Japan's delayed antinuclear power mobilization after 3.11
Author(s)Teo, Lin Ern Charis
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Richard J. Samuels.
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The meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi's nuclear plant was one of three disasters that rocked Japan on 11 March 2011, a day often referred to as "3.11." This nuclear accident led to increased attention to and disapproval of nuclear power among the Japanese public. However, despite widespread antinuclear sentiment, the public did not mobilize into sustained mass protests until June 2012. Using historical and contemporary comparisons, this thesis shows that Japan's 15- month delay in antinuclear mobilization was unusual. Both the 1979 Three Mile Island and the 1986 Chernobyl accidents had been quickly followed by mobilized protests. Moreover, the 3.11 Fukushima meltdown prompted mass protests in Germany almost immediately. Given these patterns, one would expect to have seen the Japanese mobilize earlier. The question that drives this thesis is: What led to Japan's 15-month delay in antinuclear power mobilization? Using social movement theory, I test to see whether low levels of grievance, limited availability of resources, or the lack of effective mobilizing structure and strategy help to explain this delay. Of the three explanations, I find the mobilization structure and strategy explanation to be best supported. Due to a history of overlooking antinuclear power issues in Japanese civil society, the early post-3.11 movement lacked longstanding true believers and activists, the two types of participants most effective at mobilizing. Furthermore, the use of social media platforms to organize the early protests may have contributed to why sustained protests were delayed. The empirical findings from this thesis allow us to examine more closely the devastation resulting from 3.11's nuclear meltdown and assess the strengths and weaknesses in Japanese civil society after the disaster. On a theoretical level, these findings may encourage us to question the relevance of grievance to mobilization, refine how resource availability is measured, and ask if the growing use of social media and other online tools should change the way we study social movement mobilization.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2013.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections."September 2013." Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 99-112).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology