Three years after the triple disasters of 2011 hit Fukushima, many things still remain in ruins and devastation. Caught in the camera lens of a freelance reporter are scenes of sadness and hopelessness among those left. 57-year old Naomi Toyoda spent two years in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture to record life in the disaster-struck area and make a documentary film about it.
Toyoda began his love for reporting in 1982 as a freelance reporter. He used to work as a schoolteacher before shifting to reporting. It was around that time that Israel had been trying to invade Lebanon and news of war and fighting were all over the television, something that Toyoda saw and urged him to drop his schoolbooks and tell the story of what’s really happening in the area. He went there and started documenting on Palestine for 20 years and spent 10 years after reporting on Iran’s dwindling uranium weapons. This time, he was back on his homeland and shot 250 hours’ worth of footage about life in Fukushima. These were translated to a 3 hour and 45 minute documentary video. His images convey every emotion possible in that area, but mostly showed people at loss what to do with their surroundings. One scene showed a man rushing to his fellow dairy farmer’s house right after he committed suicide. Toyoda didn’t plan it, he just happened to be there. Whether it was the right timing or not for Toyoda, considering his project, the images that he saw on a daily basis in those two years left a huge impact on him.
It was different that all his other reports, where he had to do “deep reporting” though his camera after he has established a relationship with his subjects and they become at ease with him. In Fukushima, it was much harder, probably because it struck closer to home. “I didn’t know what I should do,” he recalled, after seeing residents live in the area where radiation is present. His work comes with the realization that until now, “nothing is solved.” Toyoda, who was left heartbroken by all that he saw promised to “keep on reporting” until change happens and lives in the region are back to the way they were.