Fukushima film shows reality sinking in for 'nuclear refugees'

Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:52am EDT
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By Chris Gallagher

TOKYO (Reuters) - Before the Fukushima nuclear crisis forced them from their homes, residents of Futaba had praised the Daiichi power plant as a "godsend" that brought jobs and money to the Japanese coastal town.

Now, more than three years after the disaster, they remain stuck in cramped emergency housing facing the reality they will likely never go home, with Futaba set to become a storage site for contaminated soil, a new documentary film shows.

"I think this is almost a human rights violation," said Atsushi Funahashi, director of "Nuclear Nation 2", which opens in Japanese cinemas next month.

"(They) are forced to live in this temporary housing without hope for the future," he told a question and answer session after a screening at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan last week.

Funahashi's "Nuclear Nation" films follow the residents of Futaba, who were evacuated after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, dousing their town with radiation and turning it into a "no-go zone".

In the broader region, tens of thousands were forced to flee.

He filmed the first installment, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival less than a year after the disaster, at an abandoned high school in a Tokyo suburb where 1,400 Futaba evacuees were living in classrooms.

"Nuclear Nation 2", produced by Documentary Japan and Big River Films, picks up from New Year 2012 and covers a two-year period. Evacuees at the school wish each other well for the coming year, admire New Year cards and chat over "bento", single-portion takeout meals, trying to maintain a semblance of normal life.   Continued...

A picture frame and water marks are seen over the wall of a kindergarten destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, northern Japan, April 7, 2011.    REUTERS/Carlos Barria