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Okinawa homes, hotels open to earthquake refugees

Date Posted: 2011-04-14

Nearly 900 survivors of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan are now calling Okinawa their temporary home as the local hotel association, Okinawa Prefecture and private citizens make space available for them.

Okinawa Prefecture says 895 people have made their way here over the past few weeks, with 745 being placed in local hotels that are members of the Okinawa Prefectural Hotel and Inn Living Hygiene Craft Guild. Another 150 have found sanctuary in public housing units, children’s homes and youth hostels, as well as in private homes.

Survivors from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures comprise 310 of that number, with others coming from the Kanto area. Okinawa Prefectural Housing units have taken in 87 people from 22 households, while reports are filtering in of private residences being offered at temporary housing for still others.

Six homes in single houses are occupied by refugees in Naha City, another six in Miyako-jima City, two in Okinawa City, and one home in Ginoza. A total of 53 people are in those 15 residences. Another three families have received ¥5,000 daily support for travel expenses and hotel charges. Authorities say the figures do not include numbers on people arriving privately, and who are staying with friends and relatives.

Authorities say 188,000 people from the disaster zone are homeless and living in 2,400 shelters in 18 prefectures while more adequate temporary housing is arranged.

In Iwate Prefecture, displaced residents began moving into prefabricated housing erected on a junior high school playground in Rikuzentakata this week. The 36 units were constructed by the Prefecture government, with the winners chosen from 1,160 applicants wanting a shot at the highly desired housing through a lottery. Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture governments say they intend on building temporary homes for 62,000 households, but say only 4,337 are currently under construction.

The central government in Tokyo says there are plans to designate ¥500 billion to pay for building 70,000 temporary housing units. The funds will be included in a 2011 supplementary budget.

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