3 years since 2018 Hokkaido quake

Monday marks three years since a powerful earthquake hit the northern Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, leaving more than 40 people dead.

People in hard-hit areas have started new lives at public housing for disaster victims, but they face a challenge of how to build community ties.

The quake occurred in the Iburi region on September 6, 2018, registering the highest intensity of seven on Japan's seismic scale.

It caused massive landslides in the town of Atsuma. Forty-four lives were lost, including those who died afterward from disaster-related causes, and 785 others were injured.

About 960 people in the towns of Atsuma, Abira and Mukawa had to move into temporary housing.

Last fall, new public housing was completed to accommodate them.

But some residents, especially the elderly, are worried about the financial burden after leaving temporary housing. There are also concerns that people may become isolated in their new community.

About 90 percent of reconstruction work on rivers and roads has been completed in the three towns.

But in forest areas, where about 4,300 hectares of land collapsed, recovery plans have yet to be worked out.

Finding ways to revive forestry, which is a key industry in the region, is also a challenge.