S5b_08
The Representations of Nuclear Energy in Japanese Mass Media and Popular Culture: The Daigo Fukuryû Maru incident and its aftermath

Convenors:
Tino Bruno (Ritsumeikan University and Lyon 3 University)
Maika Nakao (Ritsumeikan University)
Akihiro Yamamoto (Kobe City University of Foreign Studies)
Discussant:
Masaya Nemoto
Section:
Media Studies
Location:
I&D, Piso 4, Multiusos 3
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This panel aims at analyzing how the images of both the peaceful atom and military nuclear power were represented by the Japanese mass media and popular culture during the first half of Cold War, at a time when the nuclear arms race was set into motion and nuclear power programs developed worldwide.

Long abstract:

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster reminded that Japan had developed one of the most advanced commercial nuclear power programs despite the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945). It is however the Daigo Fukuryū Maru tuna fishing boat incident (1954) that had perhaps the biggest impact on the image of nuclear energy in Post-war Japan. The boat that was exposed to radioactive fallout from a thermonuclear test conducted in the Bikini Atoll announced the coming of a new order determined by "atomic tuna" and "radioactive rain", when Japan would live in fear of the after-effects from "death's ashes". But this event paradoxically happened right when the Japanese government had just approved the first budget for nuclear energy development, with the scientific and political elite strongly supporting the civilian nuclear power program. This panel aims at analyzing how the images of both the peaceful atom and military nuclear power were represented by the mass media and popular culture during the first half of Cold War, at a time when the nuclear arms race was set into motion and nuclear power programs were developed around the world. Focusing on the main Japanese newspapers Asahi Shinbun and Yomiuri Shinbun, it looks first into how the Japanese daily press helped make the peaceful atom acceptable against increased fear of radioactivity following the Daigo Fukuryû Maru incident. It then examines how the fear of radiation was depicted in Kamei Fumio's Sekai wa kyôfu suru (1957). By analyzing the documentary, for which some scientists had cooperated, and the debate it generated, it presents the original ways radiation effects were pictured at a time when popular imagery was largely suffused with physical abnormalities. Finally, it explores Tokusatsu television series of the 1960's and 1970's to look into how nuclear power facilities, often under the threat of evil organizations, were represented, stressing out the links between nuclear energy and Japanese society.