No Decision Yet on Disposal Sites for Contaminated Waste in 5 Prefectures

In the light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, radioactive waste accumulated from the disaster has not been “disposed”, nor has it found somewhere else to be stored. This article is another form of “site fight” (Aldrich, 2008) where various contestations between various stakeholders – the central government, local governments of prefectures, and local citizens of the selected and affected prefectures – over the selection of appropriate disposal sites for contaminated waste.

In this article, Japan and her environment are still portrayed as problematic and “not-as-green” due to low efficiency in solving issues regarding the nuclear fallout 2 years after the disaster. Moreover, Japan’s repercussions since the nuclear disaster are constantly in the international spotlight, with experts evaluating the effectiveness of the government and local residents’ efforts in speeding up the process of recovery of their environment, nations and their lives. In addition, notions of political ecology are exemplified in this article through the anecdotes from residents whose livelihoods and relationship with neighbours are strained.

Despite the topic of the article being on radioactive waste and its disposal sites, the thought and action of trying to find ways to dispose, or searching for possible disposal sites are ways of being “green”. It shows the government’s and people’s responsibilities to the environment, the society and their next generation with their efforts to clean up the mess and to prevent further depravation of the environment and society.

It is commendable that the voices of the local government and citizens are heard and have a part in refining the site selection. However, there is no time left for those residents who have been withholding the waste for more than 2 years. Is this “site fight” a situation of Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) syndrome that would possibly waste more time and eventually calls for a more assertive decision made by the central government?


The Asahi Shimbun, (2013), ‘No decision yet on disposal sites for contaminated waste in 5 prefectures’, The Asahi Shimbun, 3 October. Available From: <>. [12 October 2013]

Aldrich, D., 2008. Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.