Artist Statement for "Tainted Farmland" Series
Everything in these photographs are now considered waste, or moreover, dangerous.
The east side of Fukushima is a land of rich nature and fertile farmland. The large part of it is rice, vegetable and fruit fields, and ranches. Pure spring water flows all over the land and it is used by many residents for drinking, cooking, making Sake and various other purposes. The area has supplied people with the abundant nourishments and supported its culture. Since the explosion of the nuclear power plant, everything has changed.
Since the explosion, most domestic animals, which were mass-produced to benefit the humans, either starved to death or were culled because they lost their original purposes and were considered useless. Although some of Fukushima’s agricultural land is still producing crops and animals for food and selling those that passed the tests for the radiation level, the name, Fukushima, scares buyers away.
There seem to be no dramatic solution. The government’s plan for the “decontamination” is a very slow process. Although it is called “decontamination”, it basically only removes the surface of the contaminated land, therefore, the government still faces where to store the contaminated soil removed from the land. Even if the land is partially “decontaminated”, rain and animals like birds, will bring the contamination around and spread them. On the website of the Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, it is not mentioned where and how the removed contaminated soil will be safely stored after being stored at their temporary storages. Including the spent nuclear fuel from the actual nuclear power plants and the plants themselves, which will remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, there are enormous amount of radioactive wastes, which cannot be let degrade in the land and cannot belong anywhere. In reality, we need to give up on some lands and nature to store the highly radioactive wastes. Together with the contaminated villages in Fukushima, the small island of Japan faces the scarcity of the land.
In the total blindness towards the future, there are attempts to utilize the horrifying experience for something productive. Some ranches raise their cows because they believe the already-exposed animals could be our hope for the future and bring experimental test results over the years. Some farmers keep exploring the way to reduce the amount of radioactive substances in the soil by growing certain plants that are believed to absorb the contamination. Nothing seems to be for sure at this point, however, I cannot help but hope that this experience will provide some preventive measure and cure for radiation exposure, which could happen in other part of the world anytime in the future, and keep attracting attention towards the global problems of the nuclear wastes.