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Ken Watanabe to star in 'Fukushima 50' film on disaster workers

Ken Watanabe, left, and Koichi Sato respond to questions at a press conference to promote the film "Fukushima 50" in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on April 17, 2019. (Mainichi/Yoshiaki Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- Actor Ken Watanabe will star in the "Fukushima 50" film depicting workers at the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station who struggled with the 2011 meltdowns that is set to be released next year.

The movie's title comes from the name used by the foreign media when covering the 50 or so workers who stayed on at the plant building to tackle the meltdowns caused by the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.

The original story comes from a nonfiction book based on the verbal evidence of people involved in countermeasures for the meltdowns written by Ryusho Kadota with the translated title "On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi."

The main character is Masao Yoshida, the then head of the power station, played by Watanabe. The role of the shift supervisor who supported Yoshida is played by Koichi Sato. The two actors appeared at a press conference in Tokyo to promote the film on April 17 with Watanabe commenting, "The movie is not about arguing the rights and wrongs of nuclear power. I hope the film will help younger generations ponder the future."

The film is directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu and is produced and distributed by KADOKAWA. A staff member of the film company said, "Many of the workers were from Fukushima Prefecture and have families. We created the film to pass down their feelings to future generations."

KADOKAWA is also considering releasing the movie abroad.

(Japanese original by Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Cultural News Department)

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