Japanese film "Homeland" tiptoes into Fukushima nuclear debate

Tue Mar 4, 2014 9:22pm EST
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By Ruairidh Villar and Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese farming family is forced from their home by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, living in cramped temporary housing under stress as they wait for permission to return to land worked by their ancestors for generations.

That is the all-too-real backdrop of "Homeland", the first Japanese mass-market film set in Fukushima since the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years made the area's name infamous.

Shown at the recent Berlin Film Festival, the movie - called "Ieji" ("The Road Home") in Japanese - features some scenes shot in areas once declared no-go zones by the government due to high radiation levels.

Despite an intense debate about whether to restart the rest of Japan's nuclear reactors that were idled after the disaster, director Nao Kubota said he opted to tell a human story.

"I wanted to make a film that would be relevant for a long time to come, that people could watch in 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years and see that this sort of claustrophobic situation came about," he said.

"That's what I want everyone to feel - and it's for that reason that it's not anti-nuclear."

On March 11, 2011, a massive offshore earthquake sent tsunami tearing through villages in northeastern Japan, setting off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant that irradiated a wide swath of countryside and forced more than 150,000 people from their homes.

"Homeland", released in Japan nearly three years after the disaster, centers on long-estranged son Jiro, who secretly moves into the exclusion zone to reclaim the family farm.   Continued...