How have Teenagers Perceived the Nuclear Disaster? The impact of the nuclear accident appears on teens’ artwork, as witnessed by a high school teacher.

Original text by Miyuki Kobayashi, Fukushima prefectural high school (subject: social work studies). The article was published in "Cresco" (January, 2013), the All Japan Teachers' Union magazine, edited and translted by WNSCR team.

A: The national flag is ‘that’. ( Grade 12, Male )


A flag is flying at the top of a building, which appears to be that the Japanese National Diet.  But the flag is not the Hinomaru, the Japanese national flag, a symbol of the rising sun. The student who drew this picture captioned his artwork: ‘’The National flag is ‘that’’’.

Yes, the symbol on the flag is the nuclear reactor container of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant. After the earthquake I asked my grade 12 students to express their thoughts in my class, where I was teaching at that time. The theme was ‘looking back at my past year’. This drawing is a work submitted by a male student.


It is quite a brilliant idea to keep the reactor container on the national flag. Our government declared that the situation was under control, while in reality it was out of control.

We humans tend to forget things. The nuclear accident will be forgotten someday. To prevent the accident from being forgotten, we should etch the incident onto our national flag. It is the absolutely best way to remember nuclear power plants that inevitably produce nuclear waste, which is required to be kept under control for thousands and thousands of years to come.

The student commented on his artwork:


‘’I don’t think this confusing and tangled period of time will end any time soon, in a couple of years or so. This country which was supposed to be reliable was not reliable  at all and this year it has been so screwed up that I became convinced I couldn’t trust anything but myself.  The word of the year for me would not be a beautifully sounding  word such as ‘Kizuna’ (bond), rather, words like ‘Kou’ (think), ‘Nou’ (bother), or ‘Ku’ (suffer) are more fitting to my feelings.‘’

Artwork A, by Grade 12 (the 3rd grade high school), male student)
Artwork A, by Grade 12 (the 3rd grade high school), male student)

B.   Collapse (Grade 12,  Female )


Girls who appear to be high school students are huddled in closed room. The room is a mess of collapsed stuff. A girl is absorbed by the task of putting things back in their original places. Are the thick books there a symbol of "knowledge"? Some girls are charging their phones in a corner of the room. It seems that "phones that have no power" satirize the vulnerability of a society that depends on civilization, and we are just asked how we can generate more electricity. The time is 3:00. It’s high time for the tsunami to hit Fukushima, if this were the day. “I realized through the experience of the earthquake disaster, that anything that I had made – by getting, losing and in other ways – may collapse in an instant,” she wrote.


Artwork B, Grade 12, female student
Artwork B, Grade 12, female student


I wanted to use ‘disaster’ experiences as educational material, instead of just as a moral teaching. Did the nation protect us, its citizens? Is our society sustainable? What can we do with energy policy?


We adults made a young man believe that the only thing he can trust is himself. It is our task to give sincere answers to the questions that have risen after the earthquake. In particular, our responsibility as teachers is very important.

The relationship of mutual trust, which has collapsed like the falling blocks, must be rebuilt together with the children. It is the only way to talk about our hopes for the future.


By Miyuki Kobayashi, Fukushima prefectural highschool teacher

Transletion by WNSCR team

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