by Nancy O’Mallon
June 20, 2012
AH: What was the impetus for you to start the documentary, and when will it premiere
EK: We knew we wanted to tell a story about the 3/11 disaster, and in researching the situation, we were intrigued by the deep sense of connection to the land that Fukushima organic farmers expressed in the wake of the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We plan to premiere next year…
AH: What outcome are you hoping your completed film will bring?
EK: We hope viewers will gain a better understanding of what it’s like for people in Fukushima, who are most often portrayed as merely tragic victims or intransigent. We hope some viewers will be moved to get involved, by reaching out to organizations in Fukushima, or by working for sustainable agriculture and alternative energy wherever they are.
by Kimberly Hughes
Ten Thousand Things
This past January, while most participants at the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World in Yokohama were angrily demanding that the government relocate endangered Fukushima citizens to safety, a small delegation of organic farmers had a different message to share. They had no intention of leaving their family land, they said, and as long as radiation levels remained within prescribed safety limits, others were urged to continue consuming Fukushima crops in support of the prefecture’s revitalization.
Seiju Sugeno is an organic farmer in Towa, Nihonmatsu, 50 km from the failed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Abukuma Mountains partly shielded his rice fields from contamination, but runoff is an ongoing threat. Chairman of the Fukushima Organic Farmers Network, Sugeno works aggressively to clean his land and prevent his crops from absorbing radioactive cesium. He will work to reduce the contamination year by year, rigorously testing his yield and reporting any contamination he finds. His 23-year-old daughter Mizuho works with him. He hopes she can build a sustainable life for herself here.
Uncanny Terrain is a documentary about organic farmers facing Japan’s nuclear crisis, and an online community fostering dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and disaster response. Please keep the conversation going by making a tax-deductible donation.
Thanks to macrobiotic educator Phiya Kushi of SOS Earth for connecting us with Ionia. We are working with Phiya and web designer Pavel Dolezel to build an online community fostering international dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy, and disaster response. The site is in development, but it’s not too early to become a member and join the conversation.
Uncanny Terrain filmmakers Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski spent five months inside Japan’s nuclear contamination zone, living and working with the farmers, researchers and volunteers who have committed themselves to take the nuclear crisis as an opportunity to build a better society.
We’re going beyond disaster reporting, to show what it is really like for these people who refuse to bow to devastating odds. Now we need your help to return to Japan and revisit those working on the front lines of the nuclear crisis, as they mark the one-year anniversary and the farmers prepare to plant again.
The organic farmers of Fukushima prefecture toiled for 40 years to grow safe, nutritious and delicious crops on their ancestral land while two nuclear power plants in the prefecture helped feed Tokyo’s increasingly voracious energy appetite. Since the March 2011 tsunami triggered the meltdown that spread radioactive contamination on much of the lush farmland of Fukushima and eastern Japan, the farmers have been caught between a government in constant denial of the risks of radiation, and outraged citizens who brand the farmers “child murderers” for continuing to cultivate irradiated land.But the farmers, researchers and volunteers are committed to building a comprehensive monitoring and reporting network to inform citizens about contamination levels in food, air, water and land, so families can make their own informed decisions; and advancing experimental methods to decontaminate soil or prevent crops grown on contaminated soil from absorbing radiation.
Fukushima has demonstrated the need for greater public vigilance to keep all our food and energy producers honest, not just about radiation but about all the potential contaminants that our collective appetites introduce into our bodies and our communities.