Fukushima Colours – eight voices about the catastrophe in Japan

My latest book will be launched in English and in Swedish on March 11th 2012, a year after the catastrophe occurred in Japan. It is a reportage book about the aftermath of the crisis and a hopeful look into the rebuilding and recovering efforts. Here below, an extract from the foreword:

“In this book, I have chosen eight different individuals or group of individuals who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in different ways. In each chapter, we meet at least one individual and his or her family, in their home or workplace. In most cases, I refer to each individual by his or her last name, followed by the polite Japanese address “san”. Each person may be considered our guide through a particular part of society that has been affected by March 11th, and I hope that my own observations and thoughts may work as a guiding voice throughout the book.

I have always felt at home in Japan. I was born in Tokyo to Swedish parents, and after growing up mostly in France, I moved back to Japan as a 17 year old. After a very turbulent year, I would say that I became an adult there. I have since then gone back for longer and shorter time periods, to study, work and travel.

In 2011, I decided to fly to Japan six days after the catastrophe, and report to the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet in a less dramatic way than how most western journalists chose to describe the crisis. During this for me personally, most transformative trip, I re-established contact with Yuko Ota, a Japanese journalist and friend. I consider her aunt to be my Japanese godmother. Yuko introduced me to the photographer Yoshikazu Fukuda, Yoshi, and together, he and I travelled up to the tsunami-devastated areas.

In the deserted landscape and in the ruins of what had once been, it was not desperation that hit me. It was hope. I met people who wanted to look ahead, towards a brighter future, and who did not want to dwell on what had happened and complain about the terrible hardships that they had to go through. I met people who thought that this catastrophe could bring something positive with it: It was a new chance to start again. It had to be. Or else it would all have been in vain.

This life force touched me deeply. I returned to England but mentally and emotionally, I remained in Japan, until I could finally return in May, and write for the two Swedish daily newspapers Svenska Dagbladet and Aftonbladet. This time, Yuko joined Yoshi and I when we headed back up North to see how the cleaning up operations proceeded, and how people then felt and thought. We also stayed in Fukushima prefecture for a few days, and travelled down to the wrecked nuclear plant’s exclusion zone, in order to better understand how people lived there. Yuko, Yoshi and I then collaborated remotely throughout 2011 with individuals in Japan who generously and openly contributed their thoughts, fears and hopes about the crisis and its aftermath, and who this book is about.

I wanted to complete this project because I strongly believe that we all have a common responsibility, all around the world, for past and future generations, to care for nature. What can we learn from this catastrophe and its aftermath?”

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