TOKYO -- A mascot-style character representing the radioactive material tritium in a government pamphlet on the safety of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has been changed to the letter T following a barrage of criticism over the original design.
A new version of the pamphlet minus the tritium mascot was released on April 22. An official at the government's Reconstruction Agency explained, "Following views that the illustration was not considerate of the feelings of the people of Fukushima Prefecture, we have changed its portrayal to a circle with a 'T' inside it, which won't be seen as trivializing the issue. We wish to respond with discretion in explanations to the local areas using the pamphlet."
The agency said it would also release a video featuring the same content once it has been corrected.
The pamphlet on the safety of treated water at the disaster-hit plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Holdings Inc. used the tritium illustration to explain that the radioactive isotope exists in seawater and people's bodies, and that if it enters the human body it doesn't accumulate, instead being expelled along with water, among other information.
In response to this, numerous users on social media and elsewhere described the pamphlet as "insensitive" and as "image manipulation," among other criticism, and on April 14, a day after its release, the pamphlet was pulled from the Reconstruction Agency website.
At an April 20 press conference that followed a Cabinet meeting, Minister for Reconstruction Katsuei Hirasawa apologized, saying, "I truly apologize for the way our actions have offended people."
(Japanese original by Shunsuke Sekiya, Tokyo City News Department)