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The Days: The true story behind Netflix's Fukushima disaster series

Netflix mini-series promises Chernobyl-levels of tension

The Days airs on Netflix from Thursday, 1 June. (Netflix)
The Days airs on Netflix from Thursday, 1 June. (Netflix)

Following the success of HBO’s harrowing Chernobyl back in 2019, Netflix has followed suit with The Days, their own chilling drama chronicling the deadly Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Due to hit the streamer on Thursday, 1 June, this Japanese-language series promises an unflinching account of one of the worst nuclear disasters in recent memory by focusing on seven days surrounding its occurrence and aftermath.

With deadly and far-reaching consequences, director Masaki Nishiura takes us inside this nail-biting event while asking crucial questions about who may have been at fault. Judging by the trailers, it already looks set to be just as tense and memorable as HBO’s own award-winning disaster series.

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Unsure what happened during the Fukushima nuclear disaster? Read on to discover the unlikely events that set it into motion and the impact it had on the wider world.

What is the plot of Netflix mini-series The Days?

The Days chronicles the days surrounding the Fukushima disaster. (Netflix)
The Days chronicles the days surrounding the Fukushima disaster. (Netflix)

According to the show’s official synopsis, The Days will look at the days surrounding the deadly nuclear disaster that happened at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.

The blurb explains that it will look at the situation “from the three perspectives of the government, corporate organisations, and those who put their lives on the line. It will approach what really happened on that day and in that place.”

What happened during the Fukushima nuclear disaster?

A view of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File)
A view of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima. (AP Photo)

On March 11, 2011, a tsunami caused by the Tōhoku earthquake — the most powerful to ever hit Japan, measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale — set into motion a situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma.

When the tsunami was first detected, the power plant automatically shut down its power-generating fission reactions. However, the 13-14 meter high waves soon smashed into the power plant's protective walls, spilling water into units 1-4 on its lower levels and damaging its diesel-powered emergency generators.

Together, this loss of electricity meant that the plant could no longer power the cooling pump systems that were crucial in reducing heat in the reactor core.

Read more: Japan hints at possible reversal of post-Fukushima nuclear policy

As a result, three nuclear meltdowns occurred alongside three hydrogen explosions. Throughout the following days, an excessive amount of radioactive material was also released from units 1, 2 and 3.

The event was damaging enough for it to be singled out as the most significant nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl incident in 1986 and resulted in the evacuation of around 154,000 people from the surrounding area.

What happened after the Fukushima disaster?

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station's damaged Unit 4 reactor building. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File)
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station's damaged Unit 4 reactor building. (AP Photo)

After the incident, a large amount of dangerous, radioactive materials were released into both the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. This forced the Japanese government to launch mass evacuations for all those at direct risk of airborne radiation.

Thankfully, a number of subsequent reports have found that no noticeable increases in adverse health issues have been documented in those born after the incident.

Later in 2012, the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) ruled that the event could have been predicted and prevented and that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company had failed to plan accordingly. This failure largely revolved around a lack of safety and evacuation planning.

In the time since the event, the operators of the plant have built a new wall and installed an ‘ice wall’ made up of frozen earth to help stop the continued flow of contaminated water into the ocean.

While an official clean-up programme is still underway, it is estimated that it will take around 30 to 40 years before the plant and its nearby affected areas are fully decontaminated.

Is there a trailer for The Days?

There is - and it’s just as distressing and tense as you might expect. With images that echo those seen in Chernobyl, The Days looks like a series you won’t forget in a hurry.

The Days hits Netflix on Thursday, 1 June.