East Asia

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 313-336

First online:

The Impact of 3/11 on Japan

  • David M. AraseAffiliated withThe Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies Email author 

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The question posed in this paper is whether the triple disaster of 3/11 constitutes a “critical juncture” in Japan. We can point to minor discontinuities in Japanese policies, institutions, and identity caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant meltdown that eventuated on March 11, 2011, but in the year following the event there was no evidence of a critical change. The disaster and post-disaster situation in Japan are summarized, and an explanation for the lack of critical change in nuclear policy—an area where change might have been expected in view of the fact that European countries reacted to 3/11 with critical changes in nuclear energy policy—is sought by comparing the ability of mainstream theories of Japanese politics to explain the situation.


Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Anti-nuclear power movement Japanese politics Nuclear power debate 3/11 earthquake