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Second 3.11 Virtual Conference (2013)

3.11 Virtual Conference: Building a Bridge to Disaster Studies

11-14 March 2013 Begins 11 March, 8:00 a.m., Japan Standard Time (7:00 p.m., March 10, EDT)

We also invite you to post your own thoughts and new topics for discussion at the Fukushima Forum Google Group site, either by using the [+New Post] feature at that site, or by simply sending an email to (The Forum will remain entirely open for the duration of the Virtual Conference.)

Featured Essays

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Recovery and Resilience: Japanese Communities After The 3/11 Earthquake: An Actor Oriented Perspective – An actor oriented perspective
Cecilia Ioana Manoliu
University of Tsukuba

The following short paper is a discussion on how various actors responded to the 3.11 earthquake in Japan inspired by Norman Long analysis on discourse and actors and based on Alan Cohen interpretation of community.

Two years have passed since one of the world biggest earthquakes hit Japan. It was followed by a Tsunami that left behind 504 km² of coast line inundated, 15 879 deaths and many communities trying to cope with the loss of their properties and livelihoods. As if not enough, the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident has added to the disaster by displacing entire communities that found themselves spread all over Japan with very little hope to return to their homes any time soon.

Immediately after the disaster the attention was directed naturally to first response (search and rescue operations/ retrieve of bodies) and relief. One may argue although that media have overshadowed these efforts by focusing its attention on Fukushima nuclear accident evolution and less on the people themselves. The channels were broadcasting endless footage of the Fukushima Daichii and Daini reactors with perhaps too little space allocated for news on the situation of the earthquake survivors.  Nevertheless, this was the moment when social media raised as a powerful actor and often a reasonably reliable alternative source of information, to the mainstream channels for those involved in the relief operations as well as people trying to grasp what is the real situation…[Read More]

Post-Fukushima: Signaled And Silenced Aspects Of Nuclear Safety Regulation
Marja Ylönen
University of Jyväskylä

Nuclear safety is an important component of human and environmental health. Paradoxically, nuclear safety has often been an accident driven topic as the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters show. The Fukushima accident has been seen as an opportunity for countries with nuclear power to reassess the safety and risks of their nuclear facilities. In Europe the so called “stress tests” were organized to assess risks and safety at 146 nuclear power plants. (Jorant 2012; Ohsuga 2012). In addition, the aim was to make national final reports of the stress tests transparent and available to the public in spring 2012 (see Jorant 2011). As the recent press release of the European Commission indicates, the stress tests were considered a success (European Commission 2012). Even though, they revealed some nuclear safety deficiencies, the main message is that the nuclear safety is on a sound basis in Europe. Was this a question of rapid efforts to normalize trust in the nuclear industry and regulatory bodies via the stress tests? Or was it a question of the thorough assessment of safety and a transparent democratic model of safety regulation? In a nutshell, what has been learnt since Fukushima?…[Read More]

Reactions To Fukushima In Finland, France And The UK – Rupture Or Continuity In The Nuclear Techno-Politics?
Markku Lehtonen
University of Sussex

This think-piece presents a first sketch for a research project comparing the trajectories of the development of nuclear power in Finland, France, and the UK in the wake of Fukushima. In an ambition to provide insights into scholarship in comparative inter-cultural analysis, and taking as preliminary starting points literatures on techno-political regimes[1] (Hecht 1998), techno-political cultures[2] (Felt & Müller 2011, see also Jasanoff 2005), and ‘state orientations’[3] (Dryzek et al. 2002; Teräväinen et al. 2011), it seeks to place Fukushima within the context of the evolution of the nuclear sector in the three countries throughout the post-War period. Key questions hence concern the two-way relationships between Fukushima and the longer-term dynamics in the trajectories of nuclear power development (whether that trajectory be conceptualised in terms of techno-political regimes, and cultures or state orientations). The challenge hence consists of 1) explaining the degree to which Fukushima has shaped the dominant trajectory and institutions (regime/culture/orientation) and 2) in which ways the prevailing national trajectories and institutions explain the varying reactions to Fukushima. The analysis would be based on document analysis, interviews with nuclear industry and NGO communities, and more targeted media analysis with the ‘Prospéro’ software (e.g. Chateauraynaud 2003)…[Read More]

