When does a victim become a perpetrator? That’s the question that kept coming up as we made our way across the irradiated landscape.
Many foreigners fled Japan after the tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last March. My wife Junko Kajino and I went the opposite way, spending five months inside the U.S.-declared 50-mile no-go radius for our in-progress documentary Uncanny Terrain.
One steamy day last July, Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski found themselves in Fukushima, Japan, hiding beneath a tarp in the back of a pickup truck full of cow feed. The farmer behind the wheel smuggled the filmmakers into a government-mandated 20-kilometer evacuation zone that became highly contaminated with radioactive cesium after a massive earthquake 43 miles off the city’s coast in March. The quake triggered tsunami waves that smashed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing meltdowns of three reactors.
Fukushima farmers’ rice harvest sits in stockpiles, mostly unsold after radioactive cesium was detected in samples in and outside of the prefecture.
Unable to sell their rice, Fukushima organic farmers have become educators, promoting understanding among their customers about the interconnections of land use, energy consumption, and traditional culture.
Despite staggering odds, most of the farmers remain committed to preserving and recovering their land for future generations.
We return to Fukushima this March to capture the recovery efforts a year after the 3/11 tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster.