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New exhibit at the East Asia Library - In/Visible: Nuclear Representation in Japan from Hiroshima to Fukushima

May 25, 2017
Joshua Capitanio
Ishiuchi Miyako, "Hiroshima #71," 2007

The East Asia Library is pleased to announce the installation of a new exhibit in its entrance hall display cases entitled "In/Visible: Nuclear Representation in Japan from Hiroshima to Fukushima."  The exhibit was curated by Dr. Kyoko Sato, Associate Director of Stanford's Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), with the help of Joshua Capitanio, Public Services Librarian, and Regan Murphy Kao, Japanese Studies Librarian.  

Using a wide range of materials from the East Asia Library and other Stanford Libraries collections, including comic books, photography, children's books, newspapers, and movie posters, it traces the different ways that "the nuclear" - nuclear bombs, nuclear power, and nuclear disasters - has been represented in Japanese media and popular culture from the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the 3-11 Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant nuclear disaster of 2011 and beyond.  Topics covered range from the Japanese media's portrayal and marginalization of the hibakusha - survivors of the 1945 bombings, many of whom suffered serious health issues - to the rise of nuclear power plants in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s, to the Fukushima disaster and the contentious debate about the safety of nuclear power in its aftermath.  

In her introduction to the exhibit, Dr. Sato writes, "This exhibit highlights some of the key ways nuclear issues have been represented in postwar Japan. It aims to show changing Japanese nuclear imaginaries and feature how some people tried to render the invisible visible. The 2011 Fukushima disaster shocked the world in myriad ways, one of which was how indifferent and oblivious the public in Japan had been to the prospect of such a catastrophe, or issues of nuclear energy in general. Before Fukushima, the safety of nuclear power plants (NPPs) was readily assumed, and those skeptical or opposed to nuclear energy were relentlessly marginalized. After the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, how did the understanding and imagination of nuclear technology develop in Japan to reach a point where the presence and safety of 54 nuclear reactors were utterly taken for granted? One objective of the exhibit is to tell a portion of this story. Another is to showcase some of the notable efforts to shed light on otherwise unseen aspects of our life with nuclear technology. Journalists, photographers, filmmakers, writers and artists in different genres and ordinary people have captured and communicated what they saw, experienced, and deemed important."  One example of such a work featured in this exhibit is the image above, from award-winning photographer Ishiuchi Miyako, whose work From Hiroshima features photographs of clothing and other objects recovered after the Hiroshima bombing and donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

The exhibit will be on display at the East Asia Library until Fall 2017.  A reception to commemorate the exhibit's opening will be held at the East Asia Library on Tuesday, June 6.

View related resources in the East Asia Library's collections:
3/11 manga collection
3/11 children's books collection
Posters from Fukushima
Motokazu Matsutani Collection of Fukushima-related ephemera
Hibi no shinbun, a newspaper from Fukushima prefecture

Image: Ishiuchi Miyako, "Hiroshima #71," 2007.
Ishiuchi Miyako 石内都, From Hiroshima (Tokyo: Kyuryudo, 2014), 61.  TR647 .I84 F76 2014



Joshua Capitanio

Joshua Capitanio

Public Services Librarian, East Asia Library
Bibliographer, East and Southeast Asia (Western languages)
Subject Specialist, Religious Studies