UTokyo ISS Lecture: “The Art of Change by Crisis: Japan’s nuclear policy after the Fukushima nuclear accident”
The Contemporary Japan Group at the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science (ISS) will hold the lecture as follows.
Pre-registration is not required.
The Art of Change by Crisis: Japan’s nuclear policy after the Fukushima nuclear accident
Florentine Koppenborg(Technical University of Munich)
Thursday, September 20, 2018 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Room 549,
Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo Campus, University of Tokyo
The Fukushima nuclear accident eroded trust in the safety of nuclear power plants in Japan. In response, nuclear safety administration was reformed in a bid to strengthen nuclear safety and regain public trust. After similar efforts following the Mutsu nuclear powered ship accident in 1974 and the 1999 Tokaimura criticality accident, nuclear power promotion continued unabated. This time, however, the creation of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) inadvertently put Japan on a path towards a nuclear phase out. Despite pressure from a powerful coalition of actors pushing for restarts, dubbed the “nuclear village” by critics, five years after Fukushima, nuclear power made up only two percent of the electricity generated in Japan. Why was the outcome of nuclear safety reforms different this time?
In answering this question, the presentation focusses on two things: the nature of the newly established NRA, and the reform process itself. As an independent regulatory agency, the NRA proved able to defy pressure from the pro-nuclear coalition. It forced an internalisation of safety costs and broke the information monopoly pro-nuclear actors had held for decades. Moreover, this time the reform process included new agents of change, which were able to steer the outcome in a different direction. These include the DPJ government in 2011/12 as well as international actors that had not participated in previous Japanese safety reforms. The findings presented are the result of a three-year research project on nuclear safety governance reform in the wake of the Fukushima accident.