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QJM. 2016 May; 109(5): 353–354.
Published online 2016 March 15. doi:  10.1093/qjmed/hcw035
PMCID: PMC4888339

Abandoned areas in post-disaster Fukushima, Japan

A. Ozaki,corresponding author T. Sawano, M. Tsukada, and H. Ohira
Department of Surgery, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Minamisoma, Fukushima, 975-0033, Japan
C. Leppold
Department of Research, Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, Minamisoma, Fukushima, 975-0033, Japan

On 11 March, 2011, Northeast Japan experienced an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, referred to as Japan's triple disaster.1 Most local residents within the 20 km radius of the power plant have continued long-term evacuation in order to avoid radiation exposure in the contaminated area,2 and this has resulted in extreme overgrowth of deserted residential land (Figure 1). Although the effects of radiation exposure have gathered significant attention since the disaster,3 health issues related to changing biological niches in the previous residential areas have been overlooked. Recent reports suggest that temporarily returned residents and reconstruction workers have experienced health problems, including tetanus infection and animal bites, because of poor knowledge regarding risks in native fauna and associated restoration activities.4–6 Currently, parts of the previously inhabitable 20km radius exclusion zone are beginning to re-open for full-time residency. In order to promote the safe return of the local residents, we should be aware of potential health issues due to overgrowth of wilderness in long-deserted areas of Fukushima.

Figure 1.
An abandoned house overtaken by nature.


We express our gratitude to Mr Tetsuya Shibui for his provision of photographs.

Conflicts of interest: None declared.


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Articles from QJM: An International Journal of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Oxford University Press