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10 October, 2018

The Implications of Removing the “Sun Child” Statue in Fukushima

By Sae Ochi

At the end of August, a decision was made to remove a statue—named “Sun Child”—that had been erected in Fukushima after the tsunami-caused nuclear accident of March 11, 2011. The statue depicts a boy who wears a yellow protective suit but no helmet. Looking up at the sky, he has a monitor on his chest with the counter set at "000." Six meters tall, the statue has provoked strong reactions among those who have seen it.

Dr. Sae OchiThe reason for its removal seems to be criticism from local residents. One person said, “It gives the impression that children used to wear protective suits back then.” Another resident commented, “It stokes fear that Fukushima has high levels of radiation.” Meanwhile, someone else remarked, “It would be impossible for the display to read ‘000’ since there is always some natural background radiation.” It is not clear if any of those views represent a majority of public opinion. Indeed, many people in the prefecture, while voicing their understanding of the feelings of the statue’s critics, personally wanted the piece to remain. In the end, the decision was that it had to go as long as it hurt some residents’ feelings. The issue inherent in this episode is not, I believe, whether Sun ...more
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