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Asian Perspective 37 (2013), 473-474 After Fukushima: An Introduction Norifumi Namatame The nuclear disasters at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011, startled people in Japan and throughout the world. The consequences of the massive earthquake and tsunami apparently went far beyond the assumptions that the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had made before that day. Their responses to the nuclear accidents were tardy, insufficient, and confused. Nearly three years have passed, but the problems at Fukushima Daiichi are still far from resolved. The leaking of nuclear materials from the power plant continues, the cost of decommissioning of the reactors is enormous and mounting, and the people who were forced to evacuate from the heavily contam­ inated area still live in fear and despair. Furthermore, the Japanese people in general do not know exactly where to find safe places to live, safe foods they can eat, and information they can really trust. From May 10 to 12, 2012, Australian National University (ANU) and Tohoku Fukushi University (TFU) cohosted a work­ shop in Sendai, Japan, called Nuclear Disaster Response: The Need to Know. Scholars in various fields were invited from Japan, the United States, Australia, and Taiwan. For the first two days in closed sessions, and then in a public forum, we had intensive debates on what kind of information the people in Fukushima and Japan generally should be given about nuclear power and a nuclear disaster. This special issue represents the arguments that were offered in Sendai, reinforced by additional authors whose contributions were invited subsequently, in order to respond to “the need to know” and fulfill requirements stemming from “the right to know.” Richard Tanter examines the issue of corruption in the nuclear power industry, arguing that it is not a problem peculiar to Japan. Jeff Kingston extends Tanter’s argument by detailing the pemi473 474 After Fukushima: An Introduction cious influence of the so-called nuclear village in Japan, which embraces TEPCO, powerful politicians, and members of the media and academia. Tilman A. Ruff provides a deeply informed perspective on public health, scrutinizing the long-term and short­ term risks of exposure to low-dose radiation. Drawing on many years of study of the Chernobyl disaster’s biological impact, Anders Pape Mpller and Timothy A. Mousseau make comparisons with what has happened to birds and other animals in the contam­ inated areas around Fukushima. Shoko Yoneyama offers a sociological analysis of the nuclear disaster, comparing it with the case of Minamata disease, one of the most tragic pollution incidents in Japanese history. Kawasaki Akira explores the future of energy policy in Japan from the point of view of civil society. Finally, Michael Edwards analyzes the psychological effects of the accident through several interviews with victims. This project received support from many scholars and volun­ teer graduate students. I would like to express special thanks to Koki Hagino, president of TFU, for cohosting the workshop; Peter Van Ness of ANU for organizing it; Mel Gurtov of Portland State University for supporting publication of the results; and Mark Selden, coordinator of, for allowing us to publish revised versions of two articles that appeared there earlier. This study was also supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan (MEXT) Program for the Strategic Research Foundation at Private Universities, provided to the Kansei Fukushi Research Institute of Tohoku Fukushi Univer­ sity (2012-2016). Note Norifumi Namatame is associate professor at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, Japan. He was visiting fellow at the Australian National University from May 2011 to January 2012. He has published articles on Japan’s mis­ sile defense programs and on realist and pacifist approaches to Japan’s post­ war security policy and national identity. He can be reached at namatame ...


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