Mark Willacy

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BACKGROUND

Mark Willacy is a Brisbane-based investigative journalist for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Before that he was based in Tokyo for five years as the ABC's North Asia bureau chief and correspondent.[1] He was born in 1972 in Lae, Papua New Guinea, and later grew up on Queensland's Darling Downs. Willacy has reported for the ABC from more than 30 countries in Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. He has written for the Australian literary journal Meanjin,[2] the UK newspaper The Independent,[3] and the Diplomat magazine.

MIDDLE EAST

From 2002 until 2006 Willacy was the ABC's Middle East correspondent, based in Jerusalem. From there he covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the 2003 Iraq war. Along with cameraman Louie Eroglu, Willacy spent 93 days in and around Iraq reporting on the conflict (an ABC record for an off-base assignment). During his posting he also interviewed Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (who was assassinated in an Israeli air strike just weeks later), and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal. He reported from more than a dozen Middle East countries, from Morocco in the west to Iran in the east.

NORTH ASIA

Willacy was based in Tokyo from 2008 until 2013. He covered the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima. Willacy has visited Fukushima more than 20 times and has interviewed the former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan several times about his handling of the nuclear crisis. He has also reported from the Korean peninsula on many occasions, and in 2013 he scored a world exclusive with his interview in Seoul with former North Korean spy and assassin Kim Hyun-hee who planted a bomb on Korean Air flight 858 which killed all 115 people onboard.[4] Willacy has reported from more than 40 of Japan's 47 prefectures.

AWARDS

Willacy has twice won Australia's premier journalism prize - the Walkley Award. In 2003, he won it for his coverage of the Iraq War. He was awarded his second Walkley in 2011 for his reporting on the Japan tsunami and nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima. Willacy has been nominated for Walkley Awards on eight other occasions. In 2008 he won a Queensland Media Award for breaking stories on dangerous lead levels in Mount Isa.[1] In 2010 he was named Queensland Journalist of the Year for his investigation into the Mindanao massacre in the Philippines.[5] Willacy has also been awarded the prestigious Eureka Prize for his investigation into systemic corruption inside Japan's scientific whaling program.[6] He has been shortlisted for the Perkin Award for Australian Journalist of the Year (2011) and nominated for a Logie Award.

PUBLICATIONS

In 2007 Willacy wrote a book about his experiences covering conflict in the Middle East entitled The View From the Valley of Hell, published by Pan Macmillan.[7] The book was named "Pick of the Week" in the Sydney Morning Herald which said Willacy's "critique of the current situation is hard-hitting and devastating".[8]

Willacy’s book Fukushima: Japan's Tsunami and the Inside Story of the Nuclear Meltdowns,[9] on the 2011 Japanese tsunami disaster, was published in 2013. The Australian newspaper praised the book, saying Willacy "unearths evidence that the company [TEPCO] failed to act on its own warning systems, denied government officials access to data and updates, layered veils of misinformation and falsehoods over the Fukushima plant, withheld information and lied on its way to writing a new chapter in corporate infamy".[10] The Sydney Morning Herald said the book was "a gripping and salutary piece of reportage", while the Japan Times called it "an engaging work that draws readers in rather than shutting them out, portraying the flawed policies and people behind the “man-made” nuclear disaster without sermonizing".[11]

Fukushima has been long listed for the 2013 Walkley Book Award.[12] Books+Publishing website named it one of the best books of 2013.[13] A Japanese-language version of the book is due for publication in Tokyo in 2014.

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