WISC presentation

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This week I am in Germany to attend and present at the World International Studies Committee conference. After a bit of a break, I will be giving my first new paper on democracy in quite a while. It builds on previous arguments I have made about the need to expand the way democratic peace is studied. Specifically, the argument focuses on the historical and conceptual linkages between democracy and war, and the importance of properly understanding these relationships. My thinking on these issues has been assisted by a course I’ve just finished teaching this semester at Waseda called ‘Democracy, Peace, and War’.

Book launch: 28 July at UNU

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To mark the publication of our two volumes on human security and natural disasters, next week we are having a book launch at the United Nations University. The event brings together the editors of the two books as well as a number of chapter contributors from the second volume, who have examined the political, social and economic consequences of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that struck Japan on 11 March 2011. The details are:

Date: Monday 28 July 2014
Time: 16:00 – 17:30, followed by reception
Venue: Reception Hall, 2F, United Nations University Headquarters
Click here to register to attend

This event is open to the public, all are welcome. So if you are free and interested, please join us.

“What Role for Nuclear Power in Japan’s Future?”

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I recently published a new piece on Japan Focus, which is looking at some of the major issues confronting Japan’s likely return to nuclear power. You can read the article here. And if you want the brief version, here are some of the key points of the piece:

  • Utilities are focusing too much on technical fixes after Fukushima. There is a need for greater focus on developing a robust safety culture.
  • Challenges to developing a stronger safety culture include the sub-contracting system, and economic demands that make utilities less likely to go ‘above and beyond’ when it comes to safety.
  • Japan needs a more sophisticated debate over different energy policies, and what role nuclear power should play in the country’s future. As Japan discovered when the ‘nuclear safety myth’ was shattered, it is impossible for nuclear power – or indeed any energy source – to be 100% risk free.
  • Advocates of nuclear power need to better address concerns related to: the continuing impact of the Fukushima disaster, the hidden costs involved with nuclear power, the storage of nuclear waste, and the dangers posed by future natural disasters.
  • Anti-nuclear advocates need to better address the economic and environmental costs of abandoning nuclear power, as well as engage with a wide range of actors from the nuclear industry and listen to how they have responded to the Fukushima accident.
  • The approach Abe is pursuing is setting Japan on course for an unproductive and suboptimal middle ground: it is exposed to the potential risks of operating nuclear reactors in a disaster-prone country, while receiving limited benefit, given that it is predicted that nuclear power may constitute less than 10% of Japan’s energy supply.
  • The direction Japan is headed will solve neither the long-term economic or environmental challenges Japan faces in securing its energy supply, nor will it satisfy the anti-nuclear majority or pro-nuclear business groups.

And for all the detail, please read the full article. Thanks to Japan Focus for publishing it.

Roundtable on the politics of Fukushima

RoundtableMany thanks to The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan for kindly inviting me to participate in a roundtable discussion on the politics of Fukushima last night. It was a great opportunity to reflect on how the disaster has impacted Japanese democracy, what changes it has brought about, and where the country might be headed. Fortunately the whole event was recorded, so if you are interested, please have a look. Thanks to the FCCJ for providing the video and picture.

Political roundtable at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan

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This coming Thursday 3 July from 18:00 – 20:00 the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan will be hosting a roundtable session on ‘The Politics of Fukushima’. I will be speaking, along with Tsuyoshi Shiina, from the Unity Party, who is a Member of the House of Representatives. I am very excited to be participating in this event, and look forward to sharing some findings from research I have been doing on the Fukushima nuclear accident and how it has impacted on the current state of Japanese politics. For more information about the event, check the FCCJ webpage. There hopefully should be a video recording of the event, which I will share here afterwards if it is available.

Human Security and Japan’s Triple Disaster

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June is shaping up to be a busy month for publications. Following on from my co-edited special issue of International Politics, I am now very happy to announce the publication of another co-edited volume with Routledge, Human Security and Japan’s Triple Disaster: Responding to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis. This is the companion to Human Security and Natural Disasters, which we published earlier this year. In that book we focused on theoretical issues and a range of international cases, whereas in this volume we look specifically at the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident that Japan suffered in 2011. We start from the observation that while Japan has been the leading proponent of the human security approach internationally, it has tended to assume that it is a concept that is primarily relevant for ‘others’. Yet the events of 11 March 2011 demonstrated with terrible force that human insecurity is also a problem in Japan. We are very happy to have these two books completed, and we are planning a book launch for late July. I’ll provide more information about that soon, and in the meantime, for more information about the book, including a table of contents and endorsements, check here.

UNU Shibuya seminar series 2014

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Every year the UNU and Shibuya city office organize a series of public seminars. The theme for this year is “Towards Recovery in Fukushima”, with the seminars being given by people involved in UNU’s Fukushima Global Communication Programme. I am very glad that I will have the opportunity to give the fourth and final lecture. My talk is provisionally titled “Human Security after 3/11: Vulnerability and Empowerment” and I will be looking at some of the most severe forms of human vulnerability that are present in Fukushima more than 3 years after the tsunami. I will also be considering the positive ways that people have been trying to respond to these difficult circumstances and rebuild their lives.

More information about the seminar series is available in English and Japanese. If you want to attend, you need to register here (in Japanese). Please note that all the sessions will be in Japanese, except for my talk which will be in English and translated into Japanese.

‘The Existence and Use of “Evil” in International Politics’

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I am very happy to announce the publication of a new special issue of International Politics, which was co-edited by Anna Geis and myself. The theme of the issue is ‘evil’ in international relations: looking at how we understand evil acts in world politics, as well as how certain actors or behaviours are described using this powerfully negative term, and what the consequences of something or someone being labelled ‘evil’ are. The articles are based on papers presented at a workshop co-organized by the United Nations University and the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt in May 2012. This was a very interesting and worthwhile event, and the result was a series of thought provoking articles now presented here.

If you are interested in learning more, please read our introduction to the special issue, as well as Patrick Hayden’s contribution on conceiving of extreme poverty as a form of evil, which are both freely available. The full table of contents is here, but the other articles are behind a paywall. I’ve also written an article looking at the role the idea of ‘evil’ playing in shaping the international drug prohibition regime (abstract here).

Thanks to Michael Cox, the editor of International Politics, the other staff at Palgrave that assisted in seeing this through to publication, as well as my colleagues that contributed to the workshop and special issue. I’ve been reading this journal for many years now, and it is a real pleasure and privilege to now co-edit an issue.

“Rebuilding trust in TEPCO”

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I’ve got a new opinion piece in The Japan Times today. It builds on a recent Reuters report, in which the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, Akira Ono, admitted that TEPCO do not have complete control of all parts of the plant. Rather than use this as grounds for another attack of TEPCO, I suggest that being more honest and transparent about the problems they are facing at Daiichi is a much better strategy, and perhaps the only way TEPCO can restore any level of trust with the public. Given that the decommissioning process will take decades, and there are many difficult decisions ahead, it is necessary for TEPCO to find a way to begin rebuilding its relationship with the general public. Indeed, this task is just as difficult as any of the technical challenges they face at Daiichi. You can read the op-ed here.

Excerpts from “Human Security and Natural Disasters” online

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Just a quick note to say that Routledge have kindly made the first two chapters of Human Security and Natural Disasters available to view for free online until 15 May 2014. This means you can read the introduction I co-wrote with Paul Bacon, as well as my framing chapter that reviews the human security approach and considers how it can be applied to examining natural disasters. You can view the chapters here.