‘Restricted Residence’: Returning to Fukushima
The Frontline Club hosts this discussion on present-day Fukushima, after the relocation of Japanese citizens to towns exposed to the catastrophic radioactive leak in 2011, following the earthquake and tsunami. We consider the impact of such manmade disasters on communities and the environment.
Despite inconclusive scientific consensus on the long-term effects of radiation in the area, in 2017 the Japanese government began to reduce the exclusion zones and heavily financially incentivise residents to return to what were formerly bustling towns, with nearly 27,000 living and working there. Now, the area is eerily empty, with just a few hundred people brave enough to return. With the reactor still unrepaired and uninhabitable radiation hotspots scattered across the landscape, some believe these areas will not be safe for 50 years or longer.
In his book, Restricted Residence, published by Loose Joints, photographer Giles Price examines the relocation of citizens to two such towns, Namie and Iitate, through images which show ordinary, hard-working people hoping for a better future: clean-up and reconstruction workers, medical officers, office workers, a taxi driver who is paid a retainer to stay because there are so few customers, a mechanic, a farmer with contaminated cattle, which he can’t sell, but refuses to put down. Restricted Residence employs thermal technology often used in medicine and industrial surveying, to render the everyday landscapes of these towns surreal and inverted.
Price is joined in the discussion by environmental writer and journalist Fred Pearce, who helps to articulate the Fukushima tragedy within the broader context of the climate emergency, and the impact of manmade catastrophes on our fragile environment.
Giles Price is a London-based photographer, whose work commonly examines environments affected by human presence. These include major structural interventions, landscapes transformed by mass gathering, human endeavour, even protest, as well as mankind’s impact on an environmental, economic and political scale. His work has been exhibited in major galleries around the world, and he is a contributor to publications including TheNew York Times Magazine, FT Weekend Magazine, Guardian Weekend Magazine, Telegraph Magazine and Bloomberg Markets among others. Price is also a former Royal Marine Commando.
Fred Pearce is a freelance author and journalist based in London. A former news editor of the UK-based New Scientist magazine, he has been its environment consultant since 1992, reporting from 89 countries. He also writes regularly for the Yale e360 web site and the Guardian and other newspapers in the UK, as well as irregularly for many other outlets, including the Washington Post and New York Times. His recent books include Fallout: A Journey through the Nuclear Age.
More to follow.
Giles Price will be signing copies of Restricted Residence for purchase after this event.
Images courtesy of Loose Joints.