On 11th March 2011, a huge tsunami, triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, hits Japan. It cripples the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radiation, and turning the residents of Futaba into nuclear refugees. The devastation experienced by the town—dead livestock, crops abandoned, homes destroyed—was infinitely worse than anything reported by the newspapers. A year later, many refugees are still unable to return to homes that will be contaminated for many hundreds of years. The irony of this disaster occurring in a nation that experienced two nuclear bombs is not lost on the victims who poignantly question their responsibility for striking a Faustian bargain with nuclear power. Nuclear Nation examines the tragedy of Fukushima, and also whether it could one day be replicated on a grand scale.
Nuclear Nation II is Atsushi Funahashi’s sequel, documenting the consequences of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Japan. In this follow-up, we learn that the former mayor—previously a fervent advocate of nuclear energy and now a passionate fighter for the victims of the catastrophe—has now been replaced by someone younger. The single-minded cattle breeder also makes another appearance, originally having resisted the government’s orders to evacuate the disaster zone and kill his livestock. Today, a look at his animals lays bare the consequences of radioactive contamination: they all have ulcers and open wounds. It wasn’t until late 2014 that the final people left the school building, but they’re unlikely ever to be able to return to their homes. The epicentre of the catastrophe has been declared a toxic waste disposal site. The inhabitants of Futaba, to whom nuclear energy once brought affluence, are now paying the high price for it.