Local News

September 1, 2013

Filmmaker documents unseen threat

PLATTSBURGH — Ian Thomas Ash is a hero in Japan and elsewhere.

The filmmaker demurs and places the mantle on Japanese citizens in the two documentaries he filmed in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

In 2012, Ash released “In the Grey Zone,” a post-meltdown doc about Japanese children’s return to school and their life in the radiation zone of Minamisōma, located between 20 and 30 kilometers from the damaged plant in Fukushima. At last year’s Rhode Island Film Festival, the film won the Audience Choice First Prize for Best Documentary. Ash was presented with the Filmmaker of the Future Award.

In his new film, “A2-B-C,” Ash turned his lens once again on the children in Fukushima who are experiencing severe nosebleeds, skin rashes, thyroid cysts and nodules. The film’s title “A2-B-C” references the different classifications of thyroid cysts. A-1 means no thyroid cysts. A-2 means a presence of them.

In the film, he also documents parental distrust of government testing of their children and unease of suspect-radioactive decontamination. 

“The question we had: Are these kids going to be OK?,” said Ash, a Watertown native and Tokyo resident. A SUNY Plattsburgh alum, he holds a master’s degree in film and television production from the University of Bristol.

“So I kept filming and documenting what was happening to the children, although I didn’t remain in the same town. I went to other towns as well.”


“In the Grey Zone” was filmed closer to the damaged plant. “A2-B-C” was filmed between 40 and 50 kilometers away.

“It lies right in the path of the radioactive plume. If you see the map of where the radioactive plume went, it went northwest. These towns are farther away from the nuclear plant, but they are actually contaminated with higher levels of radiation. So because they are farther away, they were not in the original evacuation zone,” said Ash, who returns to Fukushima every month and is working on a third film.

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