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The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, also known as the Great East Japan Earthquake (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) caused a nuclear accident in the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power plants in the following days. The Fukushima nuclear accident and the public backlash which followed reshaped the energy-related discussions in Japan. The Fukushima issue went beyond a technical nuclear energy issue and became a nationwide socio-political issue.
The government’s decision to restart nuclear reactors, which had been shut down following the Fukushima accident and the focus on nuclear energy for the country’s future energy portfolio (20-22 per cent) intensified the debate among environmental organizations and the Japanese government. Consequently, Japanese state-society relations have undergone a significant transformation. ECSOs have started to pursue a goal of a nuclear phase-out (datsu-genpatsu) along with a nuclear-free policy (hikaku seisaku), criticising the government’s energy strategy put forward by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), widely known for its pro-nuclear stance.
This research study focuses on a case study of the environmental civil society organizations (ECSOs) based in Japan. The case study of Japanese environmental civil society organizations involved in energy policies is an exemplar of the creation of deliberative spaces.
This research examines the extent to which environmental civil society organisations (with a particular focus on Greenpeace Japan, Friends of the Earth, The Institute of Sustainable Energy Policy, and Renewable Energy Institute) have been influential in the energy decision-making process since the Fukushima accident. It highlights the socio-political dimensions of the nuclear energy issue in Japan, including the efficacy level of ECSOs, deliberative and democratic spaces of civic actors, the interactional dimensions of state-civil society partnership, and the dynamics of the energy policymaking process in contemporary Japan.
Dr Pinar Temocin is currently affiliated with The Center for Peace, Hiroshima University, Japan. She was trained in Philosophy in Turkey and Germany and Comparative Politics and Public Policy in France. She was also a visiting research student at Seoul National University and a fellow on non-nuclear proliferation at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea. She interned and carried out projects on international politics and nuclear energy in several research institutes and researched civil society-related issues at several universities including the University of Montpellier, France and the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
She researches environmental civil society engagement in energy transition and decarbonisation efforts, interactive state-society relations, and collaborative and inclusive environmental and energy governance. She combines the perspectives of political sociology, energy studies and environmental governance, as well as Science, Technology and Society (STS), within the Japanese context, to analyse and develop recommendations for sustainable environmental and energy policies.