An Energy Industrial Complex in Post-Fukushima Japan: A Network Analysis of the Nuclear Power Industry, the State and the Media

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Michael DREILING , Sociology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Tomoyasu NAKAMURA , School of Network and Information, Senshu University, Japan
Nicholas LOUGEE , University of Oregon, OR
Yvonne BRAUN , University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Despite suffering the force of a nuclear meltdown amid a natural disaster, national political leaders have re-committed Japan to a heavy reliance on nuclear energy. By examining the network connections between 400 energy corporations, government agencies, and other large corporations in post-Fukushima Japan, we argue that a nuclear Energy Industrial Complex (EIC) uprooted attempts to criticize nuclear power and helped re-establish nuclear energy as a major priority for the country’s energy mix. The network analyses of our original data depict this EIC as an institutionalized power structure that empowers corporate policy preferences and shapes public opinion in order to secure long-term energy development agendas suited to their particular profitability interests. We also observe how environmental organizations are embedded in some of the same networks with the state energy regulatory boards, energy companies, lawmakers and advertising corporations. The density of network overlap between the EIC and environmental organizations is interpreted as a highly constricted political opportunity structure, limiting avenues for claims by environmental movement activists that strive to expose the risks of nuclear power. We conclude that national energy policy priorities are not determined by responses to disaster (human or environmental) but are instead propelled by the relative power of large scale corporate interests that forge Energy Industrial Complexes with government leaders and agencies.