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Fukushima manga series

Fukushima manga series

April 1, 2016

Manga convey realities of living in Tohoku disaster areas



By EIICHI MIYASHIRO/ Senior Staff Writer


Although words of praise poured in for Kazuto Tatsuta’s manga about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, some comments said he was a spy for Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The artist, who went to great lengths to show the true situation around TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, scoffed at the notion.

“As for nuclear power generation, I have never taken stances of ‘promotion,’ ‘opposition’ or ‘neutral.’ I just wanted to convey the changes of the place (at the nuclear plant) in real time,” he said.

His manga series, “Ichiefu Fukushima Daiichi Genshiryoku Hatsudensho Rodoki” (1F; Records of labor at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant), was one of several that started after the triple disaster struck five years ago.

Some of them initially offered messages of encouragement to the disaster victims. But they gradually changed to depict the realities of the situation in the northeastern Tohoku region and the disaster victims’ extraordinary experiences.

Tatsuta’s series, carried in the weekly magazine Morning, was based around the sites of demolition work at the nuclear plant.

He was working at a company of an acquaintance near Tokyo when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Tatsuta looked for a job in areas affected by the disaster, and ended up working at a rest station of the nuclear plant as an employee of the sixth-layer subcontractor in June 2012.

In 2013, Tatsuta started “Ichiefu” to show the daily lives of workers at the plant.

His work drew much attention and acclaim. But some said the artist was underestimating the dangers of nuclear power generation. The series ended in October 2015.

Yoko Hano depicted the daily post-disaster lives of a different group--senior high school students in Fukushima Prefecture.

She started the serialized manga “Hajimari no Haru” (Spring as a beginning) because she also wanted to convey the truth. The comic is currently carried under the title of “Happy End?” in the Monthly Afternoon magazine.

Hano, who is from Nishigo in Fukushima Prefecture, now lives in Shirakawa, also in the prefecture.

“From the time immediately after the outbreak of the disaster, I saw false information from the media that was slipshod in confirming facts,” she said. “A person in my neighborhood was cornered by the situation caused by the disaster and committed suicide. I thought that unless accurate information is offered, our local communities will be destroyed.”

The protagonists in her manga learn about agriculture. They vow to reconstruct their hometowns and start taking action despite being shaken by nuclear accident.

“Here (in Fukushima Prefecture), there are many themes I should tackle throughout my life. I think that people who are making a living with jobs related to expression and speech should migrate to Fukushima,” Hano said.

In the serialized manga “Gogai! Iwate Chaguchagu Shinbunsha” (Extra edition! Iwate Chaguchagu newspaper company), the protagonist is a female reporter with a local newspaper in Iwate Prefecture.

Its creator, Aruto Asuka, who lives in Ichinoseki in the prefecture, began to carry the manga in the comic magazine Be Love, published twice a month, in 2009. Initially, it focused on the people, seasonal traditions and industries of the prefecture.

Then, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011.

The manga now features the reality of the prefecture that was hit hard by the disaster.

Ichinoseki, an inland area, escaped serious damage. However, “that produced big conflicted feelings in my mind,” Asuka recalled.

In a special edition titled “Sanriku no Umi” (Sea of Sanriku), which was carried in the third volume of the book version of the manga, the protagonist visits the coastal district of Koishihama in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, for news coverage, and meets a young fisherman and his wife again.

The wife is pregnant but hesitant to give birth because of her feelings for a relative who lost her child and other family members in the disaster.

“I also have feelings of guilt about the fact that I am alive without suffering from any damage,” Asuka said. “I will not forget the various feelings of people (in the affected areas).”


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