Alone in the Zone
Imagine waking up all alone in your hometown. Your village was evacuated and everybody left… except you. In this thought-provoking documentary, listen to the reasons why one farmer, Naoto Matsumura, chose to stay in the ghost town of Tomioka, Fukushima, Japan, in spite of the radiation, and in spite of the painful loneliness.
Tomioka was once a prosperous town with over 15,500 citizens. But radioactive substances that leaked from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (tepco) contaminated the soil and water. Now the town is an evacuated region. The buildings are all empty, there are no cars, no people on the streets. The silence is unnerving.
Matsumara Naoto, a local farmer who has become used to the silence, claims that this accident happened because the staff had been brainwashed to believe that nuclear power plants are completely safe and accident proof. When the explosions began, many thought it was caused by missiles because nuclear power plants aren’t meant to explode.
All villages within a 20km radius were evacuated but many people had no place to go. This farmer states that even the shelters were full and had no space for anybody else. Evacuation became such a hassle that he decided to return home. His animals needed to be fed anyway.
Experts think it’s unimaginable that people have remained living in these radiation controlled areas. Radiation causes cellular damage regardless of the dosage. Once Cesium enters the body, it wreaks havoc. But the cells do eventually return to normal. After a thorough physical examination, Matsumara was told that he would not get sick for at least 30 or 40 years. He thinks he’ll be dead by then anyway, so he has no fear of remaining in the area.
Thousands of cattle died and thousands more were slaughtered. Matsumara walks us through what’s left of his village with a lens of nostalgia at the remains of his animals and recalls having to watch them starve to death because there was no way to save them all.
Nature has been destroyed in Tamioka, and there’s no telling when it will recover. Nobody knows how many more years will go by before everything is restored but Matsumara is not going to give up just yet.
The original language is Japanese but English subtitles can be activated by clicking the “CC” button on the player.