Invigorating Japanese energy and environmental policy five years after Fukushima

March 2, 2016
This is a photo of the Fukushima explosions taken by a global Hawk drone. Credit: deedavee easyflow, on Flickr

Japanese researchers call for increased interdisciplinarity and internationalization in Japanese energy and environment research to provide effective scientific advice and invigorate Japanese energy and environmental policy five years after Fukushima.

In less than two weeks, it will be five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami killed over 15,000 people and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. While Japan has implemented new energy and environment polices after the March 11 disaster, many issues remain unsettled surrounding nuclear safety, renewable energy policy, and reactor decommissioning.

In a forthcoming comment in Nature, Assistant Professor Masahiro Sugiyama and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo's Policy Alternatives Research Institute (PARI) argue for increased interdisciplinarity and globalization of Japanese energy and environment research to develop a solid scientific foundation that can inform and invigorate and environmental policymaking.

"There is a tendency or custom for Japanese researchers working on policy-relevant research to publish only in Japanese," says Sugiyama. "This is natural. Japanese is the native language of the Japanese policymakers their research targets. However, unlike traditional disciplines where Japan boasts Nobel laureates, there is a limited pool of researchers in Japan who can scrutinize and critique this . Internationalizing Japanese research will expand the pool of researchers who can contribute to this process."

Sugiyama and his colleagues also decry the lack of interdisciplinarity in Japanese research, citing probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) research as an example. PRA is a tool used to evaluate accident risk employed in Japanese nuclear power plants, but prior to the earthquake, PRA research focused on mechanical failures and human error from an engineering perspective and did not incorporate perspectives from seismology, geology, atmospheric science and ecological modeling. This is in contrast to PRA research in other nuclear-reliant countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

"Hearing the difficulty of interdisciplinary research, people often imagine the gap between the natural and social sciences. This is indeed a challenge. But in Japan, even efforts to connect the natural sciences and engineering disciplines have not been successful," says co-author Professor Hideaki Shiroyama of the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics.

The authors suggest that Japanese publishers and major Japanese granting programs such as KAKENHI should include non-Japanese researchers in their review process, Japanese funding agencies should require scientists working on policy-oriented research to publish part of their results in international journals and that strategic, policy-oriented research programs should be designed so that projects can benefit from international experience and experience can be shared globally.

"The worldwide impact of March 11 is just one example," says PARI's Professor Taketoshi Taniguchi, another co-author. "I hope the research community will take the lead in globalizing research, which can then provide a stepping-stone to globalizing policy discourse."

Explore further: French group to help Japan dismantle nuclear reactors

More information: Masahiro Sugiyama et al. Research management: Five years on from Fukushima, Nature (2016). DOI: 10.1038/531029a

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1 / 5 (6) Mar 02, 2016
It may be a good start. But taking an historical insular culture and getting the people to change a millennium of social conditioning will not be fast or easy, I suspect.

I wish them, and all of us, good luck.
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2016
getting the people to change a millennium of social conditioning
It is needed a vigorous environmental policy to get Japanese people brainwashed, as in German, so that they will blindly support ecologically friendly bird choppers covering large natural areas, backed by fossil fuels to compensate intermittency as they phase out the carbon-free nuclear power which has killed nobody in Fukushima.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 13, 2016
Notice the five (as yet), "ones" I received for my inoccuous comment regarding the issue? Notice how most of the folk doing it have no response to the issue? That is the reason this forum is so small. The few who camp on this site, play cop and judge and punisher/abuser, think they own it have driven out most other folk.

And they hide their real identities, too scared to admit who they really are, the sign of their character.

Can we get rid of the cops, the personal commenters and critics, the blatant assassins using bad language while they hide to snipe at others? Can we?
4 / 5 (4) Mar 13, 2016
Can we get rid of the cops, the personal commenters and critics, the blatant assassins using bad language while they hide to snipe at others? Can we?
Translation: George kamburoff the lying cheating psychopath wants the freedom to lie and cheat without getting attacked for it.

That will never happen here george. Most everybody here has called you on your lies and fabrications because you do it all the time.

What makes you think it will ever stop?
I wish them, and all of us, good luck.
And no, pretending to be civil will not help you one bit.

The people here know what you are and what you're capable of. And they know you're not going to change.
1 / 5 (4) Mar 13, 2016
It is your own character you are displaying here, "otto", The Ghost of Skorzeny the Nazi.

Your fixation on punishing me for making you angry in your little room displays a fixation and emotional instability not found in mature and normal people. Keep thinking you will get away with it.
Uncle Ira
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 13, 2016
Notice the five (as yet), "ones" I received for my inoccuous comment regarding the issue?
Here in America we can vote any way we want to vote. Without giving a reason for it. What Cher? Are you suggesting that we ask you first to make sure we vote the right way? Don't work that way Skippy. Get over it. You got your troll ranking the ol' fashion way, you earned him.

Can we?
Apparently you can't. You been begging and pleading for some relief ever since you been here.

Anyhoo, why you asking us if we can? I thought you were the one that was passing out surprises to everybody. I am still waiting for mine, was that another lie?

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