I was in Fukushima earlier this week for some site visits and a conference organized by the UNU and IGES. The picture above is from some decontamination work I witnessed. The left side had been washed and cleaned with a special liquid, and thus was “safe”, where as the right is still “contaminated”. But what was clear to me is that even if through these efforts they can get areas sufficiently decontaminated, it will matter little if people do not feel safe. This reflects that many of the most serious challenges in rebuilding Fukushima are not technical problems, but social ones: about how to rebuild trust and people’s confidence in having a future. I have written a new op-ed in The Japan Times, which brings together some reflections from the trip. You can read it here.
On Friday 20 December from 14:00 – 17:00 the UNU Fukushima Global Communication programme, of which I am a member, will be organizing a half day symposium focusing on issues related the environmental and public health impacts of the nuclear accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi. The keynote address will be given by Dr Jacques Repussard, who is the Director General of the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) in France. I was fortunate enough to meet him recently on a trip to the IRSN in Paris and learned a lot from insights. IRSN has been closely monitoring and analyzing the ongoing situation at Fukushima, and have a wealth of material on their website. The keynote will be followed by a panel discussion. This is a great opportunity to hear from a leading international expert on radiation issues.
For more information about the seminar, including a provisional program, please visit the UNU event page. If you would like to attend the seminar, you must register in advance. You can do so here. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about the event.
I have co-authored a new op-ed with Andrew DeWit, which appears in The Japan Times today. The piece focuses on the preliminary findings issued by the IAEA after a recent country mission to Japan to look at decontamination efforts in the area around Fukushima Daiichi. The remit of the mission was limited to off-site, which we suggest leads to an overly positive assessment that glosses over and ignores the serious problems in and around Daiichi. The full IAEA report that we examine is available here and you can read our op-ed here.
About a month ago I was interviewed by Al Jazeera English news to offer some opinions on the ongoing problems with contaminated water leaking at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. If you are interested, I’ve uploaded it and it is available to watch above. Apologies about the bad backdrop, it was my first day in my new office!
Earlier this month – on 15 September – there was the International Day of Democracy. On its website, the United Nations has compiled some key documents and reports relevant for this important day (and in French). I am very happy to say that a policy brief I co-authored with Jeff Bridoux and Milja Kurki, Rethinking Democracy Support, was included on this list. In this paper, we discuss some of the major challenges facing democracy promoters today, as well as proposing some possible responses that centre on expanding the way we understand and conceive of democracy. If you are interested in reading more, the full report is available to download in PDF here.
Today Nikkei published an article (in Japanese) about the Fukushima Global Communication programme being undertaken by the United Nations University. I was interviewed by a reporter from Nikkei about it, and the piece includes some words from me. If you have access to Nikkei, you can view it online here.
Andrew DeWit and I have considerably expanded and revised our recent Japan Times op-ed into a much longer piece for Japan Focus. This article provides more details about the domestic and international pressure building on Japan to act, how difficult and tricky decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi will continue to be, and why Abe needs to quickly change course in the way his government has been dealing with the situation. It is also fully referenced in case you want more information about the specifics.
In short, we argue that if Abe doesn’t act, the mishandling of Fukushima Daiichi could have seriously ramifications not only for his own political future, but for Japan’s. You can read it here.
I am very happy to announce that I have joined the School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University as an Assistant Professor.This is a fantastic opportunity and I feel very fortunate to be joining one of the oldest and most prestigious political science departments in Japan. I will be involved in teaching their September start program, which I am very excited about. Waseda has a proud reputation as being one of the most outward looking universities in Japan and I am looking forward to contributing to assisting in further internationalizing the institution.
I have learned a lot during my 3.5 years at the United Nations University, and I am very glad that I will be able to stay involved as a Visiting Researcher. In particular, I will continue to work on the new Fukushima Global Communication program. This is a major new 3 year initiative being developed by the UNU with the support of the Japanese government. I will be posting more information about the project soon.
And if you want to get in touch, I have updated my contact page with my new details.
Image courtesy of Reuters
I have co-authored a new op-ed with Andrew DeWit from Rikkyo University, which appears in The Japan Times today. Building on my last piece, we call for the Japanese government to immediately intervene and take full control of the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. We argue that TEPCO’s woeful track record means we should have little faith in their ability to handle this incredibly difficult and complex situation. It is vital that there is a major change in the way the plant is being decommissioning before the extremely delicate task of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 begins in November.
The Politics of the Death Penalty in Countries in Transition is a new volume edited by my colleague at UNU, Madoka Futamura, and Nadia Bernaz, from Middlesex University. This collection is based on a workshop I helped organise 2 years ago at Middlesex. The discussions at that event, and the subsequent book, are a valuable and worthwhile intervention into the death penalty literature. While there is a considerable amount of work on the death penalty in established regimes, be they democratic (the United States) or non-democratic (China), there is very little on how issues related to capital punishment play out in countries emerging from conflict or transitioning to democracy. This is an important and innovative collection, with some excellent contributions. I have provided one of the framing chapters, which looks at the way democracy and democratization has been understood by those working on the death penalty. A pre-published version of my chapter is available here. And for more information about The Politics of the Death Penalty in Countries in Transition click here.