Beyond 3.11: Environmental and Risk Awareness after the Fukushima and Tsunami Disaster

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Koichi HASEGAWA, Sociology, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster and the Fukushima nuclear accident, this combined disaster is Japan’s largest since the Second World War and one of the most severe in the histories of modern Japan and other industrialized nations. What lessons should we take on board in order to think about the relationship between society and nature ? The first point is the idea of coexistence with nature to teach us that ‘we can only live within the bounds permitted by nature’ and to remind us to have reverence for ‘Mother Nature’. We cannot conquer or completely control nature. We can only listen to the voice of nature and live in harmony with it. We must accept that the Great East Japan Disaster is challenging us to make a radical shift away from the urban-centered, centralized economic growth policy that Japanese society has been pursuing since the Meiji era. Keeping energy efficiency and reducing electricity have taken root in society. The new policy to promote renewable energy has the effect of drastically increasing solar energy. The another major point is that the severe shock that resulted from this accident, the sense of fear over the spread of radiation contamination and anger and frustration toward the electric company and the government completely changed the public’s attitude toward nuclear power generation. In the wake of the Fukushima accident, protest rallies began to exhibit a certain kind of energy buoyed by a sense of crisis or urgency and the number of participants increased rapidly. These protesters are not mobilized by traditional organizations such as trade unions. Baby boomers, families and young people voluntarily take part in these actions individually or in small groups.