A Lone Man’s Resolve in Okuma

On the foothill south of Stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant lies a blooming Sunflower field. A lone man, occasionally with helps of volunteers, comes here to tend the garden. The land surrounds the gorgeous field was his former home where he spent years of his life with his parents, his wife and two beautiful daughters. But all that are the thing of past now. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami have wiped out his home, and took away lives of his father, a love of his life and one of his precious daughter, then 6. The nuclear disaster has made him and remainder of his family impossible to return to their former homes.

Norio Kimura, the man who created the sunflower garden to commemorate his daughter, began a quest to find his missing family members soon after the disaster at the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture. But the search and rescue effort was hampered by a nuclear disaster 4 km of his home. All personals in the area at the time had to be evacuated due to the high level of radiation. He was able to retrieve his father and his wife’s bodies six months after the disaster, but there was no trace of his missing daughter. Determined, He embarked multiple trips back to Okuma to find his daughter’s remains after resettled in Nagano Prefecture, about 500km from his former home. But the radiation concern means he was only allowed to enter the town once during the first two years since 2011 and 15 times a year with time limit of 5 hours per visit thereafter. The tireless effort did come in fruition on Dec 9. 2016 when he and volunteers found partial remain. But he vows to continue until he finds every single piece of his daughter’s remains.

However, time is slowly running out on his side…

Due to the proximity of Norio Kimura’s home to the stricken nuclear plant, level of contamination has made him and other residents impossible to return. The government began a plan in March 2015 to convert the area into a storage centre for all contaminated soils from near by clean up. Although residents are oppose the plan but the government is determined to buy back the land. Norio Kimura does not particularly oppose the plan which will see his home converted into storage space. But at the moment he refuse to give away the land ownership to the government.

“It’s just doesn’t seem fair that this town has to bear such a burden when it has already lost so much…”

On June 30, 2017, 6 years after the disaster, three former executives from Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, was indicted for professional negligence.

All three pleaded not guilty…