Behind the Lens
Why did you enter the radioactive zone?
Nobody was really covering the disaster from the inside then. The government had shut everything down, and the Japanese press decided to go along with that decision. I felt people needed to see the hidden place to make informed decisions. I ended up making several visits. I went in both officially—with the help of a mayor's aide from the Namie town government—and unofficially.
How did you get in unofficially?
Just after the tsunami even authorities weren't going in, because of high radiation. As levels fell in early April, police entered to start searching for bodies. By April 21 they'd blocked the roads and started patrolling the area. I first joined up with these animal rescue activists to cover them catching and feeding abandoned pets and farm animals. They knew all kinds of back ways in. Yes, they entered unofficially, but they felt justified. I watched them catch a dog in the parking lot of the Daiichi nuclear plant, but there is also radiation where you least expect it. You come around a corner, and the radiation levels on your meter go up a hundredfold.