Impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on Intentions to Relocate

Young-Jun LEE, Hiroaki Sugiura


Drawing from data gathered in an original questionnaire, this study clarifies the factors that influence whether residents of Noda in Iwate Prefecture remained in or relocated from their village following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Results show that younger villagers, women and unmarried persons indicated a greater likelihood of relocating.
Respondents from higher-income households indicated stronger intentions to remain in their hometown, which accords with the compensating wage hypothesis. Damage to homes and loss of job or household income did not significantly affect intentions to relocate. However, villagers who suffered loss of personal and family networks declared stronger intentions to relocate after the disaster.
We analysed not only how the earthquake affected intentions to relocate but also how it altered villagers’ perceptions of what is valuable in life. Results indicate that among respondents stricken by the disaster the loss of human networks rather than material capital was the main motivation to relocate. This study indicates that Japan’s disaster-recovery policies must consider residential rebuilding and reconstruction of human networks simultaneously.


Great East Japan Earthquake; Relocate; Disadter-recovery

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