Tokyo, Aug 13 (IANS) Residents of Japan’s Fukushima city have demanded the removal of a statue of a child in a protective suit, saying it gives the impression that the area is unfit for human habitation as a result of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The statue, by Kenji Yanobe, depicts a child dressed in a yellow Hazmat-style suit, with a helmet in one hand and an artistic representation of the sun in the other, the Guardian reported on Monday.
Yanobe said his “Sun Child”, which was installed by the municipal government after appearing at art exhibitions in Japan and overseas, was intended to express his desire for a nuclear-free world.
The artist said he did not mean to give the impression that local children needed to protect themselves from radiation more than seven years after the Fukushima Daiichi plant became the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
He pointed out that the child was not wearing the helmet and that a monitor on its chest showed radiation levels at “000”.
“I wanted to make a work that encourages people (in Fukushima)… And made the statue of a child standing up bravely and strongly against any difficulties it faces,” Yanobe said.
His statue drew criticism on social media and in messages to the city government after it went on display this month, reports the Guardian.
Others pointed out that the monitor reading of zero was misleading, since areas that have not been affected by nuclear leaks have varying levels of background radiation.
The row over the statue comes as local authorities are trying to persuade families to return to evacuated neighbourhoods.
In Naraha, about 12 miles south of the plant, only several hundred people among the pre-disaster population of 7,400 have returned since the town was declared safe in September 2015.