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Fukushima, mental health and suicide
  1. Masaharu Maeda1,2,
  2. Misari Oe3,
  3. Evelyn Bromet4,
  4. Seiji Yasumura2,5,
  5. Hitoshi Ohto2
  1. 1Department of Disaster Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan
  2. 2Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan
  3. 3Department of Neuropsychiatry, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Japan
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University, New York, New York, USA
  5. 5Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Professor Masaharu Maeda, Department of Disaster Psychiatry, Fukushima Medical University, School of Medicine, 1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima City, Fukushima 960-1295, Japan; masagen{at}

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On March 11 in 2011, a huge tsunami struck the Tohoku area in Japan. The extensive damage to Fukushima Prefecture was further compounded by the severe accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP). Specifically, the cooling system of the FDNPP was destroyed by the tsunami, leading to several explosions in the reactor buildings and subsequent massive diffusion of radioactive substances. The Japanese government decided to evacuate approximately 488 000 residents living within a 30 km radius of the FDNPP in the first 5 days after the accident. In spite of the gradual lifting of living restrictions within the evacuation zone, opinion surveys conducted by local governments showed that numerous former residents hesitated to return to their hometowns owing to fear of exposure to radioactivity, the delayed reconstruction and decontamination processes and unclear future of their hometown. For example, in Naraha, a municipality where the entire territory was placed under evacuation orders since 2011, the government recently lifted the living restriction. However, an opinion survey of evacuees conducted by the Naraha government office about the question of return revealed that only 8% wished to return as soon as possible.1 To date, over 100 000 people have not returned to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture. Moreover, three types of discordance arose in Fukushima,2 each of which has led to dissonance within both families and the community: family members having different opinions on the physical risk induced by radioactive exposure, interfamilial conflicts caused by differences in residential restrictions or compensations, frustrations between evacuees …

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  • Contributors MM conceived the idea for the manuscript and wrote most of the main text. MO and EB contributed to the theoretical analysis and implications of the work. HO proposed the basic ideas and SY helped with the development of it. All authors contributed ideas, discussed the results and wrote the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.