“Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film”

Peter Wynn Kirby, author of Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, recently contributed to the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. His March 14 post, “Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film,” looks at the original 1954 Gojira (Godzilla) and other kaiju (monster) films that followed to provide some cultural background on Japan’s reaction to the ongoing crisis in Fukushima.

Kirby points out a little-known fact about the first Godzilla: The film was inspired by the events following the U.S.’ March 1954 “Bravo” nuclear test near Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. A distant Japanese tuna trawler, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, was outside the official no-sail zone but was nevertheless showered with radioactive ash. A translation of crew member Oishi Matashichi’s memoir, The Day the Sun Rose in the West: Bikini, the Lucky Dragon, and I, will be published by UH Press in September 2011.