The cartoon depicts two people in hazardous materials suits against the dark background of a power plant, which is spewing pollution. The pair talk about the first swallow of spring time, while looking at the footprints of a huge bird in front of them that dwarfs the people in size and alludes to the effects of the plant`s radiation on the surrounding environment.
This week`s publication is not the first in which the French press has used Fukushima for comic ammunition: in October 2012 French broadcaster France 2 was forced to apologize for showing an image of Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, after keeping a clean sheet against France in a friendly match, with four arms and attributing his impressive goalkeeping to the `Fukushima effect.`
In 2013, Japan`s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government would be lodging a complaint with the French embassy in Tokyo after the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé published a cartoon depicting sumo wrestlers with extra limbs in the foreground of the Fukushima plant, and a commentator saying "Marvellous! Thanks to Fukushima, sumo is now an Olympic sport."
Another cartoon in the same issue showed two people in hazmat suits saying "There is already a pool in Fukushima for the Olympics," standing at the side of a pool testing for radiation. In September 2013, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2020 Olympics to Japan, despite concerns over the handling of the decommissioning and clean-up of Fukushima, which is being carried out by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO).
In the latest setback for the clean-up operation, it was reported last month that a fresh leak of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean had been detected from the plant, with sensors giving readings of contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the average readings at the site. Tepco was criticized for withholding information about the leak, which it first had knowledge of in May 2014.