National

'Gourmet' comic stokes Fukushima ire

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

The popular manga series “Oishinbo” came under fire again Monday after a character based on a real-life former mayor refers to Fukushima Prefecture in its latest issue as unlivable because of the radiation leaking from the ruined power plant there.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government fired back at the publisher the same day, saying no health problems have been reported as a result of the release of radioactive materials from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

In a separate statement, the Osaka Prefectural Government took issue with the assertion, expressed by a character based on real-life medical expert Eisuke Matsui, that about 800 people living around an incinerator there have been affected by burning tsunami debris tainted with radiation from Tohoku.

The character based on real-life Futaba ex-Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa at one point says in Monday’s installment: “You can no longer live in Fukushima.” Futaba is one of the two towns that host the Fukushima plant.

“Oishinbo,” which translates as “Gourmets” and usually deals with food and drink, caused a stir last week when a previous installment suggested many residents of the prefecture got nosebleeds caused by radioactive fallout from the plant.

In a written statement, the Fukushima Prefectural Government said no health problems in the prefecture have been linked to leaked radiation and that the manga would only serve to fan unfounded fears both at home and abroad. Authorities also expressed concern that the series’ depictions would damage its agricultural, fisheries and tourism industries.

Similarly, the Osaka Prefectural Government claimed that no local doctors or authorities have received reports of ill health due to debris incinerated in the city’s Maishima area, contradicting the assertion made by the manga’s character Matsui.

The incinerator has burned about 15,300 tons of tsunami debris from Iwate Prefecture. At every stage of the disposal, the radiation level was stable and low enough to be safe, the government said.

“We . . . definitely cannot tolerate (the descriptions). It’s extremely regrettable,” the Fukushima government said in the statement, urging the publisher to consult various experts and scientific organizations, including those under the United Nations.

On the same day, the publisher, Shogakukan Inc., posted a comment on its website saying the episodes “have not asserted” that the symptoms were definitely caused by radioactive materials from the Fukushima plant.

Shogakukan said it plans to carry “a special feature article” summarizing the opinions of various experts and readers, including critics, next week on its website.

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