Aug. 29 (UPI) — The city of Fukushima has decided to remove a statue of a child wearing a hazmat suit, following weeks of controversy over the artwork.
Hiroshi Kohata, the mayor of Fukushima, said Tuesday the statue misleads the public and provokes unnecessary concerns, the Nikkei reported.
“We set up the statue as a symbol of people striving for reconstruction but have come to judge that the statue is not accepted by many citizens,” Kohata said, according to Kyodo.
The uproar began when the city placed the 6.2-meter “Sun Child” sculpture by the JR Fukushima Station in early August.
The statue depicts a child in an anti-contamination suit, staring upward with a bandage on one cheek.
Kenji Yanobe, the artist who designed the statue in the wake of the nuclear power plant disaster at Fukushima, has said his intention was to give people hope following the March 2011 earthquake.
The child is depicted as carrying his helmet in one hand, a visual cue the air is safe for people.
A radiation counter on his chest also reads “000,” indicating the child is no longer in harm’s way.
“[The removal] is truly regrettable, but I thought we shouldn’t provoke a confrontation anymore among people inside and outside the city,” said Yanobe on his website on Tuesday.
An overwhelming number of people who were surveyed said they wanted the statue removed.
“[The statue] gives the impression one cannot live in Fukushima if you do not wear protective clothing,” local residents have said, according to the Nikkei.