• Kyodo

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Donations for victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami have been decreasing sharply, a sign of waning public interest in the disaster that left over 15,000 people dead or missing.

A Kyodo News survey found that donations received by the Japanese Red Cross Society totaled some ¥314.6 billion during the year immediately after the disaster, but they have now declined to less than 1 percent of that amount and stood at ¥2.9 billion for the fiscal year ending this month.

A Red Cross official said the organization is grateful for the “unprecedented” amount of donations that have been made in connection with the Great East Japan Earthquake but added there are “still a lot of victims who need support.”

Money directly donated to Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were the most affected by the natural disasters and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is also decreasing, according to their governments.

Miyagi has received about ¥26.6 billion in direct donations, but donations for fiscal 2014 have so far been only about ¥130 million. Iwate received about ¥90 million while Fukushima was given ¥180 million in fiscal 2014, much lower than previous years.

Donations to the Red Cross and prefectural governments are given directly to victims and is not used for reconstruction projects in the disaster-hit areas.

The Iwate Prefectural Government has disbursed about ¥1.75 million to families for each family member who perished in the disasters. Miyagi has given ¥1.18 million per fatality.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has distributed from the donations it received ¥1 million each to children who became orphans and ¥500,000 each to children who one of their parents in the disasters.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, was the largest earthquake on record in Japan and was followed by massive tsunami. The disasters also triggered the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, leading to three reactors suffering meltdowns.

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