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Review: “Fukushima 50” Offers Uncontroversial Take On Japan’s Biggest Nuclear Disaster

1Starring Ken Watanabe, “Fukushima 50” avoids controversy as part of faithfully reflecting Japanese realities around Fukushima Daiichi.

By Anthony Kao, 9 Jul 2020

3.6 roentgen, not great, not terrible.” So goes the now-famous quip from the American HBO hit series Chernobyl. This line also bears relevance to Fukushima 50—the first blockbuster treatment of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Starring A-listers Ken Watanabe and Koichi Sato, the film lionizes the workers who prevented the Fukushima disaster from getting worse, and makes the incident accessible to general audiences. On that count, it’s “not terrible.” However, Fukushima 50 lacks nuance, poignancy, and dramatic value—mostly because it refuses to designate clear villains. In that sense, it’s “not great” either.

While this might mean Fukushima 50 will never gain the international popularity of Chernobyl, the movie is still immensely valuable and intriguing from a historiographical perspective. For better or for worse, its uncontroversial demeanor accurately reflects realities in contemporary Japanese sociopolitical discourse around the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and beyond.

Nuclear Heroism 

Fukushima 50 focuses on an eponymous group of employees at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, who were tasked with managing a triple meltdown that happened in the days after March 2011’s Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Chief among them are Masao Yoshida (Ken Watanabe) and Toshio Isaki (Koichi Sato), the plant’s site superintendent and shift supervisor, respectively. While Yoshida was a real person, Isaki and all the film’s other characters are fictional composites.

The film offers a play-by-play dramatization of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, starting from just before the earthquake and continuing through the days afterwards. It alternates between scenes of the stricken plant itself, a seismically sheltered command center, and ancillary locations like the Japanese Prime Minister’s office and even a US military base.

Throughout, we’re treated to a panoply of tough and selfless men. They rush spiritedly into reactor rooms, haul fire hoses, subsist on dry food, and stare steely-eyed into the face of disaster. These are men on the move, men of action—valiant warriors (some literal, as Japan’s Self Defense Forces feature prominently) fighting an invisible enemy. You don’t need a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering to understand Fukushima 50, just a capacity for hero worship and ability to appreciate war movie tropes.

 

2

The Generation That Lived For Others”

This lionization of the Fukushima Daiichi plant workers isn’t surprising. Fukushima 50 was based on a book called On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi, which is available in English. In the book’s foreword, author Ryusho Kadota declares that “this is the story of the people who fought a heroic battle.” Unlike contemporary Japan’s predominantly selfish youth, Kadota argues, the Fukushima 50 are reminiscent of Japan’s WWII veterans, “the generation that lived for others.”

Piggybacking aboard war metaphors restricts Fukushima 50’s capacity for nuance and poignance. Unlike Chernobyl—with its bleak cinematography, bone-chilling use of geiger counter clicks, and soulless evacuation announcementsFukushima 50 does nothing to convey the trauma and mental toll of disaster. Additionally, for a movie that’s supposed to dramatize a “heroic battle,” Fukushima 50 lacks a compelling villain, even an abstract one. While Chernobyl warns about the cost of lies, Fukushima 50 warns about nothing at all. What caused the disaster? Is nuclear power bad? Should we invest more money in disaster preparedness? Fukushima 50 remains as silent as radiation.

Furthermore, the film barely contains the human tension usually necessary for compelling drama. There are only two notable moments when characters disagree about something: first when the Prime Minister helicopters into Fukushima and delays recovery operations, and second when superintendent Yoshida disobeys the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) orders and uses seawater to help cool Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors. Even those moments occur so perfunctorily that they don’t give the narrative much added momentum.

 

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Fukushima Historiography

Fukushima 50 might not be the dramatic masterpiece that Chernobyl was, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable from a historical and political perspective. The film’s reluctance to hold anyone accountable and embrace of militaristic sentiment reflects contemporary Japanese realities; in that sense it can serve as an entrypoint for international audiences to build a better understanding of Japan.

Almost a decade on, Japan has not held anybody criminally responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and many who had to evacuate because of the meltdowns lack closure. After a brief upsurge following the disaster, Japan’s anti-nuclear movement has fizzled out as well. International and Japanese sources argue that nothing has meaningfully changed in Fukushima’s wake.

