© 2020

Visualizing Nuclear Power in Japan

A Trip to the Reactor

  • Examines the forces that shaped Japanese images of nuclear power from the Pacific War to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and beyond

  • Highlights the impact of visual media in promoting nuclear power in Japan, including discussion on the “atoms for peace” program and US-Japan relations

  • Appeals to scholars of Japanese history, history of science and technology, art history, film studies, and politics


Table of contents

About this book


This book explores how Japanese views of nuclear power were influenced not only by Hiroshima and Nagasaki but by government, business and media efforts to actively promote how it was a safe and integral part of Japan’s future. The idea of “atoms for peace” and the importance of US-Japan relations were emphasized in exhibitions and in films. Despite the emergence of an anti-nuclear movement, the dream of civilian nuclear power and the “good atom” nevertheless prevailed and became more accepted. By the late 1950s, a school trip to see a reactor was becoming a reality for young Japanese, and major events such as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and 1970 Osaka Expo seemed to reinforce the narrative that the Japanese people were destined for a future led by science and technology that was powered by the atom, a dream that was left in disarray after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.


Fukushima nuclear disaster atomic bomb Hiroshima Nagasaki Atoms for Peace nuclear reactors visual media Astroboy art history film studies

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Historical and Philosophical InquiryUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

About the authors

Dr. Morris Low is Associate Professor of Japanese History at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Visualizing Nuclear Power in Japan
  • Book Subtitle A Trip to the Reactor
  • Authors Morris Low
  • Series Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-47197-2
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-47200-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-47198-9
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 260
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Science
    History of Japan
    Cultural History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“The strength of the book is definitively its rich historical materials and its evocative writing. For a work of history, the book reads almost like an ethnography. … the book is too specialized to be of interest to undergraduate students, but it will definitely become a staple for scholars studying the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. In that regard, the book contributes to the growing literature on nuclear propaganda, a subject that remains important and controversial.” (Maxime Polleri, Metascience, Vol. 30 (1), 2021)