YIDFF 2017 New Asian Currents
On to the Next Step: Lives After 3.11
An Interview with Tashiro Yoko (Director)

A Life Where Nothing Ever Happens Is Not a Given

Q: Before the Great East Japan Earthquake, I was convinced that nuclear power plants were safe, and never spared a single thought about accidents. You felt that, “We have to record the aftermath of the earthquake disaster,” but why did you decide to cover Oma’s power plants?

TY: After the earthquake disaster and the nuclear accident, I was filled with anger over the things I had been ignorant about all that time, and I thought about what I could do myself. Then I thought, “Let’s record the present moment,” and began filming. I first phoned Yamada Keisuke, who had been the subject of my last work, and I learned that he had become the plaintiff behind the lawsuit against Oma Nuclear Power Plant in Aomori Prefecture, so I decided to film the situation there.

Q: There seem to be a lot more scenes of the people living nearby, than, for example, the opposition movement. Why did you structure it this way?

TY: I filmed for 2 years, but at first, I filmed the Oma Nuclear Power Plant out of anger and anxiety. I went to the trials, and filmed the goings-on at the study group. After that, I began to film life at the Yamada Farm as well, and while I was filming the people of Ramuyato, I had a change of heart. The people say as much in the film—that at first, there was a lot of anxiety and anger, but they’ve now come to a point where they’ve acknowledged the present circumstances, and what’s more, are thinking about how they should live from hereon in. I came to feel that, by living each day conscientiously, I wasn’t existing as if it were a given that nothing ever happens, but rather, recognizing that that state of being itself was a precious treasure, and so, I decided to make the people’s everyday scenes a focus of the film.

Q: How did you come to know the families in Ramuyato and Oma, both of which appear in the film?

TY: When I went to talk with the people whom I had met through my last film, our meeting place was Ramuyato. I was then introduced to Konno Masuki, and we clicked right away. Also, when I went to film the Oma Nuclear Power Plant trials in Hakodate, I consulted with Okumoto, a former post office clerk in Oma, about wanting to interview a young fisherman in Oma, and I was subsequently introduced to Yamamoto. The people of Oma won’t talk abut the power plant in front of a camera. Oma Town is a small fishing village, and most of the companies in town are affiliated with the power plant. The hospitals in the area also receive funding from them. Because of this, it feels like the entire region is unable to make a public statement about the power plant, and the people won’t talk about how they really feel.

Q: I was taken aback by how the Oma Nuclear Power Plant went ahead with construction on the power plant, even though they hadn’t acquired the land yet. Kumagai and her daughter, who refused to sell their land till the very end, seem like very determined people. How did you feel about their conduct?

TY: Kumagai Asako had already passed away, but she was someone who was born and raised on that land, who lived savoring the blessings of nature in the farming and fishing environment around her. It seemed that she was always insisting that that lifestyle itself was important. I think that’s why her drive to protect both the land and sea was so strong. There are so many people who have been moved by her words. Even the lawyer currently overseeing the anti-nuclear movement trials in Hakodate, for example, became a lawyer because he was so drawn to Asako’s philosophy. Her daughter has also inherited her will, and she told me that she had decided to stay and fight. Asako is no longer with us, but I heard her story from many people, and I felt that it was precisely because she was that kind of person that her spirit lives on in everyone.

(Compiled by Kusunose Kaori)

Interviewers: Kusunose Kaori, Endo Chiho / Translator: Joelle Tapas
Photography: Nakane Wakae / Video: Yoshimura Tatsuro / 2017-10-07