All this is despite civil lawsuits, international investigations, and even a report from Japan’s Diet (the national legislature) arguing that the disaster was “man made”—a result of inadequate preparedness and collusion between regulators, government officials, and TEPCO.

Some external analysts argue that moving forward from Fukushima can only come with a comprehensive re-examination of economic and political structures created by decades of effective one-party rule in Japan. While Japan is officially a democracy, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has held power for all but several years after World War II. The LDP remains in power today under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with desires to maintain the nuclear status quo whilst separately imbuing Japan with a more militaristic spirit. While Abe’s government wants to make Japan’s economy more agile, a radical rethinking of Japan’s political economy and culture isn’t on the agenda. Perhaps Fukushima 50 is simply a reflection of this reality.

Not Great, Not Terrible”

When “3.6 roentgen, not great, not terrible” appears in Chernobyl, it comes with the implication of those in power refusing to address a more systemic problem. With this extra lens, the quote seems even more relevant to Fukushima 50. Not only is the movie “not great, not terrible,” but its controversy-avoiding blockbuster treatment also reflects the lack of meaningful change that’s happened after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Critics of this stance might argue that Chernobyl has far more leeway than Fukushima 50 to criticize; it’s easier for an American series that caters to primarily Western audiences to cast doubt on a foreign Soviet system. Yet Chernobyl wasn’t a pure critique of the Soviet Union. The series gained mass acclaim because it skewered contemporary Western societies’ disregard for truth.

While Japan isn’t the most conducive environment for political movies, it’s not incapable of producing movies that reflect upon the past with nuance and poignancy. Just look at Grave of the Fireflies, one of the most renowned examinations of WWII from anywhere in the world.

Alas, Fukushima 50 is no Grave of the Fireflies or Chernobyl, and that’s regrettable given Japan’s historical moviemaking prowess.

Japanese audiences might still be able to enjoy Fukushima 50 simply because it’s the first cinematic depiction of a significant national disaster. Those interested in Japanese politics or nuclear energy policy may find Fukushima 50 rich with food for thought. However, international audiences looking for a second Chernobyl should adjust their expectations accordingly.

https://www.cinemaescapist.com/2020/07/review-fukushima-50-movie/

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 50 film review: drama about nuclear workers’ sacrifice following 2011 earthquake lacks punch

bbA still from Fukushima 50 (category IIA; Japanese) starring Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu.

 

22 Jun, 2020

  • Ken Watanabe as Fukushima nuclear power plant superintendent, and Koichi Sato as shift supervisor, lead the battle to avert a meltdown after earthquake, tsunami
  • Blow-by-blow account of the real-life aftermath of the 2011 disaster in Japan loses much of its drama by refusing to point fingers or demonise decision-makers

 

2.5/5 stars

The first mainstream film to dramatise the lives of frontline workers who dealt with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Setsuro Wakamatsu’s Fukushima 50 is an earnest, if somewhat toothless, celebration of those who risked everything to avert a reactor meltdown.

Ken Watanabe and Koichi Sato headline this big-budget adaptation of Ryusho Kadota’s non-fiction book, On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi.

The film wastes no time setting up characters or pre-existing relationships, opening with the explosive underwater earthquake off the Tohoku coast of northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. The initial impact triggered an automatic shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power station’s nuclear fission reactors. The subsequent tsunami swept over the power plant’s coastal defence walls, flooded the main buildings and knocked out the backup generators responsible for cooling the reactor cores.

Facing an imminent meltdown, plant superintendent Masao Yoshida (Watanabe) and shift supervisor Toshio Isaki (Sato) spearhead a daring, potentially suicidal effort to cool the reactors using seawater, while fending off contradictory, face-saving orders from their superiors at Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and the Japanese government.

In the nine years since the disaster, the Japanese film industry has broached the disaster’s aftermath numerous times, in films from Sion Sono’s uncharacteristically sombre A Land of Hope, to the allegorical 2016 blockbuster

Shin Godzilla

. The eponymous beast of the latter film has been the stand-in for national life-or-death reckonings since the dawn of the atomic era, but that film also took time to expose, and ultimately champion, the country’s multi-tiered bureaucratic leadership.

 

jjjlmKoichi Sato in a still from Fukushima 50.

