(Kainuma, Hiroshi. 2011. Fukushima-ron: Genshiryoku mura wa naze umareta no ka, Tokyo: Seidosha.）
By focusing its analysis on nuclear power in Japan, this academic volume considers the historical process by which regional locales came to voluntarily subjugate themselves to the use of nuclear power during Japan’s postwar development. Kainuma proposes the concept of “nuclear villages” comprised of “locales” that support the implementation of nuclear power and a “center” that wishes to introduce nuclear power to those areas, and analyzes nuclear power in postwar Japan from an economic perspective in terms of the “basis for postwar development,” from a political perspective in terms of “local governmental infrastructure,” and from a cultural perspective in terms of a “media fantasy.” There are two types of “nuclear village” in Japan: 1) the “exclusive and conservative nuclear infrastructure at the center” (referred to as <the nuclear village> in angle brackets), including the state, the energy industry, politicians, scholars, the mass media, and anti-nuclear groups, and 2) the “local areas saddled with nuclear power and its related institutions at the periphery” (referred to as “the nuclear village” in quotation marks). According to Kainuma, Japan’s postwar economic development is attributable to the fact that nuclear power acted as an intermediary between these two sides of a structural dichotomy: a central <nuclear village> striving to obtain domestic energy resources through the introduction of nuclear power, and local “nuclear villages” that hoped implementation of nuclear power would ensure the long-term development of their hometowns. In addition, the author argues that amidst postwar economic development, these local “nuclear villages” voluntarily accepted nuclear power out of regional pride in order to compensate for their perception of a “lack” on their part instilled by the mass media. However, the ironic effect of this local acceptance of nuclear power was the immobilization of the “nuclear villages” as localized entities.
This book is based on Kainuma’s M.A. thesis at Tokyo University’s Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, and received the 65th Mainichi Publishing Cultural Prize in the Culture/Society category. Its contents are as follows:
Preface—A Premise for Thinking of the Nuclear Village: The Energy Behind Postwar Development
Chapter 1—Ways of Approaching the Nuclear Village
Chapter 2—The Current State of the Nuclear Village
Chapter 3—The Prehistory of the Nuclear Village: Wartime to Mid-1950s
Chapter 4—The Formation of the Nuclear Village: Mid-1950s to Mid-1990s
Chapter 5—How was Wartime Development Achieved?: The Sophisticated Mechanism of Subjugation
Chapter 6—The Prerequisite for Postwar Development: Exclusion and Immobilization through Subjugation
Epilogue—Conclusion: The Energy Behind Postwar Development
Addendum—From Fukushima to “Fukushima”
The addendum was added following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and in it the author identifies the following problem with the post-Fukushima antinuclear movement: “The aspiration to continue creating nuclear power is an act of violence, but purely shouting for its cessation is another possible act of violence insofar as it threatens the basis of their [the antinuclear movement’s] subsistence. That this overwhelming dilemma of the nuclear village—this reality—is being overlooked by the ‘intellectual’ and ‘well-meaning’ actors both for and against the ‘center’ is a huge problem” (pp. 372-3). The book details both the role of nuclear power in postwar Japan and the reasons for the Fukushima nuclear disaster. As a work formulated originally as a thesis, it seems most suited for the college level and above.
—Yasuhito Abe, University of Southern California
Original annotation translated from Japanese by Jennifer Lillie