Nine years on from the Fukushima disaster, the Tokyo Olympics are giving the crippled region fresh hope
Squatting among the eustoma flowers in his 4,000-square-kilometer greenhouse at Namie, Fukushima, Hiroshi Kawamura cannot take his eyes off the budding plants. In two weeks, his flowers will be sold in Tokyo shops and brighten thousands of the city’s living rooms.
Kawamura has been in the flower business since 2014, three years after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster struck this town on March 11, 2011.
As the ninth anniversary of the tragedy approached, he learned that his flowers will be used in bouquets for medal ceremonies at the Tokyo Olympics.
“It is exciting news that our flowers will be presented to the Olympic medalists,” the 64-year-old said. “It is a positive message for the reconstruction of Namie and other disaster-stricken regions.”
The former welfare worker initially grew vegetables after becoming one of the first groups of locals to return home in 2013. But his produce could not be sold due to radiation concerns, so he began growing flowers.
With five people, including two disabled, working for him, Kawamura hopes that the Olympics will further help the area’s recovery and encourage young people to return.
“For the Olympics, I have to increase the current harvest fourfold so I need to find more people to help me,” he said.