« (社説)銀輪都市東京 「クルマ脳」を改める | トップページ | ウクライナ混迷 「住民投票」に法的効力はない »

2014年5月14日 (水)

「美味しんぼ」 風評助長する非科学的な描写

The Yomiuri Shimbun 7:09 pm, May 13, 2014
Popular manga ‘Oishinbo’ stokes anxiety via unscientific depictions
「美味しんぼ」 風評助長する非科学的な描写

A recent story line in a popular manga includes representations that could stoke anxiety over the potential for health impacts from radiation in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

“Oishinbo” centers on gourmet food and is serialized in Big Comic Spirits, a weekly comic magazine published by Shogakukan Inc. The manga has sparked controversy over accounts of health problems linked to exposure to radiation.

In the two latest installments of the comic, published Monday and two weeks before, real people—including Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba town in Fukushima Prefecture, and Associate Prof. Takeru Arakida of Fukushima University—were depicted in the comic speaking about “The Truth of Fukushima.”

The manga contains a scene in which its leading character gets a nosebleed after completing an inspection tour of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Idogawa explains in the comic that “many local people suffer from symptoms such as nosebleeds and severe fatigue” and says this is because “they were exposed to radiation.”

Arakida in the manga declares, “You can’t make [Fukushima Prefecture] a place where people can live again.”

Both of these views are based on personal opinion, rather than scientific knowledge. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Monday that “it is important to ensure accurate information is disseminated.” We find that position quite reasonable.

The prefecture has established a system for the early detection of potential health effects through surveys covering the entire population. No negative impacts to health caused directly by radioactive substances have been confirmed to date.

Fear vs facts

A U.N. special committee on the effects of radiation concluded that no definite impacts have been confirmed among local residents.

Decontamination is also making gradual progress. According to the Fukushima prefectural government, radiation levels have declined by more than 60 percent in some areas as a result of decontamination work and the natural abatement of radioactive substances.

There is little doubt that the assertions depicted in “Oishinbo” ignore the mountain of objective facts accumulated by relevant experts, based on research on affected areas and their residents.

About 2 million people live in the prefecture today, continuing to work toward reconstruction. This manga has poured cold water over those people and their efforts. The Fukushima prefectural government made a pointed criticism of the story line, which it says “is totally unacceptable as it hurts the feelings of prefectural residents and may fuel radiation-related harmful rumors.”

The author, Tetsu Kariya, responded to criticism on his blog, saying: “I don’t understand why I should face such criticism for writing the truth I saw when I did research in the affected areas [in Fukushima].”

But is it acceptable to amplify the anxiety of prefectural residents by spreading such biased views?

The fact that Shogakukan sought the prefectural government’s views on associated health impacts only after publishing the previous chapter of the comic shows the publisher’s insincerity in efforts to confirm data to back up the manga’s depictions beforehand.

The latest installment of “Oishinbo” asserts that health problems caused by radiation have emerged among residents of Osaka, which disposed of some debris from disaster-affected areas. The Osaka municipal and prefectural governments have filed a complaint with Shogakukan.

Freedom of expression must be respected to its fullest extent. What the author and publisher must take to heart is that such freedom must be accompanied by responsibility for content.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 13, 2014)


« (社説)銀輪都市東京 「クルマ脳」を改める | トップページ | ウクライナ混迷 「住民投票」に法的効力はない »





« (社説)銀輪都市東京 「クルマ脳」を改める | トップページ | ウクライナ混迷 「住民投票」に法的効力はない »