Ryusho Kadota painstakingly gathered research and interviewed over 90 people who were present on the day of the nuclear power plant accident amidst a tsunami. With the collection of real-life accounts, he wrote a non-fiction book titled On The Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichii.
These were information only known to those present on the scene that day and it’s finally revealed to the world in the movie Fukushima 50.
On March 11, 2011 at 2.46pm, the strongest earthquake in Japan’s history triggered a huge tsunami which not only caused the deaths of more than 19,000 people but mercilessly swallowed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The nuclear reactors were unable to be cooled due to the nationwide blackout, causing explosions in building after building. If the power plant is left as it is, it’ll mean the destruction of the whole of Japan.
In this life or death situation, a group of workers known famously as the Fukushima 50, including the shift supervisor Izaki and plant manager Yoshida, stayed back and worked non-stop to remedy the situation the best they could.
The world held its breath and watched as the Fukushima 50 fought for their hometown over five gruelling days. The Fukushima 50 were exposed to a radiation dose up to level 95 due to their heroic efforts.
For their efforts, they were bestowed the Prince of Asturias Award for Peace by the Crown Prince of Spain.
Shift manager Toshio Izaki will be played by Koichi Sato while plant manager Masao Yoshida will be played by Ken Watanabe.
In real-life, Yoshida is known to be a passionate person with a temper. Ken Watanabe took great care to portray Yoshida accurately and wanted to express the suffering the plant manager felt during the crisis. The actor threw himself into researching the exchanges between the government and TEPCO.
“Yoshida had a lot of media exposure in footages of the incident, and most people should remember him. It was tough for me to imitate his appearance, because I guess he was taller, but I wanted to express his worries, how he was suffering, and how he overcame the challenges at that time,” said Ken Watanabe.
“Although he seems to be quite temperamental, he really put in his best effort to extinguish the fire together with the defence forces,” he added.
Koichi Sato shares that the film is about the frontline workers that day and the crisis should not be forgotten.
“Humans are wonderful, in a way that we forget things, so that we can accept new challenges and overcome the obstacles. However, while it can be a good thing to forget, there should also be things that we must not forget, whether it is a disaster or a war. We should not forget these events, and should pass the memories down to generations. If the movie could do that, it would be great,” said Koichi Sato.
Rounding up the cast are Hidetaka Yoshioka, Naoto Ogata, Shohei Hino, Mitsuru Hirata, Masato Hagiwara, Shiro Sano and Narumi Yasuda.
Fukushima 50 is showing in GSC Cinemas on July 30, 2020.