Was the Fukushima disaster predicted 35 years ago?

Published : 9:04 am  August 17, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


 reads | 



The painting beamed at me from a dilapidated wall, in a house was assigned to me by the Christchurch Hospital, where I was working at the time. For many months I used to observe it in eerie silence. The fact that the Barbados cemetery was right next door did not help – in fact many of the gravestones could be seen from my kitchen window. Mounted in a dimly lit corridor, this artwork made me feel uneasy every time I passed it at night, such that I would often deliberately turn my head squarely away. But invariably the majestic pull would be too great and I would end up taking a peek, only to panic and hurry into my room.


Then the September 4 earthquake struck. The painting had to be dismounted as a result of damage to the wall, and I left Christchurch soon after. Sadly the city suffered a second, this time fatal, earthquake in February 2011. I don’t know what happened to the painting.
Frequently have I discussed the artwork, entitled Entre les Trous de la Memoire (meaning “Between the Holes in Memory” ), by Dominique Appia (figure 1) on internet blog sites, seeking an explanation to the mysterious imagery. Many came up, some relating it to the plight of women in modern society, others citing biblical references (1Corinthians). I myself have even argued that there are Hindu symbols in the painting.

Then at 14:46 JST on March 11, 2011 there occurred on the East coast of Japan one of the deadliest natural calamities to strike that country. The Tohoku earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 undersea mega thrust earthquake, the most powerful ever known to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since the start of modern record-keeping in 1900. It was followed by a Tsunami of titanic proportions, which then triggered an unmanageable nuclear meltdown disaster in Fukushima daiichi.

At the time I was actually flying from Sydney to Los Angeles, over the Pacific, where all these terrible events were unfolding. As the news broadcast image after image of the massive tragedy, I was struck by awe and terror, but I did not think of the painting.

However, my fascination with the artwork was recently re-awakened, thanks to an animated discussion with a friend, and a few days ago, as I lay in bed deliberating our exchange, it struck me. Yes I had my Eureka moment! Through his 1975 masterpiece, Dominique Appia had prophesied the Fukushima disaster, with an uncanny accuracy, 35 years before its horrific realization! The more I pondered it, the greater was my conviction, and the pieces of the jigsaw fell gradually into place.

Here, I elucidate how the sequence of catastrophes at Fukushima is encrypted within the prophetic artwork:
1.The Tohoku earthquake: The Leaning Tower of Pisa in the painting on the wall appears straight. This means that either the wall or the house is crooked, due to an earthquake.

2.The tsunami: The Tohoku earthquake triggered tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres, and which, in the Sendai area, travelled as far as 10 km inland. During the disaster several ships were washed ashore, many kilometres inland. These happenings are represented in the painting by the sea entering the house, indeed bringing with it a ship, as occurred in the real life situation.

3.The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima: The fireplace and fire symbolise the level 7 meltdowns which took place in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex following the tsunami. Many electrical generators were disabled, with at least three nuclear reactors suffering explosions.

4.Ignored nuclear safety reports: Books strewn across the wooden floor denote ignored reports regarding the safety of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. These include the 1976 falsification of safety records by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Company), the unheeded 2006 court order to close a nuclear reactor in Western Japan due to safety concerns, results of a 2007 Tsunami study and questioning by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2008 of the ability of Japan’s nuclear plants to withstand seismic activity.
5.Biological devastation:The leafless, uprooted tree signifies the decimation of plant life and the infiltration of radio-activity into the food chain as a result of the nuclear meltdown.

6.Nuclear fusion:The evanescent quality of the two children evokes the conversion of matter to energy, as in a nuclear reaction. Additionally, one of the children is shown looking helplessly towards the sky, presumably representing victims of the disaster awaiting evacuation. Thus this is yet another pictorial reference to the cataclysm at Fukushima.

7.Snow and icebergs: With remarkable clairvoyance Appia seems even to have painted in the unseasonal snow that hit the tsunami survivors, as seen to the left of the artwork, alongside the tree. Also portrayed are the icebergs which the Tohoku quake reportedly created in Antartica.

8.Response by the Japanese government: The stone head peering from an otherwise empty anteroom, and bearing a stymied expression, refers to the slow, almost petrified, response by the Japanese authorities throughout the ordeal.

9.A view of Tokyo: Seen through the window, beyond the stone head is a city skyline, supposedly that of Tokyo, which was only a short distance from the epicentre of the disaster.

10.Surveying the damage at Fukushima: Shortly after the event, TEPCO flew machines mounted on balloons to survey the resultant damage – this corresponds well with the balloon in the picture.

What about the flowers in the balloon – It is difficult to identify their nature. Are they cherry blossoms to symbolise a nation’s anguish and hope? Or are they wreaths for the thousands of dead?

It is clear to me that “Between the holes of memory” was not in fact a memory but rather a premonition of events which would take place in Japan almost four decades later. The appeal of the painting lies in its enigmatic nature and there must be as many interpretations as there are viewers- I challenge you to come up with your own.