Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor of Geography and Asian Studies, Director of the Asian Studies Program, Geography and Asian Studies, Colgate University

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Associate Professor, Geography and Asian Studies, Colgate University
Coping with the Crisis of Public Facilities and Services in Nuclear Host Localities: U.S.-Japan Comparison Based on Livelihood Approach

Cities and towns that host nuclear power plants in Japan are often described as "addicted to nuclear money." In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, these nuclear host localities face increasing uncertainties as the future of nuclear energy is in flux. Under these circumstances, nuclear-hosting local governments are pressured to scale back their public facilities and services, which have been fueled by nuclear money. Such a crisis is far from unique to Japan; in fact, the United States has over twenty localities in which nuclear reactors were or are being decommissioned, and they can provide valuable lessons for Japan. The proposed study therefore will examine the prospects and problems of coping with the crisis of public facilities and services in nuclear host localities in the United States and Japan. The proposed study constitutes an integral part of an ongoing project that started in 2013, supported by Colgate University's Research Council. In summer of 2014, we conducted case studies of two former nuclear host localities, Wiscasset, Maine, and Haddam, Connecticut, in which their nuclear plants were shut down in 1996. During the Abe Fellowship, I plan to extend the two U.S. case studies by conducting fieldwork, with help of student assistants, in summer 2015 and by carrying out a new case study of a Japanese nuclear host locality for a comparative analysis through summer 2016 (total of 10 months of research activities). For the Japanese case study, I propose to conduct fieldwork in Kashiwazaki City, in which the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operates the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. The main theoretical basis of this study is the livelihood approach, or seikatsu-ron, which helps me not merely to articulate the dependency on nuclear money as a structural problem (of state domination, for example), nor as inefficient resource allocation and irrational decisions made by local governments; rather, it enables me to focus on how local residents respond to the (real or probable) rollback of nuclear money using the means and assets that they already possess. This study will make an important contribution to the emerging literature on regional and community resilience and livelihood security, which have been my central research concern in the recent years. The topic under investigation has critical and immediate policy implications. The Group of Zero Nuclear Power, a bipartisan group of 64 legislators, recently argued for the policy need to financially compensate nuclear host localities in order to promote nuclear decommissioning. Despite their well-meaning intention, such solutions alone risk reproducing the very structure of dominance that promoted nuclear power as a regional development policy under the developmental state regime. Concrete, workable and socially equitable ways to make nuclear host localities less dependent on external money and control (including those "decommission subsidies") must be found. The proposed study will examine obstacles as well as assets within nuclear host localities based on intensive cases studies in the United States and Japan, and aims to offer viable policy implications for more sustainable and equitable local development.