[We are proud to introduce new Shoot4Change member, Katsuo Takahasi, who pays a tribute to those who struggle to go on in Fukushima. It’s no coincidence that we publish it today, exactly 3 years after the Earthquake that hit Central Italy and destroied the city of l’Aquila. S4C is involved in keeping the memory of that event and the tribute to those who struggle there, too. Keeping memories is important and this is what we do. Telling stories is fundamental to keep public awareness high. It’s our nature. So, it makes sense to present today a great project, a talented young photographer who’s doing the same on the other side of the World. Welcome on board, Katsuo!]
Those who Remain In Fukushima
(text and photographs by: Katsuo Takahashi*)
Fukushima as a frontier
Fukushima as a place providing food, labour and electricity
Fukushima as a place where people are terrified with fear of radiation and are looked as a criminal and where family and region are torn apart.
The coast of Fukushima Prefecture was devastated by the gigantic earthquake and massive tsunami. The area has been severely affected by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.
I visited Minami-Soma City which was totally divided in late March. The coastal side was completely ruined.
The area within 20 kilometers from the plant has become an exclusion area and a high level of radiation was detected in east side of the city.
Most of the people took refuge in another prefecture, but some people remained there after the explosions of the nuclear plant.
Traditionally, people in this region work hard and live a simple life with relatives and neighbours.
A rich mix of culture and tradition remains vibrant today, including the 600-year old Soma-Nomaoi festival in Soma City and Minami-Soma City, which were foremerly the domain of Soma.
I felt I should record them at a time when their culture and tradition are facing crisis. There are a variety of reasons why they remain in this region.
Fishermen and farmers don`t want to leave their place of work.
Dairy farmers want to live with their livestock.
Some people don`t want to leave their home and land and some people can`t leave because of health or economic problems.
I shot those people in Soma and Minami-Soma in the months following late March. In the present situation, their future is murky indeed. The plant is still unstable and the evacuation area might be extended in the future, and besides, local industry such as fishing, firming, cultivation, and tourism have been devastated by the radiation.
In addition nobody knows when they could restart these activities. But people in this region don`t give in and they have been silently fighting revival.
Katsuo Takahashi/S4C Tokyo
Katsuo Takahashi is a Japanese independent photographer based in Tokyo. He takes photos of people who are the voice of voiceless, that are on the edge and baring their soul. He got Human Rights Award in FCCT/ On Asia PHOTO CONTEST 2010.