Three years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami heavily damaged the Tohoku region, many children orphaned by the disasters are in the care of grandparents or other elderly relatives who are facing health concerns that could limit their ability to continue as foster parents.

As of June 2012, the number of children who had lost both parents to the disasters stood at 241. Of those, 94 were in Iwate, 126 in Miyagi and 21 in Fukushima, according to government statistics.

In Iwate, one of the three coastal prefectures hit particularly hard by the quake and tsunami, the average age of foster parents is nearing 70, its welfare consultation center said.