Post-Disaster Literacy of a Japanese Local Community

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Natalia NOVIKOVA , University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan
More than two years have passed since the Fukushima Dai`ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident of March 11, 2011. The first phase after the accident, “collective moral confidence” (Petryna, 2013), suggested that the existing system will overcome the disaster, yet evolved into feelings of desperation and disorientation about actual risk. An escalated sense of the unknown and unexpected fostered a flow of voluntarism and participation in local decision-making processes. Engaged in the process of information sharing, consensus-building, and mobilizing their resources and connections, local activists have been trying to influence local government decision-making.

    This paper examines the process by which the Fukushima accident has been dealt with in radiation-contaminated communities, yielding insights into local government responses to the nuclear accident and probing whether government-citizen relations have been altered in the aftermath of such a disaster. Through fieldwork undertaken in 2013 in Abiko City, Chiba Prefecture, this paper traces the nexus of the community-NGO-government relationship, focusing on the after-effects of the Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Plant accident. Utilizing civil society concepts and the expanding role of civil society in governance, we argue that civil society in a post-disaster community is an arena in which new ideas concerning governance are formulated and citizens’ civic education is carried out. What is more, this paper provides what Charles Tilly called the “repertoire of collective action,” in which people engage in modern post-Fukushima modes of political protest. While observing how people from a radiation-contaminated community have overcome fatalism and risk-perception problems, this research gives insight on the modern Japanese capacity to deal with unpredictable human-made accidents, extending previously known scenarios of post-disaster management.