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Nuclear scientist Ikuro Anzai and his dosimetry team measure radiation levels near Torikawa Nursery School in Fukushima City, and then report their findings to school director Miyoko Sato. The school staff had mostly kept children inside for years, concerned about radiation on the roads and playground near the school where students used to walk and play. Anzai and his team determined that the outside levels were safe for recreation. “The disaster destroyed people’s trust in the government, in the industry, and in the experts,” he says. “I would like to apologize to the people in Fukushima. That’s why I go there every month to measure the radiation. I’ll continue to do this until I die.”<br />
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In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan and destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Some 488 thousand people evacuated from the three-part disaster; in 2015, nearly 25% remain displaced.<br />
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A massive effort is now underway to decontaminate towns in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. In Tomioka, 5 to 8 miles from the nuclear plant, thousands of laborers are cleaning or demolishing every building, and removing and incinerating all topsoil in inhabited areas. In the adjacent forests and mountains, radiation levels remain higher and will not be cleaned.<br />
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Naraha, 12 miles south of the nuclear plant, is the first town to reopen after the disaster. Residents were allowed to return home full-time on Sept. 5, 2015. To date, an estimated 440 residents have returned, out of a pre-disaster population of 7,400. <br />
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I returned to Fukushima one week after Naraha reopened and spent a month there, interviewing and photographing returnees and decontamination workers. I asked portrait subjects to write down their hopes and fears for their hometowns, and then discuss these thoughts about their future. Many of the subjects spoke openly but were very circumspect about what they were willing to put in writing.<br />
© Michael Forster Rothbart Photography<br />
www.mfrphoto.com �
Nuclear scientist Ikuro Anzai and his dosimetry team measure radiation levels near Torikawa Nursery School in Fukushima City, and then report their findings to school director Miyoko Sato. The school staff had mostly kept children inside for years, concerned about radiation on the roads and playground near the school where students used to walk and play. Anzai and his team determined that the outside levels were safe for recreation. “The disaster destroyed people’s trust in the...
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