Dōryokuro Kakunenryō kaihatsu jigyōdan 動力炉・核燃料開発事業団 [Japan Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation]. 1993. Tayoreru Nakama Purūtokun: Purutoniyumu Monogatari 頼れる仲間プルト君 —プルトニウム物語 [Trust your Friend Pluto-kun: A Plutonium Story]. YouTube video, 10: 52, posted by “chiniasobu,” Mar 28, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJlul0lTroY&NR=1

This short promotional film is one of many of its kind that have been produced over the last four decades in order to dissuade the public from the idea that nuclear energy could be anything but safe and clean. This particular film was commissioned by the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation (today’s Japan Atomic Energy Agency) and 250 copies were distributed to public relations facilities such as atomic energy museums or in the visitor centers of nuclear power stations. The lead character is the friendly and cute Pluto-kun, sporting a baseball helmet with the element symbol, Pu. He tells the mostly young target audience that he is saddened by his negative image. He regrets that he was first deployed in the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and he stresses that he dislikes war and loves his work in peaceful energy generation.

Pluto-kun, representing the nuclear industry, feels misunderstood and invites viewers to follow the “real story of plutonium.” Accompanied by cheerful music, such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” Pluto-kun assures that no atom bomb could be built from nuclear waste, and that the theft of plutonium is impossible. If ingested, the young Japanese audience is told, no harm to the health is done because plutonium will be expelled from the body (in the bathroom). The viewers are told that while not lethal, people should avoid inhaling plutonium or letting it come into contact with the bloodstream, as the element can accumulate in lymph nodes and organs and emit alpha waves. Viewers are also told that extrapolations from animal tests suggest that a causal link between plutonium and known cancer cases in humans is “absolutely” unthinkable. Pluto-kun raises an important question: Is plutonium really something that humans cannot control with great wisdom? –Christian Dimmer

Please contact teach3eleven [at] gmail.com if you are interested in a collaboration to make English subtitles for this film for educational purposes.

FILM: Trust Your Friend Pluto-kun: A Plutonium Story (1993)
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