LITERATURE
POLITICS

Yōko Tawada’s Post-Fukushima Imaginaries

24 JUNE 2021

 

In the West, no creative writer has been made more visible in relation to the Fukushima disaster than Yōko Tawada. In her imaginaries, the crisis of nuclear contamination, like radiation itself, is obfuscated, yet ubiquitous. Accordingly, especially in her short story “The Island of Eternal Life” and her novel The Emissary, Tawada emphasizes ontological and phenomenological chaos, forcing readers to confront the devastations, physical and philosophical, of nuclear disaster. But chaos is also indeterminate, leaving the future unknowable; Tawada’s imaginaries thus suggest that even in an irradiated world, experience, though changed, will continue—and that, as a result, nuclearity may yet be resisted.

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Old Pine Tree and White Phoenix. Part of the series Dōshoku sai-e, Ito Jakuchu, Edo era; Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

         n fiction, while natural disasters often command a realistic mode of storytelling, the decentralized and invisible risks of nuclear fallout, elongated as they are across space and time, require an imagination that penetrates to the unseen. If situations of risk disrupts realism in literature,(1) we can expect an fictional accounting of the long-term implications of Fukushima to involve not just the devastating physical effects of radiation on living forms but also its effects on the human psyche—on how the event has shifted our understanding of our world.

This assessment speaks to the dystopic and frequently allegorical works of Yōko Tawada. Of the authors writing in Japanese today, from the perspective of the West, no creative writer has been made more visible in relation to the Fukushima disaster than Tawada, no doubt because of her cosmopolitan positionality as a Japanese national who has lived in (West) Germany since 1982. At the time of the crisis, she was often contacted for comment by German newspapers, and, given that the Japanese government initially kept its own citizens ignorant of radioactive fallout, she also took it upon herself to translate information from German newspapers into Japanese.(2) Since then, Tawada’s lectures and writings—such as her short story “The Island of Eternal Life,” her lectures collected in Yoko Tawada: Fremde Wasser (Yoko Tawada: Foreign Waters), her play Still Fukushima: Wenn die Abendsonne aufgeht (Still Fukushima: When the Evening Sun Rises), her collection Neue Gedichte über Fukushima (New Poems on Fukushima), and her novel Kentōshi (2014), released in English in 2018 as The Emissary—have frequently taken up Fukushima, drawing the attention of scholars.

As opposed to many other Japanese authors, who have explored, in generally realistic fiction, the implications of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that took roughly 20,000 lives, Fukushima’s originary moments of “natural disaster” are present only obscurely or implicitly. Instead, the crisis of radiation is central to her imaginaries of a dystopian, normalized post-radiation future, though the fallout is often referred to obliquely, just as radiation is unseen yet ongoing and ubiquitous. Through this mode, Tawada interrogates the cultural and political forces that allowed the crisis and that have continued to follow it: the Japanese government’s neoliberal commodification of lives, its neocolonial economic aspirations, the hubristic view of nuclear energy-as-progress, and especially the 2013 enactment of the State Secrecy Law, which Japanese citizens heavily opposed due to the authoritarian threat it poses to media freedom. In this vein, scholar Saeko Kimura points out that The Emissary’s ambiguity in relation to nuclear disaster mirrors the way its protagonist, Yoshiro, self-censors his work—ultimately suggesting that the fact of Fukushima’s nuclear contamination is the “secret” the government wishes to conceal.(3) (She also wonders whether the strange dearth of Japanese fiction taking up the nuclear aspect of the “Triple Disaster,” as opposed to the earthquake and tsunami, is a result of a similar self-censorship.(4)) Tawada’s fictionalization of this unsettling secrecy is just one way she also conveys the effects of nuclear disaster on her characters’ individual subjectivities—which are shown to be subject to increasing instability.

In an excerpt from his 2020 book Radiation and Revolution (which appears in this special collection of essays on Fukushima for Philosophy World Democracy), Sabu Kohso writes that the disaster constitutes a “breach of World History” through which “ontological shifts . . . are taking place.”(5) Tawada seems to concur; Kohso’s claim that “radiation is less an object than a mode of existence or event”(6) is taken up in her fiction, where the biological and psycho-social implications of radiation are more legible than the fact of radiation itself. As a result, in imaginaries of the implications of radiation within post-nuclear realities, Tawada’s fiction, especially in “The Island of Eternal Life” and The Emissary, emphasizes not only ontological, but also phenomenological chaos: bodies change; boundaries shift, contract, and disappear; language slips; time bends. Tawada’s fiction poeticizes the crisis of meaning that the threat of radiation poses to us all.

