FUTABA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Fukushima Prefecture on Sunday opened a museum about the massive March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in a bid to pass down memories of the calamity to future generations.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, located in the town of Futaba, also shows through its exhibitions people’s efforts to rebuild their lives after the natural disaster and the meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which straddles Futaba and the town of Okuma.
About 1,050 people visited on opening day.
The three-story museum comprises six sections, starting with a theater with large screens that introduces the lives of locals before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters hit on March 11, 2011, how residents evacuated and the ensuing efforts to decommission the stricken reactors and rebuild affected areas.
With a total area of 5,300 square meters, the other zones are laid out in chronological order with exhibits including memorials and resident accounts. Twenty-nine locals will give first-person accounts of the period at the museum.
Also among the exhibits is a whiteboard with handwritten radioactive iodine level data that had been moved from a now-defunct prefectural nuclear power center located about 5 kilometers west of the Fukushima No. 1 plant that gathered radiation data for three days after the nuclear catastrophe.
Protective clothing and bags used to store waste generated in the prolonged decontamination efforts are also on display.
The opening of the museum has not come without criticism, however, with some pointing out that it does not sufficiently highlight the failures of the government and Tepco in preventing the accident. Rather, it focuses uncritically on the disaster and aftermath.
To attract visitors from abroad, tablet devices are available and offer explanations in English, Chinese and Korean, according to the local government, which expects some 50,000 annual visitors. Tickets are ¥600 ($5.70) for adults and ¥300 for students.