Fukushima July 2022




This is Japan Desk Scotland’s 11th Fukushima documentary based on the interviews carried out in July 2022. We weren’t able to travel to Japan and Fukushima for three years due to the travel restrictions imposed under the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the five-year Fukushima-Chernobyl research project, which started in 2017 with Fukushima University Institute of Environmental Radioactivity (IER) as the leading institution. The project was also affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine from 24 February 2022 onwards. Despite these, however, researchers at IER continued their work. For example, three of them edited and published “Behavior of Radionuclides in the Environment III Fukushima” from Springer in March 2022. The book summarises the outcome of IER’s research.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident of March 2011, the government of Japan has tried to return the evacuees as soon as possible. To achieve this aim, decontamination work has been carried out. The top soil, where radioactive caesium 137 remains, is removed to lower air dose rates and thereby to lower people’s exposure rates ‘safe’ enough to return. The historical changes brought by the decontamination work in Tomioka Town are looked at.

The decontamination work produced a massive amount of removed radioactive soil. It is stored, or is going to be stored, at Interim Storage site built near the Fukushima nuclear plant, but by 2045 it will have to be moved to Final Disposal site which needs to be found outside Fukushima Prefecture. To achieve this task, the Ministry of the Environment has tried to reduce the soil’s volume by, for example, using low-radioactive soil in public works.

There was another contentions issue, the discharge of radioactive water coming from the Fukushima reactors, which was planned to start in the summer of 2023. Water needs to be poured into the reactors to cool down nuclear fuels and debris there so that another explosion can be prevented. The water coming from the reactors are stored in tanks, but there is a limit to the number of the tanks to be built. This was the reason for the discharge after removing radionuclides except tritium.

While we were’t able to visit Fukushima for three years, several memorial sites were opened in Fukushima by the national government and local municipalities. What do people remember about the Fukushima nuclear accident?

Interviewed guests in order of appearance: Kenji Nanba, Mark Zheleznyak, Vasyl Yoschenko, Yasunori Igarashi, Alexei Konoplev, Kimiaki Saito, Norihito Harada, Seiji Ozawa, Kencho Kawatsu, Hirofumi Tsukada, Ryo Sugimoto, Ismail Rahman, Yoshitaka Takagai, Takayuki Takahashi, Toshihiro Wada, Makoto Matsueda, Maksym Gusyev, Tetsuya Saito, Yuki Manome, Daisuke Yamaguchi, Shuhei Watanabe, Tatsuya Kubo, Yamato Kuwahara, Yuya Kodama, Honoka Kurosawa, Miyuki Sasaki Tamami Henmi, Son Mahoney

Camera: Fumi Nakabachi
Music: ‘Ambient Piano’ by Lite Saturation
Directed and edited by: Yushin Toda
Producer:Fumi Nakabachi and Yushin Toda, Japan Desk Scotland
90 minutes
In Japanese and English with English subtitles.
©2023 Japan Desk Scotland
This is part of our Fukushima project and of documentary films production.

This has been screened as follows:

(1) on 26 March 2023 at Wellington Church, Glasgow, Scotland (the earlier version of 65 mins).