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The nuclear disasters of the past century, for some audiences, foreshadow an inevitable apocalypse initiated by the hubris of aspiring to wield nuclear energy. After all, as Kohso writes, radioactive leakage “is an inevitable consequence of [nuclear] energy production . . . because the half-lives of certain radionuclides outlive the endurance of any built structures.”(7) However, like Kohso’s, Tawada’s view does not admit a vision of apocalypse; in fact, she has argued that the idea of apocalypse is foreign to common cultural imaginaries within Japan. She claims, “Es gibt keinen Gründungsmythos für die Stadt Tokio und auch keine apokalyptische Ästhetik, ich meine solche Bilder, in denen die Welt kurz vor dem Ende strahlt. Die Vorstellung, dass die Welt einen Anfang und ein Ende hat, ist in Japan nicht verbreitet” (“There is neither a foundational myth for the city of Tokyo nor an apocalyptic aesthetics; I refer to those images in which the world is glowing shortly before its destruction. The idea that the world has a beginning and an end is not well known in Japan”).(8) For Tawada, as for Fukushima itself, an irradiated world is still “a world that did not end,”(9)demanding attention be paid to its effects, and to what it means to go on living with them.

In this vein, Tawada’s writing is pointedly allegorical, and deeply inspired by the realities of disaster. She has spoken of her fear, as the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Plant were in meltdown, that she would never be able to return to Japan. Yet she did before long. In her keynote address delivered at “Relire Kawabata au 21e siècle—modernisme et japonisme au-delà des mythes,” a conference hosted by the Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris and the Université Paris Diderot in 2014, Tawada recalls her visit to Fukushima the previous year:

As we drove through districts that have become uninhabitable due to radiation contamination, we saw growths of amazingly tall weeds that threatened to overwhelm the abandoned houses. In deserted towns we also saw stunningly beautiful groves of cherry trees in blossom. The cherry blossoms there were famous even before the nuclear accident, but the woman who served as our guide told us that since the local people evacuated, the blossoms have proliferated in volume.

The real horror of natural destruction comes not when animals or plants become extinct; it comes instead when we find the balance of nature upset. This, it seems, is what causes us to feel a sense of anxiety when we see a certain flower suddenly bloom in profusion out of all scale or grow to unprecedented heights.(10)

Tawada’s experience of post-Fukushima Fukushima speaks to a sense of the uncanny, of the subtle signifiers of radiation that tilt one’s perception of continuous reality. What is disrupted, she implies, is not so much nature itself—it continues, albeit in mutated forms—but our perception of it, and our response to it. Tawada brings this idea to bear within her fictional, allegorical accounts of nuclear disaster.

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                     Tawada’s fiction shows that, in opposition to a government that would prefer to suppress them, we must acknowledge the devastations, physical and philosophical, of nuclear disaster. She refuses to promote nihilism.

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Kentōshi by Yōko Tawada (book cover); Image credit: kodanshabunko.com

Tawada’s short story “The Island of Eternal Life,” written for the 2012 collection March Was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown, represents Tawada’s first “Fukushima fiction.”(11) Set in the year 2023, the story depicts a Japan crippled by repeated natural, and subsequently nuclear disasters (a plot that seems designed to elicit the realization that nuclear disasters are not unpredictable, as TEPCO claimed,(12) but wholly to be expected) that have occurred in the years since 2011. While in our lived world, “[t]he escalating rearmament policy of the . . . Shinzō Abe administration can be seen . . . as Japan’s attempt at reentry into the competition among nuclear states for planetary governance,”(13) representing Japan’s stake in global power relations, the result of nuclear fallout within Tawada’s fictional Japan is, ironically, utter isolation. “[S]ince a German nuclear physicist published a study showing that planes landing in Japan became contaminated by nuclear fallout,” she writes, “there have been no more flights to the country” (7). Further, television stations have been taken down, the Internet no longer functions, there is no electricity, and letters are no longer delivered. In other words, no news comes in or goes out. Given the narrator’s position as a German resident, like Tawada herself, disaster becomes increasingly obscure; nations have come to treat Japan itself, and anything associated with it, as a biohazard, a quarantined state. Yet the characters in the story are keenly aware that radiation cannot be geographically contained: when the narrator disembarks from her flight to Germany from the United States, the inspector recoils in fear from her Japanese passport.

