Residents in disaster-hit Japan feel 'let down'

Featured Japan - November 26th, 2012
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Residents from hardest-hit areas are feeling left behind as Japan struggles to recover from last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, with many having low expectations that the approaching national elections could do much to heal the still visible scars left by the disaster.

While volunteers and donations poured in after the 9.0-magnitude quake followed by a tsunami that swept northeastern Japan and triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis, residents felt let down as the country’s political agenda seemingly shifted from rebuilding efforts, Reuters reports.

Almost a year on, many businesses still operate in provisional facilities while thousands live in temporary housing.

According to interviews with residents of the disaster-hit region, they don’t expect that any party would initiate significant efforts to revive the area, while those planning to vote seem to accept that the electoral battle will focus on other issues, such as national security, the stagnant economy and the role of nuclear power.

Public funds worth 19 trillion yen ($230 billion) allocated to rebuilding efforts and nuclear fallout clean-up have been diverted to other projects or simply held back.

“I am not expecting anything from the election results,” says Akio Ono, president of seafood processing firm Ono Foods Co. in Kamaishi, where more than 1,000 residents were killed in the disaster.

“None of the politicians seem to be thinking about Japan seriously, they are not paying attention to the disaster-hit areas”.