Identifying the ‘Fukushima Effect’ in Germany through policy actors’ responses: evidence from the G-GEPON 2 survey

A Correction to this article was published on 09 January 2020

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The nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, on March 11, 2011 (“3.11”) prompted global changes in national energy policies. Public discourse created the image that “Fukushima” had prompted Germany’s Energiewende, and much research asking why the reaction of decision makers in Germany was significantly different from those in Japan has been conducted since that time. However, the effect on policy actors themselves in the policy-making network has been overlooked. Taking Germany’s socio-political history into account, we question such conclusions and argue that the measurable effect is much less than some conclude. Using an unconventional merged methods research design and innovative survey instrument with a policy-actor-network approach (the G-GEPON 2 Survey), we asked major German policy actors, interest groups, stakeholders, and civil society actors about their opinions, attitudes and governmental support regarding energy policy decisions pre- and post-Fukushima. We found that an established institutional landscape of policy actors and their cooperation in policy processes has not been affected by 3.11. New forms of inquiry for policy research show the potential to provide insights into policy processes which were not measurable with traditional single-method inquiries. Furthermore, we have found that emulation of national legal frameworks must consider socio-political traditions. We attempt to create new forms of investigation to reveal hidden structures in policy processes which are empirically difficult to grasp.

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Change history

  • 09 January 2020

    For reason beyond the control of the authors or the editors


  1. 1.

    Government policy statement on June 9, 2011, Chancellor Angel Merkel. (Speech transcript accessible through the Bundestag archives:

  2. 2.

    The term Energiewende has become a key term for global energy transition movements. The international network of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, for example, provides extensive resources and ongoing research on the progress of energy policy transition efforts towards more renewable energy globally:

  3. 3.

    The literature that discusses the history of the energy policy in Germany is vast. For the interested reader, the authors suggest reports offered by the Federal Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry ( or resources provided by the Heinrich Böll Foundation of their project “Energy Transition. The Global Energiewende” project (

  4. 4.

    The first wave of the GEPON series of surveys was undertaken from 1998 to 2004 in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the United States by Yutaka Tsujinaka of the University of Tsukuba.

  5. 5.

    The questions have been translated into English for the purposes of this paper as the original questions were in German.


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Correspondence to Manuela G. Hartwig.

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Hartwig, M.G., Tkach-Kawasaki, L. Identifying the ‘Fukushima Effect’ in Germany through policy actors’ responses: evidence from the G-GEPON 2 survey. Qual Quant 53, 2081–2101 (2019).

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  • Fukushima
  • Germany
  • Energy policy
  • Nuclear phase-out
  • Merged methods
  • G-GEPON 2