The number of those who say they see no progress at all has been decreasing year by year. Still, more than 80 percent say either that no progress is being made or that reconstruction is going more slowly than expected. In Fukushima Prefecture, which has been hit hard by the nuclear accident, half of the respondents say they see no progress. Their number is nearly three times that of people from Iwate or Miyagi prefectures who say so. The largest number of respondents say they feel reconstruction is especially slow in restoring housing and building disaster-relief public housing. Supplying housing land is also considered one of the areas in which progress is slowest. Many also say efforts to revive local economies and improve preparedness for nuclear emergencies and radiation exposure are lagging behind.

The current situations are completely different from what I had expected or hoped for. For no good reason, only tide embankments have become higher. I think this is dangerous. We can't see what's happening in the sea. To ensure safety, it's important for us to be able to see the sea well. I have doubts about the way public money is used. It's regrettable.

(Naomi Fujiwara, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

I used to think true reconstruction for me meant returning to my hometown. But as we continue to live in temporary housing for a long time, fewer people are returning. I'm worried about whether my town can function as a community. My house is certain to have deteriorated. I don't think I can afford to have a new house built. I wonder if I should be satisfied with living like this from now on.

(Kuniko Terashima, Namie, Fukushima)

I had thought that five years after the earthquake, reconstruction would be completed and many people living in temporary housing would have moved out. But actually, many still live there. What is needed first of all, in my view, is securing land for housing. Considering this, I think Japan offered to host the Olympics and Paralympics too soon after the disasters. Hosting the Olympics and Paralympics is a good thing in itself. But I think it's causing a shortage of construction personnel and materials.

(Anonymous, Yamada, Iwate)

I understand when some people get angry, saying reconstruction is so slow. But when I think of people involved in the reconstruction, I don't necessarily think their work is slow; rather, I'm thankful for them. Because of the earthquake, we can see many problems and tasks being dealt with.

(Anonymous, Kamaishi, Iwate)

If reconstruction work goes fast and well in some areas but slow and poorly in others, it is unlikely to produce good results. The only good way, I think, is for residents to return to the places where they used to live, and work for reconstruction using their own hands. If everything is done according to plans made by the administration, the work will stall if and when the administration withdraws its support. Some residents may become unable to support themselves. It would be best if we kept on working for reconstruction steadily and patiently, step by step, on our own.

(Norimi Shike, Naraha, Fukushima)

My idea of reconstruction is not going back to how we lived before. I think we should aim at creating a community that's far better than what we had before the earthquake. Then we can proudly hand it over to generations to come. There will be new challenges, which will lead to new technologies. We should work for a way of reconstruction that will make our areas a hub for Japan and the world as a whole in many fields. Let's achieve reconstruction that we can be proud of as an example to the world.

(Anonymous, Okuma, Fukushima)

Many sufferers' houses washed away in the tsunami. Many had to evacuate because of the following nuclear accident. Sufferers this time have been moving more often than those who did so after many other natural disasters in Japan. This is especially true among people who are in or from Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the nuclear power station. About half of the respondents in or from Fukushima say they have moved at least five times. Thirteen said they have moved ten or more times. Many people still cannot return home.

We've moved ten times since the earthquake. Now we live in a public housing unit for disaster sufferers.

(Hidekazu Kaneda, Tomioka, Fukushima)

When the earthquake hit, my three children were a second-year junior high student and sixth- and third-year elementary students. They had to change schools as we moved from place to place. When we settled in a temporary housing unit, they were in their second semesters as first- and third-year junior high and fourth-year elementary school students. The eldest missed the fun of a school trip and being with friends. Then, he had to take an entrance exam for a senior high school. This drove him to despair. The younger two didn't know how to make friends. They tend to stay alone.

(Anonymous, Namie, Fukushima)

My eldest son was in a junior high school when the earthquake hit. He took an entrance exam for a senior high school when we were living in temporary housing. He has graduated from senior high school, and is now working. I think it was hard for him to study for the entrance exam in a small, crowded temporary housing unit. I also have a daughter who's a first-year junior high student, and another daughter in her second year of senior high. They have difficulties concentrating on their studies. If we had been able to have a new house built sooner, they could have studied harder and enjoyed their high school days a lot more. I feel sorry for them as a parent. Five years is too long.

(Anonymous, Higashimatsushima, Miyagi)

After the earthquake, our family was moving between relatives' and acquaintances' homes one after another. We now live in our fifth place, a temporary housing unit. At first I thought we would be able to go back home at most one year after the earthquake. But we're still in temporary housing. My mother is 94. She keeps saying, “I want to go home.” We were so happy when we were able to live an ordinary, everyday life.

