At the temporary housing complexes in Fukushima Prefecture that serve as homes for those displaced by the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear disaster, degradation of the buildings is becoming a serious issue.

Most of the units are well over 2 years old, and some are suffering from damaged floors and walls that are falling apart. Requests for repairs now exceed 300 cases a month. As winter approaches, some also fear that gaps in the walls created by the now tilting structures could let cold wind and snow into their homes. To deal with the situation, the prefectural government said it will start checking all 17,000 units this year.

"I can't sleep well because the floor squeaks when I turn over in my futon," said Toshiko Oshima, 68, rubbing her sleepy eyes. Originally from Namie, Oshima lives in one of the temporary housing units in Minamiyanome in the city of Fukushima.