 

Such a situation suggests the Edo-era precedent of sakoku (“closed country”), the isolationist foreign policy that prevailed in Japan from the mid-17th to the mid-19th centuries. In fact, the citizens of this fictional Japan seem to have returned to the Edo era, and perhaps even earlier, in more ways than merely isolation. Through a mysterious account (“eventually translated into all the European languages”) titled The Strange Journey of the Grandson of Fernão Mendes Pinto, which was written by “a Portuguese writer who had supposedly sneaked into Japan,” the narrator learns what has supposedly happened to those living there (8). The title of this account itself suggests Japan’s pre-Meiji contacts with the Portuguese; Pinto was a historical figure. In the heat of August,

 

Both men and women wore straw sandals on their bare feet, and commuted to work or school with bare arms and legs. At home, they wore nothing at all. Their nakedness might have made them appear uncivilized to the outside world, their land ripe for colonization, had foreign ships still been coming to Japan. (10)

Straw sandals, of course, themselves evoke historical fashions. The citizens’ nakedness, though, suggests a state of the breakdown of civilization, even a return to pre-civilization, long before the time when Japan, sensing its vulnerability to colonization, opened itself up to the world and joined in the struggle for global power.

Such a plot seems aimed to mock “the pronuclear advocates who argued that giving up on nuclear progress would mean giving up on the very progress of mankind,” as it is “the very pursuit of advancing civilization—the nuclear itself—that fails in its promise and throws Japan back into a premodern state.”(14) Similarly, though the story was written before these efforts, it speaks to the disingenuousness of those in Fukushima who continue to name “public schools, research centres, recovery funds, science museums and renewable energy projects” after the “future.”(15) How can one speak of “future” in an irradiated world? As mentioned above, in Tawada’s imaginary, the world does not end; however, nuclearity is shown to disrupt the supposed “progress” of civilization, and time bends back in a closed loop. Now, “[s]torytellers have appeared, to recite the stories of old comic books and animated films to the accompaniment of guitars and lutes” (11)—linearity turned on its head.

This, though, is not the only way ostensible futurity, and previously held structures of meaning, are threatened in Tawada’s story. It is not titled “The Island of Eternal Life” for nothing: Japan’s elderly, due to “the radioactive material in the air,” have been robbed of the ability to die, while Japan’s children have become feeble. This is because of the multiplication of radioactive particles within cells, “So the younger you are, the greater the damage”; in fact, “the youngest die first,” and “before there’s time to think of the future, the next big earthquake comes along” (10). Here, even the expectation that the young will be stronger than the old is disrupted; the progress of generations is turned upside down. In this, Tawada was perhaps inspired by news accounts of what was called Minamata disease, first noted in 1956, which was caused by the Chisso chemical factory’s toxic wastewater dumping into Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea: these patients, usually infants, “were born with deformed limbs and their bodily deformations would worsen as they aged, including the loss of vision and speech capacity.”(16) Regardless of Tawada’s inspiration, this imaginary represents a breach in what we would define as the natural, a reversal of our natures as mortal beings. Having bitten the radioactive apple—or in this case, apples, seemingly both that of (nuclear) knowledge and of (mutated) eternal life—the elderly in Tawada’s allegory become like gods. Yet, “[i]n elderly hearts, the pain just accumulates” (10). They are left floundering, suffering, in a world they no longer understand.

 

Given the narrator’s distance from the event, though, the reader is left in doubt as to the veracity of the account of this “grandson.” For one, the historical Fernão Mendes Pinto is known for his exaggerated accounts; for another, Tawada herself introduces suspicion, given that the narrator remarks, “since Fernão Mendes Pinto lived in the sixteenth century, the author couldn’t possibly be his grandson. . . . Lying is perhaps a skill that writer-adventurers have to cultivate” (8). Thus, the reality of an irradiated Japan is left in a suspended state in the story. Given that we guess this “grandson” is at least exaggerating if not directly lying, the effects of radiation become undefined, imprecise, unknowable. We are returned to a sense of radiation’s invisibility—and we are left without a sense of orientation, reliant only on the feeling that radiation has the power to alter the fabric of reality.

 

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Tawada’s novel The Emissary, first published in the literary magazine Gunzō in 2014, returns to the basic premise of “The Island of Eternal Life.” However, in this case, we are located within a post-disaster Japan, as told from the perspective of several characters, most often an elderly man named Yoshiro, who is tasked with raising his great-grandson Mumei (“nameless”). In this case, the immortality of Japans’ elderly is not a matter of speculation, but of narrative reality: “The aged could not die,” Yoshiro narrates. “[A]long with the gift of everlasting life, they were burdened with the terrible task of watching their great-grandchildren die” (36), while themselves becoming a “new species of human being” (41). On the other hand, the young are afflicted with “rounded backs, thinning hair, pale faces” (93), constant fevers (34), soft bones (15) and more, their bodies themselves becoming warped, deformed, and unfamiliar.

