Towards Long-term Sustainability: In Response to the 3/11 Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

DATE: April 20-21, 2012

LOCATION: 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

SPONSORS: Center for Japanese Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, and Department of Anthropology



View video presentations from the conference here.

This symposium addresses questions that Japan is facing after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the Fukushima nuclear accident. The first day of the symposium features three speakers, all of whom have been actively involved in analyzing the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, its historical context, and/or the sociopolitical actions taken by various stakeholders. The second day of the symposium expands the discussion to situate the causes and consequences of the earthquake disaster and Fukushima accident in the context of a long-term sustainable future. Not only did the disaster affect the earthquake and tsunami victims, but it also severely damaged distribution networks and made residents of the rest of Japan realize the vulnerability of our society. The breadth of the problems in contemporary Japan makes it clear that future sustainability is at risk beyond the islands.

This two-day symposium is organized as part of the Environmental Anthropology Project: Long-term sustainability and small scale/alternative strategies. For more information about our project, please visit the project website.



View video presentations from the conference here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

11:00 AM - 5:30 PM
The Fukushima Accident: Causes, Consequences, and Historical Background

11:00-12:30: Discussion with Eiji Oguma (Keio University; paper given in Japanese, RSVP preferred): — Nihon no Genpatsu to Genpatsu Hantai Undo no Rekishi-Shakaigaku-teki Haikei
1:30-1:45: Greetings from CJS Chair
1:45-2:30: Eiji Oguma (Keio University) — Historical Background of the Fukushima Accident and the Anti-nuclear Movement in Japan
2:30-3:15: Koichi Hasegawa (Tohoku University) — Toward a Post-Nuclear Society: Examining the 3/11 disaster and nuclear risks
3:15-3:30: Discussion
3:30-4:00: Break
4:00-5:00: Masashi Goto (Shibaura Institute of Technology & Former Designer of Containment Vessels for Nuclear Reactors) — Can We Really Control Nuclear Power Plants? Lessons from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident
5:00-5:30: Discussion

Saturday, April 21, 2012

9:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Long-term Sustainability in Contemporary Japan and the World

9:30-10:00: Junko Habu (UC Berkeley) — Introduction
10:00-10:30: Fritjof Capra (UC Berkeley) — A Science for Sustainable Living
10:30-11:00: Takanori Ida (Kyoto University) — Emerging Smart Grid Community in Japan after the March Disaster
11:00-11:15: Break
11:15-11:45: Bob Sam (Tlingit Tribal Member) — Japanese New Year's Dish and Overexploitation of Herring in Alaska
11:45-12:15: Mio Katayama (UC Berkeley) — The Changing Perceptions of Food in Post-Fukushima
1:00-2:00: Reception

This event is free and open to the public.



View video presentations from the conference here.

Fritjof Capra
UC Berkeley
Toward a Post-Nuclear Society: Examining the 3/11 disaster and nuclear risks

The great challenge of our time is to build and nurture sustainable communities, designed in such a manner that their ways of life, physical structures, and technologies do not interfere with nature's inherent ability to sustain life. To do so, requires a new ecological understanding of life, as well as a new kind of "systemic" thinking. In this lecture, Fritjof Capra will show that such a new understanding of life in terms of complexity, networks, and patterns of organization, has recently emerged at the forefront of science. He will emphasize, in particular, the need of becoming "ecologically literate" and of applying basic ecological knowledge to the redesign of our technologies and social institutions, so as to bridge the current gap between human design and the ecologically sustainable systems of nature.

Masashi Goto
Shibaura Institute of Technology
Can We Really Control Nuclear Power Plants? Lessons from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

The earthquake and the tsunami of March 11, 2011, caused the loss-of-coolant accidents at Reactors No. 1 to No. 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which led to core meltdowns. Hydrogen explosions within the nuclear reactor buildings resulted in the dispersal of a large amount of radioactive materials emitted from the containment vessels, and contamination is ongoing. As a former designer of nuclear power plants, I will examine the Fukushima accident and the concept of nuclear safety.

