More than 100,000 survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake are still living in evacuation centers.
The hygiene and health care conditions at these facilities are far from exemplary, and privacy is in short supply.
Many evacuees are complaining of mental and physical health problems.
Some evacuees are still looking for missing family members. Others are reluctant to leave their ravaged towns and villages because they have been making their livelihood in agriculture or fishing.
Many of the people living in evacuation centers urgently need decent and comfortable housing in their own communities. Their needs should be met as soon as possible. The principal means to achieve the goal is clearly provisional housing.
Already, over 70,000 requests for temporary housing have been filed by evacuees, mainly in the three hard-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism says it will strive to build the temporary houses by summer. But the work is not progressing at a fast enough pace.
A raft of obstacles are hampering the effort, including soaring prices of construction materials and shortages of experts to install water supply and sewerage systems and electricity and gas facilities.
Measures to overcome these obstacles should be taken swiftly, such as using cheap imported materials and dispatching employees of the central and local governments to help carry out necessary tasks.
The biggest challenge in building temporary dwellings is to find land for them. Land secured so far is still less than half of the total area needed to build the planned houses.
In much of the disaster areas, the narrow strips of flatland available, sandwiched between the mountains and the sea, were struck by the massive tsunami.
The tracts of land owned by the state or local governments are far from enough to build the temporary dwellings needed.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has eased the rules for converting farmland into housing plots and urged local governments in the affected areas to provide information concerning fallow rice fields and neglected farmland.
asahi.com（朝日新聞社）：EDITORIAL: Temporary housing needed for disaster victims - English