After 2011 Disaster, Fukushima Embraced Solar Power. The Rest Of Japan Has Not. (Kim & Ya Hui)

The article focuses on former Fukushima residents who began businesses in the renewable energy industry. Their experience of the Fukushima disaster and the life they had spent believing in nuclear power had changed their perspective of nuclear energy completely, having lost their homes in the aftermath. They move forward with a desire to not let the Fukushima nuclear disaster happen again. Unfortunately, although the Japanese government initially started legislation to support the renewable energy industry early in the 2010s by offering incentives for power companies to tap into it and made them pay adequate compensation for the renewable energy producers, they have backtracked on this. This caused the companies to stop accepting alternative energy sources and Japan as a whole became increasingly reliant on fossil fuels than ever before. Even so, the Fukushima residents forge forward despite being the only group pushing for renewable energy, because they wish to protect the future of Japan.

This article represented Japan in how the government and the civilians approached energy production after the nuclear disaster. As mentioned, after the Fukushima disaster, the government took responsibilities to halt nuclear plants and to tariff the renewable energies. This led to a renewable energy-boom by power companies and households living near disaster sites. However, the government stopped the feed-in-tariffs, resulting in the power companies withdrawing from renewable energy. Undeterred, the residents from Futaba town and Iitate in Fukushima prefecture continued their support for solar farms, partly due to their land being contaminated by radioactive materials. This illustrates how Japan’s approaches toward one common event can differ from different stakeholders. This article also partly depicted how interviewees had nostalgia towards their hometown landscapes, regardless of whether it had been affected by the disasters or chosen to be developed. However, the sentence “Lush vegetation creeps over the edges of the surrounding fence” implies the coexistence of nature and solar panels in these areas.

The article argued that the “continuous embracement of solar power in Fukushima” shows the efforts by the residents in replacing nuclear power with renewable energy, thereby constructing the theme of “green” for the article. The interviews with Endo, a solar farm owner in Futaba town, gave an insight into why the locals continued their support for solar farms for the “future Japan”. Japan’s goal of being the “green nation” has also been displayed by the government’s proposals of propelling renewable energy in Japan, even though their backpedaling led to doubts on their commitment. Therefore, the unceasing debates toward energy transformation in Japan and regional attempts to construct a better future, discussed in the article, clearly illustrates why it is “green”.

The news article relates to political ecology, sustainability and nuclear energy. Firstly, it showed that the Japanese government is in control of the relationship between nature and humans, as they are the ones who set the legislations in place by determining what everyone should do in order to reduce their carbon footprint (Robbins, 2007). In the article, the government determines the direction of Japan’s energy usage with policies that may aid or hinder their progress towards sustainability. Initially, they made it easier for people to start renewable energy businesses, but their investments tapered off eventually. Kirby (2011) has said that the pursuit for more energy to power the nation meant that the government eschewed sustainability for maintaining the status quo. So long as the government continues to not invest in renewable energy, there is nothing much the Fukushima residents can do, supporting Kirby (2011) that the government is in control of the ecological narrative. The institutions are too powerful and it falls on the locals to pick up where the government has stopped. Finally, it is rather ironic that Japan relied on nuclear power to escape its reliance on oil (Yoshimi & Loh, 2012), and once nuclear power had failed, they fell back on fossil fuels instead of forging forward on newer alternative technology.

Word count: 640 words (exclusive of citations, 649 words inclusive of in-text citations)


Lonsdorf, K. (2020, September 9). After 2011 Disaster, Fukushima Embraced Solar Power. The Rest Of Japan Has Not. National Public Radio. Retrieved from on September 24th, 2020.

Kirby, P. W. (2011). Constructing Sustainable Japan. In Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment,  Japan (pp.160-192). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Robbins, P. (2007). The Hatchet and the Seed. In Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (pp.3-16). London: Blackwell.

Shun’ya, Y., & Loh, S. L. (2012). Radioactive Rain and the American Umbrella. The Journal of Asian Studies, 71(2), 319-331.