The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 45. 2012   

November 12, 2012   
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This week Iida Tetsunari asks "What is required for a new society and politics, referencing Japan in general, energy policies in particular, but the issues he poses about civil society of course extend internationally.

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Iida Tetsunari, What is Required for a New Society and Politics: The Potential of Civil Society  


Japan stands at a major crossroads.


The crisis that began on March 11, 2011 at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant made the fundamental transformation of Japanese society and politics unavoidable, and it also provides the context that pushes that transformation ahead. 


Even before 3.11, Japan was in a state of collapse. One of the major causes of this was certainly the deterioration of the framework of political parties, the bureaucracy, and business that has prevailed since the Meiji era and throughout the postwar, and this breakdown led to the catastrophic accident in Fukushima.  


Faced with this catastrophe, many people concluded that this social and political deterioration had to be remedied and Japan's energy and nuclear power policies had to be fundamentally changed. We are witnessing a once-in-a-century opportunity where such change is possible. 


At the same time, more than 18 months have passed since 3.11, and the "nuclear village" is regaining its footing while politics hurtles along toward epochal failure. We are beginning to hear voices of despair: "Even after an accident on that scale, nothing changes?"

Is it possible to shift this despair concerning politics into the energy for reform? What is required for a new society and politics? How can we empower civil society to propose and implement new policies? I would like to address these questions. 


Iida Tetsunari is the executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies. He is the author of Hokuo Enerugi Demokurashi (Energy Democracy in Northern Europe) and Enerugi Shinkaron (The Theory of Energy Evolution), and co-author of Ima koso, Enerugi Shifuto (Now is the Time for Energy Shift).


John Junkerman is an American documentary filmmaker and Asia-Pacific Journal associate living in Tokyo, where he is a professor at Waseda University. His film, "Japan's Peace Constitution," won the Kinema Jumpo and Japan PEN Club best documentary awards. It is available in North America from Icarus Films.


Recommended citation: Iida Tetsunari,"What is Required for a New Society and Politics: The Potential of Civil Society," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 45, No. 1, November 12, 2012.