• Slideshow Photos

    Damir Sagolj / X90027

    Image: Mieko Okubo, 59, poses with a portrait of her father-in-law Fumio Okubo next to his jacket in his room where he committed suicide in the evacuated town of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture

    Broken lives of Fukushima

    The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant, forcing some 300,000 people to evacuate their homes. Two and a half years later photographer Damir Sagolj toured the exclusion zone, encountering a scene he likened to "a silent horror movie".

  • Image: Mieko Okubo, 59, poses with a portrait of her father-in-law Fumio Okubo next to his jacket in his room where he committed suicide in the evacuated town of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture

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    Mieko Okubo poses with a portrait of her father-in-law Fumio Okubo in the room where he committed suicide. His old jacket hangs on the wall. Fumio, a 102-year-old farmer, hanged himself in the house where he had lived for all of his life after authorities ordered the town of Iitate be evacuated following the nuclear disaster at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

    Mieko, who lives outside the exclusion zone, comes back every other day to feed Fumio's dog and clean the house. She says he committed suicide because he could not stand the idea of ending his life anywhere else.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Street lamps light the street in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture

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    The street lamps still come on each night, but nobody is home these days in the evacuated town of Namie. Former residents can visit their homes once a month with special permission but are not allowed to stay overnight inside the exclusion zone. Around 300,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around the Fukushima plant following the nuclear disaster in March 2011.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: An elderly woman leans against the damaged grave of her relative as she visits the cemetery at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture

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    An elderly woman leans against the damaged grave of a relative as she visits a cemetery in the tsunami-damaged coastal area near Namie.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A twisted clock, spiders webs and debris are seen from inside a damaged primary school at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie

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    A twisted clock, spiders' webs and debris are seen from inside a damaged primary school in Namie, four miles from the crippled nuclear power plant.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Noboru and Nagako Harada stand among their cows in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture

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    Noboru and Nagako Harada stand beside their cows in the evacuated town of Namie. The couple travel back every day to take care of their 30 cows, even though they will never be able to sell them due to their exposure to high levels of radiation. Before the disaster they had eight cows, but the number has grown in the intervening two and a half years. "Cows are my family. I don't want to kill them, I don't know what to do", says Noboru.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Copies of Fukushima Minpo newspapers with headlines "M(magnitude) 8.8, largest in the country" and dated a day after the devastating 2011 earthquake are seen inside the office in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture

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    Headlines on abandoned stacks of Fukushima Minpo newspapers dated March 12, 2011 — one day after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit — read "M (magnitude) 8.8, largest in the country".

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie

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    A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house in the tsunami-destroyed coastal area of Namie. The earthquake and tsunami killed close to 16,000 people.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Hotel staff welcome guests behind a sign with levels of radiation at the hotel's lobby and rooms in the Iwaki town

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    Hotel staff welcome guests behind a sign showing the levels of radiation in the hotel's lobby and rooms, in the town of Iwaki, south of the crippled Fukushima power plant. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., is struggling to contain contaminated water at the site.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Kasumi Saino from the town of Tomioka near the tsunami-crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant walks her dog May between pre-fabricated houses of center for evacuees where she lives in Iwaki

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    Kasumi Saino, who is from the evacuated town of Tomioka, walks her dog May between pre-fabricated houses at a center for evacuees in Iwaki.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Wild flowers and other vegetation grow over train line in the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture

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    Wild flowers and other vegetation grow over a train line in the evacuated town of Namie.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Dense vegetation is seen from inside an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie

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    Dense vegetation is seen from inside an abandoned house in Namie.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Zenjuro Nagaoka  is followed by his wife Satoko as he takes a dead mouse out of their sweet shop during a visit to the evacuated town of Namie

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    Zenjuro Nagaoka is followed by his wife Satoko as he carries a dead mouse out of their candy store. They were making a rare authorized visit to their home and the shop they used to run in the town of Namie. Concerned to keep the place hygienic, the couple spent most of their visit taking dead mice out and replenishing the poison in their mousetraps.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A surfer carries board as others catch waves before anti-tsunami barriers on closed Toyoma beach near Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture

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    A surfer carries his board as others catch waves in front of anti-tsunami barriers on the closed Toyoma beach near Iwaki. Almost all of the beaches in Fukushima prefecture have been closed since the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years. In July 2013, the company that runs the crippled Fukushima power plant reversed months of denials and admitted that hundreds of tonnes of groundwater that has mixed with radioactive material may be flowing out to the sea every day.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Keigo Sakamoto holds Atom one of his 21 dogs and over 500 animals he keeps at his home in the exclusion zone near Naraha

