|The remaining evacuees from Miyake Island stare at the island’s landscape from a Tokyo-bound ferry Monday afternoon.|
The last 406 remaining residents of Miyake left the volcanic island on Monday and were expected to arrive at a Tokyo pier later Monday night.
Some 400 village officers and other workers will remain on the island as emergency personnel.
The last group of residents boarded the Sutoretia Maru ferry at around 2:50 p.m. on Monday bound for Takeshiba Pier in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
At Sabigahama Port on the island, Miyake Mayor Ko Hasegawa, who issued the evacuation order on Friday, tried to encourage the leaving residents, saying that he would see them back on the island soon.
“Unfamiliar life in Tokyo will be very difficult, but please hold on,” he said.
Meanwhile, about 270 Miyake residents who left Miyake on Sunday arrived at an evacuation center Monday in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, where they will temporarily stay for a few days until they move into public housing.
At the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, which is being used to temporarily accommodate the evacuees, those who need shelter completed applications for housing to be provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Of Miyake’s 1,972 households, 382 have found shelter as of Monday, while 88 have already moved into or received keys to public housing, metropolitan government officials said.
Many have also moved in with relatives on the main land and other islands, they said.
The metropolitan government has so far found 877 units for evacuees, and plans to further increase the number by between 400 and 500 by Thursday, they said.
Tomoko Sato, 64, who boarded an evacuation vessel around noon on Sunday, said she is worried about her son who must stay on the island for another week because he is a firefighter.
Keiji Hasegawa, 50, a car mechanic from the island, said that if the evacuation order continues for long, it would deal a devastating blow to the island’s economy and many residents would not be able to return to the island.
“The volcano has already devastated Miyake’s main industries, including tourism, fishery and agriculture, and if it keeps scattering ash across the island, many will lose their means of earning a living,” he said.
The Labor Ministry said Monday it will grant subsidies to employers on Miyake Island forced to suspend operations due to the recurring eruptions of Mount Oyama and the evacuation of island residents beginning Aug. 29 though Feb. 28, 2001.
The ministry said it will also subsidize businesses on Kozushima, Niijima and Shikinejima islands, which have been rocked by volcanic activity and earthquakes for the past several months.
The subsidies are designed to help finance a portion of costs companies must bear during the suspension of their operations, including employees’ salaries and job training costs, it said.
Officials ordered all residents to evacuate the island by Monday, with the exception of emergency personnel.
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