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Fukushima nuke worker life gets recorded as manga

TOKYO -- First off, no one who works at Japan's wrecked nuclear power plant calls it Fukushima Dai-ichi, comic-book artist Kazuto Tatsuta says in his book about his time on the job. It's ichi efu, or 1F.

It's not “hell on earth,” but a life filled with a careful routine to protect against radiation. A good part of the day is spent putting on and taking off protective layer after layer: hazmat suits, gloves, boots and filtered masks. Even bus and van interiors are covered in plastic.

Workers say they will lose their jobs if they talk to reporters and their bosses find out. That makes Tatsuta's manga, “1F: The Labor Diary Of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant,” a rare look at the nuclear plant that suffered three meltdowns after the 2011 tsunami, and will take decades to decommission.

Tatsuta worked at the plant from June to December 2012 in part because he was struggling as a manga artist, but “1F” is his biggest success yet.

The opening episode won a newcomer award and was published last year in Morning, a weekly manga magazine with a circulation of 300,000. The first several episodes are coming out as a book next month, and publisher Kodansha Ltd. plans on turning “1F” into a series.

Tatsuta said “1F” is not about taking sides on the debate over nuclear power, but simply a story of what it's like to work there.

“I just want to keep a record for history. I want to record what life was like, what I experienced,” he told The Associated Press in his studio outside Tokyo this week.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, the utility that runs Fukushima Dai-ichi, rarely provides media access to the inner workings of the plant, except for orchestrated press tours.

Tatsuta is a pen name. The 49-year-old artist asked that his real name not be used for fear of being barred from working at the plant in the future.

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In this drawing released by Kazuto Tatsuta, KODANSHA, the main character in comic-artist Kazuto Tatsuta's comic “1F: The Labor Diary Of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant” goes ...

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