In 2011, Japan was rocked by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, sparking a huge tsunami and devastating much of the country.
In Fukushima prefecture, this was only the beginning, as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant began to meltdown, prompting a nuclear emergency and the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
Five years later, many of those people have still been unable to return home. Some live in temporary housing units just outside the exclusion zone, cramped into tiny prefab buildings only designed to last up to 24 months. Others have resettled elsewhere in Japan, giving up any hope they had of returning to their former homes.
TEPCO, which operates the Fukushima nuclear plant, estimates cleanup and recovery may not be finished until 2050.
Maki Yokota, 30, and Sora Yokota, 8
Maki: “I want to go back to my beloved hometown, but we can’t, there is too much radiation. Futaba town is my children’s birthplace, it is sad we are not able to live there anymore.”
Sora: “I’ve always watched the train pass by my old house. I want to go back and go to school and be with my friends again.”
Soichi Saito, 65
“I’m still hoping, although I know in reality we will not be able to return. The Japanese government told us the nuclear power plant would be a good thing for us. But once disaster struck, they didn’t know how to deal with it. I’m sad. I’m empty.”
Setsuko Matsumoto, 65
“I live alone now. (My family) all live in different places. Before the disaster, we all lived in Futaba town within walking distance of each other. We are not easily able to see each other anymore.”
Ko Tanaka, 88
“I live by myself, apart from my son and his children who I used to live with. I would rather live in the temporary housing complex, closer to my hometown, (than move away). I want to be near my old friends and neighbors while I’m still healthy.”
Eiko Hasegawa, 90
“My family fell apart, they all live in different places now. I wish I could return home while I alive, but I know I can’t. I have to accept my fate. I prefer to stay here (in the temporary housing complex) with other people evacuated from Futaba.”