Fukushima one year later: art & action inspired by the nuclear disaster


Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of Fukushima, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Last March, a 9.0 earthquake set off a tsunami and an atomic meltdown. Nearly 16,000 people were killed, 6,023 people were injured, 3,282 people are missing and 333,000 are living in temporary accommodations.

Recovery has been impressive but frustrating as the government ignores radiation dangers and other countries, including the United States, fail apply the lessons of the tragedy to their own power plants. Without romanticizing what happened and what continues to happen, I want to highlight some of the creative ways people have responded to the triple disaster.

music: Kazuyoshi Saito’s “They have been telling a lie- they’ve cheated us” is a folksy indictment of the government of Japan. (Watch the videos in full screen so you can see the translated lyrics).

“You can’t see it, and you can’t smell it either” by Rankin & Dub Ainu Band is a wake up call and a great music video.

And “Free From Nuclear Power Plant” is a surprisingly political song from Seihuku Kojyo Iinkai, a pop teen idol group whose members rock school girl uniforms.

visual arts: PBS has a slideshow of the exhibit Real Times, organized by the Tokyo-based art collective Chim↑Pom.

The Washington Times has a slideshow “2:46 and Thereafter” an exhibition of artists who responds to the earthquake, tsunamis (that struck at 2:46 pm March 11th) and nuclear disaster.

poetry: The amazing site Words Without Borders posts the poem “Do not Tremble” by Hirata Toshiko. The opening of the poem, which Toshiko wrote weeks after the disaster, is,

It trembles

It is trembling again today
I did not know that the earth
Is an unruly cradle
A cruel cradle that lets
Neither adult nor child sleep

Read the rest of the poem here.

In the poem “Noisy Animal,”  Ohsaki Sayaka writes

Do not believe in words

Do not believe in “blue sky”
Do not believe in “shining earth”
Do not believe in “the light of hope”
I am a noisy animal
I am an animal that walks about speaking endlessly
I am not unable to speak only about what I have seen
You are not unable to speak only about what you have seen
Words lie and words tend to dream

Read the full poem here.

Action: The governor of Fukushima prefecture called for terminating nuclear power and promoting renewable energy. On Sunday Yuhei Sato said “We will call for all nuclear power stations in the prefecture to be shut down so that an accident like this never happens again….Fukushima aims to create a society that enjoys sustainable development by promoting renewable energy and not depending on nuclear power.”

Yesterday, Japan held a moment of silence at 2:46, during which sirens sounded and trains stopped.

On Sunday, over 12,000 people participated in an anti-nuclear protest, hold candles and forming a “human chain” around the parliament building in Tokyo. Check out moving images here.

In this video, we meet a farmer who bought a radiation tester for his own food and then turned his house into a community center where others can have their food tested.

Yesterday, The Greens/European Free Alliance held a “Never Again” conference and symbolic action at the European Parliament in Brussels, saying that “There should never again be a nuclear accident like in Fukushima and we need to end nuclear power.” Here is a beautiful video of the symbolic act, with balloons and time lapses.

And more locally, yesterday, hundreds of  of anti-nuclear protesters stood outside the entrance of Indian Point,  to demand that the nuclear power plant,  located 25 miles from New York city and considered the most dangerous one in the United States, be shut down. The protest was followed by a concert featuring performers Dar Williams , Dan Einbender and the Rivertown Kids, James Durst, Hope Machine, Lydia Adams Davis, Sarah Underhill, Roland Moussa, Taeko Fukao, The Raging Grannies and others.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted March 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Ending the use of fission power or shutting down the Indian Point facility doesn’t seem to make any sense on any level, given that in practice nuclear fission plants would almost certainly be replaced by coal power plants, which would be responsible for (statistically speaking) many more deaths.

    Is there any evidence-based reasoning behind these calls that I am not currently aware of?

    • Posted March 13, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

      Also, what of the tens of thousands of people killed in the earthquake and tsunami and all the homes and businesses that were destroyed?

  2. Posted March 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Did you mean to imply when writing this that 16,000 were killed by the nuclear reactor? It certainly seems to come across that way. The last time I had checked, which admittedly was almost a year ago, the death toll from the nuclear plant was 5; and the scientific projections even for long-term deaths due to escaped radiation were expected to approach zero.

    Contrast this with *annual* death rates due specifically to pollution from coal-fired power plants that start at estimates 10,000 per year and go up from there.

    I simply do not understand the disproportionate response which people insist on having towards nuclear power.

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