One of Japan’s longest-running manga series has come under fire for its insensitive portrayal of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in two of its installments published this April and May. Officials and residents of Fukushima were affronted by the depiction of the effects of the nuclear disaster in the manga series, “Oishinbo”, prompting the prefectural government to lodge a formal protest to the manga publisher, Shogakukan Inc.
In a statement released by the Fukushima prefectural government on its website, it said, “The feelings of the Fukushima people were totally ignored and deeply hurt.” It also noted that, “The depiction could severely damage the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism industries.” One scene in the series showed a character suffering from a nosebleed after visiting the crippled Fuksuhima nuclear power plant while in another, a character that was based from real life specifically warned people against residing in the area. In its protest, the government cited the nosebleeding incident in the series and said, “there have been no confirmed cases of direct damage to health caused by radioactive materials emitted from the nuclear accident.” At the national level, where the protest was escalated, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “It has been made clear through the appraisal of experts that there is no causal relationship between radiation exposure among residents and nosebleeds.”
Even the city of Osaka did not escape from the commentary depicted in the manga. One installment showed residents from the city complain about health concerns after an incinerator in the area processed debris from the nuclear power plant. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto expressed disappointment with the horrible depiction. “Because of freedom of expression and since it is manga, fundamentally the artist can freely do what he wants, but I think he went overboard with the depiction that has no basis in fact.”
But one government official is standing by the series. The former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima, Katsutaka Idogawa, who was also featured in the series said, “I only spoke the truth. It is wrong for the prefectural government to raise such a fuss.”
While residents of Fukushima remain divided over the issue, creator Tetsu Kariya takes full responsibility for his work. He has since announced that the next installments of the series will feature other opinions of experts but he also said he has no plans of revising the ones they have already published.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]
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