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Japan Quake Survivors To Get New Homes


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


In Japan's Miyagi Prefecture, construction crews will soon break ground. They're putting up pre-fabricated homes for tens of thousands of people displaced by the tsunami and the earthquake. Almost a quarter of a million people are now living in emergency shelters. NPR's Doualy Xaykaothao reports that many of them will be able to move into the new units by next month.

DOUALY XAYKAOTHAO: Hideharu Suzuki wears a white helmet, a thick grey jacket and working boots. He will help manage the construction of this one location, Asuto Nagamachi, which is about 20 minutes from the center of town.

HIDEHARU SUZUKI: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: Traditional Japanese homes are wood, but Suzuki says these units will be steel, pre-made outside of Sendai City, and brought here.

SUZUKI: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: Youki Suda of Daiwa Li says they are similar to pre-fab homes made for survivors from the powerful Kobe and Niigata earthquakes.

YOUKI SUDA: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: Yumi Shimada agrees. She's strolling past this field where workers are taking measurements and didn't know it was going to be home to victims of the disasters that have crippled Japan for the last 18 days.


YUMI SHIMADA: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: Over at Sendai City Hall Center, volunteers are answering many calls about housing. This manager, Reay Anuma(ph), says displaced people are earnestly in need of information.

REAY ANUMA: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: A lot of people lost homes in Sendai, so lifeline is the critical thing - water, electricity, gas, but we're getting more calls about housing, she says.

ANUMA: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: Youichi Izumi answers those questions. He's with the Miyagi prefectural office. He says they will manage the construction of more than 1,100 pre-fabricated homes, at 13 locations, and basically...

YOUICHI IZUMI: (Foreign language spoken)

XAYKAOTHAO: But moving into a pre-fabricated home isn't easy. Yukie Onodera is from Minami- Sanrikucho on the coast. She says she, her husband, son and daughter lived in a beautiful traditional Japanese house like the ones you see in samurai movies.

YUKI ONODERA: (Through Translator) I lost photo albums of my children, clothes, school things, photo of me and my husband, everything.

XAYKAOTHAO: But she may not have a choice on where she and her family live. The loss was just too great.

ONODERA: (Through Translator) If possible, I would like to live in higher area in Minami-Sanrikucho, together with my four family members; my hometown, that's where I want to live.

XAYKAOTHAO: For now, she sits and waits, receiving little information from the government.

ONODERA: (Through Translator) I am here. My husband and son are with my cousins. I am so irritated as I am not doing anything. I want go home to try and find anything that's left of my home.

XAYKAOTHAO: Doualy Xaykaothao, NPR News, Sendai City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.