Nuclear As A Transnational Study Object:  Introspection And New Perspectives Of Research After The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Accident – Media discourse at the dawn of the nuclear age in Japan, United States and France (1945-1965)
Tino Bruno
University of Lyon

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has challenged the global nuclear industry, especially about the security of infrastructures and economic viability, as it has also exposed newspapers for not having always complied with their watchdog role towards nuclear energy. This paper’s aim is to present briefly the introspective work made by the Japanese newspaper Asahi after the nuclear accident, to submit a succinct review of the main studies made about the media discourse of nuclear energy, and finally to propose a new transnational approach encompassing all the possible aspects in an attempt to bring a fresh thinking to this discourse…[Read More]

The Making Of The Map, The Making Of The Risk
Charlotte Cabasse
University of California Berkeley

This paper is an essay into navigational representation and symmetrical co-construction of map, risk and territory. In an STS perspective, we will study the elaboration of two maps, the USGS USA Earthquake Risk Map and the Community Internet Intensity Map. In the meantime, building on November, Camacho-Hübner and Latour (November, Camacho-Hübner, & Latour, 2010), we’ll engage with a re-definition of the relation to, and between, risk and territory through the cartographic lens. November, Camacho-Hübner and Latour have reminded us what sailors, geographers and users of Google Map have known for a long time: whenever entering unknown territories, first, take a look at the map. They also argue that, if we know to make reefs and stop signs readable on a map, the same is not true for risk[i]. To bypass this limitation, they have proposed to focus on what they have called a navigational approach of the map; opposed to a mimetic one[ii], limited to correspondences between the outside world[iii] and its representations. Their perspective reshapes the relation between map and territory, opening in the same movement the possibility of rethinking the condition of science production and legitimate forms of knowledge….[Read More]

NOTE: The material in the post below has been published. For an extended discussion of the project described in this article, please see: Novak, David. 2017. “Project Fukushima! Performativity and the Politics of Festival in Post-3/11 Japan.” Anthropological Quarterly, 90:1(225-254).

Performing Antinuclear Movements In Post-3.11 Japan
David Novak
UC Santa Barbara

The summer of 2012 oversaw an explosion of public protest in Japan, specifically aimed at the restart of nuclear reactors that been shut down following the tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11, 2011. Each Friday in Tokyo, a growing crowd gathered in front of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s office compound, beating drums, and chanting antinuclear slogans. On July 16th, the Sayonara Genpatsu (“Goodbye Nukes”) rally and concert featuring author Oe Kenzaburo and musician Sakamoto Ryûichi drew 170,000 people; later in July, huge crowds surrounded the Diet Building with a human chain.[1] In “sound demos,” protesters formed small brass bands and samba drumming groups, chanting “SAIKADO HANTAI! GENPATSU IRANAI!” (“OPPOSE THE RESTART! WE DON’T NEED NUCLEAR POWER!”). On June 29th, citizens surrounded the Diet Building with a human chain estimated at over 100,000 people. Noda initially dismissed the protests as “just noise,” but increasingly claimed to be “listening carefully” to the “unheard voices” of public dissent.[2] Noda met with antinuclear movement leaders in August 2012, and in mid-September, even as several plants went back online, the Japanese government announced a radical shift in national energy policy to phase out nuclear power entirely by the 2030s…[Read More]

How Music and Musicians Communicate the Antinuclear Message
Noriko Manabe
Princeton University

Despite the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan has pursued a policy of expanding nuclear power, enabled by close relationships between the power industry, government, and media. Given the existence of this so-called Nuclear Village, it is perhaps not surprising that since the Fukushima crisis began, television networks have generally stuck to official viewpoints about the accident and its consequences. Fanned by outrage at the power industry and government’s handling of the crisis, antinuclear protests have grown to form the largest social movement in Japan since the movement against the US-Japan Security Treaty in the 1960s. Demonstrations have been frequent, widespread, and large, attracting as many as 200,000 participants in the summer of 2012, yet have been mostly ignored by the mainstream media. Indeed, the nuclear issue is a taboo topic: many Japanese citizens avoid discussing it, and some entertainers who have spoken out, like the actor Yamamoto Taro or underground musicians, have seen their careers harmed. In such an environment, how does music support the antinuclear movement? Through what means does music communicate alternative viewpoints? How do musicians adjust communication tactics to suit the performance space and stage in the movement? In what ways do musicians support the movement despite the risks? …[Read More]

