Editor’s Note: Japan is struggling to define its future energy policy. The island nation is at a crossroads. Political sentiment following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami is moving it away from its once heralded nuclear power program. Like Hawaii, efforts to boost renewable energy are in high gear. Civil Beat’s Joe Rubin is in the country on an international journalism fellowship to learn how Hawaii could benefit from Japan’s intensive program to harness renewable energy.

After coming back from an exclusive tour of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, Joe filed this video essay. He was one of a handful of journalists allowed into the plant for a tour organized by Japan’s Foreign Ministry. This was only the third time international journalists have allowed to visit the plant since the disaster and the first visit in nearly a year.

Joe was granted extrordinary access, touring one of the reactor buildings damaged in an explosion, seeing first hand the control room which monitors the heat and radiation levels and talking with workers at the plant. He left with profound feelings of empathy for the 3,000 workers performing dangerous contamination work.

Photos that appear in the video were taken by Jürgen Döschner.

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