Six years after the Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011, 70% of the evacuated and forbidden areas have been freed up by Japanese authorities and the policy of returning the population to those areas continues. Two Genevans, Matthieu Berthod and Jean-Patrick Di Silvestro, recount their trip there and present the reality of Fukushima today with a book of drawings and photographs entitled "After the Waves - Around Fukushima".
The Fukushima nuclear accident was coupled with an earthquake of magnitude 9 and a tsunami that killed 20,000 people and destroyed 600 kilometres of coastline. In Odaka, the devastated area, triangular concrete breakwaters that weigh tons were brought down by the tsunami 3 kilometres inland. Photographer Jean-Patrick Di Silvestro recounts: "The wind was blowing, the squalls crossed the houses, the crows were croaking and that was all. The area was deserted."
In this area of Odaka, contaminated by the radioactivity of the nuclear power plant, the two artists met mainly with elderly people. "For example, Mrs. Hanoi, who was busy cleaning up the devastated land so that it could be cultivated for the next generation. An effort in vain for thousands of years to come."
Through black and white drawings, in a sober and refined style, Matthieu Berthod wants to express the gravity of the situation. Jean-Patrick Di Silvedstro wants to show the reality "without dramatisation" through his colour photographs. They tell how everyday life is organised after the drama, with the hope of a future, even if the price to pay is extremely high.
The illustrator and the photographer hope that this book will help to ensure that the Swiss government respects its commitment to phase out nuclear energy and redoubles its effort to improve the safety of Switzerland's aging nuclear plants.
The book on Fukushima will be presented at the bookstore, Boulevard, in Geneva, on March 22, and at the Geneva Book and Press Fair on April 29 and 30.
(Text: Akiko Uehara; Translation: John Heilprin)