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Future Direction of the Fukushima Dialogue

15 May 2022

NPO Fukushima Dialogue 
Ryoko ANDO

Ten years have passed since the 2011 nuclear disaster. During this time, several transformations, such as climate change, the Covid 19 pandemic and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, are affecting our daily lives directly. As the social situation is expected to change rapidly and significantly in the world in the future, we believe it is time to share the future direction of the activities of our NPO Fukushima Dialogue, which has continued its dialogues mainly focusing on the resumption of daily life in Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear accident.

Following the discussions during the April 2022 General Assembly meeting, the following thoughts were put forward by the members of the NPO.

1; Although difficulties remain in Fukushima, it is expected that there will be no more hard societal movements as in the past. On the other hand, there will remain long-term challenges related to radiological protection, particularly regarding the dismantling of the NPP, the management of the ALPS treated water, the temporary storage of decontamination wastes, and the difficult to retune area.

2. With the decrease in radiation doses, the stage where radiological protection was in the foreground has passed. On the other hand, it is important that the Fukushima Dialogue, which was initially initiated by the ICPR, continues to have protection at the heart of its activities and can continue to play a role on the ground in the future.

3; Beyond concerns about radiation and the rehabilitation of living conditions in Fukushima, the style of our dialogue is unique in sharing participants’ views and has potential for further application and development.

In response to the above thoughts, the significance of the Dialogue’s activities to date has been summarised as follows by the NPO members.

A: A particular style of dialogue.

The Fukushima Dialogue style of discussion was introduced by the ICPR inspired by the IDPA method developed in Europe in the 1980s to answer complex decision-making questions and was subsequently applied in the context of Chornobyl. (ref: ‘Suitcase without a handle’, NPO Fukushima Dialogue, 2021).

The objective of the Fukushima Dialogue was to deepen the understanding of the problems faced by those affected by the Accident from the sharing of points of view of participants with different positions in society before drawing conclusions.

There are, of course, other styles of discussion regarding public participation, but they are used very sporadically in Japan. The experience of the Fukushima Dialogue, which continued uninterrupted for ten years, is quite unique in Japan, and it constitutes a valuable asset that should be continued and even enriched.

B: The historical importance of the ‘narrative’

Another feature of the ten-year dialogue is the accumulation of the ‘narratives’ by a diverse range of participants. In other words, the narratives of the time after the nuclear accident in Fukushima have been recorded over time in an ongoing manner.

As time passes, a major challenge is how to pass on the memory of the nuclear accident. Memories not only fade away with the passage of time, but they are also prone to transformation.

In addition, what is passed on is, in no small number of cases, only the memories required by the ‘society’ of the time, and not necessarily a narrative that reflects the situation that the event happened_.

Considering the general situation regarding the transmission of such memories, the ‘narratives’ recorded by the Fukushima Dialogue, as they were then, are expected to become more valuable as time passes. The work of not only preserving the ‘narratives’ that accumulated with each dialogue record but also presenting them in a form that can be easily shared with society is an important activity of the Fukushima Dialogue, which has only a few real ‘narratives’ as they were after the nuclear accident. 

C: The building of a post-nuclear accident network 

The Fukushima Dialogue has acted as a meeting place for a diverse range of domestic and international stakeholders. This included not only residents who live in the Fukushima affected areas by the nuclear accident but also experts, professionals, authorities and journalists involved in local and supportive activities. The shared values of equality and mutual trust that have prevailed between them are also valuable assets that must be preserved.

We believe that deepening and expanding the development of the style of dialogue as well as the transmission of the narrative that it has helped to build will promote a better understanding of the technical and human issues of nuclear accidents and will also benefit the preparation for possible future nuclear accidents not only in Japan but also around the world.

 In order to make available to society what we have accumulated so far through dialogue and also to enrich it, the members of the General Assembly decided to adopt the following direction for the future activities of NPO Fukushima Dialogue:

(i) We will continue to follow the objective of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), which was the starting point of the Fukushima Dialogue.

(ii) We will strive to maintain a platform for dialogue in the years to come and to further convey and universalise past and future narratives.

(iii) We will continue to foster connections between the activities developed in Fukushima and those deployed elsewhere in Japan and abroad in relation to the nuclear accident.

(iv) We also wish to explore the potential of the dialogue as an activity that can contribute to the decision-making process associated with the long-term challenges of Japan’s Fukushima recovery process and also largely in the society.

(v) Finally, we intend to carry out the activities presented above on a self-help basis.