National

Majority of Tohoku mayors say recovery slow or nonexistent

Kyodo

More than half of the 42 mayors of northeastern cities, towns and villages damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami describe Tohoku’s reconstruction as slow or stalled, a Kyodo News survey said Sunday.

In the survey, conducted in February ahead of the third anniversary of the disasters that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, 22 mayors said the region’s recovery is behind schedule and 17 said it is proceeding as planned. None said the work was ahead of schedule.

The chiefs of the radiation-tainted towns of Namie and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture meanwhile said no progress was being made at all on reconstruction, even though all their residents have fled to avoid the radiation spewed by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In Iwate and Miyagi, municipality heads said the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure including roads, railway and port facilities has been slow.

Those in Fukushima cited delays in decontamination, compensation and work related to the ongoing nuclear crisis at the plant.

Among the 42 municipality chiefs in the three prefectures covered by the survey, 40 said they think the memory of the calamity has faded among many people.

Many mayors expressed concern that public attention is increasingly shifting from Tohoku’s plight to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The death toll from the March 2011 disasters stood at 15,884 as of Feb. 10, with 2,636 still unaccounted for, according to the National Police Agency.