 

Fukushima 50, and Kadota’s impressively researched book, give blow-by-blow accounts of the disaster and the courageous sacrifices made by those who chose not to evacuate, but stay behind and ensure the nation’s safety. However, arriving in the wake of HBO’s much lauded and dramatically superior miniseries Chernobyl, about the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, Wakamatsu’s film feels lightweight, and the obstinate heads of Tepco a pushover compared to the Soviet Union’s fearsome Central Committee.

The film functions best as a memorial to Masao Yoshida, the only plant worker to have his real name used, whose willingness to go against his superiors ultimately prevented a far larger disaster, only for him to succumb to an unrelated bout of cancer in 2013. The film’s reluctance to point fingers, or demonise those responsible, saps much of the drama from this true-life tale of selfless heroism.

https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/entertainment/article/3090106/fukushima-50-film-review-drama-about-nuclear-workers

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

What ‘Fukushima 50’ can teach us about crises

p18-schilling-fukushima50-b-20200308-870x580A scene from “Fukushima 50” the recent film adaptation of “On the Brink : The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi.”

March 7, 2020

After the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, much of the foreign press focused on what it dubbed the “Fukushima 50” — a small band of workers whose life-or-death actions prevented a catastrophic meltdown.

Author Ryusho Kadota interviewed many of these frontline workers (which he found to number 69, not 50). He also spoke with Fukushima No. 1 plant manager Masao Yoshida, who headed the emergency response team, and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who took an active — and controversial — role in the government’s reaction to the disaster.

Based on his reporting, Kadota wrote the 2012 nonfiction novel “Shi no Fuchi o Mita Otoko,” published in translation as “On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi.” Filled with drama, such as the desperate struggle of workers to open plant vents to avoid radiation-spewing explosions, “On the Brink” has since become a feature film, “Fukushima 50,” that stars Ken Watanabe as Yoshida.

In a recent interview at the Tokyo headquarters of publisher Kadokawa, Kadota says he told the filmmakers to “adapt (the book) freely.”

In fact, when I first read the script, I told them that there wasn’t enough drama in it,” Kadota says. “I wanted them to add more.”

The film departs from the book most notably in the matter of names: The only character with the name of a real person is Watanabe’s Yoshida.

The book (in Japanese) is quite long — 400-some pages — and the movie is only two hours, so they made composite characters out of two or three actual people,” Kadota explains. “But Yoshida, I thought, should be Yoshida. And the film as a whole is close to the truth.”

 

Ryusho Kadota . Satoko Kawasaki .Inside scoop: Following the 3/11 triple disaster, author Ryusho Kadota interviewed many of the frontline workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, whose life-or-death actions prevented an even greater catastrophe.

And the truth, as the film graphically illustrates, is that Japan came terrifyingly close to nuclear apocalypse, narrowly averted by the heroic efforts of frontline workers, as well as Yoshida’s decision to ignore orders from officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s owner, to stop cooling the reactors with seawater. They were concerned about damage to the reactors, but with nothing else to adequately cool them, Yoshida knew it was either seawater — or a Chernobyl-like disaster.

Domestic media, Kadota says, were less aggressive than their foreign counterparts in ferreting out the facts.

They didn’t report on what was actually happening,” he says.

Instead, he says, domestic coverage became divided into two camps, with one bashing nuclear power and other supporting it. The bashers, he says, “didn’t know what was going on inside (the plant) — and that motivated me. I knew I had to find out. I’m not in one camp or the other. I believe our mission as journalists is to report the truth, wherever it leads.”

To this end, Kadota spent 16 months interviewing more than 90 subjects. His conclusion: “Japan is what it is today because they were successful in opening the vents in the No. 1 plant. If they hadn’t succeeded, we would be doing this interview in Osaka. You wouldn’t be able to live in eastern Japan — the middle third of the country.”

The reason for that success, Kadota believes, is that workers were willing to risk their lives to save the plant — and their communities.

Some similarities are apparent with the situation in Japan at present, as doctors, nurses and other medical workers are battling the novel coronavirus. The government has come under criticism for its response to the crisis, as had Kan and Tepco in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

I have to write a book about this crisis as well,” Kadota says. “The government’s response has been terrible, just as it was back then.”

He refers to the passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, who became infected in large numbers after government health officials decided to enforce an onboard quarantine.

I feel sorry for them,” Kadota says. “The way they were treated was problematic to say the least.”

He mentions infectious disease specialist Kentaro Iwata, whose video about his inspection of conditions aboard the Diamond Princess went viral after he posted it online on Feb. 18 (he has since deleted the upload).

