chapter  8
23 Pages

Rain with a Chance of Radiation

Forecasting Local and Global Risk after Fukushima
WithLaura Beltz Imaoka

Viewing Fukushima as an extreme weather event, this chapter travels not only on the radioactively charged trade winds associated with it, but the mass media and social media vectors that visualized, dramatized, and normalized information. While K5's is one report among many concerning Fukushima's weather-borne radiation and its health risk for US residents, it exemplified the narrative arc and visual elements that contextualized the disaster for US media consumption. NHK's representational decision, placing radioactivity levels within ordinary weather reports, purposefully sought to make radioactive material benign to aid the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) agenda, which was to limit national and international perceptions of the severity of the accident and to localize nuclear fears of radiation risk to Fukushima Prefecture. Unlike the dramatic radioactive cloud migrating over the Pacific Ocean, the imaginary visuals of which heightened US residents anxiety and highlighted the uncontrollability of invading radioactive particles, in Japan daily radiation forecasts made radiation risk seem manageable.