Fighting for Food Safety in Post-Fukushima Japan: How Consumers Are Challenging the Governance and Regulation of Radionuclides in the Food System

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:45
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Karly BURCH, University of Otago, New Zealand
The ongoing disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO’s) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has renewed conversations about the links between nuclear technology and food safety in Japan and around the globe. As the Japanese government works to ease public worries and establish a regulatory framework to control and legitimize the spread of escaped nuclear matter into the food system, not all consumers feel comfortable welcoming TEPCO’s radionuclides into their everyday diets and bodies. For concerned consumers, the food system has become a contentious space where they are forced to encounter new, invisible risks at markets, restaurants and their own dinner tables. This PhD project plans to use Ulrich Beck’s theory of Risk Society and Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality to explore the contentious spaces that many concerned consumers find themselves in as actors within Japan’s food system, focusing particularly on the experience of people living in the Kansai region of Japan—600 kilometers southwest of the disaster. Though these concerned consumers live far from the disaster, they are intimately connected to the risk of radionuclide exposure via the food system.  As fieldwork will begin in early 2016, this presentation will include a discussion of the conceptual framework guiding the research project and preliminary findings.