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A Normal Accident or a Sea-Change? Nuclear Host Communities Respond to the 3/11 Disaster

Daniel P. Aldrich, Purdue University

Abstract

While 3/11 has altered energy policies around the world, insufficient attention has focused on reactions from local nuclear power plant host communities and their neighbors throughout Japan. Using site visits to such towns, interviews with relevant actors, and secondary and tertiary literature, this article investigates the community crisis management strategies of two types of cities, towns, and villages: thosewhich have nuclear plants directly in their backyards and neighboring cities further away (within a 30 mile radius). Responses to the disaster have varied with distance to nuclear facilities but in a way contrary to the standard theories based on the concept of the ‘distance decay function’. Officials in communities directly proximal to nuclear power plants by and large remain supportive of Japan’s nuclear power program, while those in cities and towns at a distance (along with much of the general public) have displayed strong opposition to the pre 3/11 status quo. Using qualitative data, this article underscores how national energy and crisis response policies rest strongly on the political economy, experiences of, and decisions made at the subnational level.

Suggested Citation

Daniel P. Aldrich. "A Normal Accident or a Sea-Change? Nuclear Host Communities Respond to the 3/11 Disaster" Japanese Journal of Political Science 14.2 (2013): 261-276.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daniel_aldrich/22