Children Down By 30% In 2011 Quake - Hit Areas

Children down by 30% in 2011 quake-hit areas

An NHK survey shows that the number of schoolchildren in areas hard-hit by the 2011 major earthquake and tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, has declined by 30 percent.

Eight years and two months have passed since the March 11th disaster.

In Miyagi, 61 elementary and junior high schools in 11 cities and towns were damaged by the tsunami. But most have been rebuilt over the past eight years.

NHK found that the number of students enrolled in those affected schools was 11,571 as of May 2018.

The figure was down about 30 percent from 16,537 in May 2010 before the earthquake.

The most prominent decline in child enrollment was at Ogatsu Junior High School in the city of Ishinomaki. The school had 100 students before the disaster, but now has 15. That's a drop of over 80 percent.

Badminton is now the school's sole club activity. Baseball, soccer, and four others were dropped.

In Yamamoto Town, two elementary schools hit by the tsunami had 406 pupils before the disaster. But the number fell by over 50 percent to 197 in May of last year.

Those schools are to merge with another two elementary schools in the same town in 10 more years.

Professor Akio Shimada at Tohoku University says the declining child population is a major indicator of what will happen to the future labor force in local communities.

He says it is necessary to rebuild cities and towns in a way that meets the needs of local residents while taking area-specific elements into account.