Some ¥3.28 trillion in funding for roads, bridges and thousands of new homes in areas devastated by the tsunami in Tohoku 3½ years ago is still languishing unspent in the bank. That means Keiko Abe is heading into a fourth winter of subzero temperatures in a cramped, temporary dwelling that is succumbing to the elements.

"I'm just clenching my teeth until I can move out and live like a human being again," said Abe, 66, as she stood in the dim light of her living room with enough space for a couch, table and television.

A gray mould clings to some walls of the prefab structure where Abe has lived with her husband since shortly after a 9-meter wall of water obliterated large swaths of the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.