The introduction sets the stage with a detailed timeline of the earthquake, tsunami, and consequent meltdown of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It tracks the government responses to the disaster and focuses on the innovative ways in which Japanese citizens have demanded change toward increased sustainability since the March 11, 2011, disaster. In this investigation, Ogawa undertakes a narrative inquiry of civil society and public policy, developing what he calls "action narratives," which illuminate his commitment to document and cocreate knowledge about the issues that citizens face and to jointly generate actions for social change. The primary agents for this change are what he calls "antinuclear citizens"— members of a conscientious Japanese public who envision a sustainable life in a nuclear-free society. Ogawa documents the stories, or action narratives, generated by antinuclear citizens in the chronological order in which he observed them from 2011–2021.
Chapter 1 paints the backdrop, providing a historical overview of Japanese nuclear policy under the peaceful use of nuclear technology ideology, and civil society's reactions to nuclear policymaking. Japanese nuclear governance was formulated by an epistemic community surrounding nuclear policy called a "nuclear village" (genshiryoku mura). A long period of institutional stasis under such nuclear governance was punctuated by a "crisis"—the March 11 disaster—which led to dynamic changes within Japanese institutions and their policies and represented a critical juncture for Japanese nuclear policymaking. This chapter explains how the nuclear village controlled the development of the nuclear power industry and documents Japan's distinctive history of antinuclear movements following the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experiences.
Chapter 2 documents Japan's post-Fukushima antinuclear movements. These differed from postwar protests in that they had no political affiliations, and the activists' claims have not been limited to nuclear energy issues: they have called for a fundamentally fairer society and have proposed alternative ways of life. This chapter is an ethnography that documents the real voices of protest against nuclear power in post-Fukushima Japan. It particularly focuses on the voices of young precariat participants, who have been spurred to action by the neoliberal economic policy that Japan has adopted since the 2000s. Based on the evidence provided by the antinuclear rallies, Ogawa argues that their mounting anger is a catalyst for new post-neoliberal politics in post-Fukushima Japan.
Chapter 3 documents the new human rights advocacy that has occurred in Japanese politics. It argues for the rationale that led to the development of the Nuclear Disaster Victims' Support Act in 2012, which emphasizes the right to evacuation, and it presents the grassroots struggle of the people against public authorities. The chapter outlines the ways in which Japanese civil society groups have played a significant role in ensuring that people's voices are heard by policymakers. Further, it presents a picture of the actual implementation of recuperation programs for children who remained in Fukushima after 2011. Advocacy for such fundamental human rights is gradually progressing and is no longer merely perceived as a criticism of the government; rather, the advocates present the government with alternative actions and support policy reform.
Chapter 4 explores new possibilities for Japan's energy policy in the post-Fukushima era. Major issues currently faced by Japanese society are how to revise the energy policy and energy production practices. Individuals are beginning to experiment with both renewable and more efficient modes of energy production. One important action being initiated, operated, and controlled by local citizens who have taken on the challenge of generating renewably produced electricity is what Ogawa calls "community power." This chapter presents a picture of a Japan in which there is a strong grassroots movement toward renewability and sustainability, and where there is greater local control over energy production and more extensive public participation in energy policy. Japan has assumed a central position in the global discourse on energy since 2011, and Fukushima has become a center for renewable energy production.
Chapter 5 examines the development of transnational civil society networks that have evolved in opposition to Japan's efforts to export nuclear reactor technology. The chapter focuses on the approach that civil society groups adopt in criticizing the current Japanese nuclear export policy, deeming it "unethical." Actors from transnational networks have frequently stressed the need for a stricter nuclear technology safety regime, often emphasizing a demand for higher levels of democratic transparency regarding safety issues. Ogawa documents the actions taken by civil society groups in Japan and Turkey, where grassroots voices interjected to demand changes in their governments' national energy policymaking processes in response to the intention to export Japanese nuclear power plants to Turkey.
Chapter 6 provides an updated account of contemporary Japan under the ongoing state of nuclear emergency. The government justified making exceptional interventions in the domain of policymaking by claiming that it was necessary for the maintenance of the national economy. Ogawa has documented his visits to Hamadōri, where the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is located. Ogawa observed the emerging high-tech modeling and robotics centers under the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework, which is being actively developed as a major reconstruction policy. The visit is an important reflection point in his action narratives via observations and experiences. It forms the basis for the suggested actions for social change that follow in surviving the "new normal" of living with 20 mSv radiation in contemporary Japan. Ogawa explores what "being sustainable" means under such a "state of exception."
The epilogue documents an emerging demand that the Japanese government replicate the Chernobyl Law, which has been organized by a citizens' group, Citizens' Action for Fukushima Justice: Fostering the Chernobyl Law in Japan. Originally, the Chernobyl Law was promulgated by three republics of the former Soviet Union in 1991—Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus—to help Chernobyl victims. It was aimed at protecting the lives and health of citizens affected by radiation exposure, and it was the first law that explicitly covered the universal human right to life of people affected by a radiation disaster. The Japanese group's first step toward institutionalizing the Chernobyl Law in Japan was to propose the creation of a series of local ordinances on the rights to settle out, or resettlement without return, across the country. Ogawa documents the first trial of the law in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, and group members' reflections on its implementation.
The Notes for Anthropology of Policy summarize Ogawa's arguments to clarify his contribution to the anthropology of policy and suggest implications for policymaking practice. He presents an anthropological gaze and actions aimed at problem solving in the real world, citing the case of creating the Chernobyl Law in Japan. Ogawa argues that the livelihood reconstruction projection for the victims of the nuclear accident is not a self-driven initiative but a public project of the utmost importance. A new style of public work projects led by citizens is essential, where all cooperate and support and cheer each other on. This type of project can only be initiated through proactive citizen engagement. In every era, while it is these proactive citizens who drive society forward, action-minded anthropologists can also work with them to effect change.