Japanese police end nuclear art stunt

TOKYO (AFP) – An anonymous painter in Japan at the weekend added an image of the stricken Fukushima atomic plant to a public mural about the horrors of a nuclear explosion by the late abstract master Taro Okamoto.

The clandestine add-on image – painted in a style mimicking that of Okamoto’s “Myth of Tomorrow” on display at a busy Tokyo train station – created a stir on Twitter before police took it down Sunday evening.

The small wooden panel – which shows black smoke billowing from reactor buildings resembling those at Fukushima – was attached to the wall without causing damage to the original 30-meter-long (100-foot-long) wall painting.

Okamoto, who was born 100 years ago and died in 1996, is one of Japan’s best-known modern artists. Strongly influenced by Pablo Picasso, he is known for his abstract paintings and sculptures, including his “Tower of the Sun” erected for the Osaka Expo in 1970.

“Myth of Tomorrow,” created in Mexico in 1968-69, went missing for years but was rediscovered in 2003, returned to Japan and finally installed at a pedestrian overpass at the capital’s busy Shibuya railway station in 2008.

The non-profit organisation that is the guardian of the painting was quoted as saying by local media: “It is an outrageous prank and we are troubled.”

An official with the group said “it is problematic to create a link when many people are suffering” between the horror of an atomic bomb explosion and the crisis at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant, the Tokyo Shimbun reported.

Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 destroyed the cooling systems of the Fukushima plant, causing explosions and fires. The plant has since leaked radioactive substances into the air, ground and sea.

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