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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs