About the project:
Project Title: Fragments/Fukushima
It’s been two and a half years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant explosion on March 11, 2011. A mere six months after the disaster, media coverage faded and there were less and less people talking about the Tsunami and nuclear disaster, especially where I live in Tokyo. Life returned to normal and there was almost no sign of the disaster that we could see in the capital.
Today, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plants are still in critical condition, and people in Fukushima continue to be affected by the disaster. Recently, another big issue has arisen as a result of the disaster - contaminated water leaking into the Pacific Ocean. At the voting event for the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe proudly stated that the contaminated water is contained inside the port of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant. A few days later, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said it is not blocked at all.
Since my first visit to Fukushima, just a few weeks after the explosion, I have visted the region almost every month. When I first went into the exclusion zone in Fukushima, the words “sudden death” and “complete silence” appeared in my mind.
As I went back, I realized things were not changing. As summer came again, there was the same landscape and silence. As winter came again, there was the same landscape and silence. People came back to some areas, but even these areas seemed a long way from returning to normal. After a year had passed, I realized that there was a need to come back to the region to keep documenting the aftermath.
With the support of the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography, I was able to continue to visit the region and collect the fragments of the aftermath of the disaster.
There are some farmers and fishermen whom I kept seeing. Their life hasn’t changed, much like the nature and landscape in Fukushima. As I went back to see them, I felt it was very important to keep documenting how the life of people remained unchanged too. To seek the true meaning of the disaster, one thing I found and focused on was that “unchange” is a true hardship for people.
The Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography allowed me to pursue the initial aims of the project, to gather the fragments of this nuclear disaster to convey the story to future generations. I believe photojournalism is meant to tell the stories of today, but I also believe it helps to ensure these events remain prevalent in history. With this project especially, my sense of purpose lies in capturing these images for future generations and hope that they may become stronger and learn from our experiences with Fukushima.
About the recipient:
Born in 1980, Kosuke Okahara grew up in Tokyo, Japan where he is currently based. His career began when he was studying for a degree in education and had the opportunity to travel to post-war Kosovo. The experience, which he recalls as "shocking," inspired him to purchase his first professional camera.
From the beginning, he has been pursuing stories based on his theme “Ibasyo” which, in Japanese, refers to the physical and emotional space in which one can exist. His key bodies of work have included subjects such as lepers in China and Nepal, drug related violence among youth in Colombia, suicide-prone self-injurers in his native Japan and most recently, nuclear disaster in Fukushima which is his on-going project.
He has been honored with several awards and grants including the W. Eugene Smith Fellowship, Joop Swart Masterclass of World Press Photo, PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch, Sony World Photography Awards, and Prix Kodak in France. Okahara's photos have also been exhibited in various venues including museums, galleries and international photo festivals.
He continues to shoot the stories that touch him.
His website is: kosukeokahara.com