Project Exhibition "Radiation Falls on: the Bravo Affair and Yasushi Nishiwaki, Scientist"

published: 2015-12-01Japanese

enlearge image (to back to press x)The Whole Scenery of Our Exhibition

I have been conducting research on the history of science and technology which involves health of people and safety of their life. As part of my research I have examined the history of environmental radiation monitoring. Now I am examining the history of preparedness of a nuclear emergency which responds to environmental pollution by radiation at the time of the nuclear accident.

The Fukushima nuclear accident of the Tokyo Electric Power Company in 2011 led me to investigation of the history of environmental radiation monitoring. What I found out was that historical research related to nuclear power is complex because it covers a wide range of sectors—not only the history of science and technology dealing with nuclear development and nuclear policies but also social history covering social movements including bans on A- and H-bomb testing, abolition of nuclear weapons and anti-nuclear power plants, media history concerning the media reports of atomic bomb and nuclear energy, medical history covering the issue of atomic-bomb victims and radiology, economic history covering electronic businesses and energetic policies, and the history of international politics covering the Cold War, disarmament, international organizations and the relationship between Japan and the U.S. In addition, I found out many books which examined not only the issue of radiation victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), the Bravo affair (1954), and the Chernobyl disaster (1986), but also the actual conditions concerning the issue of radiation victims among residents in the areas which became the places for nuclear tests, and persons who worked for nuclear-related facilities. As I progressed my research, I found out that the Bravo affair is a very important incident when we consider nuclear issues. I overlapped the shock the Bikini disaster made on people at that time with the shock the Fukushima nuclear accident made on us.

enlearge image (to back to press x)Display Items–Geiger Counter, Ashes of Death and Scale of Tuna (All Items Are Owned by the Daigo Fukuryū Maru Exhibition Hall)

In this situation, I had the opportunity to be in charge of planning and conducting a project exhibition entitled “Radiation Falls on: The Bravo Affair and Yasushi Nishiwaki, Scientist” (hereafter exhibition) which was hosted by the Research Center for Ars Vivendi. The Special Exhibition of Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives entitled “Scientist Yasushi Nishiwaki in the Nuclear Age”, which was held in October 2014, makes up the core of this planning exhibition and I thought we would like to add our own originality which fits the co-organizer and the place of this exhibition, Kyoto Museum for World Peace of Ritsumeikan University. Since the Special Exhibition of Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives focused on the whole life of Yasushi Nishiwaki (1917-2011;a groundbreaker in the field of radiation biophysics), we decided to focus on the Bravo Affair. Thus, we summarized with emphasis on influences the Affair made on the society and positioned Nishiwaki as the most important scientist who reported the Affair to the world. We organized our exhibition making our own panels by borrowing materials from the Daigo Fukuryū Maru Exhibition Hall in addition to the materials used at the Special Exhibition of Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives.

During the preparation for the exhibition we had a conscious desire to express that people's social movements mixed scientists' activities and resonated each other toward environmental pollution issues by radiation after the Bravo Affair. Radiation cannot be felt by our five senses and can be perceived only by such instruments as a Geiger counter. As a result of active information transmission concerning the issue of radioactive pollution by Nishiwaki and other scientists using such technology, people's movements gained steam. On the other hand, with people's support Nishiwaki went to Europe in order to let people there know about the facts of the Bravo Affair. His trip led to development of worldwide scientists' movements which demanded abolishment of nuclear weapons.

Now it is possible for us both to collect scientific information and to have simple radioactivity monitoring devices. And there is no simple viewpoint that admires science and scientists. However, people and the society always look for scientific knowledge. I would like to progress my research fixing my eyes on whether involvement between people and scientists or between science technology and the society will be changed or not. My involvement in this exhibition provided me the center for my future research.

In addition to the exhibition, we invited Masakatsu Yamazaki, who is Professor Emeritus of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and served as a leader of the Special Exhibition of Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives, and held a lecture. In the end, we would like to express our sincere thanks to the Tokyo Tech Museum and Archives and the Daigo Fukuryū Maru Exhibition Hall for their enormous cooperation including lending of precious materials. The background of the exhibition will be included in the journal Ars Vivendi Vol.9 (in Japanese) which will be published next March.

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