16 September 2020

After Fukushima, a test of pri-mateship

The Back Page

Call it nature’s revenge, or a modern morality tale, but the fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has spread wider than just the radioactive nasties unleashed by the Tohoku earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, back in early 2011.

Considered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the meltdown of the nuclear reactor’s core prompted the government to establish a 20km-radius exclusion zone and 154,000 human residents were required to find alternative accommodation for the foreseeable future.

But nobody told the local wildlife to vamoose, so they didn’t. Instead, the region’s macaques, wild boars and assorted other critters decided they quite liked the neighbourhood now the naked apes had skedaddled and began helping themselves to the abundant, abandoned, fruit trees and vegie gardens.

Problem is, the big-brained, weak-muscled primates are now starting to return, safe in the hope that they won’t find themselves glowing in the dark, and the co-existence turf wars have begun.

The first shots are being fired by Homo sapiens of course, who, thanks to substantial government subsidies, have armed themselves with massive amounts of fireworks. Citizen patrols are manning the perimeter, unleashing fusillades of double-bungers at the unsuspecting creatures who are now calling Fukushima home.

But while that might seem like a cracker of a solution, the monkeys, at least, aren’t so easily deterred. After a couple of days, the lure of a free feast overcomes the fear of pyrotechnics and the macaques come back.

And not all the humans are so bellicose.

“Look, I think they’re cute. I would absolutely never hurt them,” Shuichi Kanno, a 79-year-old man who has returned to his home, told Japanese media. “None of this is their fault. It’s nuclear power’s fault. It’s the fault of humans.”

Indeed it is.

If you see something stupid, say something stupid … send your monkey business to [email protected].

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