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Oishinbo Manga Goes on Hiatus After Fukushima Controversy

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Creator Tetsu Kariya accepted responsibility, editorial staff Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits magazine takes criticism

Oishinbo manga creator Tetsu Kariya had accepted responsibility in a post on his personal blog last Friday for the controversy surrounding a chapter about Fukushima in his manga. The creator said, "Responsibility for the contents [of the chapter] all lies in me."

Kariya noted that he is collecting relevant information and taking everything under consideration. He also clarified that "Doing things like calling the Spirits editorial staff and sending written complaints to the Spirits editorial staff's website is barking up the wrong tree." Kariya's manga also will not appear in the next issue of Big Comic Spirits magazine. However, the editorial staff affirms that this was a previously planned break.

Due to the recent controversy surrounding the chapter, the editorial staff of Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits magazine, in statement released Friday stated, "We will sincerely take criticism and look once more the current state of the situation." In the next issue of magazine, the editors plan on releasing their official view point on the situation and once again raise questions concerning the residual effects of radiation caused by the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Furthermore, the staff has sent out a 10 page special feature article with collected opinions from Fukushima government officials and experts about the truth and disagreements surrounding the Fukushima crisis.

This year's combined 22nd/23rd issue of Big Comic Spirits magazine published the "Fukushima Truth" chapter on April 28. The manga chapter follows a group of newspaper journalists who are exposed to nuclear radiation within a plant in Fukushima. After the character's exposure, they complain of nosebleeds and exhaustion, ailments that are reaffirmed by a character named Katsutaka Idogawa, based on a real-life former mayor of the town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture. The reporters also complain of censorship, an issue possibly inspired by Tokyo Electric Power Company's real-life actions.

After the chapter was published, a Twitter user claiming to be a resident of Koriyama, Fukushima with the handle @jyunichidesita objected, writing "never suffered such symptoms over the past three years." The message was retweeted more than 13,000 times.

The managing editor of Big Comic Spirits also stated to The Japan Times that the chapter drew on "meticulous reportage" by Kariya and staff who visited Fukushima and that all statements made by the mayor character reflect real statements made by Futaba's mayor. The illnesses experienced by the reporters in the manga chapter were directly experienced by Kariya himself after visiting the plant.

The editor stated that the character's illnesses in the chapter are not directly correlated to their exposure to radiation, as indicated by a doctor within the story. The editor added that doctor and radiation expert Eisuke Matsui, who also appears in the chapter, told the magazine's staff “the connection between sickness and radiation is not exactly zero.”

Big Comic Spirits editorial staff issued the following statement on the day the chapter was published:

We would like to stress that past ‘Oishinbo’ episodes clearly stated that it would be a huge loss for consumers if they balked at eating (Fukushima) foods proved safe just due to their lack of understanding.

North American publisher Viz Media published Oishinbo on its VizManga.com digital manga service and Viz Manga App in 2011.

Source: Oricon, Sanspo

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