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THREE YEARS AFTER: Stress-related deaths reach 2,973 in Tohoku

Stress-related deaths have exceeded the death toll of those directly killed by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture, as Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

As of the end of January, in the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2,973 people had died from physical and psychological fatigue since the disaster struck on March 11, 2011, the survey showed.

Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, accounted for 1,660 of those deaths, compared with 1,607 deaths directly caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

The stress-related death toll was 879 for Miyagi Prefecture and 434 for Iwate Prefecture, according to the survey.

In Fukushima Prefecture, more than 130,000 people have been evacuated because of the nuclear accident, and the emotional strain from living away from home is taking a toll.

“Older people tend to get ill due to changes in their environments,” a prefectural government official said. “Stress from anxiety about an unforeseeable return home also affects their health and can lead to death.”

According to Fukushima Prefecture, more than 80 percent of stress-related deaths in the prefecture occurred among residents of 11 municipalities with designated evacuation zones following the 2011 disaster.
More asahi.com

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