Fukushima The Seal of the Sun 太陽の蓋

February 24, 2019

This February 20th I was invited by my friend Kolin Kobayashi in Paris to the avant-première of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun, followed by a short debate, then to the private reception where Japan ex-prime Minister Naoto Kan was present.

Watching this movie brought to my mind the words of Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011, in his recently released book titled Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator :

« And what about the problems that no engineer, scientist, or safety regulator can foresee. No amount of planning can prepare a plant for every situation. Every disaster makes its own rules – and humans cannot learn them in advance ».

« Generations of nuclear professionals have never experienced the confusion of a nuclear accident as it is happening. So it is essential that we remember and teach the lessons of Three Mile Island, chernobyl and Fukushima, for reviewing these accidents shows common themes of missed opportunities, human failings, and technological overconfidence. No amount of forgetting can change these simple facts. »

« As I learned in the wake of the Fukushima accident, crises on this scale are often characterized by incoherent communication and conflicting information. Both the Three Mile island and the Fukushima disasters featured contradictory assessments of the state of the reactor, a limited appreciation of the fact that the damage to the reactor had occured very early, and rapidly changing statements from elected officials. To the public, these statements can appear to suggest prevarication or incompetence. But when government officials – imperfect human beings like everyone else – try to make sense of the complicated physics of a nuclear reactor, they will invariably make mistakes in communication. »

Especially as in the Fukushima accident where TEPCO was not straightforward in giving the true facts to the Japanese government, but always prevaricating.

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Synopsis of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun
On March 11, 2011, Japan is rocked by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and the triple nuclear disaster of Fukushima. Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s team is trying to cope with this situation.
What really happened at the Prime Minister’s residence at the time of the worst crisis in the country’s history? Has the truth been fully revealed?

3 questions to the director – Futoshi Sato

How did you arrive on this project and how did you work with the producer and actors of the film?

Born in the area that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, I wanted to talk about it, but I was wondering what might be the approach to make it a movie. For his part, Mr. Tamiyoshi Tachibana wondered about the possibility of adapting the book written by Tetsuro Fukuyama, Deputy Director of the Cabinet of Naoto Kan. “The Nuclear Crisis – A Testimony from the Residence of the Prime Minister” is a fundamental work that tells the truth of the events that occurred on those days at the Residence.

If this project was able to start and be realized, it is thanks to the total and complete implication of Mr Tamiyoshi Tachibana. The entire project team has been involved in the discussions around the script and during our debates, we thought it was necessary to make a choral film with in the center, the members of the Cabinet, but also with the journalists on the lookout for scoops, the workers of the power plant, as well as the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. As for casting, we managed to bring together actors who were completely convinced of the importance of the subject. We gave them all the information so that they thoroughly understand the issues of the film and their characters.

Was it important to you that the events would be experienced in a balanced way through the politicians and the people directly at the forefront of the disaster?

According to the people who experienced these events, their feeling completely varies. To make it a film capable of witnessing this story in all its diversity, we decided to adopt the different points of view of the protagonists. It was not possible to convey this reality to the public otherwise.

I remember that Naoto Kan told us: “If you represent the truth about the nuclear accident with firmness in the film, you can choose any method of expression.” He wanted the facts to be well presented. I started filming in a direction that was not meant to be easy. Instead, it was necessary to treat with audacity, an atmosphere of crisis due to a management and consequences quite unknown.

Which part of the movie is truth and which part is fiction?

The information, as to the reactions and attitudes of TEPCO following the nuclear accident, and those that have been passed on to the government are all true. We also had to do some research to recreate some scenes. In addition, about what had happened during these 5 days, it was impossible to extract and reproduce the huge amount of data.

For these reasons, and in order to stay true to the facts and to make a fiction easier to understand, we created a fictional character unfolding the story. We have made this journalist a kind of guide, to follow this whole story. The words and situations of certain scenes have been created to cover all events. On the other hand, the politicians, who are public figures, appear in the film under their true identities. Their dialogues and actions are also based on true facts.

3 questions au producteur – Tamiyoshi Tachibana

In 2011, you were close to Naoto Kan, the Japanese Prime Minister. Through this film, was it your intention to restore a truth that the latter experienced during this crisis?

