Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Ghanaian President Mahama concedes defeat to opposition leader Afuko-Addo

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Trump's TV Career Continues

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

President Park Impeached, Ghana's High Stakes Election (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Aleppo Offensive, Renzi Resigns, Trump's Cards (part 2)

Read more

ENCORE!

South Korea: An inside look at the K-pop wave

Read more

#THE 51%

Diving back in: Offering support for French mothers returning to work

Read more

REPORTERS

Chaotic post-hurricane relief efforts in Haiti

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Cash crunch casualties: India's wedding industry suffers from currency changes

Read more

FOCUS

Ivory Coast faces uphill battle against counterfeit medicine

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. And you can watch it online as early as Friday.

Latest update : 2011-04-25

Japan: at the heart of the 'red zone'

The exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear power station has an end-of-the-world feeling about it. The villages are now desolate ghost towns. Our reporters went into the heart of this post-apocalyptic danger zone.

It took a while before we dared venture into the “red zone”, the 20 km area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant. It’s the most famous and terrifying no-go area since Chernobyl. We very gradually approached the “gates of hell”. 

Our first stop was Koriyama, a town located 60 km from the plant, followed by a rural village 45 km away, and then the 30 km zone. We thought that if people lived here 24/7, we could easily spend three days with them. “When you see a snake, there is no point running away, you just need to take a step back,” a café owner in the containment zone advised us. Before setting off, we made sure we had a dosimeter to measure the radioactivity, as well as masks and protective clothing. As this other type of snake is particularly elusive and treacherous.
 
Our journey inside the wider 30km containment zone first took us to Minamisoma. A farming couple offered us coffee which we drank gingerly – wondering all the while where the water came from and if it was contaminated. The city centre was deserted, but the residents who had decided to stay appeared to be living their lives normally, talking and laughing as always. The Japanese seem to have an enormous capacity for calm.
 
We hadn’t planned to go deep into the red zone. It was Koji, an off-licence owner turned volunteer civil defence organiser who suggested the idea. We accompanied him as he made his rounds. At first he asked us to wear our masks at all times and to stay inside the car. We managed to persuade him to loosen the rules, but sitting in the back seat, I kept a close eye on the radiation monitor.
 
The entrance to the red zone wasn’t monitored. Within the perimeter, the towns were empty. We came across a city that appeared frozen in time, like a modern day Pompeii. The door of the laundrette was wide open; we could have washed our clothes if we had wanted. Piped music could still be heard playing over the intercom of a bank. But there were no clients to hear it. There wasn’t a soul in sight. And these conditions could last for months or even years. 

By Marie LINTON , Guillaume BRESSION

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2016-12-09 Americas

Chaotic post-hurricane relief efforts in Haiti

Haiti is still waiting for the final results of the November 20 presidential election, but time is running out. For more than a year, an electoral crisis has paralyzed the...

Read more

2016-12-01 Asia-pacific

Uzbekistan reinforces its tight grip on election and country

Uzbekistan is holding a presidential election on Sunday that is going largely unnoticed abroad. The successor to the late president, Islam Karimov, who held power for more than a...

Read more

2016-11-25 Americas

Video: Venezuela close to breaking point

As Venezuela sinks deeper into political crisis, its economy is close to collapse. With hyperinflation, food shortages, malnutrition and extreme poverty, daily life for...

Read more

2016-11-18 paedophilia

Tracking a Church paedophilia case from Dakar to Quebec

Following a series of paedophilia scandals in the Catholic Church in recent years, FRANCE 24 reporters investigated the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious...

Read more

2016-11-11 Iraq

Video: The journalists on the frontline in Iraq

Journalists embedded with the Iraqi army on the frontline battling the Islamic State group risk their lives every day to report on this must-crucial of wars. FRANCE 24’s team on...

Read more