Photo Fund Winner Update: Masaru Goto –Part 2
“It is necessary to make deep stories.”
Via Bangkok, Masaru Goto informs FiftyCrows about his most current project in Japan, his country of origin. Seven year after he won the International Fund for Documentary Photography, he reflects on the impact of receiving the grant and offers his point of view on the essence of photographing important issues around the world.
FiftyCrows: What project are you currently working on?
Masaru Goto: I am currently working on human rights issue in Japan. “NIHON-JIN, BURAKU-MIN: Portraits of Japan’s outcast people” is the name of the latest project. The Buraku-Min (tribal people) compose one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaido and the Ryukyuans of Okinawa. Despite being thoroughly Japanese, racially and ethnically, the Buraku-Min still face discrimination and struggle under the weight of their shared history in Japan.
This is the link: http://archive.masarugoto.com/burakumin/folios_burakumin.htm
FC: How did you become involved/interested in your current work?
MG: There is only small number of people who know about the discrimination against the Burku-Min people in Japan. I left Japan about twenty years ago, and now when I visit I can see the problem, which I couldn’t see when I lived there. I want to publish these issues outside of Japan because I believe that will help to solve these problems.
FC: Can you talk about the project that you focused on for the IFDP grant?
MG: I was in Colombia in South America from 1990 to 1993. I worked with local human rights group at Barrancabermeja, a town located in south Colombia. At that time, Colombia was worst country violating human rights in the world. People were trapped in the town because three groups, paramilitary, guerrillas, and government force fought for a land. Even journalists and human rights workers were being killed at Barrancabermeja. I documented human rights workers in this town, especially one of my best friends, Julio who was eventually killed by paramilitary soldiers when I was there because of being out spoken.
FC: What was the significance of winning the IFDP in your career?
MG: When I received IFDP, I felt very encouraged by FiftyCrows because nobody else seemed interested in my story in Colombia. I think for many people, the story was too violent and personal. After I received the IFDP, I got more energy to continue the work.
FC: Can you give a piece of advice to others doing important work with social change photography?
MG: I am not sure what I can advise, but it is necessary to make deep stories. We are not press photographers, so spend time with people and stay with them, so that you can make deep stories.
FC: Can you talk about what it is like to work in violent situations and what it is like to witness pain and death?
MG: I still feel very much pain when I think about death, especially since one of my friends, Julio, was killed in Colombia. I am still working as photographer as a result of Julio’s death because I believe he wants me to continue working for human rights issue.