(Anonymous, Minamisoma, Fukushima)

The elementary school where one of my children goes is closing in March, because many of its students changed schools after the earthquake. He has to switch to a temporary school in April. In April 2018, the school is to be unified with another school. What all this means is he has to go to a different school at a different location again. Also, a daycare center near my home is closing soon. So I have to take my baby to a temporary daycare center ten kilometers away. We are well aware that all this is for reconstruction. But the children get anxious because of all these changes. Adults can persevere; but it's hard on kids.

(Anonymous, Higashimatsushima, Miyagi)

The temporary dwelling where we live is filled with mold and dust. Our children have developed a touch of asthma. Also, since the dwelling has no separate rooms, we cannot buy desks for them to study on. We feel so sorry for them. We can't decide what to do to get a more permanent house. We're afraid this is worrying the children.

(Anonymous, Minamisoma, Fukushima)

When asked about their household budgets for five years since the earthquake, more than half of the respondents said they either remain tight or are getting tighter. Among them, very many said their budgets are getting tighter, raising concerns that they may continue to need help. As for expenses that have increased, those for transportation have risen the most. Some say they lost work because of the earthquake and found other employment, and have to spend more on transportation as their work is far from home. Others say they must pay more for travel so that their family members, now living separately, can get together. Expenses for housing have also risen. More people are having houses built, and construction costs are rising.

I lost my house and wife to the earthquake and tsunami. Now I live alone at a temporary housing unit. I'd hoped to have a new house of my own by the fifth year after the disasters. The land is ready, but nothing more has been done. The company I own and manage is losing business. We have fewer clients and cannot fully restore our equipment. I'm cutting on household expenses to save money, so I can rebuild my business.

(Matsuo Sasaki, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

The day before the earthquake, my grandparents told me I should get married soon. They were hit by the tsunami and are still missing. I got married three years ago, and had a baby. Every time the baby reaches a certain growth stage, such as starting to walk, I wish I could tell them. I have nobody to take care of my child while I work. It's also hard to find a place in daycare centers, as they have long waiting lists. So I take my child with me whenever I make deliveries for my business.

(Sanae Takamura, Iwaki, Fukushima)

After the earthquake, I managed to reopen our 135-year-old family business of producing and selling squid rice crackers. My loans have been growing, tightening our household budget. I'm trying hard to make ends meet.

(Masayoshi Sugata, Miyako, Iwate)

The earthquake occurred one year and four months after I opened my own store. In July of 2013, I reopened it. The next year, I opened a store in a shopping area for temporary housing. Our sales peaked that year. Since then, sales have been falling by about ten percent a year. The compulsory limit for store operation in the area is getting close. I haven't raised enough money to open a store in a new shopping area.

(Akinari Ota, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

When we moved from temporary housing to disaster-relief public housing, we had to pay rent. Our take-home pay was 100-thousand yen a month. When we rented a house and paid back a student loan, we barely had 65-thousand yen. We want to take baths every day, but can't afford to. Every month, we withdraw about 50-thousand yen from our savings. We're afraid that if we have to pay three times as much rent five years from now, we'll have to go on welfare. I worry about this every day.

(Anonymous, Kesennuma, Miyagi)

The earthquake hit us just when we had a new house built and extended, and were finally enjoying a sense of security. Now we need a new house. Our grandchildren are growing. The oldest is a second-year senior high student. What will we do if he says he wants to go to college? We have a big family of seven. Our household expenses keep growing.

(Anonymous, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

Even five years after the disasters, as many as 60 percent of sufferers say they still feel effects. The number of those who say they still feel depressed, unmotivated or affected in many other ways tends to increase yearly in annual surveys. Ten percent of respondents say it's painful to keep on living.

It's been five years since the earthquake. I'm barely surviving. I have come back to my hometown, which I left half a century ago, to look for missing members of my family. I've been trying so hard that I feel as if I've lived these years with no emotions at all. You may say it's just five years, but I can't even say the time has passed quickly or slowly.

(Nobuko Koiwa, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

On that day, my wife and I were hit by the tsunami with our dog. We survived, but the dog went missing. I sometimes think it would have been better if we had all gone to the next world together.

(Shigeo Kikuchi, Natori, Miyagi)

I lost seven people who were so precious and dear to me all at once in the tsunami. I was unable to imagine what I would live on. Now, I bring food and plenty of beautiful flowers to their gravesite and pray.

