Many foreigners in Fukushima fled after crisis, news reporting questioned


A nonprofit group’s interviews with foreign nationals who were living in Fukushima Prefecture at the time the nuclear catastrophe started in March 2011 determined that more than two-thirds left for their home countries or relocated elsewhere in Japan, at least temporarily.

The Fukushima International Association said its survey also showed the foreigners it polled were troubled by differences in domestic and foreign media coverage and that most of them relied on TV more than radio because of language barriers.

Of 70 foreigners verbally interviewed by the association who were living in the prefecture in late 2012, 51 said they had evacuated. Of them, 29 left for their home countries, while 21 moved out of the prefecture and one within the prefecture.

While simple comparisons are hard to make, this represents a disproportionately high ratio of evacuees when compared with the entire population of the prefecture.

According to the prefectural government, up to around 164,200 people had relocated by May 2012, accounting for 8 percent of the overall population of 2 million.

Of the 100 foreigners given survey questionnaires, 53 had known the prefecture hosted nuclear power stations before the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami that triggered the crisis.

At the end of 2010, 11,190 foreign residents were living in the prefecture. Just over 60 percent were either Chinese or Filipino. The total had dropped to 9,489 at the end of last June.

Of the 100 surveyed, 88 said they got information from TV during the crisis, versus more than the 30 who cited radio.

One man said, “Japanese newspapers were slower in providing information than media in my home country and were not trusted very much. I relied on information from my home country.”

He also said the community radio service provided instructions for evacuation but it was hard to understand the information.

Many others had trouble understanding the situation even when they watched television. One person could not understand why then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano was giving a daily press conference with a “serious look” on TV.

“I learned from television that I probably needed to evacuate. But I was worried, not knowing where the nuclear power plant was and also about radiation,” another respondent said.

  • Ron NJ

    The simple fact is that 170 people is not a sufficient number for drawing any sort of conclusions, especially for public dissemination, about a group of 11,190. On such a small scale individual outliers will have a much higher, and far more disproportionate, impact on the results – but anyone with a modicum of an education should recognize that fact, and I rather don’t think that quality results are exactly what this group was going for.

    Ultimately I’m left wondering why the JT even bothered with this article – it’s pretty hard to miss the fact that it’s just more ill-researched Fukushima-related mumbo jumbo with no scientific basis. Might as well just throw ‘fly-jin’ in the title and remove any question of what the real intentions here are.

  • Paul Lynch

    More “Flyjin” nonsense. And anyway, the Japanese would be the first to run from any country they were living/visiting with a hint of danger……. screaming “abunai” as they went.

    • Guest

      Absolutely – I’ll call attention to the floods in Thailand a couple of years ago: scores of Japanese fled the country, yet there was no flyjin-esque coverage of that at all, rather it was just depicted in the Japanese media as normal people fleeing a natural disaster; the question is why it all gets turned around and people question foreigners’ “loyalty” to their “host nation” when the countries and people involved are Japan and everyone_not_Japanese, respectively. A serious case of double standards if I ever saw one.