PRI's The World - See Japan's nuclear legacy — from Fukushima to Hiroshima

Ari Beser is a photographer from Baltimore, but his family history connects him to Japan. His grandfather, Jacob Beser, helped drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Listen to the story of Beser's friendship with Keiko Ogura, a Hiroshima survivor.)

In 2011, Beser set out to learn more about the long-term impact of the US nuclear bombings of Japan. But the year he traveled there, a tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant, causing an explosion and meltdown that left much of the area uninhabitable.

His research into both nuclear weapons and nuclear power turned him into an anti-nuclear activist. What follows is a photo essay that documents the effects of both nuclear weapons and nuclear power, through Beser’s eyes.


For me, nuclear weapons and nuclear power are part of the same story. Both have had devastating effects in Japan, causing widespread suffering and devastation.

Six years ago, I set out to share the stories of atomic bomb survivors with young people across the world. But after the tsunami struck Japan, I joined relief efforts, and over time I grew more connected to what happened there.

One part of that disaster remains devastating. A triple nuclear meltdown has created 70,000 nuclear refugees who will never be able to go home in Fukushima. Even as they resettle and lose the legal status “displaced,” their lives will never be the same.

From the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through the fifth anniversary of the nuclear disaster, I have tried to share the stories of people directly affected by nuclear technology. On the Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, I met with numerous survivors of both atomic bombs — and many residents of Fukushima who were forced from their homes. Click on the first Photo to see the rest.