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                    Tawada pulls the rug out from under the internalized colonialism that has given the nation of Japan direction for so many generations.

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Mutant heron reflections, Reva G.; Image credit: flickr.com

Although here, the disaster is never directly named, we know it is a nuclear one, because flowers have become huge, and food has become toxic. The way in which “men would creep sideways along the edge of the sidewalk like crabs, trying to stay out of the harsh, desert winds sweeping down the middle of the street” (46), parallels the ways in which the nuclear disaster is elided in public discourse, not least because of the tendency of the fictional government toward information suppression—ostensibly a critique of Japan’s much-criticized State Secrecy Law. Further, Tawada’s choice of Tokyo as the location of the disaster casts into relief “the economic structure of Japan that sacrifices Tohoku for the prosperity of Kanto”(17) : in this imaginary, “the twenty-three wards of central Tokyo . . . were virtually deserted” (49) as they have been designated “‘exposure to multiple health hazards from prolonged habitation’ areas,” leaving the apparatus devoid of monetary value (40)—the value Japan’s capitalists have fought so hard to build and protect. In subverting these power relations, Tawada pulls the rug out from under the internalized colonialism that has given the nation of Japan direction for so many generations.(18)

In The Emissary, as opposed to “The Island of Eternal Life,” Japan’s isolation is imposed—a true protectionist sakoku. However, the effects of this isolation, which seem to double the disruptive effects of radiation, wreak havoc on ontologies and phenomenologies in similar ways. First, language itself seems to lose meaning, as terms change or become obsolete. This is motivated in some ways by the government’s regulations surrounding language: in this Japan, “with foreign words falling out of use,” the English-derived term jogging (ジョギング) “was now called loping down” (3) (in the original, kakeochi [駆け落ち], or “elopement”),(19) the associations with marriage in the Japanese having disappeared. Yet, despite the loss of foreign words from common vocabularies, not as many new terms have developed as are needed.(20)Another character, Mr. Yonatani, Mumei’s school teacher, points to the same phenomenon of linguistic poverty when he is forced to reply “that expression is dead” to every suggestion his students give for expressing their gratitude, while no more suitable expression comes to mind (118). Tawada’s characters are left in a world in which they increasingly lack the vocabulary to articulate their experiences, a seeming result of their inability to make sense of their new reality.

Further, the chaotic effects of climate change—earthquakes have shifted Japan further from the continent, with disastrous results—exacerbate this situation of linguistic poverty, leading to breakdowns in perception itself. Yoshiro remarks that

talking about the weather had become very tricky. . . . The minute you said ‘It’s very warm’ you’d be shivering; no sooner were the words ‘It’s awfully nippy this morning’ out of your mouth than your forehead would be damp with sweat. . . . And it wasn’t just hot or cold—the difference between darkness and light was also becoming vague. . . . Streetlights and houses would all be out, urging the night to act like night already, but be all that as it may, why was the dawn breaking in what certainly looked like the dead of night? (105-106)

“As if making fun of the very words human beings used to describe the weather” (105), in Tawada’s novel, nature itself seems to have rallied, adding further chaos and indeterminacy to the uncertain post-disaster world, changing so rapidly as to evade and subvert definitions, leaving them useless. Yet, it is not just that weather is shifting: that the dawn breaks in the middle of the night suggests an impossible celestial event that speaks to a more fundamental breakdown in the order of the universe.

It is not just the weather that is subject to rapid, disorienting evolution in Tawada’s novel.  So also are living beings, and not just in terms of the reversed realities of the old and young. Similarly, male and female embodiments are also subject to reversal:

In areas where culture dictated that female fetuses be aborted, Nature, enraged at humans disrupting her balance this way, had started playing various tricks. One trick was making sure that no one stayed the same sex all their lives. Everyone’s sex changed either once or twice, and people couldn’t tell ahead of time how many times their sex would change. (92)

This is borne out by Mumei and Mr. Yonatani, who are introduced as male but depicted as menstruating (102) and experiencing menopause (109), respectively. The language of this passage is particularly interesting, because unlike the environmental mutations in the novel and the reversal of old and young, which can be attributed to the presence of radioactive material in the environment, this change is identified as Nature’s response to human cultural tampering. Yet, we can still sense the influence of radioactivity at play here (is not nuclear energy a disruption of Nature’s balance?), which again acts to disrupt the structures of meaning, including that of the sex binary.

