News

A Year After Quake, Photographers See Signs of Hope in Japan

Barren coastal region where the disaster struck have not recovered, Japan, March 8, 2012.
Barren coastal region where the disaster struck have not recovered, Japan, March 8, 2012.
Mike O'Sullivan

The coast of northeastern Japan is still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami that struck a year ago. Two American photographers recently returned to the region to document the changes over the past 12 months.  Nick Ut is a Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist, and Mark Edward Harris is a fine art photographer who has published books on Japan and other countries.

Photo gallery of M.E. Harris' pictures

Where are the animals?

The scenes of devastation are gone, but photographer Nick Ut says much of the coast that the earthquake and tsunami struck is barren.

“You don't see any animals," said Ut. "I don't even see any birds flying around there. I keep looking in my pictures. I don't see anything.”

Ut has seen devastation before. He was born in Vietnam and covered the Vietnam War. In 1972, he took the famous photo of a nine-year-old girl running in terror from her napalmed village.  For that, he earned a Pulitzer Prize. He later worked in Tokyo, Seoul and Hanoi.  Today, he's a news photographer based in Los Angeles.

Radiation


Mark Edward Harris has documented the lives of people in North Korea, Iran, and other places not easily accessible to Westerners. He also published a book on Japan's celebrated hot springs.   

He says parts of Japan's coast are bleak, especially near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radiation leaks sparked fears across the country, and a 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the plant remains.   

Harris teamed up with a group of Japanese and international volunteers. They are feeding abandoned pets in the area.

“And they rescue animals from there, so I went in with them," said Harris. "And it was amazing to see the Geiger counter go up as we got closer.”

Marine life

At a marine park called Aquamarine Fukushima, however, there were signs of hope. More than 90 percent of the fish and shellfish were lost when the power went out, but a pregnant seal was rescued.

“And once the Aquamarine Fukushima was rebuilt and electricity was on, ready to go, they brought the mother and the baby back, and its name is Hope," explained Harris. "And so I did a photograph of a young boy at that tank just being fascinated by Hope. And I think that really is symbolic of where Japan is moving with this tragedy."

Progress

The photographers documented other signs of progress, including a Hawaiian-themed club that recently reopened, replete with hula dancers, and the return of Japanese tourists to Matsushima, a scenic spot on the water. It was spared the worst of the tsunami because it was shielded by the cluster of islands in its bay.

In the coastal city of Sendai, they found residents grateful that the American military helped to get their airport up and running. Harris says it was fully operational within six months of the disaster.

“They did not expect it before the one-year anniversary to being even close to ready, but with the help of the heavy machinery and the technicians from the U.S. military based in Japan, they were able to get it up and running," he added.

While parts of the coastal region where the disaster struck have not recovered, Nick Ut was pleased to see the Tokyo he remembers.

“Traffic, people everywhere," said Ut. "You know, hotels, full of people.”

The two photographers say many in Japan are moving on, even as people on the coast northeast of Tokyo are still coping with the disaster and its aftermath.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs