” Inspired by a letter sent to her by a young reader, author Shoko Nakazawa revived a past work and penned an entirely new illustrated children’s book on nuclear disasters in Fukushima and Chernobyl.
In 1988, Nakazawa’s “Ashita wa Hareta Sora no Shita de Bokutachi no Chernobyl” (Tomorrow, under a fair sky, our Chernobyl) was released by Choubunsha Publishing Co.
In the letter, a junior high school student in Yokohama who read the book after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant wanted to know how such an incident occurred when humans had surely learned of nuclear horrors from the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986.
The student asked what adults had done to prevent the Fukushima disaster. Because her 1988 book had long been out of print, Nakazawa, 63, first went about having it republished in summer 2011.
She also wrote a new work, recently published by Iwasaki Publishing Co., titled “Kobuta Monogatari Chernobyl kara Fukushima e” (A tale of piglets, from Chernobyl to Fukushima). The book sells for 1,300 yen, tax exclusive.
The two parts of the book involve little girls living in Chernobyl and Fukushima. Tanya lives in Chernobyl and has a pet piglet named Marumaru. Their peaceful life is turned upside down by the nuclear accident that forces all residents to evacuate.
Marumaru is left behind on the farm and time passes as the piglet waits for Tanya and her family to return. They never do.
The Fukushima portion involves a girl named Natsuko and her pet piglet Momo. They are also separated by the Fukushima nuclear accident.
A temporary lifting of the evacuation order allows Natsuko and her mother to return home. However, the mother does not recognize Momo, who is now filthy because no one was around to take care of the animal. The mother shooes the piglet away in a harsh voice.
The two parts of the book are connected because Natsuko’s mother had come to know Tanya when she visited Japan more than 20 years ago. Tanya even sent a letter to Natsuko’s mother in which she wrote, “Please do not forget us.”
During their short stay at home, the mother comes across that letter again and breaks down crying.
“I forgot everything.”
A key turning point in Nakazawa’s life was moving to Hiroshima from Nagoya before she entered junior high school. Most of her friends had parents who were hibakusha. Nakazawa herself was shocked when she saw the exhibit about the horrors of the atomic bombing at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
She is concerned about recent moves to resume operations at nuclear power plants around Japan.
“We are once again trying to forget,” she said. “I hope the book becomes a catalyst to rethink a civilization that exists upon something like ‘nuclear power’ that simply cannot co-exist with humans and nature.” ”
By Wataru Nestu