Proposal regarding affected people’s right to housing and adequate livelihood support
Proposal regarding affected people’s right
to housing and adequate livelihood support
10 May 2011
Human Rights Now
Based on the findings of legal consultation
and investigation into the needs of affected peoples
1. Promotion of temporary housing
It has been about two months since the
Great East Japan Earthquake. For those who lost their homes in the disaster,
their ongoing and prolonged life as evacuees is exacerbating their fatigue.
More and more people are damaging their health and suffering mental distress
due to living a communal life with no privacy.
It is imperative to promptly ensure the
right of the people affected by the disaster to live in houses, such as
temporary homes. However, according to the announcement made by the Housing
Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT),
dated 9 May, only 6,982 temporary houses had been completed, and a further
29,244 were under construction, one month after the disaster. (http://www.mlit.go.jp/common/000140307.pdf)
This does not meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands
of people living as evacuees. Under the Disaster Relief Act and international
human rights law, the government bears the primary responsibility to ensure the
right to housing for people affected by the disaster.
Human Rights Now (HRN) requests that the
central government implement the following:
measures necessary to ensure that all of the disaster victims who are willing
can move into temporary houses immediately.
causes of delay in the construction of temporary houses and eradicate the
Also, HRN requests that the central
government and prefectural governments do the following:
In cases in which local governments are themselves
greatly affected by the disaster and unable to sufficiently meet the need for
rescue and temporary house construction, take effective measures to ensure the
right to housing in various ways, such as by drastically expanding the support
system through sending staff to local governments where construction has been
delayed due to disaster damage.
2. Promotion of use of private housing
The central government issued circular
notices to the three prefectural governments affected by the disaster that private-sector
houses would be funded by the central government under the Disaster Relief Act.
Under this scheme, local governments rent private-sector houses to provide to
affected people in their region. After the disaster, the affected people then
sign contracts to rent the properties themselves.
(E.g. Circular notice 110430, issued by the Ministry of
Health, Labour and Welfare, dated on 30 April)
On the notices issued by the central
government, it states that a system has been established in which private-sector
houses rented by affected people will be funded, to a certain extent, for two
years by the central government, in the same way as rent is subsidised for
temporary houses when those houses are recognized
as temporary houses.
Whilst it was expected that many of the affected people
would use the system, in reality it has not been well publicised to those in
need. A large number of people still do not have definitive information or
understand how to apply for the scheme, and thus do not have access to it.
HRN requests that, under the Disaster
Relief Act, the prefectural governments affected by the disaster implement the
subsidy for rents, deposits and key money for all applications from those
affected by the disaster when they move into private-sector houses,
the affected people with thorough information on rent subsidy for
clear and easy-to-understand application process to qualify for the subsidy,
housing needs of the affected people immediately by actively making use of the
HRN further requests that the central
government disseminate the abovementioned notices, which currently have not
being well publicised to the affected people.
3. Support for evacuees living in locations
far from their residence
Quite a few evacuees are living in
temporary accommodation that is far from their own residence. Those people are
not only isolated from their communities but also unable to receive various
services, such as the provision of relief supplies except food and medical
care. Furthermore, they are not provided with information about the support
system. This situation is particularly serious for the elderly and the disabled
who are forced to live in isolation from their communities without support. It
is of extreme importance to provide both information and support under the
Disaster Relief Act, such as full medical services.
HRN requests that the central government, prefectural
governments and local governments take the following measure:
the appropriate information about support for affected people, and the
necessary support under the Disaster Relief Act, such as aid delivery and
medical services to evacuees living in temporary accommodation far from their
4 Support after moving to temporary houses
From now on, the situation must be avoided
in which people moved to temporary houses are forced to live in isolation from
their communities without sufficient support and information.
Some people in evacuation centres are worried about the
provision of temporary houses, and think they have no choice but to stay in
evacuation centres because in temporary houses they might have difficulty even
As for the construction of temporary houses
and the relocation of affected people, HRN requests that the central government
and local governments do the following:
relocation of affected people to temporary houses with full respect for their
circular notice that requires the continued provision of support, under the
Disaster Relief Act, such as food, clothing and medical care, to affected
people who move into temporary houses,
framework that provides an environment in which various services, including
administrative services, access to the support system, information and medical
care, sufficiently reach all the affected people.
5. Displacement from evacuation centres
must be a last resort
Amidst their ongoing and prolonged life as
evacuees, quite a few of the affected peoples have been forced to leave
evacuation centres following the announcement that their centre will close.
Relocation of affected people from place to place harms their mental and
physical health, and therefore must be a last resort. It is an acceptable
option only when there is a truly compelling reason, when enough time and
opportunity for consultation with the affected people is guaranteed in advance,
and when adequate accommodation is secured for them to move into. Unilateral
demands for displacement amount to a violation of the right to housing
guaranteed under international human rights treaties (International Covenant on
Social, Economic and Cultural Rights).
Thus, HRN requests that each local
government avoids displacing evacuees as much as possible, and makes all
adjustments necessary to accomplish the original purposes of the facilities
being used as evacuation centres.
6 Full enforcement of the Disaster
Relief Act and early distribution of relief money
Due to the fact that each evacuation centre
and local government has been managing their evacuee situation differently for
this prolonged period of over two months, disparities have emerged between
evacuation centres in the supply of food, aid and quality of living
For instance, upon monitoring eleven evacuation centres
in four prefectures, HRN found the following:
great disparity between the ways in which local governments are dealing with
food supply. In the evacuation centres run by some local governments, residents
are not guaranteed sufficient nutrition. If emergency rice provisions are
reduced in the days ahead, the nutritional condition of residents in such
places will deteriorate considerably.
private rooms are provided for accommodation in some evacuation centres, there
are others in which only a small amount of space is provided and residents lay
out their bedding in classrooms and cultural facilities. In some other
evacuation centres, there is not even enough space for all the residents to fit
in the available rooms, so people are forced to sleep in hallways without
partitions. The disparity between such places is considerable. The central
government bears a responsibility to guarantee the ‘right to maintain the
minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living’ stipulated in Article 25 of
the Constitution of Japan in an equal way to all the affected people. The same
applies for their rights to food, health and housing under the International
Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural rights. During their prolonged life
as evacuees, the huge disparity in the conditions of the affected people and
limited guarantee of their rights must be resolved immediately.
HRN requests that the central government
and prefectural governments implement the following:
the conditions of each evacuation centre and monitor the application of the
Disaster Relief Act in each evacuation centre,
guarantee the affected people’s rights to food, health and housing by providing
support to local governments if necessary,
application of circulars and take measures to ensure the full enforcement of
them rather than just issuing them.
Furthermore, the delayed distribution of
cash makes it extremely difficult for the affected people to live independent
lives when they have little prospect of getting new jobs and difficulty getting
cash due to problems in inheritance procedures.
HRN requests that the central government,
prefectural governments and all the relevant originations implement the
cash in accordance with the Disaster Relief Act,
available measures to reform the current system which seriously delays the distribution
of relief money, so that affected people can receive it as soon as possible.