See Illicit Photos of Fukushima’s Harrowing Nuclear Aftermath

The Malaysian photographer snuck in to photograph the aftermath.

Shoe stall in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.
Shoe stall in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

On March 11, 2011, a nuclear power plant in Fukushima was devastated by the most powerful earthquake Japan has ever sustained, resulting in a level 7 meltdown that forced hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate. Today, the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the power plant has been cordoned off, turning Okuma and its neighboring communities into ghost towns.

Nuclear power plants of Japan. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Nuclear power plants of Japan. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Keow Wee Loong, a Malaysian photographer based in Bangkok, recently paid a visit to the site. But after authorities told him that a special permit would be needed to explore the area, Loong eschewed the bureaucratic measure and decided to jump the gate. His photographs of the red zone in Namie, a small town in the Futaba district of Japan, offer a glimpse into the harrowing aftermath of the nuclear disaster.

“When I entered the red zone, I can feel a burning sensation in my eyes and a thick chemical smell in the air,” Loong details in a Facebook post. He continued: “The radiation level is still very high in the red zone. Many people [haven’t] seen this town for the last 5 years…I’m amazed that nobody looted this town clean.”

Given the extreme conditions, one wonders how the photographer factored in the obvious health risks of the venture. Indeed, photos show him and his companion sporting hazmat masks.

Guided by a map provided by his friend Sherena Ng, Loong’s excursion took him to dilapidated structures, abandoned homes, disheveled supermarkets, and empty streets where traffic lights still work. As the photographer notes: “Radioactive waste can be found everywhere in the exclusion zone.”

See his images below:

CD shop in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

CD shop in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Laundromat in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Laundromat in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Supermarket in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Supermarket in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Supermarket in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Supermarket in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Bookstore in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Bookstore in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Collapsed building in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Collapsed building in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Collapsed buildings in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Collapsed buildings in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Abandoned home in the yellow zone. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Abandoned home in the yellow zone. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Flower shop in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.

Flower shop in Fukushima. Courtesy of Keow Wee Loong.


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