At the time, I was simply a friend, one of his cadets in politics. It was only after the earthquake that I became a real member of his support group. It is not to reproduce the experience of the crisis experienced by Naoto Kan that I produced this film. The media and public opinion, manipulated by the latter, were totally hostile to the Prime Minister, accusing him of having aggravated the accident and amplified the damage. Faced with this rejection, I was plagued by anger and disgust as they led me to make this film to put things in order.

The reactors’ accident could, in the worst case, have caused the evacuation of the entire population living within a radius of 250km, including Tokyo, a total of 50 million people. Naoto Kan was the only one to have guessed the extreme gravity of the accident and to have realized that we were one step away from the collapse of Japan. If he had not been Prime Minister, if the crisis had to be managed by another in his place, the country could have been completely destroyed.

You have kept the real names of the various protagonists. What were the reactions of the people implicated, in particular the leaders of TEPCO, the company that managed the Fukushima power station?

Four politicians appear under their real names. In the history of Japanese cinema, this is the first time that characters, in a fiction film, take the true identity of people who really exist. Thus Naoto Kan is still present in the political life of Japan.

As for the other members of the government, as well as the officials and employees of TEPCO (TOBI in the film), these are not their real names, but we can easily imagine who they are!

However, there was no protest or legal proceedings on their part. I do not know if they saw the movie … or not. If they saw it, they did not want to talk about it publicly. I hope that today, they are a little ashamed of this catastrophic situation of which they are, in part, responsible.

What was the impact of the film when it was released in Japan? Has it sparked a real public debate as Japanese nuclear power resumed its place in the country, as if nothing had happened in 2011?

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station inspired the authors of “Shin Godzilla” (the new Gozilla), a movie released in Japan on July 29, 2016. That movie was designed by two of the largest film production companies for a total budget of 13 million euros. Thanks to this film, the producers have earned more than 64 million euros!

On our side, our film was screened in independent theaters. Obviously, this has not been the same success, especially in terms of financial benefits.

Citizens continue to organize weekly independent screenings. It should be noted that the 54 nuclear reactors, distributed among the 18 Japanese plants, were shut down in September 2013.

7 years after the disaster, 9 units restarted. The film has become a powerful vector for citizens who speak out against the restart.

Aujourd’hui, environ 70 % de la population est en effet opposée à l’énergie nucléaire.

Sources :

Synopsis of the movie, provided by Destiny Films, translated by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator by gregory B. Jaczko, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019

Ken Watanabe to Star in Film About Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

I ‘d like to know who are this movie producers, who are financing it…. Will it be straightforward or will it be just another spinned piece???
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November 19, 2018
‘Fukushima 50’ will tell the story of the workers who stayed at the power plant after a massive tsunami had knocked out its cooling systems.
Ken Watanabe will star as the head of the crisis-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima 50, from Japan’s Kadokawa Corporation and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu.
Watanabe will play Masao Yoshida, the superintendent of the plant who was on duty when it was swamped by a tsunami that followed a massive earthquake in Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, knocking out the cooling systems. Yoshida ignored orders by his bosses at Tokyo Electric Power Co. and pumped seawater into the overheating reactors, likely preventing a worse disaster.
The following year, Yoshida was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died in July 2013 at age 58.
The crewmembers at the plant who stayed on to try and prevent the meltdown of three reactors at the nuclear power station were lauded in the international media as the “Fukushima 50.”
Appearing alongside Watanabe will be veteran actor Koichi Sato, who in his 106th career role will play the shift supervisor at the time of the disaster. The film is based on the book On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryusho Kadota.
“I had promised to Koichi that I would play any role in his next film,” said Watanabe. “However, this was a challenging film to be a part of when the people of Fukushima are still suffering such loss and devastation. My hope is that, along with the wonderful cast and Wakamatsu directing, we will make a film that shows the intensity and bravery of these people that prevented a tragedy of epic proportions.”
Said Wakamatsu: “The Fukushima accident shook not only the people of Japan but also around the world. This film is about the power plant workers on the front line who faced an unprecedented crisis and risked their lives to save their families, their hometown and avert a disaster of global magnitude.”
Shooting on the film is set to begin at the end of November, with a release scheduled for 2020.
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ken-watanabe-star-is-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-film-1162835?fbclid=IwAR1xjr4TVEoSr2Lkbkne9Eh3TVHf127L80HUME1Ip9J3dRb7DA-y0sPi8Zg

