National

Controversial Fukushima statue of child in radiation suit now being removed

Kyodo

The city of Fukushima began removing a statue of a child clad in a protective suit Tuesday following criticism that it could mislead the public into believing that local residents, affected by the 2011 nuclear crisis, need to wear such gear.

The 6.2-meter statue of a child in a yellow suit was unveiled near Fukushima Station on Aug. 3. Dubbed “Sun Child,” it was produced by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free of nuclear disasters.

But it has sparked controversy among residents, with many demanding its removal and others saying the statue could boost “reputational damage” following the meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Once disassembled, a process that will take three days, the statue will be stored at a municipal government facility in the city. The future of the work remains undecided.

Yanobe said the statue depicts a child braving a difficult situation and that his aim was to cheer people up in the wake of the disaster. The fact the child is holding and not wearing a helmet and that the radiation counter on his chest reads “000” shows that the surrounding air is “clean,” the artist said.

A survey conducted by the city showed 75 out of 110 respondents demanded the statue either be relocated or removed. Some also questioned the reading on the radiation counter as the level never falls to zero due to background radiation even in areas unaffected by nuclear disasters.

Only 22 people had a positive view, with one person saying, “Something with an impact is needed in Fukushima.”