Fukushima photographer’s story, a fake?

  • Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong claims to have snuck into Fukushima exclusion zone to take photos of the abandoned city
  • A Polish photographer lambasted  Loong’s story and called it a “fabrication”
  • Loong stood by his claims and tried to prove his critics wrong

After Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong’s groundbreaking photos in Fukushima’s exclusion zone were published in many major news outlets, a Polish photojournalist accused Loong for lying about the story behind his shots and aims only to sensationalize.

In Arkadiusz Podniesinski’s blog, he labeled Loong as an “attention seeking kid” and claimed his account of ‘illegally’ entering the ‘no-go’ zones is completely fabricated in his effort to get 15 minutes of Internet fame.

He wrote: “His entire text is dishonest, his trip to the no-go zones untrue and the photographs were taken in areas that everyone can access.”

Podniesinski claims to have been a frequent visitor of the Fukushima disaster site himself and was able to identify the locations Loong has visited were in fact in the open ‘green zones’ that does not require special permits for entrance and is accessible to all.

He shared that the towns of Namie and Tomioka have been opened to the public last April after radiation levels went back to normal and increasing numbers of curious tourist have been entering freely.

“One doesn’t need a gas mask there, much less a full-face one. It isn’t necessary to hide from the police or hike through the woods for hours to get to Namie or Tomioka. Anyone who wants to can go there without permission,” he said.

Image from Keow Wee Loong's Facebook page
Image from Keow Wee Loong’s Facebook page

Loong decided to defend his claim through a Facebook post, sharing a comparison of a map posted by Podniesinski and the maps such as Huffington.jp, Greenpeace, and Google Maps which he used as reference.

“I still remember it was 4 AM here in Asia and I received a message from Arkadiusz asking me on the location as he cant identify all of them so I exchanged info with him. I saw some of his work before from Fukushima and I like it a lot to be honest,” he recounted on his post.

“I really didn’t expect that a fellow photographer will write such a thing to another fellow photographer and only highlight the town of Namie but not others town that I’ve been to,” he added.

Loong apologized to those offended by the photos, particularly to those who first-hand experienced the disaster, but he is standing by his claims.

“I have a duty to defend myself,” Loong said. “Even though I went in without a permit, that does not mean someone with a valid permit is right.”