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Norio Kimura, 48, remembers a day during the summer of 2010 when he and his daughter Yuna, who had just started school, were part of a group pulling a fishing net to land in a ceremony for the start of the fishing season. They caught a lot of surf clams and rays. That night, Kimura and the rest of his family sat at their dinner table and enjoyed their catch. But Kimura can never experience that happiness again.
The tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake took away Yuna, as well as Kimura's wife Miyuki and his father Wataro. Police halted their search for disaster victims for over a month after an evacuation order was given for Kimura's town of Okuma following the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster. The bodies of Miyuki and Wataro were later recovered, but Yuna remains unaccounted for.
This January, I met Kimura for the first time in two years in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture, where he now lives. He looked like he had a few more wrinkles than last time. His 75-year-old mother was continuing to live in Fukushima Prefecture, in temporary housing, and Kimura is now only living with his other, 13-year-old daughter. In Kimura's living room was an efficient wood-fire stove. It warmed the room through burning a small amount of firewood, and its heat can be used for cooking as well. Electricity-consuming heating or cooking appliances were nowhere to be seen.
"No one has taken responsibility for the (nuclear) accident, and people are trying to restart nuclear power plants like nothing happened," says Kimura. "I want to continue this quiet resistance." His lifestyle, it seems, was a product of his hatred of nuclear power.
Before we left, Kimura told me he wanted to show me something. He dug out a small box from the snow at the remains of his house. Inside were mud-stained children's shoes and a cap, as well as a P.E. uniform with Yuna's name stitched on it. They were the results so far of his search, treasures that Kimura stores in the box.