Japanese film crew members meet Douglas Hern and wife Sandie in Moulton.

Japanese film crew’s ‘precious’ time with nuclear test veteran

A Japanese documentary filmmaker and his crew were in Moulton at the weekend speaking to a British nuclear test recognition campaigner.

The film’s director Hideaki Otoh is in the UK making the documentary about British nuclear tests in the Pacific for Nankai Broadcasting Co Ltd. based in Matsuyama, in Ehime Prefecture, across from Hiroshima Bay.

Mr Hideaki previously made a film about America’s nuclear activity and his film received a theatrical release.

He and his crew travelled from Japan to Moulton to meet Douglas Hern (83), the archivist and historian of the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA) charity, which campaigns for recognition of the effects of exposure to the blasts on those who were present and their descendants.

Douglas’s daughter Jill developed cancer at a young age and died at just 13,
which Douglas and his wife Sandie believe to be as a result of his exposure to five nuclear test blasts at Christmas Island in 1957, at just 21 years old.

The BNTVA continuously campaigns for nuclear veterans to be given an official apology by the British government, which has so far been ignored.

Mr Hern said in total 22,500 British people had nuclear tests carried out on them with Douglas saying there’s just 1,500 of them left alive.

Director Mr Hideaki said of his investigative film: “My mission is to talk about the truth, how the real story was hidden.”

Mr Hideaki revealed it wasn’t just British army personnel present at the tests who were effected by the blasts.

“The blasts took place where Japanese tuna ships fished.

“More than 100,000 fishermen had effects from exposure and I’ve spoken to more than 150 in Japan.”

Mr Hideaki said those effected in Japan had a similar manner to Mr Hern.

“Mr Hern is calm and the countryside in which he lives is serene but their story is shocking.”

“The atmosphere here is very calm, with a nice feel. But Douglas is talking about something very hard.

“The calmness is in contrast with the tragedy.”

Researching the British blasts, Mr Hideaki said he discovered Mr Hern via his campaign group and was very excited to meet him.

“To have real comments from someone who has had that experience is precious,” he said, adding Mr Hern’s archive and knowledge of the subject is invaluable.

The film crew, will be in the UK for almost three weeks making the film.

In late 2019, Mr Hern was featured in the BBC film A British Guide to the End of the World and in April received a lifetime achievement award from Soldiering On.

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