Part 1: Fate comes to Vietnam

Japanese reporter Murayama Yasufumi started out as a security guard at Ritsumeikan University but is very passionate about photography. At school, he often has the opportunity to meet and discuss with lecturers who have the same interests as him. In 1998, Murayama was honored to be invited by former war correspondent Bunyo Ishikawa - Murayama's photography instructor - to Vietnam to attend the opening of a photo exhibition about the war in Vietnam at the War Remnants Museum. .

Reporter Murayama Yasufumi. Source: Thanh Nien

When visiting the exhibition, Murayama was very moved by the hardships and resilient spirit of the Vietnamese people who overcame war, overcame fate, and did not retreat. Looking at Mr. Ishikawa's photos of victims affected by Agent Orange/dioxin, Murayama felt scared. He confided: "People with deformed shapes, some who are just pieces of meat without legs or arms, wounded soldiers with only part of their body left... keep haunting and pursuing me." From this trip, along with his direct feelings about people's lives, Murayama chose Vietnam as a destination to compose about topics that he has long cherished. Murayama had to do many jobs such as delivering newspapers in the morning, working at restaurants in the evening, working as a gardener on weekends... to have funds to realize his dream.

As of July 2023, Murayama has been to Vietnam 55 times. Every trip gives him new and interesting experiences to love the country and people of Vietnam more. Japan is a country that also suffered heavy consequences from war and also had many victims of atomic bombs, so Murayama always sympathized with war victims in Vietnam, especially victims of leather. orange/dioxin. He has accompanied victims in Vietnam for many years, starting with researching and recording images of the victims, introducing to the public around the world a better understanding of the harmful effects of dioxin. for man. After that, Murayama participated in other activities such as: calling for funds to bring victims affected by Agent Orange/dioxin to Japan for treatment and surgery; Participated in the "Sign for justice" movement launched by Tuoi Tre newspaper to support Agent Orange/dioxin victims in Ho Chi Minh City in August 2004. To collect people's signatures, every day he starts his work at 6 a.m. at parks and fitness centers, then at sidewalk cafes and tourist attractions. ... Until late at night, people still see him going to restaurants to mobilize people, including accepting "eating dusty rice and drinking anonymous water" when coming to suburban and rural areas. As a result, many people responded, including international tourists from Japan, Korea, England... During his career, Murayama has created many valuable photo collections and organized 6 photo exhibitions. exhibition with many topics such as: AIDS; cultural and economic life; Vietnam - Japan relationship; the lives of victims of Agent Orange/dioxin; Vietnamese sea and island … Murayama shared: “The war in Vietnam has ended 34 years ago, but every day I still meet people living with a big wound in their hearts. So many people have tried their best to live to suppress the pain, but on those smiling faces there is still a pain that cannot be hidden. The war doesn't seem to end yet..." For that reason, he continuously searched silently with his own concerns. To understand more about Murayama's journey, let's learn about the story behind his photographic works in the next article.

Reporter Murayama Yasufumi (left) is collecting signatures for a motorbike taxi driver.