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Tokyo: Utopia of the Isolated Nuclear Family?

The Ecotopia 2121 project explores the prosperous super-green futures of 100 cities worldwide. This month, we display a vision of future Tokyo.

The Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in Japan during 2011 resulted in the abandonment of a host of small cities on the nation’s Pacific seaboard. Tokyo, too, was under threat for a time but luckily the radioactive plumes blew in another direction and Tokyo’s twenty million odd residents were spared.

In all likelihood, though, there will be two or three or more Fukushima-type events in Japan before we get to the close of the century, and in this scenario, almost the entire population of Tokyo has to be evacuated because yet another “unpredictable” seismic event hits yet another “perfectly safe” nuclear plant near the city.

There may be a way for residents to return soon after and stay on, however, and — in this scenario — it is achieved by the construction of domestic homes that are impervious to the radiation. These may be temporary emergency shelters, but they will soon become permanent features -- especially when other disaster hit, like repeated waves of toxic air pollution and incessant pandemics that are likely to strike the Japanese capital again and again from mainland Asia.

Tokyo 2121

Tokyo in the Future

Within each 'moonbase' home, there are facilities to produce fresh water, grow adequate food crops, recycle waste, and be generally self-reliant. But to go outside and remain safe and healthy whilst doing so, it’s necessary to wear a protective mask and suit.

In effect, each home is like a little spaceship on the land, and indeed spaceship technology is likely to be used in the engineering and architecture of such residences. Because Tokyo has been greatly depopulated, those who remain can create a quiet and independent post-apocalyptic paradise.

Some “Nuclear Greenies”—James Lovelock, for example—have noted that an irradiated landscape may in fact be a source of ecological recovery and rehabilitation, since most humans don’t want to live there and abandonment of the radiated zone leaves wilderness alone to flourish (albeit with numerous mutative impacts and cancer outbreaks). If such a conservation zone is paradise for animals and plants, it may also be paradise for a few intrepid Japanese families who enjoy the environmental challenges, the changed landscape, the wildlife, and the quiet isolation.

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