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French Fukushima cartoon offends Japan

Fukushima Cartoon

One of the Fukushima cartoons that appeared in Le Canard Enchaine


Powered by article titled “French Fukushima cartoon offends Japan” was written by Justin McCurry in Fukushima, for on Thursday 12th September 2013 11.00 UTC

Japan is to lodge an official complaint about a cartoon in a French newspaper that links the Fukushima nuclear disaster with Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

The cartoon, which appeared on Wednesday in the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine, shows two sumo wrestlers – each with an extra arm or leg – with the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background.

At the edge of the panel, a TV announcer dressed in a hazardous materials suit says: “Marvellous! Thanks to Fukushima, sumo is now an Olympic sport.”

A second image features two people in protective clothing conducting radiation tests by the side of a pool, along with the caption: “There is already a pool in Fukushima for the Olympics.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2020 Games to Tokyo last weekend, despite growing concerns about the safety of the Fukushima plant.

In the run-up to the IOC vote, reports emerged of leaks of highly contaminated water from storage tanks at the plant. In a separate incident last month, the facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, admitted that about 300 tonnes of radioactive groundwater a day was flowing into the Pacific.

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, offered personal assurances to IOC officials that the Fukushima plant was under control and that radiation leaks posed no threat to Tokyo.

The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said a formal complaint would be lodged with the French embassy in Tokyo, adding that the cartoon hurt the victims of the triple disaster that struck Japan’s north-east coast on 11 March 2011.

“It is inappropriate and gives the wrong impression about the issue of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi,” Suga said. “It is extremely regrettable.”

Japan’s foreign ministry has been ordered to step up efforts to provide timely and accurate information about the situation in Fukushima, amid criticism from South Korea and China that it has been slow to share details about the water leaks.

This is not the first time that France – where nuclear is the primary source of energy – has offended Japanese sensibilities over Fukushima. Last October the broadcaster France 2 apologised after it screened a composite picture of the Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima with four arms. A presenter attributed Kawashima’s impressive performance in Japan’s shock 1-0 defeat of France in a friendly to the “Fukushima effect”.

In 2011 Kawashima was targeted for abuse while playing for the Belgian club Lierse SK in a league fixture, when opposition fans chanted “Kawashima, Fukushima!” The referee temporarily halted play following protests from Kawashima, who was reportedly in tears after the match. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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