A Trip to the Reactor

History@UQ is delighted to announce a forthcoming book by Associate Professor Morris Low, Visualizing Nuclear Power in Japan: A Trip to the Reactor.

This important new work examines the ways Japan imagined and reimagined its own relationship to nuclear power in the years after World War II. There were, of course, the obvious impacts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but as Low shows, views of a nuclear Japan were far more complicated. The government, media and business all attempted to highlight the safety and efficacy of nuclear power, and that was it was critical to the future of a new Japan. Concepts of the “good atom” and “atoms for peace” were widely shared and readily accepted, even in the face of a nascent anti-nuclear movement.

Low weaves a fascinating tale of the ways science and technology – epitomised by the reactor – were central to Japanese thinking about postwar recovery. Low focuses in particular on the ways visual culture was used to promote atomic power, and how images of nuclear power shifted and changed from the time of the Pacific War right through to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. While focusing on the big issues of intersections between culture, politics and technology, the book includes a host of fascinating vignettes – a child’s school trip to the reactor was quite normalised in Japan from the late 1950s, for instance.

Visualising Nuclear Power in Japan will appeal to a wide range of readers, including those interested in Japanese history and politics, Asian history, histories of science and technology and visual cultures. Congratulations to Associate Professor Low: this volume will make a significant contribution to knowledge about Japan’s recent history, and to our understandings of the intersections between culture and technology. 


For more information, see:


Photo: Genshiryoku Sentaa no shiori (Atomic Energy Centre Guide) (Tōkai-mura: Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, 1958).

Project members

Associate Professor Morris Low

Associate Professor in Japanese History