The Governance of Food Safety in Post-Fukushima Japan: Is There Space for the Public's Rationalities and Experiences to be Included in the Governance and Regulation of Risky Technologies?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (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 signaled the need for more reflexive governance of modern technologies that takes into consideration the diverse rationalities and experiences of the public. While scientific experts and politicians currently have the authority to make decisions on the use and diffusion of modern technologies, it is the lay public who must deal with the consequences of accidents and disasters. Following TEPCO’s nuclear disaster, it is not only the nuclear power plants that have been destroyed, homes, forests, oceans, rivers, lakes, farmlands and fishing waters are also being contaminated with invisible radionuclides—detectable only by sophisticated scientific instruments—that will remain in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years.  In this presentation, post-Fukushima food safety will be used as a case to explore the far-reaching impacts of the disaster and how both experts and the public have responded to the dispersion of TEPCO’s escaped nuclear matter into the food system.   Focusing on the experience of people living in the Kansai region of Japan—600 kilometers southwest of the disaster—this presentation plans to use Ulrich Beck’s theory of Risk Society and Michel Foucault’s concept of governmentality to illustrate how current systems of governance in Japan are dealing with the complex consequences of the nuclear disaster, identify how the public navigates new risks, and recognize spaces where rationalities and experiences of the public can be recognized by those in power and included in the decision making process on the use of risky technologies.