Making a documentary on a crusading 90-year-old photojournalist who is famously fearless and uncompromising is not for the timid. Saburo Hasegawa, who has been directing television documentaries on a range of social issues since the 1990s, was initially afraid that his subject, Kikujiro Fukushima, might be as formidable as his body of work: 250,000 photographs taken over the course of six decades.
“He was so nice that I wondered if he could still get angry,” he adds.
The anger, however, was still there, as is evident from not only Hasegawa’s interviews but his footage of his subject snapping shots of security guards as grimly as a sharpshooter squeezing off rounds. “He was making a stand against the powers that be,” explains Hasegawa. “But when he’s shooting farmers and other ordinary people, he does it with a gentle feeling.”
“For Fukushima, “nuclear explosion” (genbaku) and “nuclear power” (genpatsu) are synonyms,” Hasegawa says. “The victims of both were harmed by radiation human beings couldn’t control. The state has a fundamental obligation to support those victims, but instead they were left to fend for themselves.”
Fukushima, Hasegawa notes, was angered “by the government’s callous treatment of atomic bombing victims, while building memorials and proclaiming Hiroshima a ‘city of peace.’ ” But few people now share his anger — or experiences. “He told me that, when he saw conditions in Fukushima (Prefecture), he had the feeling that the same thing (that happened in Hiroshima) would happen again,” Hasegawa says. “That’s the kind of connection that only he could make. For people of my generation, the (Fukushima reactor meltdown) was our first encounter with nuclear disaster.”
Continue reading at Hasegawa gets the perfect portrait