(Masako Sugawara, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

When my grandson who was in kindergarten was living in an emergency shelter, he lost all his hair. When he painted pictures, he used only black. I was worried. I think it was because our family separated after the nuclear accident.

(Anonymous, Minamisoma, Fukushima)

My son went missing after the tsunami. When the earthquake hit, my son had two small children. The older one was one year old and the younger was two months. I don't think they remember their father's face. But when they see my son's photos in an album, they innocently point at him and say, “Papa, Papa.” Seeing that, I don't what to think.

(Kazuo Sato, Futaba, Fukushima)

It is painful to see that so many people are leaving their hometowns. If I were ten years younger, I would be able to give up, and look ahead for a new future somewhere else. But it's not easy for me to do so. I'd had my house rebuilt and had planned to live at this place for the rest of my life. It is difficult to have a change of the mind on a matter like this. It seems there's yet a long way to go for my psychological restoration. My grandson was one month old when the earthquake hit. When we were evacuating together by car, our car was carried away by tsunamis. But luckily, we have survived. Now, watching this grandson to grow is my moral support.

(Masaru Wagatsuma, Sendai, Miyagi)

The word kizuna was often used immediately after the disasters. After five years, we again asked sufferers how they feel about the word. Many say they feel differently about such ties depending on whether they're with family members, their own disaster-hit areas or areas not hit by the disasters.

I get moral support from the smiles of my children and other family members. I'm still in contact with the people who took part in an amateur singing contest after the earthquake. After going through the disaster, I have closer ties with others, and have become emotionally stronger. I want to tell people that not all the sufferers just feel sad.

(Eiko Nizaka, Iwanuma, Miyagi)

Before the earthquake, it was only natural that I lived with my wife and family, and that we were close to one another. From time to time, we got angry or quarreled. It was like that when the earthquake occurred. But now, I feel so strongly how precious my wife and family are to me.

(Eiki Abe, Sendai, Miyagi)

When we lived in a temporary evacuation shelter, a police officer who came to help kindly played with my son, who was six years old. Even now, he emails us when earthquakes hit our area. We are very grateful to him. He is really our moral support. My son lost his older brother in the tsunami. So perhaps he feels as if the police officer is his brother.

(Norie Kikuchi, Yamada, Iwate)

Immediately after the earthquake, we often heard the word kizuna, meaning “ties” or "bonds of friendship.” But looking at campaigns in various places against accepting debris from disaster areas and how the administration is responding to such campaigns, I have begun to feel that this word sounds false. Quite a few people around me are allergic to this word.

(Anonymous, Ofunato, Iwate)

To be frank, what is kizuna? The word was used on TV so often that it really got to me. When we were hit by the quake, I encountered many cases that showed humans could be low and mean. So I didn't understand what the word really meant. I wonder why TV always tries to gloss over things, and never shows the truth.

(Anonymous, Miyako, Iwate)

At a tourist spot called Hanamiyama in Fukushima City, there's a place there for evacuees to gather. Whenever I don't want to be alone in my temporary housing unit, I go there. I often buy cloth at a shop there and enjoy doing handicrafts with it. I like going there, as I can enjoy talking with other evacuees.

(Anonymous, Namie, Fukushima)

Half of the respondents who lived in Fukushima Prefecture before the earthquake say they will not return. Many are said to have died while dreaming of returning home. Many others have given up on the idea of returning, and are working to have new houses built elsewhere. About the restarting of nuclear power plants, 70 percent say it's unacceptable. About 30 percent say it's inevitable or necessary.

We received compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company for the accident at its nuclear plant. Because of this, many people criticize us. After five years, we're still exposed to pressure and prejudice. Our children are hurt by inconsiderate words. Some adults are made fun of by fellow workers. This always stands in our way, wherever we choose to live. After receiving the money - I know I should not say this, but - humans become horrible beings when money is involved.

(Anonymous, Naraha, Fukushima)

I had never been out of my hometown of Namie in my 74 years before the earthquake. So Namie is the best place for me. I wanted to go back, close the books on many things in my life, and die there. Now, perhaps, I can never do that. So I try to think about what's good for me, and I'm active every day. Still, I want to go back to Namie as soon as possible and live there with all my family.

(Anonymous, Namie, Fukushima)

Since immediately after the nuclear accident, many people have been saying people in Fukushima should express what's on their minds much more. But at that time, simply thinking about the accident made us cry. We couldn't think of what to say. Now, I feel the time has finally come when we can be calm and express what we think. But for people in areas not hit by the accident, what happened at that time may already be in the distant past. An opportunity has long been lost when we could have been a focus of attention. Still, we want to do all we can to manage to live through this trying time.

