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Type: Theses
Title: Public participation in Japan’s nuclear energy policy-forming process : comparison of pre- and post-Fukushima processes
Author: White, Philip
Issue Date: 2015
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: This thesis compares the state of public participation in Japan’s nuclear energy policy-forming process before and after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident. It assesses public participation against evaluation criteria designed from a public policy perspective and also locates discrete official exercises within the context of the wider public sphere, using deliberative systems theory to analyse the linkages between the micro and macro levels. Following Bishop and Davis (2002, p. 14), this work assumes that the idea of public participation implies ‘a sharing of power between the governed and the government’, but finds that most official public participation exercises in Japan’s nuclear energy policy-forming process have been tokenistic. Under these circumstances, and in light of the dominant influence of Japan's nuclear industry and bureaucracy, this thesis asks whether, in the field of nuclear energy policy, it is possible for public participation to prevent the subversion of the political public sphere by power. Adopting a broad definition of participation, including both official and unofficial forms, this research shows how public participation has sometimes acted as a countervailing force. For example, after the Fukushima accident public participation briefly influenced national policy, while pre-Fukushima citizen-initiated public participation sometimes influenced local nuclear projects. However, this analysis also confirms that unless the ‘communicative power’ generated by citizens’ movements can be converted into more concrete forms of power, public participation in the high-stakes field of nuclear energy and energy policy is unlikely to exert substantial and lasting influence. The inability of the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear movement to convert the communicative power it generated into political representation meant that public influence on official policy was temporary. With the election in December 2012 of a government that was not interested in sharing power with the public, it became even more important to look beyond official public participation exercises. This thesis argues that, in the context of moves to liberalise the energy system, there is potential for participation at the local level to compensate to some extent for the lack of official support for participation at the national level. In particular, by converting communicative power into consumer and ‘prosumer’ (producer-consumer) power, there is potential for citizens’ movements to open up new avenues for the public to influence energy policy, or, in Dryzek’s (2010) deliberative systems terms, for transmission between public space and empowered space to occur. While unengaged consumers with no voice in policy decisions might not be seen as contributing to a deliberative system, this thesis highlights that when consumer and prosumer citizens are making active political choices it is appropriate to view their actions through the lens of public participation and to extend deliberative systems theory to include this type of market-based activity.
Advisor: Yoneyama, Shoko
Groot, Gerry
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2015.
Keywords: Japan
nuclear energy
public participation
deliberative democracy
anti-nuclear movement
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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