In the 160-centimeter-tall, 36-kilogram frame of 92-year-old Kikujiro Fukushima burns a journalistic passion.
I first visited Fukushima at his house in Yanai, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in the summer of 2007. At the time, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was serving his first term, was touting his "beautiful country" slogan. That same summer, the defense minister resigned after implying that the atomic bombing of Japan was inevitable.
I remember Fukushima angrily saying at the time that if those in power imposed their self-righteous values on the people, Japan would return to a path of mistakes.
Since then, every time I have met Fukushima, his words have made me think.
"If you hide in safety in the name of impartiality of the press, you will not learn the truth," he once said to me. On another occasion he told me, "If you don't go to the site of an event and face the people involved, you can't take any pictures, or write an article that will touch people."
Fukushima previously worked as a photographer, but he traded in his camera for the written word, and went on to release three books on postwar Japan. Eventually he retired from the world of journalism, but that was before the disasters of March 2011 reignited his journalistic desire. Worried that "the mistakes of Hiroshima would be repeated," he headed to Fukushima Prefecture accompanied by younger photographers.
In the disaster-hit prefecture, the same kinds of tragedies that had plagued the Hiroshima victims he talked to had resurfaced: farmers robbed of the land passed down from their ancestors, people worried about the effects of radiation on their children and grandchildren and the discrimination that could arise.
Now the fall of 2013 has arrived, and a second Abe administration, this time proposing the creation of a "strong country," has been born. Lies and cover-ups about the Fukushima nuclear disaster have come to light, and a push to restart the country's idled nuclear reactors continues.
When I visited Fukushima's home again, I found him sitting at his desk.
"Both this word processor and I are nearing the end of our lives. I always start out with a prayer that it will run properly," he said.
"What's most important is to not ignore things that are troublesome or inconvenient, to think for yourself, and to start from where you can," he told me. He added that he wanted to protest against the pro-nuclear stance.
"I want to live a little longer and write a book linking Fukushima and Hiroshima," he said. "There are still things I have left to write." (By Shinya Hagio, City News Department)