limited to 30 square meters of floor area: Two 4.5-tatami-mat rooms, a small kitchen, one bathroom, and no dedicated storage area.

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