Patience running out among Japan's disaster refugees

By Harumi Ozawa

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Many of these people will attempt to manage their anger, grief and anxiety alone. In the older generations especially, people tend to be very reluctant to admit to mental and emotional problems, even to friends, they’re far more likely to describe physical symptoms, like headaches or fatigue, that arise from underlying depression or anxiety. It’s simply more socially acceptable to talk about these physical symptoms. In rural communities especially, there’s a very strong feeling that the land belongs to you and you belong to it. And if you lose that, you start to lose a sense of who you are.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

My patience have run out long ago with all the world for so called,"world leaders." Wake up people, it's power to the people.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

This is should be priority number one, this should be one of Abe's 3 Arrows: Helping these victims. Not making nuclear deals with India, not verbal jousts with China or Korea, or retracting on wartime apologies.

3 years later and it's an absolute heartbreaking injustice what is happening to these people. I had such an ignorant idealistic view of Japan when I first came here. I was so fed up with my home government, and now I realize Japan's is no better. Same lying, self-gratifying, two-faced politicians.


11 ( +16 / -5 )

“You can tell exactly what your neighbor is doing next door, taking a bath or using the toilet,” Toichi said. “We cannot even have a quarrel in private.”

Disgraceful. But itt is a testimony to the resiliance/patience of the Japanese people that three-years in, and thousands are stiil living this way. In the states, there would have been holy-hell to pay. Bet the IOC folks who came to evaluate the Tokyo bid did not see this. if they had, they would have seriously questioned Abe's priorities.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Ever wonder why many young Japanese have commented that they would not take up arms to protect Japan if invaded? If the government is not going to take care of you,...why should we protect it?

Again, where did all the donations go to? Does anyone have any data on the money distributed to each individual family? Why are they still suffering if the money was distributed fairly?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Shame on Japan and Abe. The people have so much apathy and for the most part don't want to talk about blame or demand justice. I bring it up all the time but people here don't know what to do. Instead there is this idea that volunteering there will solve everything, but I find this very selfish and a cover up from the government. One, the gov wants the people to clean up the mess and then live there again (dumb idea), and two young people are taken by the opportunity to get some attention by going up there and picking up garbage.

What the refugees should have done was gotten out right away. This government is incapable in dealing with crisis and it is sad that the refugees seem to believe that things will get better ... 3 years on ...

3 ( +6 / -3 )

jforceMar. 11, 2014 - 08:55AM JST Shame on Japan and Abe. This government is incapable in dealing with crisis.

Before you critize Japan goverment, maybe you should compare the notes with Philippines goverment during the the recent tsunami in Tacaloban.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

And I say screw it. I miss the politician, whose name I forget, but he broke the rules and handed a letter to the emperor for help. I hope all of these survivors, being neglected, hand their own letters to the Emperor.

I know he's supposed to be neutral in all things that matter in his citizens' lives, but how can you? If he wanted, he could stand up, and make a bold statement for change.

And then these victims of the tsunami can then march to the Diet and hand a letter to Abe. Make your voices heard because the news agencies won't give you equal coverage with the Olympics!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Abe must be reading these comments himself... Every time I try to thumb up a comment, it stays at 0. Thinking maybe I hadn't clicked properly, I try the "minus" and it becomes "-2"...

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Why aren't growing numbers of unemployed be utilized to build new houses? For sure this would also help rebuild the national economy as well.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Don't know why they'd decide to suddenly decide to be upset now afer three years of watching all the aid money get poured into TEPCO shareholders pockets.

Shouganai, I guess.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The stress of living in a 30-square-meter space has taken a heavy toll on their mental and physical health, they said. Toichi has been hospitalised twice since the disaster.

They are Japanese citizens who have to live like prisoners of concentration camp. I am from Myanmar (known as Burma). My homeland has never honored the any of debt borrowed from Japan. However Abe is so generous for Myanmar for wiping out the old debt and extending new aid. Most of them will be ended up the pocket of corrupted official.

Although Myanmar is backward and impoverished nation, it has larger land space and natural resources. Even convicted criminal can stay in the room larger than 30 sq meters. Abe should look after his own instead of showering with J tax payers money to other nations. Charity starts at home.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Hang your head in shame Japan

2 ( +10 / -8 )

mitokomonalex, Please look at the pictures attached. It answers the question you keep reposting.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All the focus by the Abe administration on public works projects. Why isn't support of the tsunami survivors being considered as part of this spending? Yes, infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, but direct a sliver of the effort to help the people affected.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"Japan has so far built only 3.5% of the new housing promised to refugees in heavily affected Iwate and Miyagi prefectures."

But hey, as long as TEPCO gets its bailout money immediately so it can make a profit, it's all good, right? so long as contact lens factories, new highways, and other public works projects in Okinawa and Nagoya, and even whaling!, etc., get built and/or supported with relief money, it's all good. Who cares about the people that the promise of the Olympics would bring hope to?

Hang your head in shame, indeed!

