Survey finds 80% of quake evacuees in Noto hoping to return to home communities

A survey shows around 80 percent of evacuees, who fled their homes in the Noto region following the New Year's Day earthquake in central Japan, are hoping to return to their home communities.

It also finds many evacuees think securing housing is the most important factor to reconstruct local communities.

NHK surveyed 258 quake survivors and evacuees from February through March jointly with a research group headed by Professor Sekiya Naoya of the University of Tokyo.

Currently, nearly 4,000 people are taking shelter away from the Noto region where they lived before the earthquake.

The survey asked why they decided to leave their home communities or considered leaving with multiple answers allowed. Thirty percent of respondents said it was because tap water remained unavailable, while 25 percent said they thought it was impossible to live there for the time being and 21 percent said they were without electricity.

The survey shows many of them had to leave the region as damaged infrastructure made their lives harsh.

The evacuees were also asked where they want to live in the future after infrastructure is restored.

Eighty-one percent said they want to live where they lived or in the same municipality before the disaster, 7 percent said they cannot think about it yet.

Four percent said they wouldn't hesitate to live in a different municipality in Ishikawa Prefecture, followed by 3 percent who said living outside the prefecture could be an option.

Asked about the most important factors in the reconstruction of their home communities, 64 percent said securing housing, 42 percent said measures to address the depopulation problem, and 38 percent said more medical institutions and facilities for elderly.

Thirty-three percent said maintaining local communities is most important and 31 percent mentioned measures to prevent disasters.

A man in his 70s who experienced the quake in Anamizu Town said that he had applied for a permit to live in temporary housing, but even if he gets it he can stay there only for two years. The man said that building a house himself is financially difficult as he is too old.

Another man in his 70s in Wajima City said that the government should come up with measures that will encourage people to return, otherwise local communities could be further depopulated.