A pair of Chicago indie filmmakers captures farmers in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster.
By Jake Malooley
One steamy day last July, Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski found themselves in Fukushima, Japan, hiding beneath a tarp in the back of a pickup truck full of cow feed. The farmer behind the wheel smuggled the filmmakers into a government-mandated 20-kilometer evacuation zone that became highly contaminated with radioactive cesium after a massive earthquake 43 miles off the city’s coast in March. The quake triggered tsunami waves that smashed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing meltdowns of three reactors.
Nearly all of the farmers who owned land in the area were forced to abandon their crops: rice, apples, chestnuts, cucumbers, grapes, tomatoes and the city’s famously juicy peaches. Livestock was either put down or left to starve. But this particular farmer had secured a permit to feed his cattle in the danger zone, keeping the animals alive for future scientific study.
“We weren’t thinking about the dangers,” Kajino, 37, says. “We were thinking, This is our only chance to get these wonderful images of this farmer risking his life to protect his animals.”
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