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Infamous Fukushima town sign praising nuclear energy to become permanent museum display

In this combined photo, the pro-nuclear sign in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, is seen before and after removal. The top image shows the sign, which reads "Nuclear power: Energy for a bright future," on March 2, 2012. Workers are seen removing parts of the sign in the middle photo taken Dec. 21, 2015. The bottom photo, taken Feb. 18, 2021, shows the Futaba Station area after the sign's removal. (Mainichi/Koichiro Iwashita, Junichi Sasaki)

FUKUSHIMA -- A sign hailing nuclear energy and formerly located on the main street of Fukushima Prefecture town Futaba, which was rendered inaccessible following the nuclear meltdowns triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, will go on display at the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum in the town from March 24.

    The sign measures 2 meters by 16 meters, and reads "Nuclear Power: Energy for a Bright Future." After the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the sign became iconic nationally as a symbol of the northeastern Japan town that pushed for nuclear power and still remains entirely subject to evacuation orders.

    The sign was removed in March 2016 because its deterioration posed dangers, and photos of the sign were displayed at the museum. It is too large to be placed indoors, so authorities delayed its display when opening the museum in September 2020; in the meantime, discussions on how to exhibit it were held with the Fukushima Prefectural Government. Then, on March 19, the prefectural government announced the sign will go on permanent display at the museum's outdoor terrace from March 24.

    Yuji Onuma, 45, who came up with the sign's slogan when he was in elementary school, said, "I believe exhibiting the sign will symbolize a resolve to never have another nuclear accident, and to aim for a bright future this time around. It took a long time after its removal for display plans to be finalized, but I hope coming face to face with the real thing will give visitors a chance to think about the nuclear disaster."

    (Japanese original by Ryusuke Takahashi, Fukushima Bureau)

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