On top of the changeability of gender, not even characters’ humanity is assured. Despite the disappearance of most animals, the novel bears countless anthropomorphic descriptors and metaphors, in particular a passage that describes Yoshiro’s vision while looking upon the corpse of Mumei’s mother, “a woman as beautiful as a crane” (71), following Mumei’s birth:

Later . . . he found it impossible to reproduce exactly what he had seen. For in his memory, the body continued to mature, to change. The center of the face grew sharper, changing into a bird’s beak. The shoulders became muscular, sprouting feathers like a white swan’s. In time, the toes sharpened into chicken feet. (72)
 
This image is itself unstable, because the change only happens in Yoshiro’s memory; yet, it also serves to heighten the uncanniness of the novel, leading the reader to wonder what constitutes the narrative reality. However, the passage also has a second purpose, which draws on other mentions of birds in the novel, specifically a later remark made by Yoshiro that “freedom of speech was not yet extinct, unlike the Japanese crested ibis” (95). The crested ibis happens to match exactly the description Yoshiro gives, having a long, curved beak, a white coat, and very chicken-like feet. It also happens to have the scientific name Nipponia nippon, “nippon” meaning “Japan” itself. Also, Mumei, Yoshiro’s great-grandson, is compared to a bird throughout the book (22, 107, 110), starting from the very first passage of the novel (“Perhaps it was his head, much too large for his slender long neck, that made him look like a baby bird [3, emphasis mine]”): it seems that Tawada means Mumei to serve as a stand-in for Japan, his fate being allegorical for he fate of the nation. (21)

This image is itself unstable, because the change only happens in Yoshiro’s memory; yet, it also serves to heighten the uncanniness of the novel, leading the reader to wonder what constitutes the narrative reality. However, the passage also has a second purpose, which draws on other mentions of birds in the novel, specifically a later remark made by Yoshiro that “freedom of speech was not yet extinct, unlike the Japanese crested ibis” (95). The crested ibis happens to match exactly the description Yoshiro gives, having a long, curved beak, a white coat, and very chicken-like feet. It also happens to have the scientific name Nipponia nippon, “nippon” meaning “Japan” itself. Also, Mumei, Yoshiro’s great-grandson, is compared to a bird throughout the book (22, 107, 110), starting from the very first passage of the novel (“Perhaps it was his head, much too large for his slender long neck, that made him look like a baby bird [3, emphasis mine]”): it seems that Tawada means Mumei to serve as a stand-in for Japan, his fate being allegorical for he fate of the nation. (21)

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                     Ultimately, Tawada narrates Japan’s, and all nations’, worst fear: a present without the hope of future generations. Her novel bears the marks of a nuclear world in which the experience of radiation blurs boundaries and strips all forms of structure and meaning of their former significance

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Part of Chōjū-giga scroll with animals sumō wrestling at a celebration; Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This association comes to a head in the climax of the novel, where the experience of time itself also becomes unstable. Yoshiro’s early remark—“Time didn’t spread out gradually, ring after ring, nor was it lined up neatly in a row; could it just be a disorderly pile, like the inside of a drawer no one ever bothers to straighten?” (6)—turns out to foreshadow later passages describing Mumei’s “jump” to the future, when he is fifteen years old. “At that moment,” we read—suddenly from the perspective of Mumei, an additional disruptive feature—“he had apparently leaped across time, propelled into the future” (126). Here, Mumei remembers that he has been selected to serve as an “emissary” to India, a plot point that gives explanation to Tawada’s Japanese title for the novel, Kentōshi (遣唐使), which historically refers to Japanese missions to Tang China to gain cultural, political, scientific, and religious knowledge. Accordingly, in resistance to isolationism, we learn that the adherents of the organization that has made this selection hope that in India, others can “thoroughly research the state of Japanese children’s health” (130), perhaps to find a cure for their condition. Although this mission sounds very promising, its narrative reality is undermined given that Mumei also notes his “wisps of memory” “come back from the future” (128, emphasis mine), causing the reader to question where, temporally, we are meant to be situated. Are these memories “from” the future narrative fact or something more like a hope or a dream?

