The New Yorker: Anti-nuke street artist is ‘Japanese Banksy’ — Cult phenomenon in Tokyo — “I love the American people… I want them to help save Japan… We need foreigners to save us from ourselves” — Featured in upcoming film (VIDEO)

Published: October 1st, 2013 at 6:56 pm ET


Title: An Interview with 281_Anti Nuke
Source: The New Yorker
Author: Roland Kelts
Date: Oct. 1, 2013

The stickers went up a few months after Japan’s triple disaster in 2011 […] in downtown Tokyo […]

[…] a young girl in a raincoat above the caption “I hate rain” […] On other stickers, silhouettes of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are suspended in white space beside the logo for [Tepco] […] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s face, his mouth suffocated by an American flag.

The artist behind them calls himself 281_Anti Nuke, and he has become a cult phenomenon among Tokyo locals. […] Tagged as the “Japanese Banksy,” he is an unlikely manifestation of Japan’s shredded identity […] He is a fortysomething father born and raised near Fukushima […]

“[…] nobody out there remembers the idea of radiation anymore. People abroad know more about the crisis in Fukushima than the Japanese. The Japanese are trying to forget. I want to make them remember.” […]

281_Anti Nuke’s work is about to reach more people via exhibitions in the New York and Los Angeles, and a documentary film about his art directed by [filmmaker Adrian] Storey will début in festivals next year. […]

“I love the American people, but I want them to help save Japan. This time, it’s the Japanese people who are to blame. We’re not aware, and we are actively trying to forget. We need foreigners to save us from ourselves.”

Watch trailer for the upcoming documentary here

Published: October 1st, 2013 at 6:56 pm ET


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21 comments to The New Yorker: Anti-nuke street artist is ‘Japanese Banksy’ — Cult phenomenon in Tokyo — “I love the American people… I want them to help save Japan… We need foreigners to save us from ourselves” — Featured in upcoming film (VIDEO)

  • bo bo

    I'm glad an artist speaking out about fukushima is gaining notoriety.. but as usual New Yorker magazine strangely lacks in a sense of urgency… as if the only way they would consider discussing this topic is at an art opening in SOHO, edgy topic to make themselves look radical… ok maybe I'm bitter .. I guess its always better than nothing

  • bo bo

    Kudos to antinuke-281 however! my bitterness is to the New Yorker's sense of remoteness

  • eatliesndie eatliesndie

    281 – much respect.


    Takashi Hirose. author of Fukushima Meltdown: The World’s First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster (2011)wrote a letter to visitors to Japan.

    He refutes the Japanese government's recent reassurances about the environment with true facts: dangerous radiation is everywhere in the country – including in the food being sold as "safe".

    It's a good summary of how things stand now in 2013.

    Read letter here –


  • Gasser Gasser

    The sound of silence
    Hello TEPCO, your not my friend,

    I've come to kick you're ass again,
Because your Isotopes are softly creeping,
Left its Actinides while I was sleeping,

    And the Nuclides that was planted in my brain
Still remains

    Within the sound of radiation's silence.

    In restless dreams I walked alone

    Narrow streets of cobblestone,
'Neath the halo of a BWR lit street lamp,
I turned my collar to the contaminated cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of

    Gamma ray light
That split the night
And created the sound of Atomic silence.

    And in the Nuclear flash of light I saw

    Ten thousand people dying, maybe more.
People talking without the NRC hearing,
NRC hearing without listening,
People writing sing say's that voices will share
And only dared
Disturb the sound of TEPCO's silence.

    "Fools" said we,"You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear our words that we might teach you,
Take our facts and logic that might reach you."
But our words like silent Cesium raindrops fell,
As Corium's recriticality echoed
In the Aquifer's wells of silence

    And the people bowed and prayed
To the Nuclear Devil they made.
And enenews'ers flashed out it’s warning,
In the words that bad shit was forming.
And the signs said,
    The words of the prophet s
are written on the subway walls

    And tenement halls.


    • bo bo

      I like that article better

      • bo bo

        You understand with this article how much he risks to put this message out.
        Had those stickers had messaged written in japanese (where more would be ableto read) he's probably dead by now.

        Not sure if I'm being oversensitive to New Yorker but I feel like there is a VERY subtle suggestion in the New Yorker description of 281as if he might be using nuclear issues to grab attention and fame. But I could he paranoid.

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          Only problem with the second article was the caption under the last picture made it sound like the meltdown (singular?) had already happened. The ongoing problems were completely downplayed.

          Interesting that there are those who want to silence him from half a world away.

          • bo bo

            Good catch, I didn't notice that. Yes 'Meltdown' in singular is often snuck in either intentionally or from lack of knowledge. This may be a case of pure lack of knowledge.

        • bo bo

          Great !!! Let the Soho galleries discuss the situation 'over in japan' in their art opening parties over california wine and cheese… enenewsers can start stickering cities in the states !

          • or-well

            Does this work?
            art by Japanese child evacuees combined with their portraits by an artist.

            • bo bo

              Wow thank you or-well. One of these portraits could have been my nephew. He's happily playing outdoors now in Australia, but makes me sad to think how he's been ripped away from his roots for such a horrible unnecessary reason.

              • or-well

                You're welcome bo. In all the talk of "stakeholders", I've yet to hear mention of children.

                Simple to remember – Nukism means death. Nukists are killers. Their first victims are children. What else do people need to know?

                I am glad your nephew is away and safe.

  • Jebus Jebus

    False hope for all, like ants in an anthill slowly burning…

    Japan’s Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck in Limbo

    Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Some have moved on, reluctantly, but tens of thousands remain in a legal and emotional limbo while the government holds out hope that they can one day return.

    If they move away, they will never be compensated.

    "docimeters", truth shines everywhere…

  • thatmonk thatmonk

    The problem of people wanting to forget is that there is not a hell of a lot ordinary citizens feel they can do. We need a leader with someTHING for them to do. Until there is a THING for them to go do, they will want to forget as it is really the only option. And with the most powerful governments and corporations covering up… well, I don't know how to fight it either.

  • We Not They Finally

    I'm all for anyone who highlights this, however they do it. The culture is so dumbed-down. Something could be written with facts and insight and spelling everything out, yet gets no viewers. And then something pop-culture which at least nails some PROBLEMS "goes viral." Let's take whatever we can get and go from there. This artist seems passionate, he's speaking truth, and doing it over there is taking real risks. And he does seem to have nailed the issue of denial head-on. So kudos to him and let people take it seriously! Who cares how The New Yorker covered it. They covered it.

    • bo bo

      WNTF I agree with you. They covered it. I think I was getting overly sensitive about New Yorker's intentions – by suggesting 281 might be using nuclear issues to gain notoriety, the article is meant to subliminally create the impression that indeed things are actually not that bad in Tokyo. That's how paranoid I've become !