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10 years on: Over 70 pct of municipalities still need support staff

  • March 6, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 11:30 a.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 6 (Jiji Press)–Over 70 pct of northeastern Japan municipalities hit hard by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster plan to continue accepting support staff for reconstruction from other areas in fiscal 2021 and later, a Jiji Press survey revealed.


The results indicated that many municipalities in disaster areas still need help due to delays in reconstruction projects and shortages of professional staff.


The survey was conducted in January, covering 42 municipalities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.


Three of the 42 municipalities do not rely on support staff. Five others have already stopped accepting staff from other municipalities.


Of the remaining 34 municipalities, six plan to accept support staff until fiscal 2020, which ends this month, 11 until fiscal 2021, five until fiscal 2022 and one until fiscal 2025, while 11 said they have yet to decide when to stop accepting such support.


Two of the 11 undecided municipalities are in Miyagi and the others in Fukushima, home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> stricken nuclear plant.


The Fukushima town of Okuma said that it needs manpower for infrastructure improvement work after a nuclear evacuation order is lifted.


The town of Namie, also in Fukushima, said its needs for support staff will peak in fiscal 2021-2025, when it plans road and farmland improvement work and town development to promote evacuees’ return home.


With multiple answers allowed to a question on the types of jobs needing support staff, civil engineering work was cited by 25 municipalities, clerical work by 14 and construction work by 10.


Nine of the 26 support staff the Iwate town of Yamada received in fiscal 2020 work in civil engineering and construction. “We need support staff with practical experience until we finish reconstruction projects,” a town official said.


The Fukushima prefectural government sees needs for health nurses and strong manpower demand for engineering work for reviving agriculture and for research on buried cultural properties.


Citing needs for health nurses, an official of the Fukushima town of Hirono said “the number of elderly households and elderly people living alone is increasing, and they need care on a regular basis.”


Even after reconstruction programs are completed, municipalities will face challenges, such as managing public housing offered to people affected by the disaster.


The municipalities plan to make administrative operations efficient and train their own workers so that they can become self-reliant after support staff leave, sources familiar with the situation said.

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