Editors’ Note: A new edition of this book was published in 2011 by Asahi Shimbunsha after  this annotation was originally posted. 

Yoshioka, Hitoshi 吉岡斉. 1999. Genshiryoku no shakaishi: sono Nihon-teki tenkai. 原子力の社会史―その日本的展開. Asahi Shinbunsha. 朝日新聞社.

Hitoshi Yoshioka gives an overview and analysis of the development of nuclear power in Japan from wartime to the late 1990s in this social history. In what stands as the most comprehensive and reliable single-volume Japanese scholarly work on this topic, Yoshioka argues that this development can be understood mainly as what he calls a “dual structure subgovernment model.” According to this model, policy decisions concerning nuclear power have been monopolized by two insider groups: the alliance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Japan’s electric power industry on the one hand, and the Science and Technology Agency on the other, which in combination constitute a “subgovernment” outside of democratic control. The development of nuclear power in Japan is basically understood as a result of these groups’ power struggles to maintain or extend their vested interests. These two camps sometimes competed and sometimes made compromises with each other, but in either case they did not necessarily aim to achieve public good. Yoshioka writes that the development of nuclear power in Japan has been based on this model, but his rich narrative also includes various other aspects of the social issues surrounding the history of nuclear power in Japan.

Although Yoshioka’s book has remained the most authoritative source on the topic of nuclear power in Japan for over a decade, it unfortunately lacks documentation such as footnotes or end notes, although it does contain bibliographical notes, and the author occasionally refers to some sources within the text. The author has also published some portions of this book in the form of several articles, some of which appear in English.

— Kenji Ito

A longer review of this book in Japanese by Kenji Ito is available here: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/kenjiito/20110509/p1(日本語)

Suggested readings:

Low, Morris F., and Hitoshi Yoshioka. 1989. “Buying the ‘Peaceful Atom’: The Development of Nuclear Power in Japan.” Historia Scientiarum 38: 29-44.

Yoshioka, Hitoshi. 1999. “Technology versus Commercial Feasibility: Nuclear Power and Electric Utilities,” in Science, Technology and Society In Contemporary Japan, edited by Morris Low, Shigeru Nakayama, and Hitoshi Yoshioka, 66-81. Cambridge University Press.

BOOK: A Social History of Nuclear Power: Its Development in Japan (1999)
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