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Fukushima Anniversary

Fukushima: A photographer's 10-year journey through wreckage and recovery

Ko Sasaki's vision of Fukushima is of a land in limbo

Pictured 31 days after the tsunami, the Tokyo Electric Power Company's crippled Fukushima Daiichi Power Station: "Fukishima is a big place but whenever people hear news about Fukushima Daiichi, for good or bad, people hear the name, Fukushima, and many people think that all of Fukshima is affected by the fallout. A decade later, that hasn't changed," said photographer Ko Sasaki. (Photo by Ko Sasaki)

TOKYO -- Photographer Ko Sasaki drove me through the Fukushima evacuation zone in the summer of 2016. I had been there twice before to record programs for National Public Radio in the U.S. and NHK in Japan, but both had hired me to report on post-disaster stories of resilience, to show what had changed since the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. Sasaki was showing me what hadn't.

Sasaki is a seasoned professional. His photographs appear in The New York Times, Forbes magazine, Wired and other mainstream publications. But his obsession with Fukushima and its people comes from a personal commitment: He feels that the region is still being exploited, mistreated and misrepresented by Japan's government and corporate officials, who cling to tatemae (public face and behavior, or "keeping up appearances"), he says, without a hint of honne (genuine inner sentiment and emotional truth).

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