Presented by: Office Four Production
A 2013 Feature Documentary
96 minutes, HD, Color, Japanese
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeastern Japan, followed by a large tsunami that devastated 500 kilometers of Japan’s Pacific coastline. About 20,000 people died or went missing in the disaster. For three days beginning on March 12, large amounts of radiation were released into the environment when tsunami damage triggered explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
This documentary begins in May 2011 at the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture, located about 40 kilometers west of the plant. Iitate was once called the most beautiful village in Japan, but it was contaminated by the radiation and was completely evacuated in April 2011. No one has been allowed to return. We must never forget Fukushima.
Production and planning: Office Four Production
Director: Hiroshi Shinomiya
Camera: Kikuo Kakigi
Sound: Osamu Takizawa
Music: Yuri Koizumi
Performed by: Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan
(Sinfonia from Ich Steh mit Einem Fuss im Grabe, BWV156)
Producer: Hajime Sakuma
Office Four Production
303 Marushin manshon, 15-18 Asahi-cho, Hachiouji, Tokyo 192-0083
Tel: +81 3 042-646-0012
Fax: +81 3 042-631-5185
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeastern Japan, followed by a large tsunami that devastated 500 kilometers of Japan’s Pacific coastline. About 20,000 people died or went missing in the disaster. For three days beginning on March 12, large amounts of radiation were released into the environment when tsunami damage triggered explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This documentary begins in May 2011 at the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture, located about 40 kilometers west of the plant.
In late April 2011, the Japanese government ordered the total evacuation of Iitate, which had been exposed to high levels of radiation. Many residents, fearing for the health of their children, had already evacuated. Dairy and other types of farmers had been placed under restrictions regarding the products they were allowed to produce and ship. Many residents were openly angry at the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) because information was disseminated too slowly, resulting in delayed evacuation and radiation exposure.
The Takahashi family in the small community of Iwabe had, until recent years, cultivated rice and vegetables. Now, Mr. Takahashi works as a construction worker, and his Filipino wife works in a local factory. Their family, consisting of an older daughter (middle school), younger daughter (elementary school), son (nursery school), grandmother, and dog lived a frugal life together. At the end of May, they decided to evacuate to a small, two-room temporary dwelling in Kawamata, a neighboring town with lower levels of radiation.
On June 10, a dairy farmer named Kanno, who was an acquaintance of the Takahashi family and had a Filipino wife, committed suicide. He had lived in the neighboring town of Soma. After the explosions at the power plant, he was unable to continue dairy farming because of a ban on the shipment of dairy products. When the film crew visited his house, they found that his wife had returned to Japan from the Philippines. She said that it still broke her heart to think about her deceased husband. Kanno had left a message scrawled on the wall in his manure shed, beginning, “If it hadn’t been for the nuclear power plant…”
In August, the film crew received permission to enter the 20-km perimeter surrounding the plant that had been closed to the public. We visited a cowshed where we found the bones and skin of many cattle that had died of starvation. We were told that many such cow sheds existed in the area. At M-Ranch in Namie, a village located 14 kilometers northwest of the power plant, a rancher continued to raise 300 head of cattle even after the accident. The head of M-Ranch said that it took the special stubbornness of a rancher to stay and keep going.
Guided by the rancher, we visited the shoreline of Namie, where the tsunami had washed away 618 homes. In addition to the tsunami, Namie had been irradiated, with levels in the highest places measured at 83 μSv per hour. The rancher continues to stage strong protests against TEPCO and is negotiating compensation.
We resumed filming of the Takahashi family during summer vacation. The number of families evacuating to distant places had gradually increased, so that the number of children in the nursery school attended by their son had been cut in half. While we were filming, the residents of Iwabe gathered as they do every year to cut grass.
During the Bon Festival (dedicated to the souls of the dead), the Takahashi family visited the family grave. Having been away from Iwabe a long time, they found that their old house had been damaged by a typhoon. After visiting the grave, the Filipino wife learned that her younger brother in the Philippines, whom she has not seen since before the earthquake, had gone missing. She expressed her desire to go back to the Philippines.
When we visited the Takahashi home in June 2012, Mr. Takahashi was in the hospital recovering from a fall he took from a four-meter high beam at work. After a year of total evacuation, workers in protective anti-radiation gear were conducting clean-up operations. The Nagadoro district, where radiation levels were highest, was cordoned off with barricades.
