Skip to content

The Niigata Effect

[This article was first published on The Policy Foruman initiative of the Asia and the Pacific Policy Society (APPS) – a community of scholars, public policy practitioners, people working at every level of public policy design and implementation, and the policy-engaged public. I was invited by the editorial team to contribute a piece on nuclear policies in Japan.]

In Japan, energy policies may not go the way the government and the nuclear industry want, Pablo Figueroa writes. Read more

Fukushima and the Arts. Negotiating Nuclear Disaster

(Featured image © Tomoki IMAI) I am delighted to announce the publication of Fukushima and the Arts. I contributed a chapter on art photography of the nuclear disaster.

About the Book

9781138670587Edited by Barbara Geilhorn, Kristina Iwata-Weickgennant. The natural and man-made cataclysmic events of the 11 March 2011 disaster, or 3.11, have dramatically altered the status quo of contemporary Japanese society. While much has been written about the social, political, economic, and technical aspects of the disaster, this volume represents one of the first in-depth explorations of the cultural responses to the devastating tsunami, and in particular the ongoing nuclear disaster of Fukushima.

This book explores a wide range of cultural responses to the Fukushima nuclear calamity by analyzing examples from literature, poetry, manga, theatre, art photography, documentary and fiction film, and popular music. Individual chapters examine the changing positionality of post-3.11 northeastern Japan and the fear-driven conflation of time and space in near-but-far urban centers; explore the political subversion and nostalgia surrounding the Fukushima disaster; expose the ambiguous effects of highly gendered representations of fear of nuclear threat; analyze the musical and poetic responses to disaster; and explore the political potentialities of theatrical performances. By scrutinizing various media narratives and taking into account national and local perspectives, the book sheds light on cultural texts of power, politics, and space.

Providing an insight into the post-disaster Zeitgeist as expressed through a variety of media genres, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Japanese Studies, Japanese Culture, Popular Culture, and Literature Studies.


Disaster Governance in Urbanising Asia

9789812876485I am very happy to announce that the book Disaster Governance in Urbanising Asia is out. I contributed one chapter entitled Nuclear Risk Governance in Japan and the Fukushima Triple Disaster: Lessons Unlearned, which deals with the compound nature of the 2011 Fukushima catastrophes. As written in its online introduction, “This edited book approaches the threat and impact of environmental disasters on Asia’s urban populations from a governance perspective. It adopts a multi-sector and multi-disciplinary approach to disaster governance that emphasises the importance of multiple stakeholders in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters and their cascading impacts in Asia’s cities. The contributors to this volume take a broad view of the multifaceted causalities and the interconnected threats and vulnerabilities of environmental disasters in urbanising Asia. As such, the book is an invitation to advance scholarship in the search for more effective, comprehensive and inclusive disaster preparedness agendas, recovery programs and development priorities.”

A free online preview is available here. Many thanks to the editors and all the wonderful staff and colleagues that I met at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore.

Notes from Miyakoji

Here is an article I wrote for Our World, the web magazine of the United Nations University. Following the 11 March 2011 nuclear catastrophe, massive amounts of radioactive materials such as Iodine 131, Cesium 134, Cesium 137, and Strontium 90 were released into the atmosphere. Nuclear reactor meltdowns forced the Japanese government to issue evacuation orders for all residents living within a 20 km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and Miyakoji fell into that radius. Local residents were told to evacuate but not why; they did not know where to go, or how long they would be away from their homes. Because a proper evacuation plan and contingency measures were not in place, thousands were affected by the nuclear fallout.

Transdisciplinary research for nuclear accidents

I was recently cited in a study titled “Nuclear accidents call for transdisciplinary nuclear energy research”. The paper, authored by Fabienne Gralla, David J. Abson, Anders P. Møller, Daniel J. Lang, Ulli Vilsmaier, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Henrik von Wehrden and published by the IR3S Springer Sustainability Science Journal, argues that a society’s ability to cope with nuclear accidents can be enhanced by a transdisciplinary research approach that incorporates the participation of relevant actors on a regional scale to implement proper remediation measures.11625_010_001

One important contribution of this paper lies in its highlighting the unused potential of knowledge integration between different actors. It is here where transdisciplinary research can enable collaborative knowledge by integrating the scientific backgrounds of practitioners and scientists. Mutual exchange of knowledge would certainly generate a more socially robust response. For this, proper risk communication based on a two-way oriented process is essential. Read more

The ethics of risk communication and the role of moral emotions in communicating nuclear crises

journalofriskresearchMy paper “Risk communication surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster: an anthropological approach” was recently cited in a study titled “Nuclear energy, responsible risk communication and moral emotions: a three level framework”, authored by researchers Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist and Sabine Roeser. Their paper, published by Routledge’s Journal of Risk Research, deals with the ethics of risk communication and the role of moral emotions in communicating nuclear crises in the context of a post-Fukushima world. The authors argue that communicating nuclear risks requires not only taking into account effectiveness but also a consideration of moral values, and to this end they provide a three-level framework of morally responsible risk communication.

Fahlquist and Roeser’s work addresses a very important issue that hasn’t been sufficiently dealt with in the literature of risk communication. Of particular interest is their contribution to thinking risk communication of nuclear energy from an ethical perspective. Read more