For me Fukushima has gone from being a place name synonymous with disaster and devastation to something completely different. Now after returning from this part of Japan, when I hear the name Fukushima, I picture an area of great natural beauty and wonderful people. The 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown have paled in my mind. Of course these catastrophes and the lives lost must never be forgotten, they shouldn’t continue to define Fukushima.
In this first radio and online film story broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, I meet Naoko Moteki, an official with the Tohoku Regional Promotion Organisation. In Japanese, Tohoku simply means North East, and it includes 6 prefectures at the top of the country’s main island, Honshu. Tohoku includes Fukushima, and for Naoko and her staff, promoting this prefecture to the rest of the world post-2011 is a monumental task.
When I told friends in Australia that I was visiting Fukushima I was given warnings and told to be “very careful”. I admit I had some concerns but after reading some good online articles about radiation levels (not by conspiracy theorists but by National Geographic and other reputable scientific authors), I felt quite reassured. But I never foresaw just how beautiful Fukushima would prove to be, especially in winter.
Don’t take my word for it, please watch the video and see Naoko’s passion for promoting her area and welcoming visitors.
As she says she wants me, and the rest of the world, to know that “Tohoku is now OK!” To me Tohoku is more than okay, it’s stunning and I can’t wait to go back.