(Iwata) said he wasn’t afraid when he dealt with Ebola in Africa because protective measures there were perfect, but he was deathly afraid aboard the Diamond Princess because it was so chaotic,” Kadota says. “I can totally relate to that.”

But Kadota is most angry, he says, at what he describes as “Japan’s lack of a national security mind-set.”

Yoshida knew he had to cool the reactors with seawater to protect the lives of the Japanese people and avoid the destruction of eastern Japan,” Kadota says. “But the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t see it that way.” A Tepco adviser to Kan told Yoshida to stop injecting seawater into the reactor, since the prime minister was concerned that seawater might cause the melted fuel rods to resume criticality. Kan later denied interfering with Yoshida’s decision to cool the reactors with seawater.

We have much the same situation now,” Kadota says. “We have (Prime Minsiter Shinzo) Abe, not someone like Masao Yoshida, as prime minister.

The prime minister’s most important duty is to protect the citizens of the nation,” Kadota says. “That’s first and foremost. But some people forget that.”

One who does have that sense, Kadota notes, is Masahisa Sato, an outspoken member of the Upper House and a former state minister for foreign affairs.

He’s been saying from the start of this that Japan should prohibit entry to anyone from China,” Kadota says. “And I’ve been saying it myself.”

Kadota also says Japan needs an equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. government agency in charge of public health.

They have a staff of 14,000 with a national mission to keep infections from spreading,” he says. “Japan has nothing like it.”

What it does have now, he notes, is a shortage of face masks and other supplies for protection against the coronavirus.

Yesterday I retweeted a post from a friend who said someone had sneezed on his neck in a crowded train,” Kadota says. “What can you do? You can’t get rid of the crowded trains and you can’t find masks anywhere in the city. So people are on crowded trains, morning after morning.

Doesn’t all this make you angry?” he asks. I tell him it does.

However, the big takeaway from “On the Brink” is not that Japanese officialdom has an enraging habit of bumbling in major disasters; it’s that heroes do exist here and can make a huge, life-saving difference, especially if officialdom supports them rather than stymies them. Kadota has yet to find many heroes in the current crisis, but he’s only just begun.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2020/03/07/books/what-fukushima-50-can-teach-us-about-crisis/#.XmQVnUpCeUk

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | 1 Comment

Film lauding Japan’s Fukushima heroes warns against complacency

serveimage

March 6, 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) – As aftershocks rock the Fukushima nuclear plant, a small band of workers defy their bosses to stay on and fight to stop an even bigger disaster from irradiating a wide swathe of Japan.

The scene is from a movie that opened on Friday – “Fukushima 50”, which tells the true story of the hours after a quake and tsunami set off meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors on March 11, 2011.

Almost nine years to the day after that disaster, its depiction of individual heroism in the face of official bungling and overwhelming catastrophe has struck a chord with early viewers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever started crying so quickly during a movie. Partly that’s because I had flashbacks,” said a commenter called “n_n” on Yahoo’s movie review page.

Much has moved in on Japan since Fukushima, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Authorities are now fighting another emergency, the spread of the new coronavirus. They are also pressing on with plans for the 2020 Olympics, which is due to kick off with a torch relay starting at Fukushima in three weeks’ time.

But, nine years on, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from Fukushima’s reactors, and the film’s scenes – mixed in with news footage from the time – still pack an emotional punch.

“It sucked me right in within the first 10 minutes. The tension didn’t let up for the rest of the movie, and I was struck by the incompetence of the then-government,” wrote another Yahoo commentator, calling themselves “wan”.

“SURPRISED AND MOVED”

“Nobody in the country knew any of this was going on while it was happening. I was really surprised and moved,” said Yoshinori, a 56-year-old photographer, out for a noon showing of the film in Tokyo with his wife.

“Everybody in Japan should see this,” he added. “I think memories of that disaster are fading. I came to make sure I kept them fresh.”

“The Fukushima Fifty” was the name given to the group of workers and engineers who stayed behind after the tsunami knocked out the power and cooling systems at the plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).

Led by Masao Yoshida – portrayed in the film by Ken Watanabe, one of the stars of “The Last Samurai” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” – they began running seawater into the reactors as an emergency cooling measure.

When their bosses back at TEPCO headquarters ordered them to stop, Yoshida ignored the order – rescinded hours later – and kept going.

