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May 13, 2011

TEPCO’s Final Solution

Yesterday, Japan announced their decision to cull (yes, that means gather and kill) all the animals that remain in Fukushima’s exclusion zone.

In the early chaotic weeks following the earthquake and nuclear crisis, the animals were overlooked and never considered a priority by the government.  In the photographs widely circulated mid-April depicting apocalyptic ghost towns, the only inhabitants — eliciting more curiosity than anything else — where lonely, starving stray dogs.

From there, public relations and censorship ensued.

The government’s next move was to implement a “no-go” law, backed up by fines or imprisonment, restricting entry to a 20km exclusion zone. This blocked the media’s access and ensured that photographs of fields filled with dead cows would no longer circulate. Well, that’s it, problem solved.  But not so fast. This move outraged animal rights groups like PETA, The Hachiko Coalition and Nippon SPCA, that were in turn blocked from performing their duties.

At this point, the government had to develop a better plan than media censorship. “Starve them out” —  the next brilliant installment, did not sit well with many. Animal activists snuck into the area attempting to give aid and document the suffering of the animals publicized by videos widely circulated online. This brought further public attention and pressure on the government.

This past Tuesday, the “no-go” law was briefly suspended for about 100 evacuees to enter the zone and gather belongings from their homes. During this trek, dogs and other animals actually approached evacuees and members of the media. In one last chance for aid, these animals thrust themselves back into the public’s eye.

It’s not clear what the public’s reaction will be to Japan’s “final solution,” but besides devastating animal activist and lovers worldwide, it will fulfill the aim of not just eliminating the irradiated animals, but also the problem of the photos.

– Jonathan Gibby

( Photo 1: Getty Images – A dog wanders Tuesday about 4 miles from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Photo 2: Tachyon – Dead cattle in barn on ranch at Namie, radiation exclusion zone. Photo 3: AP Photo/Kyodo News – A villager pats a stray dog that came into her house during a brief visit – her first since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami – to her house located near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, in Kawauchi, Fukushima prefecture, northern Japan, Tuesday, May 10, 2011. About 100 evacuees were allowed into the exclusion zone around Japan’s troubled nuclear plant Tuesday for the two-hour visit to gather belonging from their homes.)

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