• Jiji, Kyodo


Over 4,200 people are still living in temporary housing in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, about six months after a deadly rain disaster mainly hit the southern part of the prefecture.

Local governments have been stepping up support for the people, sending staff members to each home to prevent isolation and give assistance with rebuilding houses.

As of Dec. 20, the number of people living in temporary housing built for disaster victims totaled 1,851 in the city of Hitoyoshi and six other municipalities in Kumamoto. When those living in private housing rented by local municipalities for evacuees are combined, people still living in temporary homes in the prefecture add up to as many as 4,215.

In addition, at least 2,614 families are living in damaged homes — on the second floor that escaped inundation, for example.

Kumamoto Prefecture approved in November the restart of a decades-old controversial dam construction project that was halted 11 years ago, following the deadly flooding of a major local river triggered by torrential rains in July.

Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima said during a prefectural assembly meeting that he gave the green light to the central government plan to build a dam on the Kawabe River, the main branch of the flood-hit Kuma River, withdrawing his earlier opposition to the project over environmental concerns.

“I’ve accepted people’s wishes to protect both lives and the environment. These wishes are what made my decision,” the governor said.

After the meeting, Kabashima told a news conference that the torrential rains made him change his stance and give consent to the dam construction project.

Instead of a conventional reservoir-style dam, Kabashima suggested the state build a flood retention dam that is environmentally friendly and stores water only in the event of flooding, with open outlets.

From July 3 to 8 last year, heavy rains hit the Kyushu region, causing floods, landslides and other damage. In Kumamoto, 65 people died due to the flooding of the Kuma River and landslides, while two remain missing. The number of houses that suffered damage came to 4,582 and the total financial damage, including damage to roads and agriculture, is estimated at ¥533 billion.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.