Japan's Permanently Displaced

2 years after a devastating earthquake, 160,000 are still without housing.

Image
Reuters

Today, marks the second anniversary of of the devastating Japanese earthquake that killed 19,000 people and displaced 300,000 more. In Tokyo and barren towns across the country's northeast, people gathered to bow their heads in silence.

Two years later, there is still much to be done and a growing dissatisfaction with the pace of recovery. There are still tens of thousands of people living in temporary housing, and 160,000 evacuees wonder if they will ever be able to return to their homes. As the Associated Press reports:

Japan has struggled to rebuild communities and to clean up radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, whose reactors melted down after its cooling systems were disabled by the tsunami. The government has yet to devise a new energy strategy -- a central issue for its struggling economy with all but two of the country's nuclear reactors offline.

Below, images from Reuters:

Taki Nemoto (R) and her family visit a damaged graveyard to pay respects to her mother who was killed during last year's earthquake and tsunami in Hirono town, Fukushima prefecture. Hirono town's municipal government is the first to return after being evacuated in the wake of the March 11, 2011 disaster, and kept away for nearly a year due to nuclear radiation fears. Of its original population of 5,300, only 250 still live in the town, according to officials. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)
Buddhist monks offer prayers for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami at Kitaizumi beach in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, some 15 miles from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant March 10, 2012, a day before the disaster's one-year anniversary. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11 last year unleashed a tsunami that killed about 16,000 and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. About 326,000 people are still homeless and nearly 3,300 remain unaccounted for.(Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)
A woman wearing a mask looks at paper lanterns created at a memorial for the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture March 10, 2012, a day before the one-year anniversary of the disaster. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011 unleashed a tsunami that killed about 16,000 and triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)
kana Kumagai, 7, visits the spot where her house, which was washed away by the March 11, 2011 tsunami, used to stand in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi prefecture March 11, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis. Kumagai's father Kazuyuki called his wife Yoshiko just after the March 11, 2011 earthquake to tell her to take the children to Omagari elementary school which was serving as a shelter. He was found near the shelter four days after the tsunami, Yoshiko said. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.