Documentary Film Producer Hitomi Kamanaka: "Complex Feelings Of Sadness And Anger"

Hitomi Kamanaka visited Sweden for her latest documentary. Her trilogy of documentaries to date (Hibakusha: At the End of the World, Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, and From Ashes to Honey) all address these issues from various perspectives. At an event in Tokyo called the Spring Love Harukaze, she gave an impassioned talk whereby she accused TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) and Japanese government officials of deliberately covering up information regarding the accident.

From Ten thousand things: Tokyo art and music event mourns disaster victims, raises seriousness of nuclear power and radiation issues

“The industry has long been releasing propaganda saying that nuclear power is safe, and now, following the accident, they have continued with the same lies by declaring that the radiation being released is also nothing to worry about,” she said. “People prefer to believe the propaganda because it’s easier, but unless they face reality, they won’t be able to protect themselves.

“Here in Japan, we have been led to believe that the matter of electricity simply involves flipping on a switch, and people do not think about where it comes from,” she explained. My latest film takes up the issue of the radiation emitted from nuclear power plants on a regular basis—as well as during accidents like the one we are now experiencing—which is something that people here have not been educated about whatsoever.”

Kamanaka’s latest documentary, From Ashes to Honey, takes an in-depth look at the decades-long struggle on Iwaishima island to stop construction of the proposed Kaminoseki nuclear power plant along Japan’s gorgeous Seto Island Sea coast. “Although the Chugoku Electric Power Company promised to stop construction following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, they didn’t even wait a full day before resuming dynamite explosions at the plant site,” she lamented.

She went on to mention that nuclear radiation released into the ocean is not safe as we are led to believe by industry officials, since it makes its way back up the food chain—a particularly disturbing fact in light of today’s news regarding TEPCO’s dumping 10,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. The full discussion (in Japanese) may be watched via the Spring Love Harukaze UStream channel (click here for part one and here for part two). An excellent interview with the filmmaker following the recent disaster, where she expresses the complex feelings of sadness of anger shared by many in Japan's longstanding anti-nuclear movement who have long been predicting that a disaster similar to the Fukushima one would occur, may be read here.

AOL News calls her the Erin Brockovich of Japan:

Kamanaka, who is single and does not have children, is Japan's answer to U.S. environmental activist Erin Brockovich and perhaps the most influential figure in the country's small, grassroots anti-nuclear movement.

She has made a trilogy of documentary films since 2003 designed to raise Japanese awareness on over-reliance on nuclear energy and has shown them around the country, sometimes during protests at nuclear power plants. The most recent, "Ashes to Honey," was released last month. She was showing the film in a Tokyo theater when the quake hit March 11.

Blogger In the Train has this synopsis:

The film "ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転" focuses on people's life in two totally different places: Japan and Sweden. In Japan, people in a small island Iwaishima is facing a nuclear energy plant construction just in front of their island. On the other hand, in Sweden nuclear energy generation was abandoned by national election in 1980. Since then people in Sweden have been trying to achieve an energy independent and sustainable society. Both are facing one question. "What should we do for our energy future?"

Update: I have to add that unfortunately, it is not true that Sweden has "abandoned" nuclear power... My old country has 12 nuclear reactors, and 10 are still up and running over 30 years after the national referendum in 1980, in spite of a string of accidents and mishaps. Also, a new law was enacted that will make it possible to build new reactors. However, after the Fukushima disaster, things may change again. The referendum in 1980 was a sham with 3 different voting alternatives that made it possible for the people-in-power to keep the nuclear power plants up and running. There is a brief summary of what happened here:

I think Kamanaka-san met a lot of wonderful Swedish people when she made her documentary, and what they tried to tell her may have been that it is possible to go nuclear free, but she should not have made it sound like Sweden has actually done so. Having said that, I still think her documentary is worth watching.



Pandabonium said…
Dare I ask how safe is coal, oil, natural gas, as a power source? I am not a proponent of nuclear energy, but frankly speaking, it has a history that is far less deadly than fossil fuels.

My objection to it is that it is dependent on those fossil fuels for mining, transport, refining, etc. So is not a solution either.

We need to learn to use only that energy which is available to us on a day to day basis. That will mean cutting back on what we use - a lot. Any plan that does not recognize the need to "power down" is not a plan.

Can we handle the paradigm shift invovled? Can we "grock" what needs to be done and embrace it?

Opposing nuclear energy without a clear understanding of what we need to do overall may potentially make matters worse. We cannot tiptoe through though this change. We must boldly propose a radically different way of life.
Y said…
I don't know exactly how much safer gas, coal, oil wind, geothermal, solar power, etc. are than nuke power. Somebody was saying wind turbine was harmful to your hearing. But as one of the huge electricity guzzlers in Japan, I must (and must be allowed to) choose the one which is less evil than others. Do I choose to die from gas explosion, carbon monoxide poisoning, or watching my child dying from thyroid cancer? Am I really prepared for using less electricity? Am I ok without a warm toilet seat and ice cool air-con in the trains any more? How about the big industries that needs heaps of electricity day and night? Are they going to be dead if we choose solar power? 
Our problem is that we are not given enough information to decide. So we've got to seek info on our own through internet, which is good but can be arbitrary at times.
Looking at the present (or any) government, understanding clearly what is going on is near impossible if we depend on the traditional media.
So thank you for keeping this blog. I really appreciate you wrote about Kaminoseki. Please keep following about it. Please let us know about the horrible SLAPP trial against the Iwaishima islanders.

All the best,

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