Koichi Hasegawa
Tohoku University
Toward a Post-Nuclear Society: Examining the 3/11 disaster and nuclear risks

The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident is the second largest nuclear disaster after Chernobyl. Currently, around 150,000 people still live in evacuation under government order or by their own choice. Although triggered by a large earthquake and tsunami, this accident is a human disaster for which an electric company and the national government are responsible due to a series of "underestimations," such as that of the height of a possible tsunami, the possibility of a "station blackout," and duration of power failures. In addition to confusing and misleading information, delays in disclosure and a deliberate concealment of information occurred. In the background of all of this is the "Atomic Village" or "Atomic Circle," a very closed relationship among politicians, government offices, academics, industrial leaders, and the media. Japan, has had no "true independent regulator" of nuclear issues. This disaster revealed that the "Nuclear Safety Commission" and "Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency" are subsidiary to the electric companies and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Currently there are 64 nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, including 27 in China, 11 in Russia, 5 in both South Korea and India, and 2 reactors in Japan. Sixty-six percent of the reactors under construction are located in Asia, with 56% of the total in East Asia. The Lee administration in South Korea is seeking to export its nuclear technology, with a goal of exporting 80 nuclear reactors by 2030. In spite of the Fukushima accident, Japan and South Korea's pro-nuclear and nuclear technology export policy would escalate this very risky "death spiral." The final result of this nightmare would be a proliferation and race toward developing nuclear weapons.

We should embrace the example of the German government that changed its pro-nuclear policy and decided to shut down its entire 17 reactors by 2022 based on the report of its Ethics Commission for a Safe Energy Supply. This report stressed the role of socially responsible decision making prior to technological and economic estimations. We should try to turn around the current policy and build a post-nuclear Japan. March 11, 2011, the day of the Fukushima disaster, should become the turning point for Japanese society and the world to shift energy policies to a post-nuclear future. This would turn the tragic Fukushima disaster into the greatest message to East Asia, the world, and future generations.

Click here to download the paper.

Takanori Ida
Kyoto University
Emerging Smart Grid Community in Japan after the March Disaster

Power shortage suddenly occurred after the March 11th earthquake. In response to this, the social expectations to the smart grid (the next generation transmission network) have been growing. By utilizing information and communication technologies, the next generation energy system effectively eliminates the gap between supply and demand of power, and can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Originally, Japan required a smart grid in order to maintain the quality of electricity while it promoted the introduction of renewable energy as part of the measures against global warming. The smart grid is needed since the power grid is connected to solar and wind power generators whose energy supply tends to be unstable depending on the weather. While the United States and Japan began to consider implementing the smart grid because of different circumstances, nowadays both countries are facing the same direction and should try to kill two birds with one stone; that is by restraining power demand while promoting energy conservation and renewable energy. In this presentation, I explore the current status and issues of the smart grid in Japan and the United States, which are shifting to a new stage of commercial demonstration of a social system implementation.

Click here to download the presentation.
Click here to download the article (Nikkei Shimbun, 11/4/2011).

Eiji Oguma
Keio University
Historical Background of the Fukushima Accident and the Anti-nuclear Movement in Japan

What was the role and significance of nuclear power plants for the Japanese government and society? How has the anti-nuclear power plant movement shifted over time? This presentation will focus on these issues and their historical background.

Development of nuclear power plants in Japan started during the 1950s. For the Japanese government led by the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party), this was a symbol of international competitiveness and advanced industrialization of Japan. This symbolic meaning was shared by the opposition parties as well as residents of the areas that invited nuclear plant construction. Although not explicitly stated, the Japanese government also hoped to develop nuclear weapons someday.

By the late 1960s, these conditions began to change. As a result of active anti-environmental-pollution movements, opposition parties and many local residents adopted an anti-nuclear stance. Internationally, the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) resulted in the prevention of the Japanese government from developing nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, after the Oil Shock of 1973, the Japanese government increased the promotion of the construction of nuclear power plants. In order to ease the opposition of the local residents in the prospective construction areas, the government established a legal system to provide subsidies. During the 1970s and 1980s, when the slogan of Japan as No. 1 became popular, labor unions made a compromise with the nuclear business community. Opposition parties, which were supported by these unions, also became less confrontational. As a result, the anti-nuclear power movement weakened, and the construction of nuclear power plants peaked.

