Civil Movements in Low-Recognized Disaster Affected Areas

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Yayoi HARAGUCHI , The College of Humanities, Ibaraki University, Ibaraki, Japan
We discuss how civil movements have developed to protect children from radiation pollution in local communities after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster. We focus on those areas that have not been classified as “Affected Areas” by the government, although local residents have sought to gain institutional recognition of the damage due to nuclear accidents. In this article, these areas are defined as Low-Recognized Disaster Affected Areas (LRDAA).

It is important to pay attention to LRDAA in mega disasters. Existing research suggests that local communities with low-level impacts were peripheralized and neglected by both the government and society in the face of tremendous negative impacts as a result of the earthquake and nuclear accidents. In seeking institutional recognition, residents in LDRAA have difficulty showing the causal relationship between the level of pollution and its impact on health. This makes it difficult for residents to justify damage claims. The level of success of social construction around radiation pollution in low-level impacted areas determines how far and to what extent the Fukushima nuclear disaster impacted communities.  

As a case study, we examine a civil movement in Ibaraki, a city near Fukushima. A series of petitions were filed by dozens of newly established citizen groups against local governments and legislatures, and the government of Japan. We analyze how Ibaraki local citizen groups have established their network, to which extent they have achieved their claims to gain legitimacy in social and political process, and the roles the professional experts played in those processes. We point out that the establishment of the Law to Support Child Survivors of Nuclear Accidents of June 2011 in the National Diet changed the character of the local political situation by transforming the local government’s attitude toward citizen groups from oppositional to cooperative.