Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Tanzanian President dismisses almost 10,000 public servants over forged college certificates

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French Election: Abstention, Anger & Apathy

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Macron vs. Le Pen: France's bitter presidential run-off race (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump's First 100 Days, The Pope in Egypt (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

Egypt's Coptic Christians targeted by Islamic State group

Read more

THE CAMPAIGN BEAT

France's wartime past takes centre stage in presidential campaign

Read more

#TECH 24

How one NGO is using 3D printers to improve disaster relief

Read more

REVISITED

What remains of Nicaragua’s revolution?

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

2017-04-28 Spain

The booming business of cannabis in Spain

In Spain, thanks to the success of the "clubs" that have cropped up since 2011, cannabis has become a gold mine. From by-products such as cannabis lollipops and drinks, to...

Read more

2017-04-21 France

Battle to stop nuclear waste being buried in a French village

The village of Bure, in eastern France, has become a battleground for environmentalists. It has been chosen as a site to bury radioactive waste, 500 metres underground. An...

Read more

2017-04-14 France

How sick are French hospitals?

Doctors, nurses, nursing aides, executives and even managers… They chose to work in public hospitals to be able to treat people from all walks of life – from the homeless to...

Read more

2017-04-07 French Presidential Elections 2017

Disillusioned French voters speak out ahead of elections

Back in 2012, we went to meet French voters from all walks of life who told us of their hopes and fears. We met Fabrice, a factory worker; Ahdijah, a social worker; Lionel, a...

Read more

2017-03-31 Holocaust

Video: 'If I ever come back', a French schoolgirl's letters from the Holocaust

"If I ever come back" tells the tragic story of Louise Pikovsky, a French schoolgirl who was deported and died at Auschwitz. Using long-forgotten letters Louise wrote to her...

Read more