The Power Story – Waking up to the shadow of nuclear energy

On Friday, 11 March 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake shook 72km off the eastern shore of Japan. The quake was the largest in Japanese history (or ever since record keeping began), and triggered a 133ft high tsunami that slammed into the shore, in some places traveling up to 10km inland.

The tsunami triggered a number of nuclear accidents, including the ongoing meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. The resultant evacuation zones forced thousands to abandon their homes. In total, the event caused 15,854 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage, making it the most expensive natural disaster in world history.

The nuclear meltdown has also prompted many Japanese to wonder about the safety of this type of power generation. While the media and government seem to be hiding the details of radiation leakage and the true cost of nuclear power, some citizens and artists are wondering how to respond.

Tokyo-based illustrator Hanamaru Fujii asked himself that question. His response:

“One evening, I felt compelled and inspired to take my recent thoughts and put it onto paper. Half an hour later, I had something- a story with illustrations. I put it on Facebook, thinking it would at least see the light of day. I’ve been humbled and surprised to have so much unexpected encouragement and thanks. It made me want to share this with more people.”

In early April, The Power Story was sent to me by a friend, as I was about to embark on a journey to Japan for my short film Reactor. The film was an attempt to chronicle the Japanese response to a society in crisis — Hanamaru’s work fit the description. A few flights, bullet trains, and subway rides later, I arrived at his Tokyo studio and we sat down for an interview.

Afterward, I asked if he’d like me to record a reading of The Power Story, to include in a film version of his book. Happily, he obliged, with the result being what you see above.

(cross posted on Matador Network)

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