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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Stories From Fukushima You Have Never Heard

Posted by Ari Beser in Fulbright National Geographic Stories on June 9, 2016



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FUKUSHIMA, Japan— Ten months ago I arrived in Japan to cover a historic year—the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, and the first visit by a sitting U.S. President to Hiroshima.  I wanted to document the social impact nuclear technology has had on Japan.

Japan is the only country in the world to experience atomic war and a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. I have a unique family connection to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a grandson of the only double crewman of the bomb missions, and I’ve spent the past five years in Japan meeting with the survivors of the bombs, or hibakusha as they are called in Japanese.

The hibakusha have been telling audiences their survival stories for decades. They experienced the bombing 71 years ago, and while they never forget their trauma and it never gets easier to describe it, each time they speak they spread their precious testimony in hopes of contributing to a world free of nuclear weapons. However when I turned my focus to Fukushima, I found it difficult to capture stories. Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, everyone who was in Fukushima at the time of the disaster has a story, but unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki many are struggling to find their voice.

The disaster is still fresh in the minds of the survivors. Many wish to speak out about their exposure to the radiation, or the dangers of nuclear power, but don’t know what to say, or how to describe what they went through. The following voices each depict a different aspect of the disaster and show how Fukushima has been diversely affected.

In the next few months I will finish editing the videos I have filmed in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima for my blogumentary that will be viewable on YouTube and Facebook at “Hibakusha The Nuclear Family.”

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