Fukushima’s disaster task force has started issuing leaflets with a bird character called Kibitan telling children to stay away from pools and ditches where radioactive cesium from the damaged nuclear power plant might have accumulated.
The smiling, round Kibitan explains why radiation is dangerous, urging children to make a habit of washing their hands and gargling their mouths after coming in from the outdoors.
Radiation can make people sick if allowed to get inside their body, says the cartoon bird, which is a variant of the local narcissus flycatcher.
The bird is definitely well-informed on the dangers of radiation, and the autoradiographs of a dead Fukushima flycatcher posted in April by a Japanese photojournalist confirm that.
Below are the photos, from the blog Fukushima Diary.
The cute public safety cartoons in this century are as sinister as Duck and Cover was in the last. But it’s not all bad. You can send away for a pocket geiger on your cell phone.
From here in Rhode Island, it’s hard to vet internet content from Japan. On American news sites Fukushima is completely off the radar. On Japanese sites like Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri the nuclear crisis is off the front page but continues to develop. Japanese citizen journalists say their government is not giving them the whole truth. The news stream at Uhohjapan2 blog is deeply frightening.
The people of Japan have suffered enough in the wake of the disasters of 2011. They should not be further harmed by panic and despair. But the people of Japan are owed the truth. The world, also, needs to know the true extent of the nuclear contamination from the Fukushima disaster. Nations are rushing to build more nuclear plants, for energy and for war.
During the last presidential debate, when the topic was energy, I noticed an interesting omission from President Obama. He did not say the ‘N’ word. He did not mention nuclear power. Mitt Romney did, at least twice.
President Obama did support nuclear power as part of the mix, but I wonder if the global picture is looking different now. The economic costs and ongoing environmental effects will slow the rush to nuclear.
The Fukushima disaster is not over, but if we are lucky the damage will be limited, and if we are wise we will learn that dangerous, expensive and centralized power is not the way.