Grandma Takahashi said: “Unless we can grow the vegetables and rice we eat ourselves, we can’t go home.”
Most of the footage in this documentary was shot in the beautiful village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. It is located 40 kilometers northwest of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
On March 11, 2011, the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan suffered devastating damage by the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, located in Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan, was severely damaged. The following day, March 12, its Reactor 1 exploded, followed by the explosion of Reactor 3 on March 14. The plant remained in an unstable state, and even now the atmosphere in eastern Japan contains large amounts of radioactive material. It’s said that the total amount of radioactive material emanating from the plant, calculated on a per diem basis, is equivalent to a small atomic bomb, and that the soil is more contaminated than that of Chernobyl. It’s predicted that, in the years to come, the number of thyroid cancer cases caused by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster will exceed that of cases in Ukraine. Children are especially susceptible to radiation, and it won’t be long before they will begin to manifest the ill effects of radiation exposure.
Initially, the government mandated an evacuation radius of ten kilometers in a circle around the stricken power plant. It used a system called SPEEDI, which predicted that radioactive material would spread northwest of the plant, but it did not make this information public. Evacuation orders for Iitate, which lies 40 kilometers northwest of the plant, were delayed, so that many residents remained in the village. According to standards established by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), radiation exposure for ordinary people in ordinary times is less than 1 mSv per year. The residents of Iitate were exposed to far more radiation than that.
The residents of Iitate can no longer live or work in the rich natural environment of their village, and many of their family ties have been broken. In addition, their produce, livestock and dairy products have been placed under a shipping embargo. They continue to suffer hardship upon hardship.
Fukushima: We Won’t Forget documents the daily lives of a family from Iitate, Fukushima who became refugees; a dairy farmer that family knew who committed suicide; and a rancher who continued to raise 300 head of cattle in the danger zone. It’s fair to say that the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and the subsequent nuclear power plant disaster have been the most serious events to occur in Japan since the end of the World War II.
Precisely because of this, I made this film in hopes that it would motivate Japanese to think about how they live.
Looking at the kaleidoscopic policies Japan has adopted, I think it’s unlikely that there will be many screening opportunities for a quiet anti-nuclear film such as this. That is why I will take this opportunity to make a clear statement:
Japan has absolutely no need for something that robs the Japanese of their work and precious hometowns, and that inflicts sickness and death on good people!
I am in the process of making a second documentary. I ask for your support and encouragement.
1958 Born in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
1976 Graduated from Second Miyagi Prefectural High School.
1978 Entered the School of Economics at Nihon University. Left before graduating.
1979 Joined Shuji Terayama’s Tenjo Sajiki theater group and trained as an actor for 3 years.
1984 Began working in cinema at Dentsu Film.
1986 Began directing TV commercials for a prominent Japanese fashion brand,
arrston volaju, and promotional videos for Keith Haring.
1988(Sept.) Moved by the sight of Manila’s working children and decided to make film about them.
1989(Jan.) Began preparations for a documentary film about children living near a garbage dump.
1989(Mar.) Began shooting.
1991(Aug.) Finished filming and returned to Japan with his Filipino wife and two children.
1992(Dec.) Returned for 3 months to the Philippines for additional filming.
1994(July) Completed Scavengers, a full length documentary in Tagalog.
1995(May) Revised Scavengers.
2000(Feb.) Started living in the Payatas dump and worked on location hunting.
2000(July) Began shooting.
2001(June) Completed the film Kami no Kotachi (God’s Children).
2009(June) Completed the film BASURA
2013(Jan.) Completed the film Fukushima: We Won’t Forget
Scavenger 1995: Forgotten Children
Best Documentary Prize at the 44th International Film Festival in Mannheim-Heidelberg 1998 (Germany).
Hoimar von Ditfyrth Prize at the Eco-Media International Ecological Film Festival in 1995 (Germany).
Social Ecological Film Prize at the Earth Vision International Film Festival in 1995 (Japan).
Best Documentary Prize at the Encontros internacionais de CINEMA in 1996 (Portugal).
God’s Children (2001)
Selected, 52nd Berlin International Film Festival (Germany)
Selected, 26th Montreal World Film Festival (Canada)
Selected, 2002 New Directors/New Films Festival (US)
Grand Prix, 5th CinemAmbiente International Environment Film Festival (Italy)