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Comments on Plenary Talks & Empirical Panel

Please follow the appropriate link below to post/view comments related to each of the following plenaries. (Commentary on the plenaries as a whole may be posted at the bottom of this page.)

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PLENARY I.  DISASTER STS
What Kind of Disaster STS Should We Seek to Build?
Featured Speaker—Scott Frickel (Washington State University)

PLENARY II.  STRUCTURAL DISASTER
The Security of ‘Villages,’ the Disaster of Society: The Path Dependent Origin of ‘Structural Disaster’
Featured Speaker—Miwao Matsumoto (University of Tokyo)
(Drs. Juraku and Shineha will be filling in for Dr. Matsumoto for this session)

PLENARY III.  DISASTER TIME: 3.11
The Temporal Dimensions of Disaster
Featured Speaker—Kim Fortun (Rensselaer)

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Empirical Panel

Comments on the Empirical Panel images and the conversations that follow may also be posted below on this page.

One Comment
  1. Kyle Cleveland permalink

    With regard to the question posed in the conference about what is distinctive about the Fukushima crisis as a nuclear event and how this may inform STS studies:

    it seems to me that what the crisis exposed was the dysfunctionality of the Japanese political system – the lack of governmental oversight, the real-world implications of industry-capture, and the distinctive place that nuclear issues have in Japanese history.

    Nuclear energy was imposed on Japan as a byproduct of the U.S. occupation, a particularly poignant irony given Japan’s wartime experience with nuclear weapons. And now, having experienced Fukushima, the LDP has come back into power on a platform that included both a continuation of the nuclear village and even building new reactors in the future despite public opinion that views nuclear issues now, with at best, an apathetic resignation and a deep sense of foreboding.

    Related to, but distinct from electoral politics are the moribund state of Japanese Civil Society, even post 3.11. After a rise in activism in the year following 3.11, as the anti-nuclear movement surged and seemed to promise new possibilities in Japanese politics, but support for this movement has gradually eroded and is once again the province of professional activists, whose commitments are admirable, but have not been able to affect significant political change, at least at the level of electoral politics. This may not prove to be true, however, with regional prefectural governments, who are reshaping their towns and villages with the recent memory of government neglect and malfeasance in mind. Daniel Aldrich’s work is seminal in this regard, as his work in this area predates the Fukushima crisis and exposes the impact of the nuclear village on local communities, with a nuanced analysis of that political processes involved.

    Comparisons to other countries are difficult: while I hesitate to invoke some kind of Japanese exceptionalism in this regard, surely there are distinctive features that help contextualize how Japan has dealt with this crisis, and how they are subsequently interfacing with international regulatory structures. There are technological issues that transcend the cultural differences, but these cultural characteristics are influential and meaningful and so as we attempt to make sense of the Fukushima crisis, we should consider how Japan’s post-war history, its pseduo-democracy and its international alliances, are influencing its nuclear policies post-3.11.

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