Japan voiced anger yesterday over cartoons published in a French newspaper that took aim at the decision to award the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo despite the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine published a cartoon depicting sumo wrestlers with extra limbs competing in front of a crippled nuclear plant, which said the disaster had made it a feasible Olympic sport.
Another cartoon showed two people standing in front of a pool of water while wearing nuclear protection suits and holding a Geiger counter, saying that the water sport facilities had already been built at Fukushima.
The satirical jabs give the wrong impression about Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed the accident and its wastewater problem are under control and should not affect the Olympics.
Japan is traditionally sensitive to opinions about it expressed in foreign media and has been angered that a crisis that brought such human tragedy has become the subject of caricature.
“These kinds of satirical pictures hurt the victims of the disaster,” Suga told a news conference.
“This kind of journalism gives the wrong impression about the wastewater problem,” he said.
The government will officially lodge a protest with the French weekly, Suga said.
The incident comes after similar case less than a year ago in which French media made light of the nuclear disaster and its effects.
TV channel France 2’s We’re Not Lying program showed a doctored photo of Eiji Kawashima, the goalkeeper of Japan’s national soccer squad, with four arms.
The show explained that it was the “Fukushima effect” that had allowed Kawashima to keep goal so effectively in Japan’s shock defeat of France. The station later expressed its regret for the gag.