This series, taken three years after March 11, 2011—the day the great Tohoku earthquake struck the northeastern coast of Fukushima, Japan—features the thousands of families, farmers, business owners, teachers and students across all of Fukushima who were impacted by the disaster at the nearby Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The earthquake has caused an ongoing nuclear nightmare for thousands of residents, not only those living within 12-15 miles of the nuclear plant—otherwise known as “the Exclusion Zone”—but for people throughout Fukushima. Roughly 160,000 citizens were displaced from neighboring cities. The destruction and displacement were widespread: people living as far as 90 kilometers away from the power plant were forced to leave their homes. Many of them were forced to live in temporary housing for years as the cleanup crews decontaminated the area.

As restrictions are lifted in some areas of Fukushima, just outside of the Exclusion Zone, many older residents—people who are deeply connected to their land—will return. However, younger families with children are not so eager to return home due to the lack of information provided by the government. One of the hardest parts of this ordeal is the widespread distrust that took root after no one stepped forward to claim responsibility for the disaster. People from the area are very suspicious of the government, especially since dangerously high radiation hot spots were recorded in areas that were previously declared safe.

—Brian Driscoll

Editors’ Note: Driscoll was a winner of our 2015 LensCulture Portrait Awards. This year’s Portrait Awards are now open for entries! Enter now for a chance to get your work in front of editors from Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, National Geographic and the rest of the world-class jury. There are also a host of other great awards. You can find out more about the competition on its Call for Entries.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: Emergency to Normalcy, a striking black-and-white series on the government’s perturbing response to the disaster; Kafka’s Dam Will Flood Our Town, a photo essay documenting the everyday in a town that is on the brink of ruination; and A Map of Displacement, an in-depth look at life in Kurdistan.