Seminar Series

Book Talk Series “Japan’s Nuclear Disaster and the Politics of Safety Governance”: Why Japan Struggles to Revive Nuclear Power

Thursday 26 October 2023 | 16:00-17:00(JST)
  • Florentine Koppenborg Postdoctoral researcher, Technical University of Munich (TUM)
  • Kenneth Mori McElwain Professor,Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo
Event Description

Based on the book  “Japan’s Nuclear Disaster and the Politics of Safety Governance”  written by Florentine Koppenborg, Kodansha, Cornell University Press, June 15 ,2023

In this book, Florentine Koppenborg argues that the regulatory reforms taken up in the wake of the Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011, directly and indirectly raised the costs of nuclear power in Japan. The new Nuclear Regulation Authority resisted capture by the nuclear industry and fundamentally altered the environment for nuclear policy implementation. Independent safety regulation changed state-business relations in the nuclear power domain from regulatory capture to top-down safety regulation, which raised technical safety costs for electric utilities. Furthermore, the safety agency’s extended emergency preparedness regulations expanded the allegorical backyard of NIMBY demonstrations. Antinuclear protests, – mainly lawsuits challenging restarts – incurred additional social acceptance costs. Increasing costs undermined pro-nuclear actors’ ability to implement nuclear power policy and caused a rift inside Japan’s “nuclear village.” Small nuclear safety administration reforms were, in fact, game changers for nuclear power politics in Japan.

About the Speaker

Florentine Koppenborg has been a postdoc at the Chair of Environmental and Climate Policy at the Technical University of Munich since 2017. Her research interests address energy and climate policy, particularly energy transitions (“Energiewende”) and interactions with climate policy. She has authored several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on Japan’s nuclear energy and climate policy. Since 2022, she has been the principal investigator of a research project on “Governing Sustainability Transitions: Technology Phase-outs in Germany and Japan.”