Almost seven years ago, a 9.0 earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan. This resulted in a catastrophic tsunami that, combined with the nuclear disaster that followed, killed almost 20,000 people, according to a new release from the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
At the Asian Studies last movie screening of the semester, coordinators Zach Smith and David House decided to show “Jellyfish Eyes,” a film directed by Takashi Murakami in 2013. On the surface the movie is meant for children, but it has an underlying meaning that brings up environmental issues and exposes the fallacies of capitalism.
Masashi, a boy who recently lost his father, moves to a town where the government is conducting experiments to cease the existence of natural disasters. The government agents in charge of performing the experiments call the project “life-Form Resonance Inner Energy Negative emotion and Disaster prevention,” or F.R.I.E.N.D. for short.
During these experiments, the agents create Digimon-like creatures and give them to children in town in order to draw in their negative energy. Once they acquire this energy, their plans of preventing disasters are second to those of taking over the world with their new power.
With the help of his jellyfish F.R.I.E.N.D., Kurage-bo, Masashi is dealt the task of saving humanity from destruction.
The movie might be a great kid’s movie, but the message behind the film relates back to the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
It was conveying the message that people implicitly trust the Japanese government and assume that it will protect them. In the case of the nuclear disaster, the government decided to hide how bad the radiation near Fukushima was.
“I believe it is still considered a nuclear incident,” House said. “They had a couple of reactors that the rest of the world considers to have melted down, but [the Japanese government]said it was just a contained incident.”
Senior Hanako Abe, a native of Fukushima, was there when the disaster happened. She was 17 years old at the time.
Abe said she remembered how beautiful and clear the sky was that day. After the earthquake occurred, her mother suspected that something else might happen. So Abe and her family left their home, crossed over the mountains west of Fukushima and stayed at a temple, along with others who had abandoned their homes. Luckily, her family received lower levels of radiation from the nuclear incident.
After the disaster, news stations around the world were reporting of how bad the radiation was. The Japanese government, Abe said, was not releasing the information about the radiation in that area.
“The government tried to keep the information hidden because they thought it would cause a panic,” Abe said.
The government soon told people it was safe to eat food from the affected area. At the time, Abe and her family did not trust that the food was not radiated, but now believe it is safe.
Now a college student at UCA, Abe said she wants more global recognition for the people who are still in temporary housing. As of 2016, nearly 60,000 were still living this way, according to NPR.
She also believes that nuclear power plants need to be phased out of Japan, because they could be damaged during their numerous earthquakes.