Fukushima nuclear disaster from a foreign perspective: German film was shot inside exclusion zone

12 May 2018
Greetings from Fukushima, a movie on the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, was shot on location, with the director Doris Dörrie even carrying a Geiger counter to monitor radiation levels
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Rosalie Thomass (centre) in Greetings from Fukushima
 
There have been numerous responses by Japanese artists and filmmakers to the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 and the subsequent tsunami. By contrast, Greetings from Fukushima, a 2016 feature by German director Doris Dörrie, gives a foreigner’s perspective on the disaster and its aftermath.
The film is also known as Fukushima, Mon Amour, a reference to Alain Resnais’ 1959 classic Hiroshima, Mon Amour, which was set amid the devastation of the atomic bomb. Dörrie’s film has a more straightforward structure than Resnais’ elliptical work.
In fact, Dörrie does not focus on the wider impact of the tsunami, instead limiting the story to a relationship between a troubled German girl and a grumpy Japanese woman, both of whom are trying to come to terms with events from their pasts. As Dörrie reveals more about her protagonists, the Fukushima tragedy plays into the main theme of overcoming grief to build a better future.
Marie (Rosalie Thomass) is a German street theatre artist who travels to Fukushima to entertain a small community of elderly people who have returned to a safe part of the exclusion zone around the damaged nuclear reactor. The job doesn’t work out but she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the elderly Satomi (prolific actress Kaori Momoi), who’s a geisha. Satomi moves back into her old house, which is still within the exclusion zone, and Marie reluctantly starts to visit her. By roundabout methods, the two women assuage each other’s grief.
Dörrie is no stranger to Japan, having travelled extensively around the country, and made a few films there, including 2008’s Cherry Blossoms, which also viewed the nation from a German perspective. She made a bold decision to shoot Greetings from Fukushima on location within the exclusion zone – in black-and-white – and even carried a Geiger counter to monitor radiation levels.
“We lived there. We shot there. We never left the zone through the entire shoot. Everything [you see in the film] is the real thing,” Dörrie told the Post in an interview in 2016. “Our main location is 11km away from the nuclear power plant.”
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Thomass and Kaori Momoi (right) in Greetings from Fukushima.
 
Greetings from Fukushima is a cool-head­ed, quietly moving drama about personal loss and recovery. Sensibly choosing to depict the story through the eyes of a young German visitor, rather than a Japanese protagonist, the film avoids making any cultural errors, although its decision to focus on a geisha, rather than someone less traditional, does tend to reinforce the stereotypical view of Japanese women.
 

Why don’t you have a video-showing event of “NUCLEAR JAPAN” in your country?

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Almost in one year, this film has been shown to more than 70,000 people, and there have been held more than a thousand voluntary movie-showing events since “NUCLEAR JAPAN” was released in November 2014. It has been also presented at many courtrooms as evidence to get a bird’s-eye view of all the issues of nuclear power in order to halt nuclear power plants whole Japan.

If you are planning to have a video-showing event of “Nuclear Japan” (2h 15m), please send an application form to eiga@nihontogenpatsu.com.
It may take time for international shipping, please apply well in advance. Thank you!

SYNOPSIS

This movie strives to provide
a complete picture of nuclear power in Japan.

NUCLEAR JAPAN is a documentary film directed by a 70-year-old lawyer with remarkable record of winning very high-profile cases who elucidates the controversial issue of nuclear power industry in Japan.

On March 11th, 2011, a massive earthquake hit East Japan, which caused a catastrophic accident in Tokyo Electric Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. Radioactive materials were released from its four nuclear reactors, and they have contaminated the people’s land as well as ocean. Today, the effort to clean up the radioactive materials is still ongoing, only too little effect.

