On March 11, 2011, a potent undersea earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale, struck the Pacific coast off eastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that sent forth waves up to 130 ft high, devastating human, plant and animal life in areas even 10 km inland.

This also flooded portions of the Daiichi nuclear power plant at Fukushima maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). A day later, reactors at the Daiichi power plant exploded causing a nuclear meltdown and the leakage of harmful radioactive substances into the surroundings.

Yet we Sow is a simple and honest film directed by Koike Natsumi, capturing the terrible impact of the nuclear accident on the lives of organic farmers in Fukushima.

The film was screened as a precursor to the interaction, ‘Lives in the shadow of Fukushima', organised by the CIEDS Collective, Vimochana and Bangalore Film Society at the National Gallery of Modern Art in the city.

Stirring accounts

Through dialogues with agriculturists and others in the island nation, the 35-minute-long Japanese documentary with English subtitles, portrays the situation on the ground.

It tells the story of how this disaster had a adverse effect on fishing and agricultural industries in and around Fukushima, as the radioactivity contaminated the soil and water. Some believe that the radiation began even before the explosion.

Between April and August last, farmers in and around Fukushima were banned from shipping their vegetables because of the contamination from the Daiichi explosion.

An organic farmer couple who had lived for 40 years in a village nearby, relocated to Ueda around 240 km away. The husband observed, “The soil and climate are different in Ueda. Sometimes, pulling out the weeds was tough.” His wife shared: “I sow seeds every day to encourage myself.” At the request of the Organic Agriculture Association of Japan, its members from other places in the country sent vegetables to their Fukushima counterparts. Some of Fukushima farmers have now resumed their work thanks to loyal customers. They also had to spend high amounts to measure contamination levels regularly. This highlights the government's apathy.

Critical responses

“TEPCO and the Japanese Government suppressed vital information about the damage at Fukushima and the consequent dangers. We obtained reports from independent and external sources and through the Internet,” said John Clammer, professor of sociology at the UN University in Tokyo, as he recounted the aftermath of the incident during the interaction.

“It is essential to rekindle the debate on nuclear energy,” expressed Corrine Kumar, founder-director, CIEDS Collective, who has worked on peace, nuclear disarmament and human rights issues.

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