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Life remains far from back to normal for tens of thousands of people displaced by the March 11, 2011, disasters that hit the Pacific coastline of northeastern Honshu. That as many as 36,000 people in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures are still living in prefabricated temporary housing units six years later says a lot about the difficulties that are hindering the reconstruction of lives shattered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the massive tsunami that swept the Tohoku coastal areas, as well as the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that forced residents out of their hometowns. The government must keep extending the maximum support that these people need.

Six years after the mega-quake and tsunami left more than 18,000 people dead or missing, about 123,000 people remain displaced from their hometowns, living in temporary housing units, rented apartments or relatives’ and friends’ homes across the country. Many are believed to have given up hope of returning and have started new lives where they ended up. The figure is down from 174,000 a year ago, and is roughly a quarter of the estimated peak of 470,000 right after the disasters. But nearly 80,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture alone remain away from their homes after they were either ordered to flee from the radioactive fallout from the Tepco plant disaster or voluntarily evacuated out of fears of radioactive contamination of their native communities.

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