Karan, Pradyumna and Unryu Suganuma, eds. 2008. Local Environmental Movements: A Comparative Study of the United States and Japan. University Press of Kentucky.
This edited volume consists of a number of interesting essays covering a wide range of issues and topics including industrial sites, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, conservation, resource management, preservation, protests, and nuclear power. The fifth chapter by Nathalie Cavasin deserves particular attention: “Citizen Activism and the Nuclear Industry in Japan: After the Tokai Village Disaster” details how the people of Tokaimura reevaluated nuclear power after the Tokaimura nuclear accident of 1999. This case profiles poorly trained workers who mixed uranium oxide with the wrong type of acid, resulting in an accidental chain reaction that released large amounts of radiation that killed three people and exposed dozens to above normal levels of radiation. Tokaimura plays host a number of important research centers for the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (formerly the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute) and is the site of a number of nuclear reactors and fuel processing centers. The article is regrettably short, but provides some interesting parallels to the accident at Fukushima.
Also worthy of mention is the second chapter, “A Comparative History of U.S. and Japanese Environmental Movements” by Richard Forrest, Miranda Schreurs, and Rachel Penrod, which offers an informative comparative overview of the environmental movements in the U.S. and Japan, describing the history, development and intellectual underpinnings of those movements. The fourth chapter by Kim Reimann, “Going Global: The Use of International Politics and Norms in Local Environmental Protest Movements in Japan,” poses relevance because it discusses how Japanese protesters have moved to using international standards and norms to persuade people of the necessity of change to conform to global standards.
– Craig Nelson