Exploring the lingering legacy of Japan’s worst modern disaster

Exploring the lingering legacy of Japan’s worst modern disaster

Old Elizabethan Makoto Takahashi, a global expert on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan, gave a group of current sixth-formers a special invitation to an exhibition he has curated.

Featuring photography and a number of essays, the exhibition, which marks the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster and the earthquake and tsunami that precipitated it, is being held at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 and triggered a triple meltdown at the power station, forcing 200,000 people from their homes.

Makoto (OE 2003-2010) treated the 13 Art & Design and Geography A-level students to a lecture and a personal tour.

Head of Art Craig Wheatley said: “The exhibition explores the lingering legacy of the 2011 disaster. There is a sophisticated and diverse range of photography that challenged the boys’ appreciation of both the aesthetic and conceptual. Having Makoto’s insight was invaluable; his willingness to explain and unpack the work was matched by the boys’ enthusiasm and desire to learn more.”

“In his QE days, Makoto was himself a talented A-level artist and geographer,” Mr Wheatley said.

He is a lecturer at the Technical University of Munich and will be returning to the Harvard Kennedy School of Governance as a Fulbright-Lloyd’s Fellow in early 2022.

He began work on the Fukushima Daiichi disaster ten years ago, soon after it happened. He received his BA, MPhil and PhD from Cambridge University and was a visiting fellow at Waseda University in Tokyo.

His thesis, which examined how claims to expert authority are made in conditions of low public trust, received the American Association of Geographers’ Jacques May Thesis Prize.

The exhibition, entitled Picturing the Invisible, sees his research interests coming together with his longstanding engagement with the London art scene: while in the Sixth Form at QE, he took part in in the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme and in the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Program; he has also been an Event Manager at the OPEN Ealing community art gallery.

Expressing his gratitude to Makoto, Mr Wheatley added: “As a cross curricular trip between the Art and Geography departments, this was a fabulous opportunity for learning.  It combined detailed analysis of visual language with geological narrative of the ‘worst crisis Japan has faced since World War II’.”

The exhibition is on until 23rd December.