Women of Fukushima: Short Film

“What must be admitted, very painfully, is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan’.”

July 5th 2012
The National Diet of Japan
Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation

In the midst of accusations of blame and gross incompetency, conspiracy theories and obfuscation by the Japanese government, the quiet and determined voices of the ‘Women of Fukushima’ resound. Formed by six residents of Fukushima, ‘The Women of Fukushima’, is an advocacy and support group that has become one of the major contributors to Japan’s continuing Anti-Nuke protest movement.: ‘This world, this Japan, was created by us, it is the responsibility of all of us over the age of 50. Young People we are very sorry.’

Only last week, almost 2 years from the earthquake and tsunami of 3.11, the operators of Fukushima plant no. 1 are still reporting ‘incidents’ (read more) that could have grave consequences for the people of Japan. The remaining exposed fuel rods are deteriorating rapidly and pose a much larger threat than the explosions that have already released radiation to the atmosphere. There are no solutions being offered. The Japanese government says the exclusion zone is only necessary up to 20km, but independent research has shown radiation levels 10 times higher than acceptable international standards up to 60km away (Click here to read a full report from the World Nuclear Association).

The film makers take a reading outside of the exclusion zone
(Photo courtesy of Paul Johannassen)

The women of Fukushima ask : What can you believe? Whose information can you trust? Why are there still no solutions developing? Who is responsible for this? How and when can it be fixed? Why is the government telling us its safe? Why do they want to turn the reactors back on? Why isn’t anyone helping people get away from the radiation? Why can’t we get answers? Who is going to save us?

In a moving 27 minutes, film maker Paul Johannassen has documented the personal experiences of each of the founding women. Open and honest, they confront the stories of corruption – government withholding of information, pay-offs and hand outs to local mayors, contaminated food being readily distributed across Japan, misappropriation of government relief funds and media censorship – stating that although they have no hard evidence they are confident their observations are true.

What is radical about this film is the decision of the women to speak out publicly and be openly critical of the government and Japan Inc. Their anger and frustration is mirrored elsewhere in the street protests against the restarting of nuclear power plants. Public protests and the acknowledgement of individual empowerment are not common to the Japanese political landscape  : ‘We are the ones who elected the politicians, each one of us… that’s the problem… unless we change the politicians won’t’.

The film has been gaining international and local attention in Japan, with the producers being asked to talk at TED Kyoto and various Japanese universities. The film has also been selected for the Byron Bay Film Festival and many others.

Introductions to each of the women can be read here

Women of Fukushima Trailer:Rent it for $1.99 or buy and download a copy for $7.99 by visiting the official site

Overview from the producers:
Over a year since three reactors went into meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, a broad, disparate anti-nuclear movement is growing in Japan. Nowhere is that more apparent, perhaps, than in Fukushima prefecture, where a group of local women boldly protest the deafening silence of the Japanese government over the worst nuclear accident of this century. Largely ignored by their own media, these brave women brush aside their cultural shyness and share their brutally honest views on the state of the cleanup, the cover-ups, the untruths and the stagnant political climate in today’s Japan. Supported with rare footage from inside the exclusion zone, as well as from abandoned neighboring towns, the Women of Fukushima (“Fukushima no Onnatachi”) offers startlingly candid insights, in the women’s own voices, about what has become of their lives, homes, and families in the aftermath of 3/11.

The film makers Jeffrey Jousan and Paul Johannassen standing at the edge of the exclusion zone
(Photo courtesy of Paul Johannassen)