Fukushima Workers Battle Leukemia

Original Story Unseen Japan Nov 13, 2019

The March 2011 tsunami, and the subsequent meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, has had a devastating impact on Japan. Eight years later, and most journalists – in Japan and abroad – have forgotten about the story. But for many, the struggle continues.

This is especially true of workers who helped assist in the cleanup effort at Fukushima. Some Fukushima workers have contracted severe diseases – including cancer and leukemia – since their work concluded. The government of Japan has even certified that some cases are a result of recovery work. But workers who are fighting for their lives also find themselves fighting the system. Tokyo Electric (TEPCO), which led the recovery effort, refuses to admit any connection between the cleanup work and subsequent diseases in workers. And many insurance companies are pointing to the fine print in private insurance contracts stating they don’t cover accidents at nuclear facilities.

Unseen Japan has been pleased to partner with photojournalist Hiro Ugaya (烏賀陽弘道) to translate his interviews with evacuees and former evacuees, and to document the ongoing struggle of the victims of this tragedy.

We previously published Hiro’s interview with a mother in the city of Minamisoma. In this installment, we share the first part of Hiro’s interview with Mr. Ikeda (pseudonym), a Fukushima nuclear reactor cleanup volunteer who now finds himself fighting two uphill battles.

(Translation from an article originally published on Note.muTranslation by Jay, Editor/Publisher, Unseen Japan. All photos used with permission of Hiro Ugaya.)

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