Two manga (graphic novel/comic books) series have taken up the cause of the Fukushima Disaster and caused a stir in Japan. The first being a series of installments on life at the Fukushima Daiichi disaster site. The series titled “Ichiefu – Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant workers Symbol ~” depicts what it is like to work at the plant. The series is authored and illustrated by a former plant worker who reached their exposure maximum.
A portion of the series is available for free online by the publisher. The series has been put into a book featuring all of the episodes and is available from Amazon Japan in electronic and print form.
The portion available online includes incidents familiar to those who have followed the workers that talk about work at the plant on Twitter. A worker being rushed to the hospital, workers getting unexpected exposures and a crew that crashed into stray cattle while driving back from the plant.
The author/illustrator’s drawings are pretty amazing in both quality and detail. The series has provided a unique record of both the struggles with the plant and that of the workers.
The other manga covering the disaster has been Oishinbo, a series that normally covers food topics. The series has covered various aspects of the Fukushima disaster in April and May that have stirred controversy. Much of the subject matter has been radiation in food. The most recent installment followed on an edition that took place in Fukushima Prefecture. The new edition had one of the characters suffering from chronic nosebleeds, something many in the region have complained of since the disaster. This has caused backlash from government officials.
The Fukushima Prefecture government made this unusual claim:
” “there have been no confirmed cases of direct damage to health caused by radioactive materials emitted from the nuclear accident.”
Others complained the series would hurt reputations.
The series has documented farming, temporary housing and the testing of rice for radiation. What seems to be underlying the ire about the nosebleed depiction was the content in the series telling people to not live in the contaminated regions of the prefecture.
As the government has continued to pressure print and TV media to not cover the more controversial or significant issues related to the nuclear disaster, manga may be filling that gap to some extent. It does appear to operate outside of the traditional press club and censorship model of major media in Japan. Manga has covered controversial topics before, like this one..
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