A street in Odaka, fifteen kilometres from the Fukushima-Daiichi plant. Photograph by Donald Weber.
Just a few months ago, tens of thousands of people lived on a coastal plain in the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan. Today, you’d be lucky to see a few dozen people, still clinging to the tenuous idea of normality in a radioactive “exclusion zone.”
On March 11, a massive earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan, killing between fifteen and twenty thousand people. In the hours and days that followed, as the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant melted down, the authorities evacuated the towns and villages surrounding the facility and created a twenty-kilometre exclusion zone around it. An estimated one hundred thousand residents were forced to leave and are not permitted to return.
I was the first journalist to wander into these exclusion zones just days after the disaster at Fukushima began unfolding. The people I met—those who ...