Workers in protective gear remove the banner lauding nuclear energy in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, in December.
AIZUWAKAMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture—Pro-nuclear propaganda signs that became the ironic symbol of a town evacuated in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have been moved to a museum’s storage ahead of their possible public display as a warning from history.
The Fukushima Museum in this city took over care of the signs this month on behalf of the town government of Futaba, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The most well-known of the banners, which residents campaigned to save, reads: “Genshiryoku–Akarui Mirai no Energy” (Nuclear power is the energy of a bright future).
Yuji Onuma, a 40-year-old former resident of Futaba who now lives in Kogawa, Ibaraki Prefecture, came up with the slogan as a sixth grader at a Futaba school. The town hall adopted it to promote nuclear energy.
Onuma, who fled the town amid the triple meltdown, said the move to the museum is welcome in terms of keeping them in good condition.
“But I am hoping that they will be shown to the public as soon as possible,” he said.
The signboards were removed between December and March along with other panels of slogans promoting nuclear energy in the town. The town government cited the danger of the tall steel structures collapsing because of old age.
They had been kept in a barn wrapped in blankets until the prefectural museum came forward with the offer of storage space early this month.
“The signboards will be kept from deteriorating at the museum where the temperature and humidity can be easily adjusted,” a Futaba official said of the transfer to the museum.
The town hall had initially sought to remove and dispose of the prominent signs, saying they were nearly 25 years old and may fall off at any time.
But after the town announced the decision to do so in March 2015, Onuma and other like-minded people scrambled to start a petition to call for their preservation as historically important items.
“The signs should be stored and exhibited as a ‘negative legacy’,” said Onuma, who recalled that he had once been proud of co-hosting a nuclear power station as he believed it would lead the town to a promising future.
But after the disaster, he decided he was wrong and switched to the solar power generation business in Kogawa.
In the end, the town government agreed to preserve them after they were removed from the original site.
A Futaba official said the signs could be featured at a facility to pass down the records of and lessons learned from the powerful quake, tsunami and the nuclear disaster which the prefectural government is planning to construct.