After the Meltdown: Post-Fukushima Environmentalism and a Nuclear Energy Industrial Complex in Japan

  • Michael C. DreilingEmail author
  • Tomoyasu Nakamura
  • Nicholas Lougee
  • Yvonne A. Braun
Part of the Current Topics in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine book series (CTEHPM)


Since the Kyoto Protocol, and prior to the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011, a nuclear safety discourse bolstered the industry and supported its promise to meet energy demands while mitigating the risks of global warming. The Fukushima nuclear accident and humanitarian crisis caused by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 called the entire nuclear industry into question. However, the silence among established environmental organizations continued. Based on an extensive study of Japanese environmental organizations, we investigate why Japanese environmental organizations were relatively silent on one of the largest environmental crises in the country’s history. We address this question historically and quantitatively, incorporating survey data on a national sample of Japanese environmental organizations. This research also quantitatively operationalizes the effects of board of director composition on the behavior of a subsample of environmental organizations (EOs). The statistical analyses show that environmental groups with government and corporate board members are significantly less likely to publicly denounce nuclear energy following the Fukushima meltdown. The political-organizational embeddedness of these EOs is illustrated with a network heuristic of overlapping industry, government, and environmental organizations, and the implications for civil society and nuclear accident preparedness are discussed.


Japanese environmentalism Environmental movements Disaster politics Nuclear energy Network analysis Civil society Environmental organizations Nuclear risk Fukushima Japan 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael C. Dreiling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tomoyasu Nakamura
    • 2
  • Nicholas Lougee
    • 1
  • Yvonne A. Braun
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Senshu UniversityTokyoJapan

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