10 Years On: 2011 Disaster Memory Inspires Award-Winning Novel

Society Culture Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 14 (Jiji Press)--The memory of the major natural disaster that struck northeastern Japan 10 years ago and the subsequent nuclear crisis have given birth to many literary works, including a novel that won the U.S. National Book Award for Translated Literature.

"Tokyo Ueno Station" by Miri Yu was created from the author's experience of repeatedly visiting Fukushima Prefecture, one of the three prefectures hit hardest by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, and huge tsunami unleashed by the temblor, and also home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where an unprecedented triple reactor meltdown occurred.

On April 21, 2011, Yu traveled to Fukushima from her home in the city of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, after hearing that people would be barred from entering within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant.

The news reminded her of Lake Tadami in a mountainous area in the prefecture, which she visited with her mother when she was a child. Yu's mother, who spent her adolescent years in the town of Tadami, repeatedly told Yu about the community that used to be located at what is now the bottom of the manmade lake. "I learned about the sorrows of people who had to leave their homes due to a dam being built," she said. "I thought that while I can't walk the bottom of the lake, I can still enter the 20-kilometer area."

After visiting Fukushima multiple times, she was contacted by a temporary FM radio station set up for disaster news in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima. Yu then became the host of a radio program from March 2012 in which she talked with two locals. Yu, who moved to Minamisoma three years later, talked with some 600 people on her program until the radio station was closed in March 2018.

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