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“Land of Hope” and “Infant ” depict aspects of Fukushima, raise questions about the future

Although Land of Hope and Infant depict only some of the aspects experienced amid the unfolding ‘Fukushima’ nuclear disaster, these artistic works reflect not only what was or is, but also what is to be. They elicit the future as it speaks to us in the present. The question is, are we listening?
Conflicting ImmunitiesPriorities of Life and Sovereign amid the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear DisasterAdam BroinowskiCollege of Asia and the PacificAustralian National University [About | Email]

Volume 14, Issue 3 (Article 13 in 2014). First published in ejcjs on 23 December 2014.

 Abstract

Through an analysis of two artistic works, a fiction film titled Kibō no Kuni (Land of Hope) (script/direction Sono Shion 2012), and a theatre performance titled Infant by Gekidan Kaitaisha (2013), this paper explores the increasing visibility of the structures of power which support the communities affected by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. The paper suggests that there has been an attempt to resolve the contradictions between biological and political/economic forms of immunity that have emerged by asserting the necessity of national/military forms of immunity as mechanisms to minimise short-term economic hardship, but which may have dire long-term consequences……..

Land of Hope

Land of Hope is a subtle and compelling drama that portrays the ambiguous condition of living with radiation contamination after a nuclear disaster in regional Japan. The film tells of the people of Oba who live 20 kms from a nuclear power plant which has just exploded after a large earthquake in an imaginary ‘Nagashima’ prefecture in the Chūgoku region………

Infant

A live performance entitled Infant (2013), produced by Gekidan Kaitaisha, was typical of the group’s work to date. Kaitaisha are known for their independent studio works that use an eclectic array of poetic devices loosely to connect interpretations of socio-historical issues through the human body. In the context of 3/11, as an umbrella term for the earthquakes and tremors which also repeatedly shook Tokyo, the tsunami and the nuclear disaster, Infant, like Land of Hope, allegorically referred to war, colonial Japanese history, and forms of illness………..

Life in a ‘Fukushima’ World

If, as suggested in Land of Hope and Infant, the sovereign response to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi NPP can be framed as a kind of ‘war,’ then it is a covert or silent war in which exposed civilian populations are collateral damage.

In light of the scale of distribution of radioactive contaminants, authorities across several nations (such as the US) may adopt the approach taken by Japan so far and relax their health and safety standards with regard to radiation exposure. As evidence of the present and future degeneration in public health from a complex amalgam of chemical and radiation pollution become more apparent, however, authorities may be forced to admit the recklessness of their accommodation of economic priorities. One indication of this is the court decision on 21 May 2014 regarding the restart of the two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture, in which the judgement stated that “the operation of nuclear power plants as one means of producing electricity is legally associated with freedom of economic activity and has a lower ranking in the Constitution than the central tenet of personal rights” (Muroya, 13 July 2014).

Another indication is the increasing numbers of court proceedings being mounted by citizen groups. The lawyer Yanagihara Toshio and plaintiff Hasegawa Katsumi representing ‘The 2nd Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial,’ for example, made a public statement that amid the Abe government’s focus on the shift to collective security and reinterpretation of the Constitution, areas of Fukushima prefecture are already a war-zone in which children are trapped indoors due to radiation from the nuclear power plant. Given that incidents of thyroid cancer are increasing at a faster rate than in affected areas after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, Yanagihara argued that the central and Fukushima prefectural governments and Fukushima city government have abrogated their duty to protect citizens from harmful radiation exposure by allowing residents to continue living in contaminated areas. The plaintiff group demanded public education on low-level internal radiation exposure, 100,000 yen for each plaintiff in the collective action, and the resettlement of children and pregnant women from Kōriyama (60 kms from the Fukushima Daiichi plant), with provisions for long-term regular health management. They also demanded that the policy to expedite the return of civilians into contaminated zones be reversed (Yanagihara, Hasegawa, 18 August 2014)……….

Weakening biological immunity by transforming ecological systems is to accrue an insurmountable debt for future generations of living beings. With such high stakes, the current policy of the Japanese government and its associated transnational partners cannot be considered as feasible in any cost-benefit equation that includes all important factors. In this mis-identification by authorities of the real threat in their continuation of transnational operations, a false immunity has been established.

For the reasons I have outlined, delay in public understanding of the threat has meant that exposed populations must bear the greatest burden from the violent operations of a transnational complex of sovereign power as represented in this case by the nuclear industry.

Although Land of Hope and Infant depict only some of the aspects experienced amid the unfolding ‘Fukushima’ nuclear disaster, these artistic works reflect not only what was or is, but also what is to be. They elicit the future as it speaks to us in the present. The question is, are we listening? http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/ejcjs/vol14/iss3/broinowski.html

 

February 25, 2015 - Posted by | general

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