Kikujiro Fukushima
2012, Sep 10
Japan’s most radical photographer is 90 years old

This is a trailer for a documentary about the photographer¬†Kikujiro Fukushima, who has a long history of politically-involved photography in Japan’s post-war period. Here is a rough translation of the text in the YouTube description:

Rebellious post-war photographer, Kikuji Fukushima, 90 years old. His career started in 1966, shooting photographs in Hiroshima, and he continued to point his lens towards the upheaval of the post-war period: the atomic bomb aftermath, Sanrizuka, Anpo Protests, Todai Protests, etc. His goal is to communicate the truth through his photographs. He once infiltrated and photographed¬†Japan’s Self-Defense Forces; after the publication of these photos, he was beaten by thugs and his house was set on fire. Still, he continued to photograph. He estimates that he has taken around 250,000 photographs up until now. “The entirety of Japan is basically a lie,” he says. He refuses to accept a government pension, and lives together with his dog. In the middle of this quiet existence, he naturally continues to raise questions about modern Japan. Just at the time he was beginning to relate his “last testament” towards Japanese people (in the form of this documentary), the Tohoku Earthquake broke out. After the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, Kikujiro Fukushima decided to make his last trip to demand the truth…

Here are some of Fukushima’s quotes from the trailer:

“For a photographer, it doesn’t matter if you are against the law” (0:10)

“I want to stir up what’s kept hidden.” (0:38)

“It’s our job to photograph, so, uh, sorry!” (1:26, my favorite)

It should not come as a surprise that the older generation is the leading the way with politically-concerned photographs in the wake of the 3/11 disaster. There are many reasons that the younger generation has avoided making this kind of work, and I can’t begin to tackle them seriously here. (I can’t say I know all the reasons, in any case…) Still, we can now pose the question that I can’t get out of my head: why is it that, after producing a generation of radical photographers in the 1960s, contemporary Japanese photographers have almost completely lost any sense of political responsibility in their work???


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3/11 Earthquake, Kikujiro Fukushima

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