(Yukako Baba, Okuma, Fukushima)

I believe restarting nuclear power plants will become necessary sooner or later. In the town where I used to live, a mega solar power plant has been built. This has resulted in higher taxes for residents. But a mega solar power plant does not create jobs. So it's unlikely to be sustainable for a long time. Cities, towns and villages will find it hard to revive their economies on their own if they don't have the kind of industries that create jobs, like nuclear power generation.

(Anonymous, Tomioka, Fukushima)

Radioactive decontamination and reconstruction are going on in many places. We could have hardware as good as or even better than before to make nuclear power plants safer. But I think psychological restoration of people hit by the nuclear accident will be far more difficult. People around them may ask, “How much money do you need to be satisfied?” Such a question can make people ashamed. It would be too much for me to wish that all the people affected by the accident would become as happy as before. I only wish they could at least pass peaceful days with calm minds.

(Naoko Takasumi, Namie, Fukushima)

The evacuation order for our town has been lifted. But schools remain closed. So, we still live in evacuation. Our community there has collapsed. But our children are doing their best, where they are now. We, as parents, cannot decide whether we should return to Fukushima or not. We can't imagine our children playing by the side of those numerous flexible containers that contain soil, grass and other objects contaminated with radiation after the nuclear power plant accident. We think we should put the highest priority on what our children want to do.

(Mineo Yokota, Naraha, Fukushima)

I have begun taking action so that the damage done by the tsunami will be remembered by generations to come for 100 years. I'm involved in activities to plant cherry trees along the waterline of the huge tsunami. Many lives were lost. I want to do all I can so that as few people as possible die in disasters. This wish keeps me going.

(Shoma Okamoto, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who have helped us. We would be unable to pay back their kindness even if we tried to do so all our lives. But we want them to see how we are working for reconstruction step by step. That would be the best way to pay them back. Also, this process will be a true requiem for the souls of those killed in the disasters. There is a saying that disasters hit when we have forgotten about them. We should always be prepared for them. And when they do happen, the most important thing is to run and evacuate.

(Zennyu Oikawa, Minamisanriku, Miyagi)

A sense of speed is necessary to make a new hometown. But there is no need for each facet of reconstruction to proceed at the same speed. Each can go on at its own pace. The administration, for its part, must not be restricted by laws or regulations. It would be wonderful if the administration could work on a large-scale, innovative and exciting plan of its own. We would like to proceed slowly and carefully. It would be foolish to act hastily and leave regret behind. We hope to see our new hometown built carefully and discreetly to create a place where we can live happily, content and rich in spirit.

(Anonymous, Rikuzentakata, Iwate)

The cherry trees we planted along National Route 6 are growing well. They're still small, but some of them have already bloomed in spring. Let's believe! A bright future will come. We can slowly but steadily keep on growing, just like those trees. Soon, we'll see them in full blossom. We hope our hometown will someday be full of people's smiles, and make us forget we were ever hit by natural disasters.

(Anonymous, Minamisoma, Fukushima)

We can be tired both in mind and body. We may feel lonely. We can worry. Or we might be unable to try hard, though we want to. We are always filled with thoughts. But there are surely some people who are thinking about you. So let's try a little harder. Let's imagine a bright future for ourselves, and do our best.

(Kazuhiko Obata, Futaba, Fukushima)

I now live away from my hometown, having evacuated from it after the nuclear accident. I regret one thing: not taking more photos of my hometown. I feel my memories are gradually fading away. When I see such photos, I vividly remember my time there. It makes me sad to think that the town is changing rapidly. So I want to tell you all: please take good care of your hometown.

(Masumi Moriyama, Okuma, Fukushima)

NHK conducted this survey by asking mostly those who have kindly cooperated in our newsgathering activities to answer a questionnaire given to them directly or sent by mail from December 2015 to February 2016. We heard from 1,209, or 30 percent, of them.

* The ratio of respondents excluding no answer

1. Reconstruction:
* In our survey in the first year after the earthquake, we offered the choice from among the following four answers to the question about the progress of reconstruction: “going well,” “going rather well,” “not going so well” and “not progressing at all.”
* In our surveys from the second to the fourth year after the quake, the choice of the answers included “reconstruction is going fairly well in its own way.”

2. Changing Residence:
* Evacuation and moving in other ways include moving to or from temporary evacuation shelters.