On Saturday, March 9, from 1 to 5 p.m., the Fukushima Support Committee will host the North America premiere of “Fukushima Speaks,” a compelling feature-length documentary by award-winning director and independent journalist Toshikuni Doi.
The screening will take place at Art Share Los Angeles, 801 E. 4th Pl. in L.A’s Arts District.
“It is not enough for a journalist to report facts and news of what is happening, but rather it is the journalist’s duty to expose the ‘human’ underneath it all,” Doi stated. “If we fail to shed light on [universal themes]and just succeed in reporting on facts and news, to the audience, it will come across as just a matter that is happening somewhere far away, unrelated to them.”
Four years in the making, Doi has created a heart-wrenching look into the lives of Japanese residents whose lives were devastated by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Haunting images and video footage of the aftermath are reinforced by 14 personal stories of despair, guilt, and outrage.
“I lost the cornerstone of my life,” Yoko Watanabe, a self-evacuee, said in her interview. “I was determined to bury myself in Katsurao village. That was taken away from me. The reason to live, volunteering, everything was taken away from me in a flash. Now I don’t know anymore what I live for. I wonder if I am really needed in this life, and I don’t know anymore.”
The suffering of Fukushima survivors continue to this day. While the mourning of lost life is obvious, the film also explores the dire realities that are often overlooked: the loss of livelihoods due to the contamination of land and ocean, the life-threatening risks caused by radiation exposure, the emotional turmoil of families being torn apart by the decision to stay or evacuate, and the discrimination that residents now face because they are from Fukushima.
Another self-evacuee, Hikaru Hoshi, expressed indignation: “They want to blame it on us and say it was our responsibility. Whether to leave or stay…. I do not allow them to shift the burden of the accident of enormous scale to individual choices/individual responsibilities…. We lived in the area that needed to be evacuated right away. That fact was concealed from us, and some of us left on our own, or like me, some did not have time to think it through but left anyway. I felt outraged that this country was putting us against each other. The root of the matter lies somewhere else.”
Doi pointed out the urgency of releasing this documentary: “Eight years since the accident, ‘Fukushima’ is being made into the thing of the past,” he said. “As more people focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the victims are silenced and their suffering is hidden away behind the news of ‘revitalization.’ However, the wounds of the victims whose lives have been destroyed by the accident are still raw.”
English subtitles for the documentary were translated and edited by event organizer Tsukuru Lauritzen with the help of fellow activists in Los Angeles.
“I contacted the director and heard that the English subtitles won’t be ready ’til 2020,” Lauritzen recalled. “I asked him if there is any way that I could take over the translation. Looking back on it, it was an insane idea, but I was compelled to take it on, because these 14 voices begged to be heard.”
Scheduled days before the eighth anniversary of the catastrophe, this screening is a grassroots effort to ensure that the victims of Fukushima Daichi and its aftereffects will not be forgotten.
Harvey “Sluggo” Wasserman, author and radio host of “Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour,” will speak on shutting down Diablo Canyon Power Plant. Libbe HaLevy, host/producer of “Nuclear Hotseat” and author of “Yes, I Glow in the Dark!: One Mile from Three Mile Island to Fukushima and Nuclear Hotseat,” will offer closing thoughts.
About the Filmmaker
Toshikuni Doi, born in 1953, is a Japanese independent journalist. He has published numerous articles in many first-class journals and has made scores of documentary films for news programs. He also has many books published in Japan.
Since 1985, he has visited the occupied territories many times and almost lived there for months, extensively reporting from Palestinian villages and refugee camps. He also has covered Asia, notably atomic bomb victims in Korea who were in Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945, Korean women who were forced to become sex workers/slaves by the Japanese army, and street children in Thailand and Vietnam.
Since April 2003, he has visited Iraq under occupation four times, focusing on civilian victims of war, women’s rights and prisoners’ mistreatment, or torture.
About Fukushima Support Committee+
Founded in 2017, Fukushima Support Committee is a grassroots group of citizens who seek justice for the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The purpose of the group is to inform the American public in Los Angeles and beyond of the realities of Fukushima, to raise awareness for the dangers of all things nuclear, and to engage in political activism to bring forth a nuclear-free future.