A report on the research conducted by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency has shown that for those who initially survived the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters, but died sometime between then and now, the main cause of death has been the mental and physical fatigue caused by the stress of living as an evacuee. Looking at the deaths of 529 survivors from the three prefectures most affected by the disasters, Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate, they found that the deaths were not caused by one simple issue.
For 47% of the cases (249 people), fatigue from the evacuee lifestyle was listed as the cause of death. 40% of those deaths occurred while the people were in hospitals, while another 19% perished while they were in shelters or temporary housing. In another 37% (196 people) of the cases of death, the cause was stated as fatigue caused from excessive travel to shelters. 24%, or 127 people, died because of health deterioration after hospitals were shutdown or relocated. 12%, or 66 people, died because of ongoing stress after the earthquake and tsunami, while stress caused by the Fukushima nuclear crisis was the cause of 4%, or 21 deaths. The final 26 people, making up 5%, died after the hospitals they were in couldn’t offer the treatment they needed at the stage of their illness.
The agency says its research so far has only included the death from the three most-affected prefectures, but it will continue to investigate the causes in other victims. They have said that 91% of those who died were aged 70 years or older. The last notable statistic is that over 50% of the deaths that occurred after the disasters were people from Fukushima Prefecture who had to be relocated to several shelters, as the evacuation zone had to be increased several times because of radiation.