Fukushima’s Invisible War: The interactive process of dominant discourses and divergent risk perceptions of the population in post-Fukushima, Japan
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On 11 March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a savage tsunami. It was called “The Great East Japan Earthquake,” and the ensuing tsunami struck the nuclear power plants in Fukushima. It led the worst nuclear disaster in the world after Chernobyl and collectively resulted in 18,500 dead and missing as well as 160,000 evacuees. Despite the massive and continuous radiation release in the ocean and in the air for more than nine years, the Japanese government has not taken any definitive measures to alleviate the crisis and has instead deployed various dominant discourses and rhetorics, that downplayed and minimized the radiation risk and led to the emergence of widely divergent risk perceptions among the local population. This thesis aims to understand how these dominant discourses influenced people’s diverse risk perceptions by applying “de-securitization” as a main analytical frame. In other words, this thesis focuses on the interactive process between the “de-securitizing actors’ speech acts” and “audience.” Through this research, I propose three categories of the dominant discourses in post-Fukushima Japan: 1) “the safe discourses,” 2) “the counter-discourses,” and 3) “the cutting discourses.” Furthermore, by applying three more sub-concepts, “media control,” “denialism,” and “intersubjectivity of active audience,” I generated the model of the “de-securitization” process in the post-Fukushima situation.