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I am angry at the government as well like all of you above, but watching the news, hearing the stories behind the rebuilding of these cities and towns it seems so... so... difficult. Cities, towns and even individuals have their own agenda and the talk on rebuilding never comes to a conclusion that is satisfactory. There is no quick cure for these devastated communities.

I don't know if this sounds sane, but if rebuilding was going to take this long, they may as well have made temporary housings like trailer houses on top of their old homes (swept away by the Tsunami). Then they would've still kept their community intact in time of need. Then the authorities would only have to worry about building their new homes and not how to keep these people alive and spiritually well in their current state. Maybe they could have moved them all together to the new land of hope.

Now, they feel alone, distressed and with out hope.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This is like The Matrix & Terminator being written by Sophia Stewart instead of those that stole her work, for there own ends.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

New building contracts will not go ahead in this business climate because construction companies fear if they take on big projects with lots of temporary and contracted workers they will have to lay them off and abandon the work when the economy tanks (and is beginning to tank again).

It's only the yakuza and their homeless recruits who are getting any of the real cleanup done around Fukushima.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah, the tsunami was a tragedy, but the plight of the refugees is the catastrophe.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Patience running out, remember when the government decided to TAKE money from the Tsunami / Earthquake relief funds and give it to the whaling industry? That was just one of MANY disappointing actions & inactions, taken by the government. These people need help right now, this corruption has to stop!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

@Disillusioned: You forgot to mention that the govt and TEPCO are despicable for letting things worsen. A fraction of that bailout money could have been put to the people in need and create a small economic boom... new houses that need to be built, super markets, stores, clinics, schools... the list goes on. But bailing out TEPCO was more important.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The housing, which I assume is shown the photo may be cramped, but it looks on a par with any new apartment building that professionals live in. Obviously, they want something better if they had a house before, but they are not exactly living in a tent. I see 'matchwood' has, yet again, been used - 'word of the day'.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

They should mobilize and camp out, en masse, on the steps of the Emperor's palace until they get new housing! This is more than ridiculous, it's a travesty of justice!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is becoming worse than the FEMA fiasco.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

These poor people still can't get decent housing or adequate mental health assistance three years on, but the government can plan, finance, and supposedly complete an entire Olympic venue in 6 years time. Shame on them! All their efforts should be focused on the victims of 3/11!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I don't know what these people are talking about. Abe told the world everything was fine in order to get the Olympics. He couldn't have been lying now... COULD HE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

It is only devastation that is quick.....recovery is very slow or not at all.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Comments like:

"new houses that need to be built, super markets, stores, clinics, schools... the list goes on."


They should mobilize and camp out, en masse, on the steps of the Emperor's palace until they get new housing! This is more than ridiculous, it's a travesty of justice!

must be written by people who haven't been to Kessennuma, Rikuzentakada, Kamaishi, etc.. People who've seen the lay of the land understand that there's a lot of landscaping work to be done before you start slapping up new housing. You can't simply rebuild where the houses, clinics, and schools used to be. They need to be rebuilt on higher ground. Ground that isn't readily available. Supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. have been quickly slapped up in areas that are still below the tsunami line. Infrastructure buildings such as schools and hospitals have to be above that line. Ditto public housing. If you think it's easy, I ask you to visit the region and see the work being done.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Michael Grant

They should mobilize and camp out, en masse, on the steps of the Emperor's palace until they get new housing!

Unless the Emperor's name is "Abe", I don't think the Emperor could do much about it... It's Abe who is holding the strings and playing a harp while Japan burns...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The govt has & continues to screw up bigtime!

With the BILLIONS of $$$ in the waiting the first thing the govt SHOULD have done was set up various offers of compensation, new start plans & simply ALLOW the people to choose for themselves whether to take them up on options based on where they lived, nearby or of their own choosing anywhere in Japan, that would have speed things up & then allowed local govts to see how many wish to stay etc

But instead they have simply let chaos reign & have achieved next to nothing for the various evacuees ..........its a damned mess & a damned shame!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The plight of the refugees would be assuaged somewhat if the Japanese government let foreign building contractors in to do some of the work. This experienced Canadian contractor knows how easy it is to build a new house, and finds it extremely frustrating that his skills are denied the very people they could help.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The lack of aid to these refugees long ago crossed the line into absolute insanity.

As other people posted above me, I used to by hyper-critical of my own government (U.S.A.) and thought that Japan really "had it together" and "got things done" when they needed to be done. Boy, was I ever wrong. This would never have happened in America. The U.S. has some serious, serious societal problems, but taking three or more years to help refugees WITHIN THE NATIONAL BORDERS is not one of them.

3.5%? Insane is the only word to describe it.

I still love Japan as much as I love the U.S.A., but this has exposed something truly rotten at its political core.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Before you critize Japan goverment, maybe you should compare the notes with Philippines goverment during the the recent tsunami in Tacaloban.

The Philippines is a 3rd world country. Whats Japans excuse?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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