Japan Forum: Fukushima and the Motifs of Nuclear History

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano

How do we tell the story of Fukushima?  The finger-pointing frenzy that occurred in the wake of the crisis is extremely useful for historians.  As people tried to blame each other, they enlisted a range of understandings–and misunderstandings–about the history of nuclear issues.  As historians, we need to be conscious of the power of the stories we tell and to reflect critically on them. Otherwise we put ourselves in the position of reinforcing past narratives that were contrived in the first place to deflect blame, avoid responsibility, and frustrate accountability. I wrote an essay about this in Environmental History, in a special “Japan Forum.”  My essay presents motifs—recurrent themes—that implicitly assign or abrogate responsibility for harm. They are the Risk Society Motif, the Nuclear Watchdog Motif, and the Nuclear Fear Motif. All three reemerged in light of the Fukushima disaster.  Read the full article (for free) in either full text or PDF.

One response to “Japan Forum: Fukushima and the Motifs of Nuclear History”

  1. The nuclear threat is worldwide issue with great significance and despite the fact Eastern and Western major forces try to keep the balance and prevent taking destructive actions, there is always slight chance for future catastrophe. World political powers should do the best to prevent that.


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