The reader’s understanding of textual reality is thereafter extremely unstable, and we subsequently move through a sequence in which Mumei encounters the girl who was formerly his neighbor (135). They travel to the beach in their wheelchairs and purposely throw themselves onto the sand; however, Mumei suddenly becomes weak, and the narrative ends when “darkness, wearing a glove, reached for the back of his head to take hold of his brains, and Mumei fell into the pitch-black depths of the strait” (138). If Mumei serves as a stand-in for the Japanese nation itself, this ending—likely a vision on the younger Mumei’s part, but one that may be read as death—suggests an experience of nuclear radiation that leads to destruction.

Ultimately, Tawada narrates Japan’s, and all nations’, worst fear: a present without the hope of future generations.(22) Her novel bears the marks of a nuclear world in which the experience of radiation blurs boundaries and strips all forms of structure and meaning of their former significance; Tawada captures the tendency of language and imagination to fail to adequately grapple with the catastrophe of radiation.(23) In subverting a reading of Mumei as a normative child savior that redeems the sins of the adult generation, Tawada points to the destructive concepts of progress and futurity that themselves brought about the nuclear crisis.(24) However, if we read further, we can note that even Mumei’s “death scene” contains the same notes of instability present throughout the novel. Mumei, or “nameless,” can also be translated as “unnameability” and “unknowability,”(25) allowing the reader to read the same meanings—or lack thereof—in the novel’s ending, and therefore in the future of Japan itself. Tawada’s ending, then, does not represent a break from her imaginaries of post-disaster: she depicts a disrupted, chaotic, indeterminate reality born of the bewildering and ongoing experience of radiation, one in which the future once imagined is impossible, and in which the ultimate outcome has yet to be written.

“We cannot say it is safe in Japan,” Tawada said in a recent interview; beyond the threat of the coronavirus, “[t]he issue of contamination has not been entirely resolved yet.”(26) Confronted with an Olympics that have been dubbed the “Reconstruction Games,” meant to define the Fukushima disaster as resolved, Tawada’s imaginaries—especially this ending—have become even more urgent. Yet, despite calls for Japan to abolish the use of nuclear power, including from Tawada herself, the Fukushima reactors received approval to restart operations this past April, in line with the Suga administration’s plan to make nuclear power a main component of Japan’s transition to renewable energy. Tawada’s fiction shows that, in opposition to a government that would prefer to suppress them, we must acknowledge the devastations, physical and philosophical, of nuclear disaster. She refuses to promote nihilism: if life post-disaster goes on, her gripping fictions draw us to recognize the opportunity to choose a different path—a path away from dependence on nuclear energy.

                    Given the narrator’s position as a German resident, like Tawada herself, disaster becomes increasingly obscure; nations have come to treat Japan itself, and anything associated with it, as a biohazard, a quarantined state.

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NOTES

1. Jennifer Wenzel, The Disposition of Nature, 20.


2. Kathrin Maurer, “Translating Catastrophes,” 175.


3. Saeko Kimura,「放射能災の想像力」, 106.


4. Ibid, 108.


5. Sabu Kohso, “Radiation and Revolution.”


6. Ibid.


7. Ibid.


8. Kathrin Maurer, 183.


9. Rachel DiNitto, Fukushima Fiction, 138.


10. Yōko Tawada, “Dandelions,” 14.


11. Rachel DiNitto refers to Fukushima-centric or Fukushima-inspired imaginaries in this way.


12. Rachel DiNitto, Fukushima Fiction, 138. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was (and is) the company responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.


13. Sabu Kohso, “Radiation and Revolution.”


14. Rachel DiNitto, 145.


15. Tomoe Otsuki, “Visualizing Nuclear Futurism,” 6.


16. Ibid, 12.


17. Yōko Tawada, “Dandelions,” 23.


18. Tomoe Otsuki, 13.


19. Yōko Tawada, 献灯使, 9.


20. Yoshiro remarks, “The shelf life of words was getting shorter all the time—it wasn’t only foreign words that were falling out of use. And some words that had disappeared after being labeled ‘old-fashioned’ had no heirs to take their place” (4).

 
21. Jameson’s concept of national allegory is illustrative of this plot. See Ahmad’s classical recapitulation and critique of this concept in Aijaz Ahmad, “Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory,’” Social Text, 17 (1987), 3-25. Jameson returns to the debate in his 2019 book Allegory and Ideology.


22.Tomoe Otsuki, “Visualizing Nuclear Futurism,” 14.


23. Rachel DiNitto, Fukushima Fiction, 148.


24. Tomoe Otsuki, “Visualizing Nuclear Futurism,” 15.


25. Ibid, 14.


26. Kyodo News, “Japan should have abolished nuclear plants.”