Aid As Analogy: Ambiguities Of “Lessons Learned” In Post-Disaster Recovery

Chika Watanabe
Cornell University

Disaster risk reduction and preparedness efforts often mobilize the concept of “lessons learned.”  The expectation is that past experiences of disaster—the mistakes and successes—will contribute to better mitigation strategies in the future.  In this paper, I propose to complicate the temporal directionality of this formulation in turning my attention to recovery efforts conducted by aid actors who have experienced disasters themselves.  Specifically, I explore ethnographically how three aid actors who experienced, respectively, the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, the Niigata earthquake in 2004, and the Kobe earthquake in 1995, made comparisons and connections between the different disasters in their aid efforts in Ishinomaki city and Oshika peninsula.  I suggest that their acts of what I call “aid as analogy” challenged a smooth, linear progression from the past to the future, from one disaster event to another, suggesting that the formulation of “lessons” from previous disasters in recovery efforts are fraught endeavors for those who have been affected by such calamities.  In particular, I illustrate how the attempts to analogize between disasters foregrounded differences as much as connections between them.  As such, imagining better futures based on cumulative improvements of the past went hand-in-hand with a sense of helplessness in the singularity, and thus un-imaginableness, of each disaster.  Ultimately I ask how we can understand the continuum and tensions between disaster events, recovery efforts, and risk reduction strategies in ways that take into account their often non-linear and non-causal linkages.

In the first section, I look at a man whom I call Mr. Kawakami from the village of Mizuyama in Niigata prefecture.  He recounted to me how volunteers helped revitalize the village not simply from the 2004 earthquake, but also from the problem of depopulation that had been pushing the community toward disappearance from before the disaster.  In analogizing between Mizuyama and the fishing villages in Oshika peninsula, Mr. Kawakami tried to encourage people in the latter communities to connect their concerns with societal problems, such as depopulation.  As such, I suggest that this form of aid, shaped by analogies between the disasters and places of Tohoku and Niigata, aimed to “scale-up” spatially and temporally delimited concerns in order to shift the direction of decay in these communities toward new futures.

In the second section, I focus on Mr. Hayashi, a young local staff of an NGO that is currently conducting projects in Ishinomaki and Oshika peninsula.  As with Mr. Kawakami, it seemed that his interactions with volunteers had given him hope for the future on a personal level, and this was reflected on his aspirations to create a sustained volunteer program with a particular fishing village in Oshika peninsula.  He also visited Mizuyama village in the summer of 2012, and the analogizing between the two locations and disasters strengthened his commitment to nurture relations between villagers and volunteers in Oshika peninsula as a mechanism not only for recovery, but also for longer-term community revitalization….[Read More]

Is Science Communication For Scientific Literacy? – Iodine salt Rush-Purchasing in China
Xiaomin Zhu
Peking University

This paper divides into four parts, first portrays the development of the iodine salt rush-purchasing in China, second describes the response of media and academic opinions, third makes an analysis from the dimension of science communication, and last part draws some conclusions and gives suggestions.

After the 3.11 earthquake in Japan, especially when the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident happened, there were two news on internet communicated very quickly in China, one is the iodine could be helpful to deal with nuclear radiation, the other is the radiation from Japan polluted the sea and the salt which is from sea water would be unsafe in the future. As a result, a big panic arose suddenly among many Chinese people who crashed into every shops, stores and supermarkets to buy iodine salt, which looked just like a real disaster happened in China too. This iodine salt rush-purchasing tide first appeared in Zhejiang province and Shanghai city which are along the east coast of China on March 16, then spread very quickly to almost all over the country until to March 18 such as Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan provinces which are thousands miles away from the east ocean side of China. During the climax, many people bought dozens of kilograms to several tons of salt to homes; a man in Zhejiang even ate too much salt once a time as he had planned to prevent radiation and died in hospital, becoming the first victim outside of Japan as reported. Due to both the proficient providence of iodine salt on market and limitation of individual purchase (two bags of salt for one person) by government, and also popularization of rational information by mass media, new medias and scholars, the iodine salt rush-purchasing tide disappeared gradually on March 19 at last, and some people began asking to return the more salt they had bought back to supermarket which caused another tide of returning iodine salt back in some cities…[Read More]

The Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Project In The Vicinity of Fukuichi – Its Civil and Social Meaning
Yuko Kobayashi
Anti-Nuclear Activist

The catastrophic Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Fukuichi)Accident occurred on March 11,2011 was rated as INES (International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale)level 7. Human beings have never ever encountered such a severe nuclear accident. In other words, a large amount of radioactive material has been scattered widely all over Japan. Nevertheless, immediately after the catastrophe, the atomic power mafia of Japan called “Atomic village”or Atomic invested-interest group in Japanese with the central government placed at the top of pyramid, staged a very large-scaled safety campaign.. Therefore, some people believing in the campaign didn’t evacuate, the others couldn’t do so but worrying too much.

Consequently, lots of people including small children, the young and pregnant women have been forced an unnecessary exposure of radiation. In addition, due to differences in understanding the nuclear power plant policy of the central government and in evaluating the amount of radioactive materials released, a disjunction and division have emerged in the community. It is quite similar a case to what happened at Chernobyl in Ukraine.

ERMPVF was established in order to let the residents know more accurate radioactive doses, implications, and influences resting on our firm will that there must not be this kind of corruption…[Read More]

It Is No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk?
Yuji Miyake
Yokohama; Professional engineer

0.8kg, 135kg, 5%, 94%, 0.4μm: Those five numbers are important for understanding FUKU-ICHI accident on 311.
The 0.8kg: That is Hiroshima bomb that killed 160 thousand people at once.
The 135kg: That is estimated radioactive materials of FUKU-ICHI which is 168 times of the HIROSHIMA. The 5%: That is fallout to the Japanese land side portion of the 135kg. The 94%: That is still left in the FUKU-ICHI broken furnace which might explode by next aftershock. The 0.4μm: That is estimated average diameter of the scattered radioactive particle from the FUKU-ICHI…[Read More]

Environment and Wellbeing Clinical Practice and Challenges to Orthodox Psychopathology: An ethnographic account of mental health care in the Japanese context
Ben Epstein
University of Edinburgh

[PhD Proposal–With request for comment]

Research aims: The broad aims of this research project are: 1) to conduct an anthropological investigation of Disaster Mental Health as a means of exploring the environmental impact on physical as well as psychological wellbeing both as to (2) assess Japanese challenges to orthodox psychopathology, particularly DSMIV, and to (3) produce an ethnographic account of mental health care in the Japanese context. 4) This research also aims to be a contribution to the literature in transcultural psychiatry, particularly in terms of establishing “on the one hand the universality of general psychiatric symptoms (as seen in western conceptions of mental illness), and on the other the realisation that different people (in nonwestern cultures) experience psychiatric trauma and anxieties differently.” …[Read More]

Historical and Contemporary Studies of Disasters: Placing Chernobyl, 9/11, Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, Fukushima Dai-Ichi and Other Events in Historical and Contemporary Perspective
Atsushi Akera

Hi Everyone,

So what I’d like to offer here is the first of what will hopefully be a two-part summary of the two 2011 Fukushima / East Japan disaster related events held during the recent 2012 SHOT / 4S annual meetings in Copenhagen. We consider both events to be preliminary to the inaugural meeting of the “STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster” to be held at the University of California Berkeley on 12-14 May 2013, with NSF Sponsorship. (See the attached call for papers, below.)

This summary reviews the co-sponsored* workshop at SHOT, which took place on 7 October 2012 during the Sunday SIG time slot of their annual meeting. This workshop produced a complex discussion that aspired to match the complexity of the subject. While what follows is based on the conversations and the many insightful comments made by those attending the workshop, please regard this only as a personal reading of this event. …[Read More]

Synopsis of the Sessions and Papers on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster, 4S/EASST 2012 Annual Meeting
Atsushi Akera

So this is the second installation in the promised two-part summary of the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan disaster related events held during the recent 2012 SHOT / 4S annual meetings in Copenhagen. Part I focused on the more broadly cast SHOT workshop, while this synopsis focuses on the papers presented at the 4S/EASST joint meeting (17-20 October 2012). As I noted previously, we consider both events to be preliminary to the inaugural meeting of the “STS Forum on the 2011 Fukushima / East Japan Disaster” to be held at the University of California Berkeley on 12-14 May 2013, with NSF Sponsorship. (See Appendix II for the cal for papers.)

