Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Today, manga-artist Tokihiko Ishiki will be in the Austrian capital, Vienna, to open an exhibition of his most famous and chilling work Nippon Chinbotsu (Japan Sinks); at the city's MAK Museum until the 21st April 2013.

The artist drew inspiration for his gigantic images of the imaginary mega-disaster from the 1973 novel Nippon Chinbotsu, a science-fiction best-seller penned by Japan's Sakyou Komatsu (1931-2011) which describes the sinking of Japan resulting from a series of massive and cataclysmic earthquakes.

We saw for ourselves on our breaking-news televisions unforgettable footage of a recent tsunami wreaking havoc along the Japanese coastline; the burning houses, the fishing boats and the factories carried along atop the giant wave like toys, and the people running before it for their lives.

Japan is probably the most unstable piece of real estate on the planet. The Japanese archipelago sits on many fault lines in the earth's crust where gigantic tectonic plates of unimaginable power move relentlessly on their collision courses. Hardly a day goes by without an earthquake of some significance on land or in the sea. In addition there are the volcanoes; the most famous Mount Fuji, the slumbering giant, may wake any day.

And yet, man in his folly builds 56 nuclear power plants each containing quantities of uranium and/or plutonium in such an unstable place.

A farewell sunset for the 'Land of the Rising Sun', and (courtesy of jet-streams and ocean currents) also for most of the rest of us, might arrive sooner than we think.

There are ancient stones in Japan which line the coast. These stones were left by those who went before as a warning not to build near the sea. They were ignored by those who thought they knew better but didn't know better, as we saw when Fukushima Daiichi destroyed 4/6ths of itself.

And I remember watching aghast as from one of the buildings a mushroom-like cloud appeared and climbed heavenwards flinging, it was later reported, plutonium fragments and invisible hot particles far and wide.

I shall go to the Nippon Chinbotsu exhibition at the first opportunity.

The headquarters of the IAEA, the so-called nuclear watchdog, is here in Vienna. The current leader of the IAEA is another Japanese, Yukiya Amano. Perhaps he will take his dedicated staff along to the MAK? If he did it would be, as I see it, a good day's work.

Was SF writer Sakyou Komatsu who died 3 months after the Fukushima disaster a Japanese prophet? Time will tell.

Intriguingly the exhibition includes some words from Czech writer Milan Kandera (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting): The first step in the liquidation of a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history. Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. 

To quote Ishiki: Japan is suffering under amnesia. (. . . ) Tokyo was destroyed in the twenties by the devastating Kanto earthquake . . .


  1. Par for the course Gwil - mankind always ignores warnings if there is money involved.

  2. Pat, and not in my text is the fact to be researched on the internet that although 140,000 Japanese perished in the Great Kanto earthquake which destroyed Tokyo there were an estimated 6,000 Koreans murdered by the mob and also many Chinese and some Okinawa citizens mistaken (it is said) for Koreans. Scapegoats must always be found it seems.


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