Editor’s note: This week, we are pleased to feature contributions from Sofia University graduate students enrolled in Tak Watanabe’s 2011 spring semester classes in Tokyo, Japan. We begin with a film translation and subtitling project of a Japanese documentary that details the construction of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.*

Nichiei Kagaku Eiga Seisakujo. 日映科学映画製作所 [Nichiei Science Film Production]. 1985. Fukushima no Genshiryoku. 福島の原子力 [Nuclear Power of Fukushima]. YouTube video, 27:00, posted originally by “habingo2,” April 02, 2011, part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sspp6D8giHc, part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTshYXmN1AY (Japanese). English subtitled version by Kudakwashe Mutenda and Keiko Nishimura, posted by “collabo311.” 13 September 2011. 
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFkkRr-gMww, Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E90DeDzpus.

As the unprecedented Fukushima nuclear disaster continues to unfold, “How safe was the Fukushima Nuclear Plant?” continues to number among one of today’s most frequently asked questions. The 27-minute promotional video, Fukushima no Genshiryoku [Nuclear Power of Fukushima] introducing the then newly constructed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, does more than answer this question affirmatively, at least from the perspective of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The video was made by TEPCO in 1987 for the general public and uses very simple and easy to understand language to explain the complex mechanism and processes of nuclear energy production.

The eloquently narrated video informs us of the history of the creation and operation of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, from the selection of the construction site, its construction, preliminary tests, energy generation, implementation of safety measures for both workers and the community, measurement of radiation and the disposal of nuclear waste. Various musical melodies that suggest harmony between the nuclear plant and the environment runs throughout the background of the video. A combination of animation, real life pictures, and videos taken during the plant’s construction, operation, and from daily life in Fukushima, are used to make the material easier to understand. On the other hand, music evocative of a James Bond movie also cues in scenes that seem to suggest awe of the scale of the human technological and architectural accomplishment.

Since the video was made for the general Japanese public, it is very easy to understand and entertaining to watch. This English subtitled version of the original video makes apparent how the concept of safety was stressed throughout the documentary with constant repetitions of the words and phrases “carefully,” “thoroughly,” “attentively,” “strictly monitored,” and “one by one.” According to the video’s narrator, Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was considered state-of-the-art technology when it was constructed in 1966 as a marvel in size and as the epitome of safety within the nuclear industry worldwide.

According to the Science Film Museum in Japan, the video was actually shown in Japanese movie theaters as a documentary film and many people went to see it.

– Kuda Mutenda and Nishimura Keiko





クダ∙ムテンダ & 西村恵子

*This documentary was translated and subtitled as a part of a course assignment in the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Sophia University. The resulting subtitled video is hosted by a collaborative web project organized by Sophia University graduate students, collabo311, of which one of the translators of the Fukushima power plant video, Keiko Nishimura, is a member.  Collabo311 reports on and analyzes cultural reactions to the events of 3.11 and includes various media, from Internet to architecture, spanning topics from radiation to animation.

FILM: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Promotional Documentary (1985)
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