He is shown yelling at his bosses during video conferences – scenes that Watanabe said were based on accounts from Yoshida’s colleagues. The engineer died in 2013 from esophageal cancer, aged just 58.

When I made the film ‘Letters from Iwo Jima,’ I felt that Japan isn’t very good at learning lessons from the past,” Watanabe told a news conference after filming finished last year, referring to the Clint Eastwood film depicting the World War Two battle.

“I feel the same way about Fukushima,” he added.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-film/film-lauding-japans-fukushima-heroes-warns-against-complacency-idUSKBN20T1GV

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima The Seal of the Sun 太陽の蓋

February 24, 2019

This February 20th I was invited by my friend Kolin Kobayashi in Paris to the avant-première of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun, followed by a short debate, then to the private reception where Japan ex-prime Minister Naoto Kan was present.

Watching this movie brought to my mind the words of Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011, in his recently released book titled Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator :

« And what about the problems that no engineer, scientist, or safety regulator can foresee. No amount of planning can prepare a plant for every situation. Every disaster makes its own rules – and humans cannot learn them in advance ».

« Generations of nuclear professionals have never experienced the confusion of a nuclear accident as it is happening. So it is essential that we remember and teach the lessons of Three Mile Island, chernobyl and Fukushima, for reviewing these accidents shows common themes of missed opportunities, human failings, and technological overconfidence. No amount of forgetting can change these simple facts. »

« As I learned in the wake of the Fukushima accident, crises on this scale are often characterized by incoherent communication and conflicting information. Both the Three Mile island and the Fukushima disasters featured contradictory assessments of the state of the reactor, a limited appreciation of the fact that the damage to the reactor had occured very early, and rapidly changing statements from elected officials. To the public, these statements can appear to suggest prevarication or incompetence. But when government officials – imperfect human beings like everyone else – try to make sense of the complicated physics of a nuclear reactor, they will invariably make mistakes in communication. »

Especially as in the Fukushima accident where TEPCO was not straightforward in giving the true facts to the Japanese government, but always prevaricating.

 

52020914_2088480991230396_1239132227065872384_o.jpg

 

Synopsis of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun
On March 11, 2011, Japan is rocked by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and the triple nuclear disaster of Fukushima. Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s team is trying to cope with this situation.
What really happened at the Prime Minister’s residence at the time of the worst crisis in the country’s history? Has the truth been fully revealed?

3 questions to the director – Futoshi Sato

How did you arrive on this project and how did you work with the producer and actors of the film?

Born in the area that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, I wanted to talk about it, but I was wondering what might be the approach to make it a movie. For his part, Mr. Tamiyoshi Tachibana wondered about the possibility of adapting the book written by Tetsuro Fukuyama, Deputy Director of the Cabinet of Naoto Kan. “The Nuclear Crisis – A Testimony from the Residence of the Prime Minister” is a fundamental work that tells the truth of the events that occurred on those days at the Residence.

If this project was able to start and be realized, it is thanks to the total and complete implication of Mr Tamiyoshi Tachibana. The entire project team has been involved in the discussions around the script and during our debates, we thought it was necessary to make a choral film with in the center, the members of the Cabinet, but also with the journalists on the lookout for scoops, the workers of the power plant, as well as the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. As for casting, we managed to bring together actors who were completely convinced of the importance of the subject. We gave them all the information so that they thoroughly understand the issues of the film and their characters.

Was it important to you that the events would be experienced in a balanced way through the politicians and the people directly at the forefront of the disaster?

According to the people who experienced these events, their feeling completely varies. To make it a film capable of witnessing this story in all its diversity, we decided to adopt the different points of view of the protagonists. It was not possible to convey this reality to the public otherwise.

I remember that Naoto Kan told us: “If you represent the truth about the nuclear accident with firmness in the film, you can choose any method of expression.” He wanted the facts to be well presented. I started filming in a direction that was not meant to be easy. Instead, it was necessary to treat with audacity, an atmosphere of crisis due to a management and consequences quite unknown.

Which part of the movie is truth and which part is fiction?

The information, as to the reactions and attitudes of TEPCO following the nuclear accident, and those that have been passed on to the government are all true. We also had to do some research to recreate some scenes. In addition, about what had happened during these 5 days, it was impossible to extract and reproduce the huge amount of data.

