Parents Against Radiation: Strategies Towards Advocacy

Monday, July 14, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Barbara HOLTHUS , Social Science Section, German Institute for Japanese Studies, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
To what extent do organizations within the larger anti-nuclear power movement monitor, interact with, and possibly influence (local) authorities in the policy making process? Thus in which ways, if any, do these organizations provide advocacy to their members? And how do these compare cross-culturally?

After the triple catastrophe of March 11, 2011 in Japan, as part of the upsurge of the larger anti-nuclear power movement, more than 300 citizen groups were formed throughout the country that joined forces within the “National Network of Parents to Protect Children from Radiation”. Groups within this network use different strategies: Whereas some participate in highly visible protest activities such as mass demonstrations, others belong to the “invisible” part of civil society using less aggressive tactics to influence protective measures against nuclear power, contaminated food and playgrounds.

Our study has a multi-method approach: we combine field research through participant observation with semi-structured interviews and the analysis of our survey questionnaire, conducted among members of all 23 local chapters of the “Tokyo Union to Protect Children from Radiation”, a post-3/11 network of parents social movement organizations. Using this network as case study, we analyze strategies and tactics of political participation which post-3/11 parental organizations use. In a second step, we compare these to the strategies and tactics employed by social movement organizations founded in response to the Three Mile Island nuclear incident in the US more than 30 years earlier.  

For the Japanese case, our preliminary findings suggest that whereas strong social capital emerges out of the activities within the group, the impact of advocacy understood as influencing policy outcomes is much weaker. Whereas this result stands in line with existing research, we argue however that the parental groups shape their style of activities to build up sustainable relations with local authorities in the long run.