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    Keigo Sakamoto holds Atom, one of his 21 dogs, at his home inside the exclusion zone near Naraha. 58-year-old Sakamoto, a former caregiver and farmer who refused to leave despite the evacuation order, looks after more than 500 animals, many of them abandoned by previous owners as they left the exclusion zone. He decided to name his dog Atom because it was born just before the 2011 disaster.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A Buddhist monk wears a Geiger counter as he leads a small funeral ceremony for a woman who died as an evacuee at a cemetery in the evacuated town of Minamitsushima

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    A Buddhist monk wears a Geiger counter as he leads a small funeral ceremony for Yotsuno Kanno at a cemetery in the evacuated town of Minamitsushima. Kanno died in temporary accommodation in May 2013, two weeks short of her 100th birthday. Her remains were brought back to her home town after her death.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A relative of Yotsuno Kanno uses chopsticks to put her remains into a family grave during a small ceremony at a cemetery in the evacuated town of Minamitsushima

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    A relative of Yotsuno Kanno uses chopsticks to put her remains into a family grave during a small ceremony at a cemetery in the evacuated town of Minamitsushima.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Fishermen from the "Kiyomaru" fishing boat pull in their net as they sail off the Iwaki town south of crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture

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    Fishermen on the Kiyomaru fishing boat pull in their nets in the sea off Iwaki town, south of the crippled nuclear power plant. A small portion of the boat's catch will be used to test for radioactive contamination in the waters around Fukushima, with the rest thrown back into the ocean. Commercial fishing has been banned near the tsunami-crippled nuclear complex since the disaster. The only fishing that still takes place is for contamination research, and is carried out by small-scale fishermen contracted by the government.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A worker from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a company that runs the tsunami-crippled Daiichi nuclear plant cuts the dense vegetation that grew wild in the evacuated town of Namie

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    A worker from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the company that runs the Fukushima nuclear plant, cuts back dense vegetation that had grown wild around the evacuated town of Namie.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A doctor conducts a thyroid examination on four year old Maria Sakamoto  brought by her mother to the office of Iwaki Radiation Citizen Centre NPO in Iwaki town

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    A doctor conducts a thyroid examination on four-year-old Maria Sakamoto at the Iwaki Radiation Citizen Center in Iwaki town. The non-profit organization offers free thyroid examinations for children from the Fukushima area. The World Health Organisation says children in the area may have a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer in the wake of the nuclear disaster.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Big plastic bags containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation are dumped at the tennis court at sports park in Naraha town

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    Plastic sacks containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation are dumped at a tennis court in Naraha town. The most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted has proved costly, complex and time-consuming. Most of the contaminated soil and leaves remain piled up in driveways and empty lots because of fierce opposition from local communities to storing it in one place until the Ministry of Environment secures a central site that could hold it for the longer term.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Firefighters from Kyoto pay respect to victims as they visit the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie

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    Firefighters from Kyoto pay their respects as they visit the tsunami-destroyed coastal area of Namie.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A security blocks the road from the Route 6 into the the exclusion zone near the tsunami-crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant near Tomioka in Fukushima prefecture

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    A security guard blocks the road into the the exclusion zone near Tomioka in Fukushima prefecture. Former residents of evacuated towns can visit their homes once a month with special permission but are not allowed to stay overnight inside the exclusion zone.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A woman who came for a brief visit to her home walks under a sign reading "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future", at the entrance of empty Futaba town, inside the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture

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    A woman on a brief visit to her old home in Futaba walks under a sign reading "Nuclear Power - The Energy for a Better Future". Decades ago, the citizens of Futaba took pride in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Now, they are scattered around Japan with no clear sign of when they might be able to return.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: A vending machine, brought inland by a tsunami, is seen in a abandoned rice field inside the exclusion zone at the coastal area near Minamisoma in Fukushima prefecture

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    A vending machine brought inland by the tsunami sits in an abandoned rice field inside the exclusion zone near Minamisoma.

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  • Image: A man fishes on a municipal beach that is closed for public near Iwaki town, south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture

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    A man fishes on a municipal beach near Iwaki that is closed to the public. Almost all the beaches in Fukushima prefecture remain closed two and a half years after the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

    Reuters / Reuters