For these reasons, and in order to stay true to the facts and to make a fiction easier to understand, we created a fictional character unfolding the story. We have made this journalist a kind of guide, to follow this whole story. The words and situations of certain scenes have been created to cover all events. On the other hand, the politicians, who are public figures, appear in the film under their true identities. Their dialogues and actions are also based on true facts.

3 questions au producteur – Tamiyoshi Tachibana

In 2011, you were close to Naoto Kan, the Japanese Prime Minister. Through this film, was it your intention to restore a truth that the latter experienced during this crisis?

At the time, I was simply a friend, one of his cadets in politics. It was only after the earthquake that I became a real member of his support group. It is not to reproduce the experience of the crisis experienced by Naoto Kan that I produced this film. The media and public opinion, manipulated by the latter, were totally hostile to the Prime Minister, accusing him of having aggravated the accident and amplified the damage. Faced with this rejection, I was plagued by anger and disgust as they led me to make this film to put things in order.

The reactors’ accident could, in the worst case, have caused the evacuation of the entire population living within a radius of 250km, including Tokyo, a total of 50 million people. Naoto Kan was the only one to have guessed the extreme gravity of the accident and to have realized that we were one step away from the collapse of Japan. If he had not been Prime Minister, if the crisis had to be managed by another in his place, the country could have been completely destroyed.

You have kept the real names of the various protagonists. What were the reactions of the people implicated, in particular the leaders of TEPCO, the company that managed the Fukushima power station?

Four politicians appear under their real names. In the history of Japanese cinema, this is the first time that characters, in a fiction film, take the true identity of people who really exist. Thus Naoto Kan is still present in the political life of Japan.

As for the other members of the government, as well as the officials and employees of TEPCO (TOBI in the film), these are not their real names, but we can easily imagine who they are!

However, there was no protest or legal proceedings on their part. I do not know if they saw the movie … or not. If they saw it, they did not want to talk about it publicly. I hope that today, they are a little ashamed of this catastrophic situation of which they are, in part, responsible.

What was the impact of the film when it was released in Japan? Has it sparked a real public debate as Japanese nuclear power resumed its place in the country, as if nothing had happened in 2011?

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station inspired the authors of “Shin Godzilla” (the new Gozilla), a movie released in Japan on July 29, 2016. That movie was designed by two of the largest film production companies for a total budget of 13 million euros. Thanks to this film, the producers have earned more than 64 million euros!

On our side, our film was screened in independent theaters. Obviously, this has not been the same success, especially in terms of financial benefits.

Citizens continue to organize weekly independent screenings. It should be noted that the 54 nuclear reactors, distributed among the 18 Japanese plants, were shut down in September 2013.

7 years after the disaster, 9 units restarted. The film has become a powerful vector for citizens who speak out against the restart.

Aujourd’hui, environ 70 % de la population est en effet opposée à l’énergie nucléaire.

Sources :

Synopsis of the movie, provided by Destiny Films, translated by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator by gregory B. Jaczko, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019

February 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Ken Watanabe to Star in Film About Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

I ‘d like to know who are this movie producers, who are financing it…. Will it be straightforward or will it be just another spinned piece???
ken_watanabe_-_getty_-_h_2017.jpg

November 19, 2018
‘Fukushima 50’ will tell the story of the workers who stayed at the power plant after a massive tsunami had knocked out its cooling systems.
Ken Watanabe will star as the head of the crisis-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima 50, from Japan’s Kadokawa Corporation and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu.
Watanabe will play Masao Yoshida, the superintendent of the plant who was on duty when it was swamped by a tsunami that followed a massive earthquake in Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, knocking out the cooling systems. Yoshida ignored orders by his bosses at Tokyo Electric Power Co. and pumped seawater into the overheating reactors, likely preventing a worse disaster.
The following year, Yoshida was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died in July 2013 at age 58.
The crewmembers at the plant who stayed on to try and prevent the meltdown of three reactors at the nuclear power station were lauded in the international media as the “Fukushima 50.”
Appearing alongside Watanabe will be veteran actor Koichi Sato, who in his 106th career role will play the shift supervisor at the time of the disaster. The film is based on the book On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryusho Kadota.
“I had promised to Koichi that I would play any role in his next film,” said Watanabe. “However, this was a challenging film to be a part of when the people of Fukushima are still suffering such loss and devastation. My hope is that, along with the wonderful cast and Wakamatsu directing, we will make a film that shows the intensity and bravery of these people that prevented a tragedy of epic proportions.”
Said Wakamatsu: “The Fukushima accident shook not only the people of Japan but also around the world. This film is about the power plant workers on the front line who faced an unprecedented crisis and risked their lives to save their families, their hometown and avert a disaster of global magnitude.”
Shooting on the film is set to begin at the end of November, with a release scheduled for 2020.
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ken-watanabe-star-is-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-film-1162835?fbclid=IwAR1xjr4TVEoSr2Lkbkne9Eh3TVHf127L80HUME1Ip9J3dRb7DA-y0sPi8Zg

