22 Décembre 2015
December 21, 2015
By MASAKAZU HONDA/ Staff Writer
FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture--Workers removed lettering of a signboard that praises nuclear energy here on Dec. 21, despite opposition from the slogan writer who became an anti-nuclear activist after the Fukushima disaster emptied his hometown.
Two signboards in Futaba, including one that says, “Genshiryoku--Akarui Mirai no Energy” (Nuclear power is the energy of a bright future), became ironic symbols of the disaster at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. The other sign’s message is: “Genshiryoku--Kyodo no Hatten Yutakana Mirai” (Nuclear power will bring hometown development and an affluent future).
All residents of Futaba, which co-hosts the plant, were ordered to evacuate after the meltdowns.
The letters were removed from one signboard that stands over the town’s main street, which connects National Route No. 6 and JR Futaba Station.
The town assembly decided to remove the signs by the end of March 2016, citing “possible dangers of parts of the signs falling off due to dilapidation.”
However, Yuji Onuma, 39, who wrote the “bright future” slogan when he was a sixth-grader in Futaba, and others asked the town to keep signboards in place “for the sake of passing down the horrors of the nuclear accident and lessons learned from the accident to future generations.”
When the workers were taking down the letters, Onuma, who now lives in Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, and his supporters held up panels saying, “Does removal mean reconstruction?” and “We cannot obliterate the past.”
The group had submitted to the Futaba government a petition signed by about 6,900 people from the town and elsewhere opposing the removal of the two signs.
Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa has said the town will keep the signs “in a recoverable condition” at a warehouse, suggesting the possibility that the signs and their pro-nuclear slogans may later go on display at a new facility.
FUTABA, Fukushima -- Removal of signs dating back around 25 years that praise nuclear energy began here on Dec. 21, with authorities having judged that the signs have overly deteriorated from age.
After taking the signs down, the Futaba Municipal Government intends to preserve them as remembrances of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Starting at around 10:30 a.m., workers carefully set about removing the two signs while confirming their state of damage. The work is planned to be finished by around early January. The signs will be stored temporarily in a warehouse on the town office premises.
The signs are located in a restricted area that is presently uninhabitable due to radiation danger from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster. The municipal government had planned to dispose of the signs after taking them down.
One sign, which reads "Nuclear power: Energy for a bright future," was installed in 1988 along National Route 6 in front of the town gymnasium. The other, which reads "Nuclear power: A prosperous future and hometown development" was installed in 1991 near the entrance to the town office. Both signs were set up by the municipal government, which took applications from the public for pro-nuclear slogans in order to push for more nuclear reactors.
Thirty-nine-year-old Yuji Onuma, who thought of the slogan for the sign in front of the gymnasium as a child, however, argued that they should be kept in place as a memorial in order to show future generations the mistakes of the past.
In June of this year, Onuma submitted 6,902 signatures for his cause that had been collected from people including participants at anti-nuclear gatherings to the Futaba government. The municipal government has responded by considering a relocation of the signs to a park being planned by the prefectural government in Futaba and the adjacent town of Namie.
Following the disaster, Onuma, who grew up in Futaba, evacuated to Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he has started a solar power business to help bring about a society free of nuclear power. He showed up to watch the beginning of the removal work on Dec. 21, commenting, "I'm very disappointed" that the signs were not being kept in place. He added, "To make sure we aren't manipulated by national policy again, I want them to be sure to put the signs on display after taking them down."
On Dec. 21, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa released a comment saying, "We will take down the signs due to their deterioration, but we will preserve them as the town's valuable property. Once Futaba has recovered, we are thinking of newly restoring and displaying the signs as disaster memorial."
Dec. 21, 2015 - Updated 11:14 UTC+1
Workers have begun to remove street signs promoting the benefits of atomic energy in a town in Fukushima Prefecture that hosts the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Large signboards trumpeting atomic power were erected in Futaba Town in 1988 and 1991. The pro-nuclear signs were a symbol of the town.
The town was evacuated after the 2011 accident at the nuclear plant and residents are still unable to return. But the deteriorating signs are a hazard for people who make temporary visits to their houses.
Removal work began on Monday. Workers could be seen disassembling an overhead signboard that describes nuclear power as energy for a bright future.
But some people want the signs to remain.
Yuji Onuma submitted nuclear slogans to a town contest when he was a boy. He demonstrated against the signboards' removal on Monday with a placard calling for their preservation as historical artifacts. Nearly 7,000 people have signed a petition demanding the signs stay.
Onuma said the signboards should stay in place as a negative legacy of nuclear power, adding that he wants the town to use them to inform future generations.
The removal work is set to be completed on January 10th. Local authorities plan to display the signboards at an exhibit as an adverse symbol.