The film takes you back to a few hours after the earthquake on March 11th, to the shore of Namie Township, 7 kilometers north of Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. The local fire brigade in Namie is desperately searching for missing persons swept away by the disastrous tsunami. However, the next morning on the 12th, the question starts to rise for the possible dissemination of radioactive material. The Japanese government consequently declares the area within 10 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant as an evacuation zone. As a result, the fire brigade in Namie Township is forced to give up the search…

A month after the earthquake, the search for missing persons resumed. During the search, more than 180 bodies were found along the shore of Namie Township.

If it weren’t for the nuclear accident, most of those lives could have been saved.

There was one lawyer who had been actively voicing the absurdity and danger of Japanese nuclear power – Hiroyuki Kawai. Kawai has been fighting in many legal battles to halt nuclear power plants in Japan for over 20 years. Ever since the crisis at Fukushima No.1 power plant, his fight has been fueled by even more drive and dedication.

Then, Kawai had a thought. What if he makes a movie about this issue? If he wants the public to understand the complicated issues of nuclear power, literature has its limits. Also, all the coverage by Japanese media has been biased. Only by providing the visual and giving the objective view, he can communicate the true absurdity and inhumanity of the nuclear power in Japan.

With the help of another lawyer Yuichi Kaido, Kawai’s old ally who also has been fighting in nuclear power plant lawsuits, Kawai completed this documentary film, NUCLEAR JAPAN.

The film not only features the interviews of many experts, a number of facts and evidences, but it also brings to light the immense pain of the people have been suffering from the nuclear crisis. NUCLEAR JAPAN is now being presented as evidence in many lawsuits to halt nuclear power plants all over Japan.

This film is the ultimate nuclear power documentary that takes you on a journey to grasp all the issues of nuclear power in a factual, objective way, and eventually, a journey to find a hope.

DIRECTOR

Protecting the environment of the planet
as an advocate for future generations;
especially from nuclear disasters
is Kawai’s very purpose.

Profile

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer and a filmmaker, was born in Northeast China, Manchuria, in 1944. Kawai graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law in 1968, and has been practicing law since 1970. In 2014, he made a directorial debut with a documentary film NUCLEAR JAPAN.

Today he holds various titles including; President of Sakura Kyoudo Law Offices, Chairman of The Support Group for Japanese War Orphans Left in China Obtaining Japanese Nationality, Head Director of Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, and Representative Auditor of Institute of Sustainable Energy Policies.

Kawai is also a representative of National Federation of Lawyers Against Nuclear Power as well as The Complainants for Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Criminal Prosecution legal team. He is the lead lawyer of the legal team for Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant Suspension Lawsuit and Tokyo Electric Executives Criminal Responsibility Lawsuit. He is also a part of Ohi, Takahama, Sendai Nuclear Power Plants Provisional Suspension Lawsuit legal team.

His motto is–
If you give 100%, you can achieve almost anything.
If you give 100%, you will find anything enjoyable.
If you give 100%, somebody will offer you their hand.

DIRECTOR’S
STATEMENT

“To share the idea of nuclear zero nationwide,
we need a movie.”

Kawai became involved with lawsuits against nuclear power plants from 1994.
The first suit concerned use of MOX fuel in the Fukushima No.1 Reactor 3 plant that exploded in March 2011.

This suit failed, as have many more since that time.
Ever a shrewd lawyer, Kawai was losing his passion to continue such lawsuits just before the Fukushima accident.

The Great East Japan Earthquake rekindled this passion and Kawai has said “I will never give it up. I will continue lawsuits against nuclear plants until nuclear power is eradicated from Japan”.

As part of this process, Kawai decided to make a movie.
Explaining this, he said “in a democracy, a fair legal process is obviously important to protect our rights, especially for minority issues.

Lawsuits in a democracy functions as safety valves.

Justice is justice. I shall stand up to protect life and Japan in courts, even if I would be alone.

But to share the idea of nuclear zero nationwide, we need a movie”.

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Nuclear accidents strike at the very foundation of our lives.
Economics, culture, art, education, justice, welfare,
frugal and fancy living alike – everything is turned on its head.
Ignorance of nuclear power’s dangers renders every
enterprise meaningless, even irresponsible.
We have come to realize this.
What matters now is what we will do about it.

Hiroyuki Kawai

http://www.nihontogenpatsu.com/english