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Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011

Disaster-zone population would've fallen 46% anyway: study


The coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures would have seen a 46 percent drop in population by 2040 despite the March 11 disasters just due to aging, a recent study found.

But the quake-and-tsunami catastrophe is likely to accelerate this decline, said Naoki Hayashi, a visiting researcher at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry. Hayashi is calling for more realistic planning of the reconstruction projects — including building more compact towns — to accommodate an aging society likely to contain fewer people.

The population within 1 km of the coastline in the three prefectures was about 223,000 in 2005 but will fall to about 121,000 by 2040 if the demographic trends observed between the 2000 and 2005 censuses continue, he said.

In full, the population of the three prefectures — which were home to most of the over 20,000 people lost in the disaster — is slated to shrink by 25 percent for the same reasons, he said.

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