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster from a foreign perspective: German film was shot inside exclusion zone

12 May 2018
Greetings from Fukushima, a movie on the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, was shot on location, with the director Doris Dörrie even carrying a Geiger counter to monitor radiation levels
d70aa368-4f47-11e8-9150-83bd875cc143_1280x720_131103.jpg
Rosalie Thomass (centre) in Greetings from Fukushima
 
There have been numerous responses by Japanese artists and filmmakers to the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 and the subsequent tsunami. By contrast, Greetings from Fukushima, a 2016 feature by German director Doris Dörrie, gives a foreigner’s perspective on the disaster and its aftermath.
The film is also known as Fukushima, Mon Amour, a reference to Alain Resnais’ 1959 classic Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which was set amid the devastation of the atomic bomb. Dörrie’s film has a more straightforward structure than Resnais’ elliptical work.
In fact, Dörrie does not focus on the wider impact of the tsunami, instead limiting the story to a relationship between a troubled German girl and a grumpy Japanese woman, both of whom are trying to come to terms with events from their pasts. As Dörrie reveals more about her protagonists, the Fukushima tragedy plays into the main theme of overcoming grief to build a better future.
Marie (Rosalie Thomass) is a German street theatre artist who travels to Fukushima to entertain a small community of elderly people who have returned to a safe part of the exclusion zone around the damaged nuclear reactor. The job doesn’t work out but she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the elderly Satomi (prolific actress Kaori Momoi), who’s a geisha. Satomi moves back into her old house, which is still within the exclusion zone, and Marie reluctantly starts to visit her. By roundabout methods, the two women assuage each other’s grief.
Dörrie is no stranger to Japan, having travelled extensively around the country, and made a few films there, including 2008’s Cherry Blossoms, which also viewed the nation from a German perspective. She made a bold decision to shoot Greetings from Fukushima on location within the exclusion zone – in black-and-white – and even carried a Geiger counter to monitor radiation levels.
“We lived there. We shot there. We never left the zone through the entire shoot. Everything [you see in the film] is the real thing,” Dörrie told the Post in an interview in 2016. “Our main location is 11km away from the nuclear power plant.”
 
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Thomass and Kaori Momoi (right) in Greetings from Fukushima.
 
Greetings from Fukushima is a cool-head­ed, quietly moving drama about personal loss and recovery. Sensibly choosing to depict the story through the eyes of a young German visitor, rather than a Japanese protagonist, the film avoids making any cultural errors, although its decision to focus on a geisha, rather than someone less traditional, does tend to reinforce the stereotypical view of Japanese women.
 

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Why don’t you have a video-showing event of “NUCLEAR JAPAN” in your country?

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Almost in one year, this film has been shown to more than 70,000 people, and there have been held more than a thousand voluntary movie-showing events since “NUCLEAR JAPAN” was released in November 2014. It has been also presented at many courtrooms as evidence to get a bird’s-eye view of all the issues of nuclear power in order to halt nuclear power plants whole Japan.

If you are planning to have a video-showing event of “Nuclear Japan” (2h 15m), please send an application form to eiga@nihontogenpatsu.com.
It may take time for international shipping, please apply well in advance. Thank you!

SYNOPSIS

This movie strives to provide
a complete picture of nuclear power in Japan.

NUCLEAR JAPAN is a documentary film directed by a 70-year-old lawyer with remarkable record of winning very high-profile cases who elucidates the controversial issue of nuclear power industry in Japan.

On March 11th, 2011, a massive earthquake hit East Japan, which caused a catastrophic accident in Tokyo Electric Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. Radioactive materials were released from its four nuclear reactors, and they have contaminated the people’s land as well as ocean. Today, the effort to clean up the radioactive materials is still ongoing, only too little effect.

