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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 June 11 - 17  > Godzilla returns after Fukushima accident
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2014 June 11 - 17 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Godzilla returns after Fukushima accident

June 15, 2014
Akahata Sunday edition

A well-known Japanese monster, Godzilla, has returned to the screen for the first time in 60 years. Why has “Godzilla” came back now?

The first episode of the original Godzilla film series hit the theaters on November 3, 1954. The film in which a prehistoric monstrous creature revived by a hydrogen bomb test in the Southern Pacific Ocean attacks Tokyo was directed by Honda Ishiro and featured special effects by Tsuburaya Eiji, both now deceased. It was a huge box office hit with 9.61 million tickets sold, more than 10% of the population at that time.

Film critic Ishiko Jun, who was 19 years old at the time, said, “In the movie, the audience was deeply shocked by the scenes with Godzilla. I was really impressed with the idea of representing the horror of nuclear weapons with the introduction of the monster.”

The late Honda left a note saying that Godzilla symbolizes how horrific nuclear weapons are. He traveled through Hiroshima City to his home by train after the war. The late Tanaka Tomoyuki, the film producer, once said that Godzilla recreated the nightmare of the inhumanity of war.

A Japanese tuna fishing boat, Lucky Dragon No.5, was exposed to radiation fallout caused by the U.S. hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll eight months before the movie’s release. This incident strongly influenced the production of the movie. Meanwhile, in the same year, amid a growing anti-nuclear weapons movement, Japan began promoting nuclear power generation under the pretext of the supposed peaceful use of nuclear power.

Akasaka Norio, folklorist and the curator of the Fukushima Museum, said that when he viewed the film after the Fukushima accident, he again confirmed that the movie represented the invisible fear of radiation by Godzilla as a visible terror.

He added that by watching this monster movie now when the Fukushima disaster led to a collapse of the promotion of nuclear energy, we need to understand that humans have yet to acquire enough wisdom and technology to control nuclear power and that people should connect with nature in a pious manner, a major theme of the original Godzilla film.
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