Summary and Thoughts on “Rokkashomura Rhapsody” by Kamanaka Hitomi

The film sets in Rokkashomura in Aomori Ken, where they have built a nuclear reprocessing fuel plant. This fuel reprocessing plant built by Nihon Genen is used to recycle nuclear power by removing plutonium from used nuclear power fuel. This has only been attempted in Japan. The documentary shows us the various lives of the people that live in Rokkashomura and how they are coping with the new nuclear reprocessing plant. One of the people that were shown in the film is a lady that had moved into Rokkashomura, taking after her parents’ farm and pursues her activism in order to stop the reprocessing plant. She grows tulips and other plants to help raise awareness of what Rokkashomura still has to offer. She even held a farmers market and told each customer “these maybe the last organic plants you can buy without any radiation”.

This fuel reprocessing plant has divided Rokkashomura into people for and against the building and usage of the plant. One person for the plant is the Mayor of Rokkashomura. He states at a village meeting that “Reprocessing may become the dream energy of Japan” as he believes in the economic wealth the plant would bring into his village. While an opposing village lady speaks out that “radiation is much worse than war”, it seems that the majority of the citizens that are not fighting against the plant is because they believe it is too late to stop the plant. At the time the documentary was being filmed the plant was still in its process of being built. Yet many people already worked for the plant, helping the creation of the plant and believed it was too late to stop the process from reversing.

The political pressure put upon the residences of the village was also well portrayed in the film. Basically it seemed that the government and of course the nuclear energy company wanted to build the reprocessing plant, selling its good points that it will be ‘safe’ and that it will create many new jobs in the area. Many of the villagers sold out to this idea as they were having a hard time finding jobs, and needed side with the government to be able to receive job opportunities for their children. One major group of the citizens of Rokkashomura that had power over this dilemma was the fishermen. Apparently if the fishermen did not agree to the plant, then they could not finish building the plant or start the nuclear testings. Most fisherman decided to give up their pride, boats, and their history to the nuclear plant as they received monetary rewards to allow the plant to continue its course. As soon as all the fishermen signed away, a pipe was created to leak wastes into the sea. The political pressure is seen especially with the introduction to one fisherman, Mr. Sakai, who protested the plant. He eventually received backlash from his protest, that he had to leave the village. Others that were against the plant at first, were eventually “crushed one by one by power and money”. Without the cultivating industry, these fishermen and their children look to the power plant company for jobs.
What surprised me most was the amount of exploitation Nihon Gennen was using to take advantage of these unaware, uneducated (about nuclear power plants) people of Rokkashomura. They basically were brain washing, manipulating their data and information that were given to the public. Mr. Ueno, a worker at the plant proudly spoke of how “safe” the plant was, and that the radiation the workers are exposed to are always measured by their badges. He spoke of the two different types of masks they use to not allow the radiation to enter their bodies, and how well everything was run. The interviewer asked Mr. Ueno if he ever gets check ups to see his radiation exposure level, and to that he frankly replied that he has not and there was no need to because the plant told them the badge is accurate. Another scene of their exploitation was well apparent from the scene that showed that Nihon Genen holds festivals every year for the people of the village. This festival introduces more ideas about the plant while giving everyone free food and music. One girl hired by Nihon Genen were telling young children of the village about the cute Nihon Genen Mascot. Just because a doll is cute and friendly, does not always mean what it symbolizes and stands for is cute or friendly. Even the president of a construction company, Mr. Okayama, believes the reprocessing plant will be safe. When asked why he believes this, he states that he has done much reading about the plant as Nihon Gennen has provided him with a lot of information. What surprises me is that even people like Mr. Okayama with so much power , money, and a lot of education, he too sold out to Nihon Gennen with merely reading the information that was provided to him by the plant. He and everyone else that saw the plant safe had failed to see experimental data of the safety of the plant provided by unbiased, credible parties beyond Nihon Gennen.

Now nuclear tests are being done, and the people of Rokkashomura must face exposure to radiation day to day, and the possibility of an explosion as well. I feel that what needs to be done to help stop this nuclear reprocessing plant, is for third party supporters to get into action. Third party companies need to help sponsor the village’s safety by experimentation of how dangerous the plant really is. The village needs a way to find jobs beyond the plant, so that they do not blindly vote for the plant out of default. Rokkashomura needs more awareness as this director has already started.The people of Rokkashomura need to get help from the outside so that the people of the village can make unbiased judgments of what they must face in their future. I enjoyed the film and thank Kamanakasan for bringing awareness to our school.

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2 Responses to Summary and Thoughts on “Rokkashomura Rhapsody” by Kamanaka Hitomi

  1. […] by students at the University of Chicago “Popular Culture In/Out of Japan” blog here and here (and with its own […]

  2. aziz says:

    This movie enlightened me of so many plights of the common man that are so crucial. Loved the movie and very sad to see what is happening.

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