A Malaysian photographer says he snuck into the deserted “exclusion zone” in Fukushima, Japan, to show the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear disaster that occurred there on March 11, 2011.
It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
Bangkok resident Keow Wee Loong posted the photos on Facebook, saying that he “snuck through the forest” to avoid the police so he could visit abandoned stores and houses that appear to be frozen in time after locals fled the area following the nuclear disaster that befell the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 
Keow, wearing a mask but no other protective gear, visited 4 towns in Fukushima – Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba, – in June of this year. 
“The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them.
If you visit any boutique or shopping mall in these towns, you will see the merchandise exactly where it was since 2011, nothing has been changed or moved.”
A Family Mart store is pictured with goods scattered about the floor, undoubtedly thrown there by the monster 9.0 earthquake. Huge weeds are growing out of cracks in the parking lot. In another photo, clothes have been left in a dryer in a laundromat.
Keow was accompanied by friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori. High levels of radiation meant the trio had a limited amount of time to explore the area, known as the “red zone.”
“When I entered the red zone, I can feel a burning sensation in my eyes and thick chemical smell in the air.
Before I went there the authority [sic] told me that I need a special permit to visit this town and it takes 3-4 weeks to get the approval from the local council… Well too much bureaucracy bullsh*t for me… So I just sneak in the forest to avoid cops on the road… AND IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!” 
After the nuclear disaster, approximately 154,000 people who lived in the plant’s surrounding areas were evacuated by the government. This map, taken from Japanese environment ministry documents from June 2016, shows which areas were hit hardest by the disaster.
On July 12, the Fukushima government declared more of the once-cordoned off areas were now habitable, and said it would allow 10,000 more residents to return.
According to Japanese papers, the government has finished cleaning up the radiation in residential areas, and have begun the arduous process of rebuilding infrastructure like hospitals and commercial facilities, to encourage people to come back.
In March, Japan’s former Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, confessed that the Fukushima disaster nearly destroyed the country, and said he’d actually considered declaring martial law and evacuating Tokyo and all areas within 160 miles of the plant.
He said at the time:
“The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake. Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million people, it would have been like losing a huge war.”
Keow said of his exploration of Fukushima:
“This was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I have been to many places, but nothing like Fukushima, the traffic lights are still operating but there are no cars around. It all reminded me of the movie I Am Legend, like stepping foot into a post-apocalyptic city.” 
||Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.