After the Chernobyl Accident in 1986, the anti-nuclear power movement in Japan was reinvigorated. While local residents and labor unions were already incorporated into the nuclear business economy and thus less willing to challenge nuclear developments, city dwellers, especially women, took the initiative in the anti-nuclear movement. This new surge of interest, however, did not last, and, faced with steady economic development, the nuclear power plant issue lost its prominence.

With the slumping Japanese economy from the 1990s to the 2000s, the political structure of influence-peddling began to fall apart. The LDP government, which had strong ties with the business community and was strongly supported by rural residents, fell from power in 2009. This was the sociopolitical background in which Fukushima accident occurred in 2011. Today, Japanese anti-nuclear plant movement is joined by a large number of non-permanent employees and house wives whose actions are not constrained by social obligations to their employers and local communities.

Given this historical background of the changes in social structure, the anti-nuclear plant movement in Japan may gain more support in the future. Recent opinion polls indicate that over 70% of the Japanese people support phasing out nuclear power plants. Collaborations with prefectural and municipal governments near nuclear plants will increase the possibility of abolishing all the nuclear power plants in Japan.

Click here to download the paper in English.
Click here to download the paper in Japanese.

Mio Katayama Owens
UC Berkeley
The Changing Perceptions of Food in Post-Fukushima

Since the moment the news of the Fukushima Dai-ichi explosion became public on March 12, 2011, people living in Japan were forced to think about the safety of their food from a point of view that was unfathomable before. The wide variety of opinions on food safety, from the initial assurance by the government to the alarmed scientists and the media, many of which were supposedly supported by scientific studies, did not provide the comfort the public was desperately seeking. As a result, food became the symbols of self sacrifice, community support, national pride, and institutionalized deceit all at the same time. While active discourse on food from varying view points is normally healthy and beneficial, it became the cause of conflicts in this case. These polarizing roles that food played in post-Fukushima reflect the emotional connections people made with their food as a result of the disasters, and may provide insights on the discussion of sustainability.

Bob Sam
Tlingit Tribal Member
Japanese New Year's Dish and Overexploitation of Herring in Alaska

The natural and nuclear disaster of March 11 in Japan has had far reaching effects on the natural environment throughout the world. The earthquake and tsunami created debris and possibly radioactive contaminated materials in the ocean traveling to other parts of the world such as Sitka, Alaska. Recently a Japanese ship from the disaster area sank in Sitka just before the annual harvest of herring roe. One of the largest herring harvests remaining world-wide is in Sitka, Alaska, and certainly more debris and contamination from Japan will reach this environmentally sensitive area. How much more contamination can the ocean take due to pollution of the environment? The debris and contamination from Japan is one incident of many contributing to over pollution of the North Pacific Ocean.

The exploitation of herring in Sitka, Alaska by Japanese commercial interests is another impact affecting long-term sustainability of Tlingit life. Harvesting herring roe is a New Year's tradition shared by both the Tlingit and Japanese. Can research and science find common grounds to ensure long-term sustainability for harvesting herring roe for both the Tlingit and Japanese? A shared tradition of harvesting herring roe in such a manner that can sustain itself well into the future without depleting the herring stocks can benefit both Alaska and Japan.



View video presentations from the conference here.

Fritjof Capra – Center for Ecoliteracy and Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program, UC Berkeley
CAPRA, Fritjof, Ph.D., physicist and systems theorist, is a founding director of the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley and is on the faculty of the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at UCB. Capra is the author of several international bestsellers, including The Tao of Physics (1975), The Turning Point (1982), The Web of Life (1996), and The Hidden Connections (2002). He is currently working on a multidisciplinary textbook, The Systems View of Life, coauthored by Pier Luigi Luisi and to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2013.

Masashi Goto – Former Toshiba Designer of Containment Vessels for Nuclear Reactors
GOTO, Masashi is Lecturer at the Shibaura Institute of Technology, and a former designer of containment vessels for nuclear reactors. Born in Fujinomiya City in Shizuoka Prefecture, he graduated from the Department of Marine Engineering and worked for Toshiba from 1989 to 2009, during which he helped design containment vessels for nuclear reactors. Prior to this, he worked for Mitsui Ocean Development and Engineering Company. As a doctor of engineering, his specialties include design engineering, structural design, and industrial technologies. His books include Genpatsu o Tsukutta kara Ierukoto (Crayon House Booklet, 2011), Fukushima Genpatsu Jiko wa Naze Okitaka. He is currently a member of the Committee for a Comprehensive Review of the Safety of Nuclear Power Plants (the so-called Committee for the Stress Tests) by the Ministry of Economy, Technology and Industry.

