Mitsu Maeda: Polluted Homeland

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda
Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Area affected by the tsunami. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

May 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Soma central market. Only the fishes from other areas were on sale. May 2011. Soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

JSDF workers. April 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Residents playing gateball besides the debris. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

A cat live in an empty house. June 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Mr. Onoda, a farmer in Minami-soma. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Preparing for cultivation of strawberry. He cultivates rice regularly, but this year he gave up growing rice as no one is going to buy. He is now searching for another place far enough to grow rice. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Daily radiation level information on TV. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Pachinko closed near the edge of 20km radius. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

People in line to get relief supplies. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Mr. Hayakawa, the chief of a dockyard. The factory was getting ready to restart operation. April 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Children studying at Kashima elementary school. They were from Odaka where is about 10km from the Nuclear Power Plant, and students of 1st and 2nd grades were sharing a classroom. April 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

At the parking lot just besides the edge, police officers were wearing and taking off the protection suits. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

I saw many posters saying ‘fight Minami-soma’ ‘We will not give up, Fukushima’ everywhere in Fukushima. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Mr. Toriki, who shared what he is experiencing and feeling, at the Izakaya restaurant. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Certificate of disaster-affected. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Area affected by the tsunami inside 20km radius. It was the last place the police and JSDF workers started to search bodies and clear the debris. April 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

An empty house which no one seems to have come back after the earthquake. June 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

An empty house which no one seems to have come back after the earthquake. June 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Newspaper dated on March 11th was left in an empty house affected by the tsunami. April 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

An empty house which no one seems to have come back after the earthquake. June 2011. Futaba

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

Area affected by the tsunami. June 2011. Minami-soma

Polluted Homeland © Mitsu Maeda

It was raining in Iitate village, where is reported that the radiation level is one of the highest as it is a mountain village where radiation tend to stay, and villagers have to evacuate as soon as possible. June 2011. Futaba

A photo-essay by Mitsu Maeda.

The crisis was ongoing in Fukushima. People were struggling against the invisible enemy.

Farmers had to stop cultivation as the soil and the air had been polluted with the invisible. Children from 30km radius, if have not been evacuated to other cities like Fukushima city or Aizuwakamatsu, had to go to Kashima elementary school which is located just outside 30km radius from their evacuation shelter. Students from 5 elementary schools were sharing one school building, not even being able to go out to playground. A dockyard was taking the debris away from the factory to restart operating, for the fishermen who lost their ships, knowing they will not be able to sell their fishes from Fukushima for some years, as the sea was polluted.

At Izakaya, Japanese style bar restaurant in Minami-soma, I met 2 men who are running a restaurant. We had some conversations, drinking and laughing sometimes, but what they shared with me was really serious, full of anger, and sadness.

“Our lovely homeland was polluted. Our beach was actually very famous for the surfers all over the world, but now it is a beach which no one can swim.”

“We hear many news of people committing suicide, including the case of children. We have completely no idea of how our life is going to be. Some people we know evacuated to Aizu and enjoying hotsprings after receiving enough money from TEPCO and their company, but for us self-employed without any insurance, some one million yen compensation from TEPCO is just nothing. It really depends on one’s situation. No matter how scary the radiation is, we have to keep operating while letting my wife and children to evacuate, or else how can my family pay the bills?”

“We do not feel alive now. Fukushima prefecture now says that it is going to check our body in a long term. We are like human guinea pig. You know, this kind of radiation leak have never happened before. They would like to know what is going to happen to our body.”

I had never been to Fukushima until the Fukushima Daiichi exploded. After my first visit to Minami-soma, Fukushima on the end of March, I went in and around the 20km radius from the plant for 3 times. The more I spent time with the local people, I started to love the kind people I have met, and the pretty Tohoku landscape which grew these people. And at the same time, I started to feel how much we have lost.

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