This article analyses the transformation of Japanese popular images concerning nuclear power between 1945 and 1965. The main material for the analysis was a Japanese weekly illustrated magazine, Asahi Graph, which was not only a representative example of Japanese illustrated magazines, but also the mass medium that in 1952 popularized visual images of the damage caused by two atomic bombs. In addition, this article shall use popular manga, anime and films related to nuclear power as complementary sources. From the analysis, I distinguish five consecutive images concerning nuclear power. (1) Hiroshima/Nagasaki as events of local significance before 1952, (2) Hiroshima/Nagasaki as national disasters after 1952, (3) Japan as a victimized nation of the Nuclear Age after 1954 when the Lucky Dragon Incident happened, (4) Japan as an advanced technological nation in the Scientific Age in the late 1950s, and (5) Hiroshima/Nagasaki as the past already surmounted from the early 1960s. I describe the rise and fall of these images concerning nuclear power, linking them to the changes the nation’s self-portrait underwent in the post-war period. In the final paragraphs, I point to several blind spots in Japan’s self-image that can be discerned from the history of images of nuclear power.
The research presented hereafter was conducted as the author's PhD thesis research, which was accepted by the Department of Communications at Münster University in 2002. In chapter one, the author starts by discussing basic terms including image, national image, stereotypes, national stereotypes, and prejudice. Next the author explains how reality is constructed in the mass media. In chapter two, the author explains the function of the mass media in Germany and the work of foreign correspondents. In chapter three, the author shows how the image of Japan in Germany has changed over the course of history. In the empirical portion of the study, the author outlines the hypotheses, lists the four major German daily newspapers used as resources, explains the method of research, and provides the findings. The author examined the number of newspaper articles focusing on their main topics and sub-topics, length, form, and correctness. She also examined the background information provided in the articles, the occasions on which the political, economic, social and cultural events took place, and relationships to the places covered. The author attempts to evaluate the overall standing of Japan, the standing according to different journalists and the intention behind the coverage of Japan. As the second step, the author inquired into the working environment of journalists writing about Japan, as well as the self perception of those journalists and their attitudes toward Japan. German journalists claim to write balanced and detailed reports about Japan. In reality, however, the reports are more or less negative, and limited in the topics and places to which attention was given. On the whole, the German journalists writing about Japan, though claiming to have positive feelings toward Japan, write articles that carry a negative image of the country. The common topic of their articles is Japanese politics. Since Japanese politics is the most negatively presented topic, the overall image of Japan tends to be negative as well.