The film takes you back to a few hours after the earthquake on March 11th, to the shore of Namie Township, 7 kilometers north of Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. The local fire brigade in Namie is desperately searching for missing persons swept away by the disastrous tsunami. However, the next morning on the 12th, the question starts to rise for the possible dissemination of radioactive material. The Japanese government consequently declares the area within 10 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant as an evacuation zone. As a result, the fire brigade in Namie Township is forced to give up the search…

A month after the earthquake, the search for missing persons resumed. During the search, more than 180 bodies were found along the shore of Namie Township.

If it weren’t for the nuclear accident, most of those lives could have been saved.

There was one lawyer who had been actively voicing the absurdity and danger of Japanese nuclear power – Hiroyuki Kawai. Kawai has been fighting in many legal battles to halt nuclear power plants in Japan for over 20 years. Ever since the crisis at Fukushima No.1 power plant, his fight has been fueled by even more drive and dedication.

Then, Kawai had a thought. What if he makes a movie about this issue? If he wants the public to understand the complicated issues of nuclear power, literature has its limits. Also, all the coverage by Japanese media has been biased. Only by providing the visual and giving the objective view, he can communicate the true absurdity and inhumanity of the nuclear power in Japan.

With the help of another lawyer Yuichi Kaido, Kawai’s old ally who also has been fighting in nuclear power plant lawsuits, Kawai completed this documentary film, NUCLEAR JAPAN.

The film not only features the interviews of many experts, a number of facts and evidences, but it also brings to light the immense pain of the people have been suffering from the nuclear crisis. NUCLEAR JAPAN is now being presented as evidence in many lawsuits to halt nuclear power plants all over Japan.

This film is the ultimate nuclear power documentary that takes you on a journey to grasp all the issues of nuclear power in a factual, objective way, and eventually, a journey to find a hope.

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DIRECTOR

Protecting the environment of the planet
as an advocate for future generations;
especially from nuclear disasters
is Kawai’s very purpose.

Profile

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer and a filmmaker, was born in Northeast China, Manchuria, in 1944. Kawai graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law in 1968, and has been practicing law since 1970. In 2014, he made a directorial debut with a documentary film NUCLEAR JAPAN.

Today he holds various titles including; President of Sakura Kyoudo Law Offices, Chairman of The Support Group for Japanese War Orphans Left in China Obtaining Japanese Nationality, Head Director of Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, and Representative Auditor of Institute of Sustainable Energy Policies.

Kawai is also a representative of National Federation of Lawyers Against Nuclear Power as well as The Complainants for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Criminal Prosecution legal team. He is the lead lawyer of the legal team for Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant Suspension Lawsuit and Tokyo Electric Executives Criminal Responsibility Lawsuit. He is also a part of Ohi, Takahama, Sendai Nuclear Power Plants Provisional Suspension Lawsuit legal team.

His motto is–
If you give 100%, you can achieve almost anything.
If you give 100%, you will find anything enjoyable.
If you give 100%, somebody will offer you their hand.

DIRECTOR’S
STATEMENT

“To share the idea of nuclear zero nationwide,
we need a movie.”

Kawai became involved with lawsuits against nuclear power plants from 1994.
The first suit concerned use of MOX fuel in the Fukushima No.1 Reactor 3 plant that exploded in March 2011.

This suit failed, as have many more since that time.
Ever a shrewd lawyer, Kawai was losing his passion to continue such lawsuits just before the Fukushima accident.

The Great East Japan Earthquake rekindled this passion and Kawai has said “I will never give it up. I will continue lawsuits against nuclear plants until nuclear power is eradicated from Japan”.

As part of this process, Kawai decided to make a movie.
Explaining this, he said “in a democracy, a fair legal process is obviously important to protect our rights, especially for minority issues.

Lawsuits in a democracy functions as safety valves.

Justice is justice. I shall stand up to protect life and Japan in courts, even if I would be alone.

But to share the idea of nuclear zero nationwide, we need a movie”.
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Nuclear accidents strike at the very foundation of our lives.
Economics, culture, art, education, justice, welfare,
frugal and fancy living alike – everything is turned on its head.
Ignorance of nuclear power’s dangers renders every
enterprise meaningless, even irresponsible.
We have come to realize this.
What matters now is what we will do about it.

Hiroyuki Kawai

http://www.nihontogenpatsu.com/english

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment