The documentary film "Nippon no Uso" (JAPAN LIES --- The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90 --- ) closely follows Kikujiro Fukushima between 2009 and 2011 and provides insight into the life of the legendary photojournalist. Based on Fukushima’s 250,000 photos and his own experiences, the film shows the little-known side of Japan’s postwar path. Directed by Saburo Hasegawa and produced by Documentary Japan, the film is scheduled to be released on Aug. 4 in Tokyo. For details, check the film’s website at http://bitters.co.jp/nipponnouso/.
Saburo Hasegawa directed the film “Nippon no Uso” (JAPAN LIES --- The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90 ---). He joined Tsuburaya Productions, a film production company, after graduating from Hosei University, and was involved in the production of many films, dramas and commercials, mainly for special effects. In 1996, Hasegawa joined the film company Documentary Japan and made an impressive debut as a director with “Time of Life--Seishun Uyoku-seinen Nijyuni-sai (Time of Life -- Adolescence Rightwing Youth, 22). He later directed many programs for NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) and commercial TV broadcasters, as well as documentaries, including “Uchusen Chikyu-go" (Spaceship Earth), “Gaia-no Yoake" (Daybreak of Gaia) and “Kagai Jyugyo Yokoso Senpai" (Extracurricular Lesson, Welcome Alumnus).
After taking 250,000 photos over the years, including many of atomic bomb survivors, Fukushima’s professional journey is still not over. Although he knows his career is nearing its end, Fukushima Prefecture--site of the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl--weighs heavily on his mind, and he continues to seek the truth about Hiroshima and Fukushima. He is now writing a book titled, “Postwar Japan that was not photographed: From Hiroshima to Fukushima.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Fukushima told Hasegawa: “Without knowing anything about the atomic bomb survivors, people’s discriminatory feelings against them had developed.” Hasegawa responded: “It will probably be repeated here in Fukushima. With the notion being spread that people’s genes were severely damaged, people are saying things like high school students here will never be able to get married or they cannot give birth.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
With the support of his friends and others, he traveled to Fukushima Prefecture and visited Kenichi Hasegawa in Iitate.
But when he first heard about the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the photographer could not remain idle.

However, his self-sufficient life on the island ended after about two years. His daily hard labor took a toll on his health, and in 1987, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. To cap his long professional career, he held photo exhibitions in more than 160 cities across the country on the theme: the emperor’s war responsibility.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
In 1982, when the nation was entering the asset-inflated bubble economy, Fukushima, then 62, moved to an uninhabited island in Yamaguchi Prefecture. He decided to leave Tokyo after realizing he could no longer support himself as a photographer because the mass media were distancing themselves from anti-establishment photographers and shunning their photos. He felt disappointed with the “corrupt” social conditions.
When the shacks were removed in the 1970s, the homes of Koreans were the first ones to be destroyed--and they had no say in the matter. The slum areas, once called a “disgrace to Hiroshima,” were later turned into green zones. Fukushima says: “These areas were not a disgrace to Hiroshima; the real disgrace was the fact that the so-called peace-loving Hiroshima discriminated against the impoverished people who lived there.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Over the years, many buildings were constructed in Hiroshima, and the scars of the tragedy seemed to have been erased on the surface. Once-impoverished areas of the city filled with shacks were referred to as “atomic bomb slums.” Many of the inhabitants in those areas survived on welfare, and one-third of them were atomic bomb survivors. A Korean survivor who was taken to Japan against her will and whose husband died after the bombing told Fukushima: “I want to see a doctor, but I can’t because I am not covered by health insurance. When I applied for medical insurance for atomic bomb survivors at the local government office, I was snubbed because I am a Korean.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
The SDF has been gradually accepted by society and gained the understanding of the public. Nowadays, few people feel “allergic” to the existence of the SDF.
Fukushima's Nikon F

After his coverage of the SDF, Fukushima was attacked and injured by an unknown assailant. His house was set on fire, but his daughter went back inside to retrieve his many negatives, saving her father’s professional work.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Fukushima has been unwavering in his beliefs as a photographer: You must not violate laws but if the subject matter itself is illegal, then the photographer should go ahead and photograph it--even if it means breaking the law--because that is what is required of a photographer.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Just before his SDF-related photos were published, he was confronted by an angry SDF official, who had obtained a copy of his article: “Explain this. How could you double-cross us?” Fukushima replied: “I feel bad about it. But if I had told the truth in the first place, you would have never allowed me to enter the facilities. I lied to you to fulfill my responsibility as a photojournalist. Just the fact that you have a military despite the Constitution (which prohibits the existence of military forces) means that you are lying to us.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Fukushima covered drills by the Self-Defense Forces and defense contractors. He was allowed to enter SDF facilities on condition that he not take photos. But he took secret pictures.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Led by university students, demonstrations were held in the late 1960s and early 1970s to protest the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Fukushima was a regular at such rallies to record the moments.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Fukushima covered the so-called Sanrizuka conflict, where farmers and their supporters in Sanrizuka opposed the construction of Narita Airport.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Fukushima says: “If I had never met Nakamura, I would not have been what I am today. He sowed the seeds for me, so to speak, and they had grown into a big tree, meaning that he made me open my eyes to the injustices in society.” Fukushima’s encounter with Nakamura marked the beginning of his long career as a photojournalist who tackled many social issues.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
After hearing about Nakamura’s death, Fukushima visited his house in Hiroshima. When he arrived, Nakamura’s eldest son yelled, “Go home!” Fukushima knew why the son was so upset: He had photographed Nakamura and his family members without paying attention to how this made them feel. The son’s yelling came as a shock and made the photographer reflect on his behavior. Fukushima says he felt more shocked then than the times he was taking Nakamura’s photos. Standing in front of Nakamura’s gravestone, Fukushima asked himself if he had really taken “revenge” for Nakamura by snapping his photos and publishing them. But no answer came back from the grave.
Fukushima says about his photo series of Nakamura, “It is the joint work between Nakamura and me. … Our obsessional tenacity and insanity, so to speak, helped us create the work.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Nakamura died on Jan. 1, 1967, the scars on his thigh symbolizing his hatred of the atomic bombing.
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Around that time, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), jointly run by the United States and Japan, was conducting research on the power of nuclear bombing, the survivors and radiation illnesses. ABCC officials showed up at funerals and carried the bodies to research labs. Nakamura allowed the ABCC to take the body of his wife. The ABCC dissected more than 5,000 bodies for two years from 1948. The results of the extensive research became part of the vast data and reference materials for the U.S. nuclear development program.
Nakamura had cut himself on the thigh thinking that the pain would help him forget the agony and misery of his life.
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Nakamura told Fukushima not to take pictures of the more than 80 scars from razor cuts on the inside of his thigh. But Fukushima kept seeking permission. In the end, Nakamura’s resistance wore down and he let Fukushima have his way.
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Nakamura kept tossing and turning while shouting, “My body is burning and my head is splitting.”

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
After his fishing work was done, an exhausted Nakamura was taken to his house by his fellow fishermen. Although it was in the middle of summer, he complained of bad chills and was shaking, biting the edge of his futon.
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

One day, Nakamura came to Fukushima and broke down in tears: “There is one thing I want you to do for me. Please take revenge for me. Please take my photos. Look at me. This is how I am now because of the atomic bomb attack. I just can’t let myself die like this.”

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Although Nakamura was suffering from radiation illness, he had to work as a fisherman to make ends meet. His wife had just died of radiation illnesses, and he had six children, including infants, to feed.

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
Fukushima tried to photograph a staggering Nakamura from behind. But Nakamura turned around and glared at Fukushima. The photographer recalled: “I just can’t forget the way he looked at me. I had practically frozen and could not bring myself to press the shutter for several years. I just could not get up the courage to photograph him. He did not want to be photographed, either.”
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima
One day, Fukushima became acquainted with Sugimatsu Nakamura, an impoverished and enfeebled survivor of the atomic bombing.
photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

The first subject of Fukushima’s pictures were weeds on the compound of what is now the Atomic Bomb Dome—the only structure that remained standing where the atomic bomb exploded on Aug. 6, 1945.

Born in 1921 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Kikujiro Fukushima came to Tokyo in 1960 and started his career as a professional photographer. The key themes of his career include the nuclear bombings, social and political affairs, military issues and environmental topics. He has published a number of photo collections, including “Atomic Bomb: Record of an Atomic Bomb Survivor,” as well as several essays and commentaries. He does not belong to any political party nor has he any political affiliation. He currently lives in Yanai, Yamaguchi Prefecture, with his dog.
From the documentary film “JAPAN LIES”
In September 2011, six months after the nuclear accident started, Kikujiro Fukushima would find himself frantically pressing the shutter of his camera in a ghost town near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. On other days, he was covering anti-nuclear rallies in Tokyo. Fukushima has witnessed Japan’s path since the end of World War II and has begun speaking about a “postwar Japan that was not captured in his photos.” This special feature depicts the man’s life based on a documentary film, "JAPAN LIES --- The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90 ---", which closely followed Fukushima for two years, describing his own path from Hiroshima to Fukushima Prefecture.

 2011年9月。東日本大震災、福島第一原発事故から半年後、原発反対のデモの先頭で、放射能に汚染されたフクシマのゴーストタウンで、とりつかれたように撮影を続ける男がいた。報道写真家、福島菊次郎、90歳。戦後66年、ずっと日本の戦後を見つめ続けてきた「伝説の写真家」だ。「写真には写らなかった戦後」を「遺言」として語り始めた。これは、福島を2年間撮り続けたドキュメンタリー映画「ニッポンの噓」をもとにまとめた福島菊次郎の歩みである。

From the documentary film “JAPAN LIES”
From the documentary film “JAPAN LIES”
From the documentary film “JAPAN LIES”

When Fukushima first set foot in areas of Fukushima Prefecture designated off-limits, the photographer says he thought to himself: "A tragedy is about to unfold in Fukushima. Something like Hiroshima has happened in a similar way and could be swept under the rug in a similar way."

photo by Kikujiro Fukushima

Fukushima started his career in Hiroshima immediately after the end of World War II. He photographed hibakusha who were “abandoned” by their own government for more than 10 years and uncovered the “hidden side of Hiroshima.” Since then, the central theme of his professional career has been “nuclear.”