Fukushima-Based Movie Hits Japanese Cinemas

The first film set in Fukushima has opened in cinemas across Japan just three years after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years made the area famous.

The movie, called Leji in Japanese, meaning "Homeland", features some scenes shot in neighbourhoods once declared no-go zones by the government due to dangerous radiation levels.

Leji tells the tale of a farming family forced from their home by the disaster, living in cramped temporary accommodation while they wait for permission to return to their land.

Shown at the Berlin Film Festival last month, the film's director Nao Kubota said he wanted to tell a human story.

"This film does not dare to present any answers. It is a timeless story of one family," he said at the film's premiere.

There is widespread debate in Japan about whether the nation's reactors, all of which were shut down after the disaster, should be restarted or scrapped for good.

On March 11, 2011, a massive offshore earthquake sent a tsunami tearing through villages in northeastern Japan, setting off meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant that irradiated a wide swathe of countryside and forced more than 150,000 people from their homes.

The empty streets of an area once declared an off-limits exclusion zone by the government due to high radiation levels feature in the film.

Kubota contrasts the open space and silence of the zone with other scenes filmed in a noisy, barracks-like line of temporary housing.

"It's not like you can smell anything or see any different colours, you can't see or physically feel anything new. Nothing's really changed, but there's a sort of menacing fear," he said.

"And then on the other hand, the temporary homes are packed in there and you wonder whether people can really live in that cramped space.

"I wanted to stop the situation fading from our minds, I wanted to make a film that would be relevant for a long time to come, that people could watch in 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years and see that this sort of claustrophobic situation came about. That's what I want everyone to feel, and it's for that reason it's not anti-nuclear," he added.

When asked if his views on nuclear power had changed after starring as Jiro in the film, actor Ken'ichi Matsuyama did not enter into the debate.

"The movie's neither positive nor negative about nuclear power," he said.

"And as an individual, I don't think I should comment on whether the film made me think it's a bad thing or not. It's a very difficult issue. Personally I'm not really thinking about it at all."

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