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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Tina Hügel

Social Movements in Japan, Social Movement Theory, Japanese Civil Society, Anti-nuclear Movement, Nuclear Energy Policy
(PhD Students, April 3, 2017 - July 31, 2017)

The development and outcome of local anti-nuclear movements in Japan
A case study of Maki and Rokkasho

The ‘Tripple Disaster’ on the 11th March 2011 destroyed the widespread belief in the safety of nuclear power, and was triggering in that way a wave of protests in Japan. Those protests were picked up by the media worldwide.

Much less known are local movements in Japanese cities and communities, in which nuclear facilities should have been or actually were built. Those protests started already in the 1980s and some of those movements were able, to prevent the planned construction of a nuclear power plant.

In this research study, the question will be answered, what the reasons are that some of those local movements were successful while other movements failed, under at the first glance same circumstances.

On the 4th August 1996, the planned construction of a nuclear power plant in the town Maki, which became in October 2005 a part of Niigata city, the capital of the prefecture of the same name, was prevented, through a citizen referendum. In Rokkasho, a village in the Northeast of Aomori prefecture, in which one of the largest nuclear centers is standing today, the construction and launching of the nuclear power plant, could not be prevented. Even though, in the bigger cities of the prefecture, like Aomori city, Hirosaki and Hachinohe, and also in Rokkasho itself, local movements against the construction were taking place.

In order to analyze this question, this research will use different theories and approaches of social movement theory. The most important approaches are the resource mobilization theory, the framing approach, and the theory of political opportunity structure.
Therefore, empirical data from interviews with members and supporters of the anti-nuclear movement are used, as well as data from publications about the two case studies.