FUKUSHIMA, Japan - Many families with small children have not returned to municipalities in Fukushima prefecture that were affected by the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found.
According to the survey, in the next fiscal year a total of 531 children will attend public elementary and junior high schools in nine municipalities - five in which public schools will resume operating in April and four in which schools have already resumed operating following the lifting of evacuation directives.
This is only 8.6 percent of the total number of children who had been enrolled at public schools in these nine municipalities before the accident.
The survey shed light on the situation, finding that many families with small children have been slow to return to their hometowns as they have already established their lives in the places to which they evacuated, such as by finding employment.
Nearly seven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. While reconstruction work has progressed in areas hit by the tsunami, the difficulties facing Fukushima prefecture in areas where residents have been away for a long period of time have become more evident.
After the accident, evacuation directives were issued for 11 municipalities in the prefecture. However, due to progress in the decontamination of radioactive materials and other reasons, evacuation directives for nine municipalities - excluding difficult-to-return zones and the towns of Okuma and Futaba, where the Fukushima No 1 plant is located - had been lifted one after another by spring last year.
Each of the nine municipalities had been conducting classes in temporary school buildings and other places in evacuation destinations. However, following the lifting of the evacuation directives, five municipalities plan to resume school in April.
According to the survey, the total number of children who will attend schools in these five municipalities from April is 132, or 3.3 percent of the total number before the accident.
Across the nine municipalities, only 8.6 percent of the total number of students from before the accident will attend school.
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