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Iitate Village After the Great East Japan Earthquake

Photographer: Franck Robichon


The village of Iitate with its 6,500 residents is a municipality located about 40km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. The village remains relatively untouched by the 11 March 2011 earthquake thanks to its solid geology, but badly contaminated by the plume of radioactive isotopes generated by a series of meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear plant. Residents, who have been totally ignoring that their village has been contaminated, were finally ordered to evacuate almost a month later, in April 2011, after the government announced that high radiation would exceed 20 millisievert per year. Iitate residents are now living in evacuation centers or supported housing.


The clean-up effort is going on but the houses, rice paddies, fields and even the mountains of Iitate will need to be decontaminated. Some people like Nobuyoshi Ito ignore official recommendations to evacuate and are staying in their homes. The 68-year-old former IT engineer, who became a farmer in 2010, collects data on radiation level in the air, rice and vegetables. He found out that radiation levels are different depending on the vegetable. He even offered to several Japanese universities to use his rice paddies to conduct research on the level of contamination by cesium in the rice. None of them answered to his proposal.