Case Studies for Responsible Innovation: Lessons from Fukushima
Location 124
Date and Start Time 03 September, 2016 at 16:00
Sessions 1


  • Yuko Fujigaki (The University of Tokio) email

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Discussant Wiebe Bijker (Maastricht University), Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna)

Short Abstract

This session deals with the Fukushima nuclear power plants accidents in 2011 based on our book published by Springer in 2015. Adding to historical analysis and communication failure analysis, we will examine this accident from the perspective of "responsible innovation" in HORIZEN 2020 by EU.

Long Abstract

This session deals with the nuclear power plants accidents in Fukushima in 2011 in the context of responsible innovation. First, four presentations are provided based on our book, "Lessons from Fukushima: Japanese Case Studies on Science, Technology and Society", published by Springer in 2015. They include: historical analysis on how the nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts of Japan, analysis on communication failure between experts and public as well as reports on deliberative poll and public engagement for decision-making on how to deal with future energy. Two European discussants will examine the Fukushima accident from the perspective of "responsible innovation" in HORIZEN 2020 by EU science and technology policy. After that, the session will be open to the flour to discuss how we can manage safety regulation of nuclear power plants considering responsible innovation.

Case Studies for Responsible Innovation: Lessons from Fukushima

Organizer: Yuko Fuigaki (University of Tokyo)

1) The process through which nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts in Japan, Yuko Fujigaki (University of Tokyo)

2) Agenda building intervention of socio-scientific issues: A science media centre, Mikihito Tanaka (Waseda University)

3) Rhetorical marginalization of science and democracy: Politics in risk discourse on radioactive risks, Hideyuki Hirakawa(Oosaka University), Masashi Shirabe(Tokyo Institute of Technology)

4) Public participation in decision-making on energy policy: The case of the "national discussion" after Fukushima accident, Naoyuki Mikami(Hokkaido University)


Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna)

Wiebe Bijker (Maastricht University)

This track is closed to new paper proposals.


Lessons for More Responsible Public Participation

Author: Naoyuki Mikami (Hokkaido University)  email

Short Abstract

The abandonment of the Energy Choice Deliberative Polling results suggests that more systematic attention is required regarding interaction and co-production between mini-public-type public participation and stakeholders or grass-root politics.

Long Abstract

Public participation is a critical component in the implementation of responsible research and innovation, and this paper provides a case study of how and why the results of an epoch-making attempt at public participation, a series of participatory programs on energy choices after the Fukushima accident, were eventually abandoned in Japan. As reported in the authors' previous study in "Lessons From Fukushima," the year 2012 was a significant period for Japan's participatory governance of science and technology in that, in response to the disaster, the government undertook Deliberative Polling (DP) on energy options to officially introduce the voice of "the public" into energy policy for the first time. The results of the DP and associated participation programs had a significant impact on policy decisions, with the government at that time declaring a nuclear phase-out by the 2030s. A subsequent change in government at the end of the same year, however, led not only to the abandonment of the phase-out policy, but also to a complete disregard for the results of participatory programs, including the DP. A closer look at the process during and after the DP as well as related public engagement programs suggests that this mini-publics-type of participatory program tended to be quite naive in regarding "the public" as clean slate, thereby ignoring potential interactions and co-production with political stakeholders and grass-roots movements. It is suggested that a more systematic and integrated approach is needed in order for participatory and deliberative practices to contribute to responsible research and innovation.

Politics in Risk Discourse on Radioactive Risks in Japan

Authors: Hideyuki Hirakawa (Osaka University)  email
Masashi Shirabe (Tokyo Tech)  email

Short Abstract

From the perspective of responsible risk governance, this paper analyses “politics in the discourse of radioactive risks” that we have witnessed in various discursive arenas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster such as mass media, governmental policymaking and risk communication activities.

Long Abstract

This paper analyses "politics in the discourse of radioactive risks" that we have witnessed since the accident of Fukushima nuclear power plant in various discursive arenas such as the mass media, governmental/municipal decision-making and risk communication activities, and arguments by individual scientists on Social Network Services. The discourse has rhetorically marginalized what has been at stake in terms of public anxiety and controversies over risks of low-dose radioactive contamination of foods, water, soil, and tsunami debris. Such marginalization can be classified into three forms in terms of how the risk discourse downplays the significance of scientific and/or social dimensions: (1) Reduction in dimensions of issues to scientific ones and the problem of public misunderstanding of science; (2) Mobilization of shaky or imbalanced scientific arguments; and (3) Emotional mobilization. We present case studies to exemplify these three forms of rhetorical marginalization of science and democracy. In any forms of marginalization, legitimate democratic deliberation as well as genuine scientific arguments have been suppressed and replaced by top-down technocratic decisions. In some cases, we found a disguised form of technocracy in government's policy that uses the guise of science as an excuse for bypassing democratic process. In conclusion, we discuss the nature of these problems from the perspective of more responsible risk governance of technological disasters and reflexive questions as to the grounds of our criticism of marginalization.

The Parallax Views on Fukushima: Polarization and Stigmatization throughout the Socio-scientific Issue

Authors: Mikihito Tanaka (Waseda University)  email
Naiwen Hong  email

Short Abstract

Since after the Fukushima disaster, polarization and stigmatization occured in the contemporary media environment, and experts had a crucial role there. According to the quantitative media study, we will present how this phenomenon occurred.

Long Abstract

In the present day, social agenda is constructed on media, but its manner has become complicated after the rise of the social media. Socio-scientific issues also form their shape on media, so it could be said media is an origin where misunderstanding between experts and citizens begins. The theme of this report is to depict the difficulty of performing deliberation within this complex media ecosystem with subsuming socio-scientific issues, at studying the Fukushima disaster.

Five years passed since the disaster, and now the Japanese society has polarized into their ideologies on the socio-scientific issues related to Fukushima disaster. For example, pro- vs. anti- nuke, 'anzen-chu (means "Safety-parties," generally implies person in scientism)' vs. 'housha-nou (means "Radioheads").' But how this partyism arose? To outline this complicated problem, we will focus on (1) mechanism of polarization about socio-scientific issues on SNS, (2) the nest of stigmas on media ecosystem, from a provincial press in Fukushima to global press and social media. The results indicate that science experts have a catalytic function of forming 'disaster utopia (Solnit, 2009)' at crisis stage just after the disaster, but also catalyzed polarization in post-crisis stage by legitimizing risk. Also, studies on media ecosystem proved that actual victims are hidden in the blind spot of the views of both legacy and social media. The result of this study will also throw questions at STS about its significance and limitation on intervening agenda building and framing processes in the media.

The process through which nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts in Japan

Author: Yuko Fujigaki (The University of Tokio)  email

Short Abstract

This paper analyzes the process through which nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts in Japan. Historical analysis and discourse analysis on official reports found the politics of “unexpected” statements and segregation between sites with and without plants

Long Abstract

To analyze the process through which nuclear power plants are embedded in political, economic, and social contexts in Japan, this paper 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.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.