Mark Willacy, throughout the crisis – which is still continuing – gave and gives coherent, intelligent and courageous expression to the facts. Now he has finished this book, I ache to read it.
On 11 March 2011, Japan was rocked by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded. Less than an hour after the first shock, a massive tsunami slammed into the country’s north-east coast. Close to 20,000 people were killed or lost under waves that in places reached more than 40 metres in height.
Yet the gravest danger to Japan came when the tsunami surged over the protective seawall of Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, triggering multiple meltdowns that at one stage even threatened the evacuation and irradiation of the world’s largest metropolis – Tokyo.
Fukushima is the story behind the twin catastrophes of the tsunami and nuclear meltdowns, seen through the eyes of witnesses and victims – from the mother patiently excavating the mud and debris left by the tsunami as she looked for the remains of her daughter, to the prime minister of the day, Naoto Kan, to the plant director of Fukushima Dai-Ichi and his senior engineers, to the elite firefighters who risked their lives to avert the ultimate nuclear nightmare.
Mark Willacy, the ABC’s North Asia correspondent and one of Australia’s best journalists, has written a masterful and important work. Terrifying, moving and compelling, Fukushima is vital reading, both for our understanding of the destructive power of nature and of the human culpability that could have turned a national disaster into a world-changing cataclysm.
Mark Willacy is the North Asia correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. As the ABC’s Middle East correspondent in 2003, he won a Walkley Award for his coverage of the Iraq War. He won a second Walkley for his coverage of the 2011 Japan tsunami and nuclear disasters. In 2010 Mark was awarded the Eureka Prize for exposing corruption inside Japan’s whaling program and that same year was named Queensland Journalist of the Year. His previous book is The View From the Valley of Hell: Four Years in the Middle East. Mark has reported from more than 30 countries for the ABC. He lives in Tokyo with his family.