Let me start by saying that the original intent was to have the focus of both meetings on the 2011 East Japan disaster, with a somewhat more historical focus at SHOT and a more contemporary focus at 4S. However, given the disaster was a contemporary event, the two events split topically, with the added twist most of the scholars traveling from Japan chose to attend the 4S sessions. There was some irony to this, given that our goal was to bring together the broader discussions about disasters with the more recent studies of the East Japan disaster. One of the reasons for writing these synopses is to introduce the conversations that took place at one event to those who attended the other, with the hope that this integration can continue at the Berkeley meeting. Let me also reiterate again that these are but personal reflections—more so given that this synopsis is a review of conference papers in an area where I have limited expertise, as opposed to recording the collective wisdom of the intricate conversations that emerged from an all-day, pre-circulated papers workshop. …[Read More]


Reposts & Comments

Re-posts and added comments based on conversations that unfold at the Fukushima Forum Google Groups. Follow this link to view all conversations on the list.

Questioning “Cultural” Explanations—an Investigative Article on Nuclear Safety at a U.S. Reactor (Dreux Richard, Japan Times, 11 March 2013)

Comments contributed by
Sharon Traweek (UCLA)

Dear colleagues,

A long investigative news article by Dreux Richard published 11 March 2013 in the Japan Times concerns a US nuclear power plant. Among other topics it addresses safety cultures at nuclear power plants in Japan & the US, as well as the role of management practices in shaping those practices: “Toxic management erodes safety at worlds safest nuclear plant: Echoes of Fukushima at Exelon’s flagship Byron Station in Illinois,” The Exelon Corporation Byron Generating Station is about 110 miles (175 km) west of Chicago, near the Wisconsin border. (See these links: exeloncorp / Wikipedia)

Two excerpts from that article: …[Read More]

  1. I would like to provide a simple document written below with youtube address hereunder.

    my name is yuji miyake or atom in graviator and have skype ID miyake_yuji

    reconstruction starts with decontamination.wmv
    “Integrated system of Solar power and Decontamination box (ISD)”

    “Integrated system of Solar power and Decontamination box (ISD)” is a citizens’ movement to reconstruct Fukushima by constructing citizens’ power plants. ISD generates solar power electricity on top of a large concrete box which contains a mass of radioactive wastes.

    In residential area in Fukushima, promising decontamination works are not in progress. One of the reasons for this is absence of proper policy making. The Central and Local governments want the nuclear accident affected region to be reconstructed sooner, which makes the issue of successful decontamination and people’s rightful evacuation difficult. In an effort to call people back to or keep them staying in still contaminated homes, policy makers stop grants for evacuation, downplay radioactivity doses, push forward insufficient decontamination efforts and declare that Fukushima is safe.

    ISD hopes to solve this problem by helping people evacuate willingly with less stress.
    The idea of ISD is more prospective in highly contaminated area since it uses even highly contaminated lands that are purchased at low cost.

    Resident owners of ISD regularly receive income derived from the sun, which is free and everlasting. This will support part of their private lives and gives them feelings of love and gratitude for their native land they left. It will also encourage people to evacuate.

    ISD group is proposing a “Senior Volunteer Labor” system for two reasons; one that sensitivity for radioactivity decreases with age, another that the more elder we are, the heavier responsibility we owe for having promoted nuclear power. In SVL, for example, a 60 year old man could serve 4 days labor in contaminated area or donate 80 thousand yen. Even though we understand that there should be no intentional radiation exposure, robotic engineering is yet to be completed and decontamination needs human hands.

  2. Sharon Traweek permalink

    Dreux Richard, “Toxic management erodes safety at ‘world’s safest’ nuclear plant:
    Echoes of Fukushima at Exelon’s flagship Byron Station in Illinois,” Japan Times, 11 March 2013

  3. Heres a chapter on Post-Fukushima in a recent EEA report: Dorfman et al (2013) Late lessons from Chernobyl, Early Lessons from Fukushima, EEA, Copenhagen

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 3.11 Virtual Conference: Building a Bridge to Disaster Studies | Forum for the History of Science in Asia
  2. 3.11 Virtual Conference: Building a Bridge to Disaster Studies | Teach 3.11
  3. Second 3.11 Virtual Conference | An STS Forum on Fukushima

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