It has been over two years since the nuclear power plant in Namie-machi, Fukushima, Japan was crippled by the tsunami triggered by the “Great East Japan Earthquake.” In the aftermath of the nuclear accident on March 2011, all 21,000 residents of the town of Namie-machi were forced to flee their homes.
They are still forbidden to enter the city.
On March 27, the mayor of Namie-machi, Mr. Tamotsu Baba, wrote a guest post on the Official Google blog in which he announced the results of a collaboration with Google to find a way that the citizens of that city, and the world, could get a better sense of the devastating effects the disaster had on the area.
With his cooperation, Google Street View cars drove through Namie-machi, capturing images of the city as it is today, with its shuttered shops and deserted streets. These images of Fukushima Exclusion Zone Town Namie-machi are now available on Google Maps.
|One image shared on the Official Google Blog on 3.27.13|
The mayor posted several images and commented on their significance. He also wrote, “Ever since the March disaster, the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still. With the lingering nuclear hazard, we have only been able to do cursory work for two whole years. We would greatly appreciate it if you viewed this Street View imagery to understand the current state of Namie-machi and the tremendous gravity of the situation…We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster…Finally, I want to make a renewed commitment to recovering from the nuclear hazard. It may take many years and many people’s help, but we will never give up taking back our hometown.”
Fukushima was not the only region in Japan to sustain severe damage from the earthquake and tsunami. At the Memories for the Future Project site it is possible to view “before” and “after” photos of a number of places throughout Japan. When the people fled these areas they left behind their homes and most possessions, including cherished photos and videos. The Memories for the Future Project was established in order to help people “rediscover lost memories of their homes and towns.”
These images are powerful reminders of the horrific consequences when the forces of man and nature collide.