Public Project
Life within 90 km
 In 2012 I traveled to Fukushima to visit a good friend of mine in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima along with my wife, who is Japanese. During my time there, we made our way around Fukushima, visiting many areas that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Trying to understand the magnitude of what took place in Fukushima was very difficult. I had no desire to photograph the devastation nor work on any kind of project while I was there. We spent time meeting and talking with local people who were deeply impacted and concerned about the consequences of radiation. I started to grasp an understanding of how many issues that were unfolding and how the lives of so many have been affected from the meltdown, not only in and around the exclusion zone but up too 90 km away from the power plant. It was then that I realized I would return one day with an attempt to focus on telling some of the stories of the people. 

Fast forward to February of 2014, I returned to Fukushima for six weeks with a goal to uncover some of the untold stories, stretching from Namie to Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima. A few days after arriving to Japan, I connected with the Aizu center in Fukushima, which is run by Terumi Kataoka. The first week or so, I found myself sitting and chatting over tea and snacks with residents from all over Fukushima. Many individuals from the Aizu center wanted to be heard, but not necessarily photographed. Everyone had a story to tell. For some however, it seemed they did not want to believe that anything has changed. As I photographed individuals, language and cultural barriers would often be challenging at times, though making a humanistic connection was very gratifying and a humbling experience. Quite often, I would return to the same place few days later. The purpose of this work is to shed light on some of the forgotten stories of residents throughout Fukushima three years later. These stories are about the people of the communities, families, strength, and the land.
 


As restrictions have been lifted in some areas of Fukushima, just outside of the no-go zone, many older residents that are deeply connected to their land will return. However, younger families with children are not so eager to return home due to the lack of information provided by the government. Some of the hardest things for people to deal with is the fact that no one has taken responsibility three years later and not trusting what the government is saying, especially after hot spots of radiation have been reported several levels higher than normal in populated areas that was considered to be safe. Residents of Fukushima find it disturbing that the government and Tepco are downplaying the situation and are encouraging residents to continue living in contaminated areas.


1,076

Also by Brian Driscoll —

Join us
for more access