YAKUSHIMA, KAGOSHIMA PREF. – The town office of Yakushima in Kagoshima Prefecture says it will allow residents of nearby Kuchinoerabu Island to acquire daily necessities free of charge, after a volcanic eruption there last week forced them to evacuate.
The town office has distributed six certificates at three local shelters for evacuees in Yakushima, which is now home to more than half of them. The certificates can be presented at three supermarkets in Yakushima and will allow purchases to be charged to the town office.
The law states that authorities should provide evacuees from natural disasters with daily necessities such as food and clothing directly. But Yakushima officials said they are using the certificates in order to give the evacuees some choice over the goods they need to support themselves.
As of Tuesday there were 71 evacuees from 48 households in Yakushima, according to the officials. They are expected to move into public housing, as they will not be able to return home soon.
Meanwhile, Toshio Kubo, 78, Kuchinoerabu’s only doctor, is visiting the shelters to look after the health of the evacuees.
Kubo, who evacuated to an inn in Yakushima with his wife, says he is especially concerned about elderly evacuees who may be at risk of becoming ill or developing dementia. He goes around the three shelters every day to examine them and ask whether they are getting enough sleep and exercise.
Kubo worked as a medical officer in Japanese embassies in Kenya and Washington, D.C., and as a doctor in remote villages later in his career. He began working as a doctor at a clinic on the island in April after finding the job online. He was the island’s only resident doctor.
Kubo says he plans to continue supporting evacuees, believing the residents would feel worried without a doctor on hand.
On Tuesday, the Meteorological Agency said the rainy season has started in southwestern Japan, arousing concerns about volcanic mud flows on Kuchinoerabu Island.