Anger As French Paper Refuses Apology Over Fukushima Cartoons

Japan offended by French satirical cartoons

The offending satirical cartoons from “Le Canard Enchaine”

Japan has been angered by cartoons published in satirical French paper Le Canard Enchaine, and now the Japanese government is planning an official complaint after the paper failed to see what was offensive about the cartoons.

Most netizens are angry at seeing the Fukushima tragedy mocked in this fashion, particularly now that Japan has secured the 2020 Olympics, but the paper maintains that the cartoons were not published with intentional malice toward Japan.

From Yahoo! Japan:

French Newspaper Refutes Japanese Criticisms Over Fukushima Satire: “Japan Has No Sense Of Humour”

On September 12, the French weekly paper “Le Canard Enchaine”, stated that “We take responsibility for publishing satirical cartoons about Japan. There is nothing in there that goes against our conscience in the slightest”, and complained that Japanese people have no sense of humour. The newspaper published cartoons satirising the fact that Japan, which is currently dealing with the issues surrounding the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear disaster, had been selected as the host city for the 2020 Olympics, causing anger in Japan.

One of the cartoons in question shows sumo wrestlers, each with three arms and three legs, facing each other in a sumo ring in front of the damaged nuclear reactor, and beside them a sports commentator comments “Amazing, thanks to Fukushima, sumo wrestling has become an Olympic sport!” In another cartoon, two people wearing hazmat suits and holding Geiger counters in front of a swimming pool say that the construction of the water sports arena in Fukushima has been completed.

The Japanese government, which has opposed these cartoons, announced that they would send a formal letter of complaint to the newspaper.

The government has repeatedly emphasised that that the nuclear incident in Fukushima and the issue of contaminated water are under control, and that they will have no effect on the Olympics. Even up to this point, Japan has been sensitive to the opinions reported by the foreign media, and the nation’s anger has been laid bare by a disaster that brought great tragedy being the object of satire.

At a press conference, LDP Chief Secretary Suga Yoshihide stated that “This sort of satirical cartoon hurts the feelings of those people who suffered in the Great Tohoku Earthquake”, pointing out that “the information in the cartoons is regarding the issue of contaminated water is inappropriate, since it gives the wrong impression of the situation”. He also revealed the Japanese government’s preparedness to formally oppose the cartoons.

The editor of the French paper, Louis-Marie Horeau, said regarding the issue that “We are simply baffled” at the Japanese response to “satirical cartoons that bear absolutely no ill will toward Japan”, and said that “Simply because something is humourous, does not mean that it is insulting to all the victims of the tragedy. In France, we face tragedy with humour, but for some reason it appears that Japan does not”. [Translation Editor]

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


The problem is nothing to do with a sense of humour…


It’s precisely because it is ill-willed that it’s not funny!!


“In France, we face tragedy with humour, but for some reason it appears that Japan does not”.
Yeah, that’s right. At any rate, France is a major nuclear country, and so they probably don’t think anything of something like this.
So we should probably publish a satirical cartoon opposing wasteful expenditure by the French company Areva.
This partner company is blatantly trying to make a profit off our backs, charging 200 million yen per ton to get rid of contaminated waste water.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if, to thank them, we gave them a satirical cartoon as a present?
Caption could be like “Incompetent Areva kindly gave us the chance to get the Olympics”.
If we don’t, then they’ll probably never understand our suffering.
I think that they should try satirising themselves for once.


Humour, or a joke, is something that gets through to the other person. What the hell is funny about this? Explain it. Idiots.


In France there are people who have absolutely no thought for other people’s feelings.


Shitty culture of the frogs.


Probably a French-Korean, huh?


Just let it be.
Leave it to the other two countries in Asia to be the ones who kick up a fuss even when there is no ill will.


So although the government is going to criticise a French newspaper, they shut about about malicious articles from China and Korea day after day?
Isn’t that weird?

Comments from Twitter:


You often hear that France is the Korea of Europe; it’s famous for being egotistical, discriminatory, and even when the French go as tourists to a foreign country they take an arrogant attitude. I’m sure not everyone there is like that though…


Look at Japan’s history. Then try standing in our position and thinking about it. Year by year my impression of France is getting worse.


It’s not Japan that has no sense of humour! It’s the Japanese government that has no sense of humour…


Well, they do stuff like this in Europe all the time. Someone should tell them the way things are in Japan. What’s normal for them is not normal for us.

遼★さやか 11/4四谷三丁目ブルヒ:

This ain’t the satire I know


France is a major nuclear nation. They have no right to say this to us.


Let’s put it another way. Would you lot in France think it was hilarious and burst into laughter if the situation was reversed?


Seems like our sense of humour is different. These cartoons weren’t just unfunny, they were uncomfortable for us. Still, I think it’d be crazy to go complaining to each and every foreign newspaper that has satirical cartoons in it.

If the French do it, it’s funny; if the Japanese do it, it’s discrimination.

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