Edited By Tom Gill, Brigitte Steger and David H. Slater
The Construction of Risk and the Resilience of Fukushima in the Aftermath of the Nuclear Power Plant Accident
The image of the first explosion at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant was broadcast on Fukushima Central Television (FCT) on 12 March 2011, soon after it happened at 3.36pm that day. It was the day after the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami had hit Japan. Seeing the image, I immediately thought of Chernobyl. On 13 March, when I regained access to the internet, which had been down due to the earthquake, I looked up the distance between my home city of Kōriyama, and the nuclear power plant. Kōriyama, with a population of around 333,000, is in the centre of Fukushima prefecture, approximately 60 kilometres from the plant, which is located by the seashore on the eastern edge of Fukushima. At Chernobyl, the 30 kilometre radius from the plant became the ‘exclusion zone’, where no one has been allowed back to live. So, realizing I was 60 kilometres away reassured me for the time being. However, it still felt surreal that a nuclear accident was happening in my prefecture.
I am a US-trained anthropologist who happened to be living back at home in Kōriyama when Fukushima prefecture experienced its quadruple disaster: earthquake(s), tsunami, the nuclear power plant accident and the harmful rumours (fūhyō higai) associated with it. A nuclear accident evokes a fear of the unknown, alongside its actual harm. In the face of unknown possibilities and contradicting information, the boundaries between ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’,...
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