Bikini Diaries 2016-
A documentary project “Bikini Diaries” depicts invisible victims of Bikini nuclear testing in 1954. 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, approximately 10,000 Japanese fisherman were exposed by nuclear explosion which was caused by the US government in Bikini Atoll. However, modern Japanese history had only recognised 26 fishermen as the victim of nuclear explosion who were crew of Daigo Fukuryu Maru(Lucky Dragon) and first landed Tokyo bay until very recently.
The crew of Daigo Fukuryu Maru was front page of Japanese main newspaper and Japanese media reported their health condition everyday. Many suffered acute radiation damage and radio operator Mr. Kuboyama died 6 months after the nuclear testing. At the same time, food contamination by radiation(especially fish) became main concern in Japan. The rain included radio active elements fall to Japan and those situations caused huge anti-nuclear demonstration as well as anti-U.S. movement in mid 50’s. Japanese government recognised those 10,000 victims but ignored them not to pay more attention to this issue.
In 1955, under the circumstances of the Cold War and anti U.S. movement, Japanese and American governments launched a huge pro-nuclear energy campaign which included, ironically, a pro-nuclear exhibition in the Peace Museum in Hiroshima in 1956, the museum founded to commemorate the victims of the first nuclear bomb ever used, in 1945. All exhibition about tragedy of atomic bomb was replaced by advanced technology of nuclear industry. This exhibition had traveled main part of Japan for 2 years. More than 2 million had visited the exhibition. U.S. and Japanese government paid compensation for those 26 fishermen and gave specific health care, though the others didn’t get any compensation. Huge anti-movement had shrunk slowly but surely.
Most of those 10,000 fisherman had kept silent to avoid social discrimination as HIBAKUSHA. And they had to work, because consumption of fish in Japan decreased rapidly after nuclear testing. Some went back to Bikini Island for fishing and exposed by radiation again indirectly through the environment after the test.
In 2014, some confidential documents which were already disclosed in early 90’s were shed light on by Japanese media and existence of those 10, 000 fisherman were revealed. Obara researched the family of those victims in 2016 and attempted to trace the memories of one of the unspoken tragedy through fisherman’s daughter story.
Obara used the old camera(RICHO FLEX) which was purchased in 1955 by the fisherman(the father). The lens was covered with mold and broken. Obara fixed this camera but didn’t clean up the lens. This lens created main images of this project and Obara traced his footsteps with his camera. Those whitish images are also reminded him “cataracts” which was one of main symptoms of those fisherman who were exposed by radiation.
He acquired family photos, documents from the period, and documentation from the Pro Nuclear Energy Fair in Hiroshima. These elements are combined to form a unique and in-depth research into the long-lasting effects of nuclear radiation.
The project was supported by Festival Photoreporter(France) in 2016 and exhibited at Festival Photoreporter, Saint-Brieuc, France in 2016.