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Child statue in protective suit in crisis-hit Fukushima unwelcomed for 2020 Olympics

Child statue in protective suit in crisis-hit Fukushima criticized

hkkllmm.jpgPassers-by look at Sun Child, a 6.2-meter statue clad in a protective suit, near JR Fukushima Station in northeastern Japan, on Aug. 12, 2018.

August 13, 2018
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The statue of a child clad in a protective suit set up near JR Fukushima station has sparked criticism that it gives the impression that Fukushima residents need such gear after the 2011 nuclear crisis.
The 6.2-meter statue called Sun Child was made by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free from nuclear disasters. The statue indicates the surrounding air is “clean” as the child is holding its helmet in its hand and a radiation counter on its chest reads “000.”
Yanobe apologized on his website Friday for “discomforting” some people with his artwork, which was created in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown and installed near JR Fukushima station in the city of Fukushima on Aug. 3.
“I wanted to make a work that encourages people (in Fukushima)…and made the statue of a child standing up bravely and strongly against any difficulties it faces,” he said. “The clothing looks like protective gear, but it is also armor to confront major issues and, being like a space suit, it also carries a futuristic image.”
But he admitted that his earlier explanation of the artwork — such as calling the clothing “protective gear” and the device on the statue’s chest a “Geiger counter” — may have led to misunderstanding.
Critical views were posted on Twitter and the city of Fukushima received calls demanding the statue’s removal. “The statue will encourage reputational damage because it gives an impression that people in Fukushima cannot live without protective gear,” one person said.
Others argued the statue was “unscientific” because it indicates that it would only be safe for someone wearing protective gear to take off a helmet when the radiation level falls to zero. Usually the radiation level is not zero even in areas not affected by nuclear accidents due to natural radiation.
Yanobe said in a statement, “I should have paid more attention to the fact that accurate knowledge about radiation is needed much more now than before the disaster.”
Fukushima Mayor Hiroshi Kohata called for understanding in a Twitter post saying, “Contemporary art is abstract expression unlike science.”
Yanobe said he wants to discuss with the city about what to do with the statue.

 

Fukushima residents complain over statue of child in radiation suit

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Critics say artwork outside train station gives impression area is unfit for habitation
Sun Child is depicted in a yellow Hazmat-style suit. The mayor of Fukushima defended the decision to install the statue.
Mon 13 Aug 2018
Residents of Fukushima have demanded the removal of a statue of a child in a protective suit from outside the city’s railway station, saying it gives the impression that the area is unfit for human habitation as a result of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The statue, by Kenji Yanobe, depicts a child dressed in a yellow Hazmat-style suit, with a helmet in one hand and an artistic representation of the sun in the other.
Yanobe said his Sun Child, which was installed by the municipal government after appearing at art exhibitions in Japan and overseas, was intended to express his desire for a nuclear-free world.
The artist said he did not mean to give the impression that local children needed to protect themselves from radiation more than seven years after the Fukushima Daiichi plant became the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
He pointed out that the child was not wearing the helmet and that a monitor on its chest showed radiation levels at “000”.
“I wanted to make a work that encourages people [in Fukushima] … and made the statue of a child standing up bravely and strongly against any difficulties it faces,” Yanobe said, according to Kyodo News.
But he added: “I should have paid more attention to the fact that accurate knowledge about radiation is needed much more now than before the disaster.”
His statue drew criticism on social media and in messages to the city government after it went on display this month. “It will cause damage to Fukushima’s reputation because it gives the impression that people cannot live there without protective gear,” one poster said, according to Kyodo.
Others pointed out that the monitor reading of zero was misleading, since areas that have not been affected by nuclear leaks have varying levels of background radiation.
The mayor of Fukushima, Hiroshi Kohata, defended the decision to install the statue, saying he believed the child looked hopeful about the city’s future, and the sun symbol was a reference to the need to develop clean energy sources.
However, he acknowledged public criticism of the statue and said he would take into account the opinions of residents before making a decision on its future.
Japan’s government hopes the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will help highlight Fukushima’s recovery from the disaster, despite the slow pace of the costly and complicated task of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi, and concerns about radiation levels in nearby communities.
The city will host Olympic baseball and softball games and was recently chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch relay.
The row over the statue comes as local authorities are trying to persuade families to return to evacuated neighbourhoods. Few residents have returned to cities, towns and villages where evacuation orders have been lifted, with families with young children most concerned about moving back.
In Naraha, about 12 miles south of the plant, only several hundred people among the pre-disaster population of 7,400 have returned since the town was declared safe in September 2015.
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August 17, 2018 - Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , ,

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