Japan 7 months after: missing persons, unemployment, poverty...

More than 3,900 still missing 7 months after quake, tsunami

SENDAI (Kyodo) — More than 3,900 people are still listed as missing and nearly 16,000 people are confirmed dead from the quake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan nearly seven months ago.

The National Police Agency said the death toll had reached 15,822 as of Friday. The number of people missing stood at 3,926, most of whom are from the three hardest hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

Many relatives have filed papers with authorities seeking death certificates for people listed as missing. As of Sept. 30, papers had been submitted for 3,492 missing people in the three prefectures. The legal affairs bureaus in the prefectures had accepted them for 3,469 people.

Kyodo Press, October 10, 2011

No. of people seeking extra jobless benefits quadruples in quake-hit areas

SENDAI (Kyodo) — The number of people applying for extra jobless benefits as of September increased fourfold from a year earlier in three prefectures hit hard by the March earthquake and tsunami, demonstrating the severe employment situation there, government data showed Monday.

A total of 12,705 people in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, up from 3,213 the previous year, received the allowances at the end of September beyond the standard payout period ranging from 90 to 330 days, according to the survey by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The government introduced in March 2009 a system that allows those who cannot land a job during the designated payout period to conditionally extend the provision of unemployment allowances for 30 or 60 days.

By prefecture, 5,890 people between jobs in Miyagi received such benefits after extending their qualification period, up 3.85 times on a yearly basis, followed by Fukushima with 4,875, up 4.46 times, and Iwate with 1,940, up 3.26 times.

The number of job seekers receiving such benefits for an extended period reached 4,575 in July in the three prefectures, more than three times the previous year’s figure, and climbed to 5,361 in August, over four times the year-earlier level, before dropping to 3,431 in September, still more than triple last year’s number.

As a special measure to support those affected by the quake, tsunami and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture, the government earlier granted a 120-day extension of unemployment allowance payments to job seekers in the Tohoku area and extended it again for 90 more days in September.

Kyodo Press, November 7, 2011

Japan Welfare Recipients Hit Record 2.05 Million in July

Tokyo, Nov. 9 (Jiji Press)—The number of people who received welfare benefits in Japan in July hit a record high since statistics began in fiscal 1951, due partly to the economic stagnation, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Wednesday.

The number of welfare recipients stood at 2,050,495 in the month, up 8,903 from June, exceeding the monthly average of 2,046,646 in fiscal 1951, which was the previous all-time high, according to the ministry.

The increase came also because a number of people lost jobs as Japanese companies are increasingly tending to depend on nonregular workers, the ministry said. Also behind the rise is the rapid aging of the society, it said.

The number of welfare recipients steadily decreased after hitting the previous record high in fiscal 1951, in line with Japan’s postwar economic boom, and hit bottom in fiscal 1995 with the monthly average of 882,229.

However, the number then started to turn up again as the economy lost momentum, and surged following the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Jiji Press, November 9, 2011

More than 300 People Still Staying at Shelters 8 Months after Disaster

Sendai/Fukushima, Nov. 9 (Jiji Press)—Some eight months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the hard-hit northeastern prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima remain unable to completely shut their evacuation centers.

As of Wednesday, a total of 358 displaced people were still staying at shelters in the two prefectures.

Some evacuees refuse to move in temporary houses because of their inconvenient locations. Others shun the houses because they are waiting for repairs to their own damaged homes. Another reason to continue staying at shelters is slow construction of temporary housing.

In Miyagi, the town of Onagawa closed all its shelters on Wednesday after temporary homes there—the prefecture’s last to be completed—started accepting residents earlier in the month.

But a total of 47 people are still living in three evacuation centers in Kesennuma, also in Miyagi.

Jiji Press, November. 9, 2011

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