Post 3.11 Movements in Japan: A Mental Map Approach

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 2:00 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Dai NOMIYA , Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan
Isamu SUGINO , Ochanomizu University, Tokyo, Japan
In this presentation, we attempt to clarify the nature of antinuclear movements in Japan after March 11, 2011, from the viewpoint of participants’ mentality. 

On March 11, 2011, a big earthquake and a gigantic tsunami hit the northern part of Japan.  The tsunami also paralyzed the emergency power system of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing power plant explosions.  The nuclear accident and subsequent radioactive contamination send a majority of Japanese people in fear and anxieties.

“March 11 (3.11)” ignited a volume of civil actions.  Day in and day out, one spontaneous action was followed by another.  The movement also spread out geographically, so that residents in different localities have witnessed protest actions taking place successively. 

Resurgence of protest actions has prompted researchers to inquire into the nature of the post 3.11 antinuclear movements in Japan.  With only few exceptions, however, studies have focused on objectively observable events and other morphological features to understand today’s movement.  This practice leaves us with little understanding about cultural and mental aspects of the movement.

In this presentation, we focus on participants’ mental aspects to characterize today’s antinuclear movements in Japan.  Using handouts and written materials, we extract meanings campaign participants subjectively attribute to the nuclear explosions and their subsequent act for denuclearization.  We try to reconstruct a web of meanings existant in the 2012 campaign, also identifying central meanings and important subsets of meanings.  We employ a comparative design, comparing the 2012 campaign against the 1954 campaign, to highlight important features and characteristics of the movement today.  

Our major finding is that, while 1954 movement dominantly drew its signification from collective memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and risk on food safety, post 3.11 movement was strongly driven by motherhood mentality to protect a child and a concern over local environmental protection.