Nuclear Cattle 邦題:被ばく牛と生きる

This is the story of innocent cattle farmers forced from the hills they’ve called home for decades due to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

!! Grand Prix of Human Documentary Film Festival 2016, Abeno, Osaka !!

!! Award of Excellence of Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards 2016  !!


Year: 2016

Duration: 98 min. for Cinema , 52 min. for TV
Production format: Digital, HD
Sound format: Stereo

Location: Fukushima
Language: Japanese with subtitle in English
Genres: Nuclear disaster, Human documentary, Environment

Production company: Power-i Inc.
Director: Tamotsu Matsubara

製作年: 2016

尺: 100 分
フォーマット: HD
音声: ステレオ

ロケーション: Fukushima
言語: English
ジャンル: Nuclear disaster, Human documentary, Environment

製作会社: Power-i Inc.
監督: Tamotsu Matsubara

About this film

After occurring the nuclear accident, an area within 14 miles of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was designated as the No-entry zone. Japanese government notified each prefecture to treat all of cattle by killing in the area after two months. It is so as not to make distribute contaminated meat by radiation. Farmers couldn’t help but obeyed national policy having to live with it because they were forced to evacuate the area and couldn’t make any prediction for tomorrow.
However, some cattle ranchers who can’t accept the situation and have fed cows without taking care of their own exposure appeared. A farmer have still lived in a banned area against living in, another frequents from temporary housing 50 miles away from there in Nihonmatsu once two days.
A combined team of universities that monitors health damages of exposed cows started to work, also. The theme of study is the world’s first low dose exposure of large animal. However, this is a country that immediately wants to wipe out scars of the accident although it was a terrible disaster depends on a national policy. They don’t cooperatively work even for a research that appears to be valuable for mankind. Then, unknown white spots emerged from exposed cows the following year of occurring the accident.
A farmer that supposed it is a mutation arisen from radiation went to Kasumigaseki, Tokyo bringing it out at the risk of getting arrested. Farmers that don’t accept disposal by killing cows came to be bothersome against the government. As time goes by, dropout farmers came to appear, too. It is a heart breaking story about ways of farmers who have fed cows without economic values even though their land and work were got away.


Production Note

We started to gather information in Fukushima from June, 2011. At the same time, we proposed this project to NHK(Japanese broadcasting station) or oversea broadcasting station, but we couldn’t get funds for this. I and a camera operator had frequented between Osaka and Fukushima as a round trip of 1,200 miles, we had tracked No-entry zone risking to be exposed after getting permissions of entering into No-entry zone. We totally visited to Fukushima 38 times, and the total number of days in covering was 82 days.
Director edited huge recording tape over 600 hours with my own hands in 6 months. Getting much help with volunteers such translators or narrators, this film reached completion in July, 2016.

First example of research on contaminated cattle in the world

The cattle farmers believe strongly the remaining cows can be used for research and is enough of a reason for the cattle to continue to live. One farmer takes an hour long journey from his temporary home every other day to care for the exposed cattle. One of these farms is Watanabe Ranch, Namie town, which experiences 20 micro sievert per hour, at 7 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, a location which may be off limits for the next 100 years. Because the radiation levels are so high in this area, a human exposed to 3 or more hours per day in this location will exceed the government standards for annual safe levels of radiation for an individual. Even so, members continue to visit these locations and care for the cattle. After losing their homes, family members, and jobs, caring for the cattle is all that they have left. This has become their life, without the cattle they may end up in severe depression or even commit suicide as many other have done.

The exposed cattle are no longer profitable for they cannot be sold. To continue raising a single cow, approximately 2000 dollars will be spent yearly. Yet, rather than kill the cattle, they hope they can be used for some other purpose, a purpose that can keep them alive. After long and hard negotiations, the government permitted the cattle to live, however, stating that they will not support these farmers in any way. The cattle are not merely considered a source of income for the farmers. Cattle are raised lovingly, given much love and care until the day for slaughter arrives. Until that day, the cattle are almost like family, and are a great part of who and what the cattle farmer stands for.

Unidentified white spots appearing on the cattle

2 years since the nuclear power plant accident, in 2013, unidentified spots have appeared on some of the cattle. However white spots appearing on this species of cattle is not at all rare, a condition coming from their DNA. However Yoshizawa has never seen these white spots before, which are unusually small. He took advantage of this, claiming the white spots are caused by the radiation, to use as a weapon against the government. On the other hand, Professor Okada of Iwate University is uncertain that the cause of these spots are in fact radiation. Professor Okada expressed concern to Yoshizawa stating that the spots are caused by the radiation from the nuclear accident, even though more research is required to prove this. Yoshizawa is acting out of blind rage, using everything he can as a weapon to further his fight with the government. These differences led to Professor Okada and his research team splitting from Yoshizawa.
Finally he took a cow with white spots from the dead zone to Tokyo , this is prohibited.

The effects of radiation on the cattle so far

Professors Okada and researches who specialize in animal research gathered to start their research on the contaminated cattle. Recently, the researches announced that 3-6 months of clean/uncontaminated water, feed, and air rid the meat of 99% of the radiation, clearing the standards for safe meat. On the other hand, research has also shown that the radiation causes permanent damage to the host as well, greatly increasing the chance of thyroid cancer among these cattle. The same effects on the thyroid of children are being observed in Fukushima as well, however the government is desperately trying to hide this fact.
The effects of continuous amounts of low radiation on the body is an unexplored topic. The Fukushima radiation spill is very different from Chernobyl for a number of reasons. 1. The residents of Fukushima were evacuated immediately after the disaster. 2. The citizens of Chernobyl continued to consume contaminated milk and produce for a long period of time. The data on the effects of radiation on the citizens of Chernobyl are far worse comparable to Fukushima, says Professor Okada. The effects of low doses of radiation on small organisms like bugs can be seen easily, however the effects on large mammals are not so easy to spot.  Low doses of radiation, although continuous, may not pose as much threat to the human body as previously thought. Research on this has never been done before, and Fukushima has proven to be the perfect chance to continue research on this topic.
Without support from the government, the budget is not flexible and they are struggling to gather money to feed the cattle and continue their research. 6 years since the disaster, many of these farmers started dropping out,  prioritizing their livelihood over their cattle. However,  a select number of farmers still continue to fight for their cattle, never losing their resolve to keep their cattle alive.

Profile of Director / Tamotsu Matsubara
Producer and director Tamotsu Matsubara with 30 years Documentary and media experience is president of the company. He has been reporting on the situation in post-tsunami Fukushima since May 2011. He was particularly moved by the thousand-year-old Samurai festival “Soma Nomaoi”. The invincible samurai spirit of the survivors and their struggle to pass on the legacy of their forefathers was captured in the documentary “Samurai of Fukushima,” a joint production with the History Channel that was aired throughout Asia on New Year’s Eve 2013.
He started filming Nuclear Cattle in 2011. This Documentary is a culmination of 5 years hard work. The aim was to film the farmers day-to-day trials and tribulations and follow them as they make the do-or-die decisions that will change their lives for good or bad forever.