Fukushima 50 is an upcoming film based on the non-fiction book On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Japanese journalist Ryūshō Kadota. It will be released sometime in 2020.
The film will discuss the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster that occurred after the 9.0 magnitude Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 which stands as the largest ever earthquake recorded in Japanese history.
The film’s title refers to the pseudonym given by the media to the 50 employees that remained on the site after the nuclear power plant disaster. It will show the reality that the group faced that only they knew from being inside the plant and in the face of death.
It was revealed today that the United States Armed Forces (USAF) is involved with the shooting of the film, making it their first ever time being featured in a Japanese film. When the incident took place back in 2011, the USAF launched “Operation Tomodachi” to provide disaster relief to Japan. On January 28 this year, the first ever movie shoot took place at Yokota Air Base, a joint air base between the USAF and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), for Fukushima 50.
Various locations across the air base were used to film scenes, such as a war council room, and a real UH-1 helicopter was flown for a scene in which the USAF heads towards Tohoku to lend support. Permission was required from the United States Department of Defense (the Pentagon) for the shoot, but because there has been no such negotiations in the Japanese film industry before, it was initially rejected. But thanks to help and cooperation from associates in the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo, who were able to demonstrate that the film would be portraying actual soldiers in the US military who were involved with Operation Tomodachi, and after long negotiations about ensuring security on the US side, permission was finally granted.
Daniel Kahl, an American TV personality in Japan, will play the part of Johnny, a military officer of the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base. Johnny has connections to Fukushima, and viewers will get to see a more serious Daniel Kahn in action. A multitude of real US military officers will also feature as extras at the base.
To recreate the scene in which the Japanese prime minister at that time went on an emergency visit to Fukushima Daiichi aboard the Japanese Self-Defense Force helicopterーone for transporting officialsーthe Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma will be used, a helicopter that is normally used for transporting national and international people of great importance, such as those in the Japanese imperial family and the prime minister.
There is also a scene with the CH-47JA which was used for hosing down the tops of buildings. The scene will feature actual team members who were part of that operation at the time.
The production team have gone all out to make the film as faithful a realistic recreation as possible, including the set such as the Fukushima Daiichi central control room, the disaster prevention office and more. The team hope to showcase to the world what actually happened during this global disaster.
Daniel Khan expressed his gratitude to everyone involved in the film, and extended his thanks to all of the active military members who featured as extras in the film. He also spoke about how much fun he had on set, as well as it having been a valuable experience for him after people were kind enough to answer any questions he had. Since the disaster, Khan has made countless trips to Tohoku to listen to people’s stories.
The USAF also released a statement on the video shoot, stating how despite it being under difficult circumstances, the troops worked hard so that they could be involved.
© 2020 “Fukushima 50” Production Committee
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Based On: On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryūshō Kadota
Distribution: Shochiku Company Limited, KADOKAWA
Official Website: fukushima50.jp
Kadokawa Pictures Website: https://www.kadokawa-pictures.jp/official/fukushima/