Furthermore, all other groups and organizations of the ecosystem analyzed in my book brought about or contributed to social change. The research and education organizations served as providers, analysts, and channels for disseminating information on the accident, nuclear energy, and, more broadly, energy problems. The public opinion polls showed that the great majority of Japanese expressed interest in those issues. That is not to say that this is the outcome of anti-nuclear activities, but rather to underline their contribution. The representatives of organizations from this category sit as experts on various governmental committees and commissions. Other activities such as lectures, seminars, study visits and workshops on, for instance, writing public comments contributed to public education. In March 2011, they became an important source of information on radioactive contamination and an alternative expertise analysis to that in the mainstream media.
In the policy advocacy area, the anti-nuclear organizations prepared a comprehensive policy proposal, titled Our Path to a Nuclear Free Japan: Policy Outline for a Nuclear Phaseout, which was formulated by the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy (CCNE) and published in 2014. In addition, CCNE, E-shift, and other organizations carried out lobbying activities at all administrative levels, paying particular attention to local authorities. They contributed to the popularization of the civic policy proposal, disseminating knowledge, enhancing the visibility and legitimacy of the anti-nuclear movement as an alternative policy provider, and also drawing public attention to energy issues. As watchdogs, anti-nuclear groups and organizations (Citizen Watchdog Group and the Citizens’ Conference to Promote the Nuclear Victims Support Act) exert constant pressure on government agencies to make prudent decisions by attending public proceedings, petitioning, inquiring and monitoring activity. Such activities, however, appear to be more effective at the local than the national level, and at the agenda-setting stage rather than implementation.
In the legal sphere, the anti-nuclear legal professionals integrated their efforts by establishing the National Liaison Committee of Anti-Nuclear Lawyers’ Associations (Datsugenpatsu Bengodan). It assists the diversified actions such as civil and criminal lawsuits against state institutions and private companies responsible for the Fukushima accident and legislative initiatives aimed at introducing a legal framework for nuclear phaseout. Some changes in rulings on nuclear energy-related matters can be seen in the verdicts on the Ōi NPP in May 2014, Takahama NPP in April 2015, and Ikata NPP in December 2017. In all cases, the courts ruled in favor of civic groups. And, although these and many other cases are still pending, small cracks have opened in the practice of so-called judicial passivity, at least in the District and High Courts. Furthermore, prolonged lawsuits, resulting in long periods of shutdown, reduce profitability and have negative economic consequences for electric power operators.
Other types of organizations, including electoral groups, local government, international and financial organizations, private companies, and market-oriented civic initiatives, have contributed to achieving the movement’s goal in multilayer, complex ways, indirectly through financial and organizational assistance given to anti-nuclear social movement organizations and directly through the introduction and development of green technologies. The long-term effects of the movements are yet to be seen, but, as my analysis shows, the concepts of nuclear phaseout and transition to green technologies have penetrated broad circles of Japanese society and the market.
Unprecedented activation of civil society
Finally, one of the most important effects of the anti-nuclear movement after the Fukushima Daiichi accident was the activation of civil society, one of the largest in scale in the postwar history of Japan and very diverse in terms of its participants and forms of activity and the effects on the Japanese state. Traditionally, such participation has been perceived as a resource that leads to involvement in other types of socially-oriented activities. Certainly, the anti-nuclear ecosystem is a formidable force in opposition to any government that might wish to reverse Japan’s policy to reduce reliance on nuclear power.