Who can forget the deadly combination of Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear meltdowns that Fukushima (Japan) went through on 11 March 2011. When I read about the incidents in Newspaper, later in IEEE Spectrum magazine a detailed coverage of engineering problems that occurred there I was shell shocked – first for the nice people of Japan, a country that I admire and love visiting; second for my own safety if a similar incident happens in India.
This movie “The Seal of the Sun (2016)” aka Taiyôu no futa screened today in Palazzo as part of Chennai International Film Festival, was all about what happened immediately after the Earthquake and the next 3 days in the offices of then Prime Minister of Japan Mr.Naoto Kan. Told mainly from the view of a journalist it has tried to remove the lid of the secrecy surrounding the shabby handling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the power plant by it’s private owner TEPCO.
As soon as the Tsunami hits taking the backup power at the nuclear plant offline the team in PMO realises the cooling system at the reactors won’t be working and if they don’t get a generator there to start immediately they risk of a nuclear meltdown. Getting the national Army to help they manage to airlift to the plant a backup power generator only to be told by the plant operator that the generator’s power plug is incompatible to one at the power plant, hearing this the Prime Minister reacts by saying isn’t TEPCO supposed to be an electrical company!. On the second day when the first reactor exploded the PMO learnt about the incident only by watching media coverage on TV, such was the poor communication the national government was getting from the operator of the plant (TEPCO), showing their utter disregard for public safety and disclosure. On day 3 fed up by not having a direct knowledge of what’s happening at the plant, the Prime Minister had to barge into TEPCO’s headquarters only to discover they have live video coverage of everything that was happening at the plant.
While TEPCO’s bosses went lying about the safety of Fukushima plant for years and during the incident, the movie also shows the honesty and loyalty of the average worker in Japan which the country is famous for. One young worker in the plant who was on off-duty voluntarily goes to the plant to help even while Government was warning and evacuating his family away. Brilliant acting by all the actors, the music was exceptional setting the mood appropriately for every scene.
Living in Chennai a city which has a nuclear power plant (Kalpakkam) 70kms to its south, I can’t help feeling scared – if the disciplined Japanese had failed so badly with the safety processes Indians have little to feel hopeful about. This film is a must watch for everyone who cares for humanity and its future.
Also published on Medium.