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To analyze the process through which nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts in Japan, this chapter first deals with a brief history on nuclear power plants in Japan and explore cultural acceptance of nuclear energy, the role of nuclear energy in the political system, and the status of the nuclear industry. Then I will examine the politics of “unexpected” or “beyond expectation” discourse using reports by the National Diet, by the Cabinet and by Independent Investigation Commission to survey the source of legitimate expertise in this domain. Furthermore, this paper deals with the communication disaster after the accidents as well as public debate in Japanese society to analyze the role of media and the culture of public debate over complex techno-scientific issues. From these analyses, we can determine that segregation was established between sites that accepted nuclear power plants before the 1970s and sites without nuclear power plants. After the accidents of March 11, 2011, this segregation expanded between these sites as well as within each site. In addition, discussions about whether to consider the accidents as universal lessons from Fukushima or to regard the accidents as culturally specific leads us to a discussion on technological culture with relevance to techno-orientalism.
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In addition, there is a computer simulation that can calculate the development of an accident in real-time using the same code of the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES). This also means that the accident was predicted in scientific rationality. Prediction sometimes becomes the cause of other victims. For example, as the Tsunami countermeasure, some professionals have done “disaster drills” in the Kamaishi-city based on their “assumption” of the effect of a tsunami. However, the height and power of the tsunami was beyond their assumption, and more than 50 people died even though they followed evacuation instruction by these professionals (NHK 2011, March 21). However, if we cannot make assumptions, then we cannot prepare for disasters. It was a criticism on what can we formulate the responsibility of these professionals.
It was a criticism in a joint plenary of the History of Science Society (HSS), the Society for History of Technology (SHOT), and 4S on Fukushima in November 2011 in Cleveland.
Of course, we should distinguish between communication during “emergencies” and communication during normal life. However, the information disclosure attitude during an emergency is affected by the relationship between science and society as well as by the public’s trust in authorities throughout the course of their normal life.
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- The Processes Through Which Nuclear Power Plants Are Embedded in Political, Economic, and Social Contexts in Japan
- Chapter 2