A team of six San Francisco State University students traveled to Fukushima, Japan, in August 2014, to understand how residents are coping in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster. The stories featured on this website are based on interviews with scores of Fukushima residents, many still living in temporary housing shelters, as well as government officials, experts, volunteer activists and others.
The project was sponsored by the Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture, which undertakes special initiatives that promote leadership and new voices in the field of United States and Japan relations. The center showcases and expands the university’s diverse interests in Japan and U.S.-Japan studies.
The project was created in collaboration with the International Centre at Fukushima University and its Fukushima Ambassadors program, which provides students from around the world a hands-on learning opportunity on the physical, financial, and social consequences of the disaster. The Dilena Takeyama Center gratefully acknowledges the planning efforts and tireless contributions of William D. McMichael, the center’s Assistant Director, and his colleagues. We also express thanks to the numerous Fukushima University students who served as volunteer interpreters and guides during our travels.
Members of the student reporting team were: Guadalupe González, Gavin McIntyre, Corinne Morier, Lorisa Salvatin, Deborah Svoboda and Natalie Yemenidjian. Reporter Allison Budner, representing KALW Public Radio, accompanied the students and produced a special report for the station, “Fear and Eating in Fukushima.”
Project directors were Jon Funabiki, Professor of Journalism and Executive Director, Dilena Takeyama Center, and Sachi Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Journalism, who led the delegation to Fukushima.
Their stories, photographs, video and multimedia reports are showcased on this website, which was originally designed by Yemenidjian. In 2018, the features were incorporated into the website of the Dilena Takeyama Center through the efforts of Christopher Clark and Alexis Cabrera from the Communications Team of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.
Voice of Witness, a nonprofit organization that publishes oral history projects about human rights crises, provided training to some members of the team. We are grateful to VOW Executive Director mimi lok, Education Program Director Cliff Mayotte and Education Program Associate Claire Kiefer. Voice of Witness has featured Facing Fukushima in a book, "Say It Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling," published in 2018 by Haymarket Books.
Special appreciation is extended to Chuck Olson, a Journalism Department alumnus and longtime resident of Japan, who volunteered interpretation services and valuable editorial guidance during the trip.
The Dilena Takeyama Center gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Tokyo. The grant supported travel and other project costs. The foundation also provided valuable resource materials, including copies of two studies, Public Health Recovery: After the Great East Japan Earthquake and The Fukushima Nuclear Accident and Crisis Management. Special appreciation is extended to Executive Director Junko Chano and her colleagues Risa Arai and Aya Murata.
Other key campus partners include the Journalism Department, Japanese Language & Literature Program, Office of International Programs, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and College of Extended Learning.
Many individuals contributed to the success of this project, including: Koichiro Aoshima, Coordinator of International Student Services; Makiko Asano, Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Literature; Hildy Health, Director, Office of International Programs; Megumi Konishi, business owner; Midori McKeon, Professor of Japanese Language and Literature; Yuri Kageyama, Reporter, Associated Press Tokyo; Nicole Martinez, Assistant Professor of Health Physics and Radio Ecology, Clemson University; Ken Moritsugu, Bureau Chief, Associated Press, Tokyo; Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, psychologist and author; Jill Shiraki, Public Programs Coordinator, Dilena Takeyama Center; Yuriko Gamo Romer, Filmmaker, “Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful”; Arun Unnikrishnan, Information Technology Consultant, Journalism Department; Jay Ward, Associate Director, Office of International Programs; and Brenda Wong-Aoki, Playwright, Performer and Founder, First Voice.
The students were profoundly impacted by their experiences in Fukushima. Photographer McIntyre returned to Fukushima on his own to continue documenting the lives of residents he met on the trip. After her graduation, Corinne Morier landed an appointment through the coveted Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) program to serve as an English language instructor in Japan. She chose to serve out her term in Fukushima. Other participants were invited to speak about Fukushima at public events throughout the Bay Area.
For all these reasons, the team extends its thanks to the many people in Fukushima who opened their homes and hearts so that we could share their experiences, hopes and dreams.