Junko Habu – UC Berkeley
HABU, Junko is Professor of the Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley. Born in Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture, she received her BA and MA from Keio University and her Ph.D. from McGill University. Her research focuses on archaeological and anthropological studies of human-environmental interaction, human rights, and long-term sustainability of human cultures and societies. Her books include Ancient Jomon of Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Evaluating Multiple Narratives (Springer 2008, co-edited with C. Fawcett and J. M. Matsunaga).

Koichi Hasegawa – Tohoku University
HASEGAWA Koichi is Professor in the Graduate School of Arts & Letters at Tohoku University, and faculty member and a sub-leader of Tohoku University's Global Center of Excellence (GCOE) program of The Center for the Study of Social Stratification and Inequality (CSSI). He received his Ph.D from the University of Tokyo in 2004. He is a former president of the Japanese Association for Environmental Sociology. With many articles on civil society, social movements, social change and environmental sociology, his major work includes Globalization, Minorities and Civil Society: Perspectives from Asian and Western Cities (co-edited by YOSHIHARA Naoki, Trans Pacific Press 2008), and A Choice for Post-Nuclear Society (Shin-yo-sha 1996, written in Japanese). His 2004 book, Constructing Civil Society in Japan: Voices of Environmental Movements (Trans Pacific Press), is widely cited by English-speaking audiences.

Takanori Ida – Kyoto University
IDA, Takaori is Professor of Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University (2007 - Present), and Fulbright Visiting Scholar of Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley and Demand Response Research Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (August 2011 - July 2012). PhD, MA, BA in Economics (Kyoto University). Research Fields: Applied Micro Economics, especially focusing on Smart Grid Economics, Telecommunications Economics, and Behavioral Economics. Publications selected: [1] Ida, T. (2009) Broadband Economics: Lessons from Japan, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group): London. [2] Ida, T. and R. Goto (2009) "Simultaneous Measurement of Time and Risk Preferences," International Economic Review 50.4: 1169-1182.

Eiji Oguma – Keio University
OGUMA, Eiji is Professor in the Department of International Sociology at the Faculty of Policy Management of Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus. After he graduated from the Agricultural Department of the University of Tokyo, he worked for a publisher and completed his PhD work in International Sociology at the University of Tokyo. His book, A Genealogy of 'Japanese' Self-images (Shinyo-sha, Tokyo, 1996, translation from Trans Pacific Press, Melbourne, 2002), won a 1996 Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities. His other books include The Boundaries of the Japanese (Nihonjin no Kyokai; Shin'yo-sha, 1998), Democracy and Patriotism (Minshu to Aikoku; Shin'yo-sha, 2002), and 1968:Youths' Revolts and Their Background/The end of the Revolts and Their Legacy (1968: Wakamono-tachi no Hanran to Sono Haikei/Hanran no Shuen to Sono Isan; Shin'yo-sha, 2009).

Mio Katayama Owens – UC Berkeley
OWENS, Mio Katayama, is a visiting scholar of the Center for Japanese Studies, University of California at Berkeley. She was born in Yokohama, and moved to the United States for education. She received her BA, MA, and Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley. Her dissertation on food and culture is based on her fieldwork at the Sannai Maruyama site in Aomori, Japan. Her latest research project focuses on alternative food production and distribution systems as part of the contributing strategies for long-term sustainable foodways.

Bob Sam – Tlingit Tribal Member
SAM, Bob is a Tlingit tribal member, born and raised in Sitka, Alaska. He is a frequent traveller to Japan for the purpose of sharing the Tlingit culture through story-telling. Bob's friendship with Michio Hoshino, a late Japanese wildlife photographer, has enabled him to reach a wide audience in Japan. He encourages self-sustaininable living practices, focusing on the careful use of natural resources.



View video presentations from the conference here.

Towards Long-term Sustainability: In Response to the 3/11 Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster will be held at the Institute of East Asian Studies – 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

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