"Save our kids!": Citizen science after the Fukushima nuclear accident

Title"Save our kids!": Citizen science after the Fukushima nuclear accident
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Abe, Y.
Affiliation (1st Author)PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at University of Southern California
Section or WGEnvironment, Science, and Risk Communication Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeENVT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)ENVT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
RoomHelix Blue Room
Session TitleNuclear Energy after Fukushima
Submission ID7050

The Fukushima nuclear accident created an alternative space for science communication. Since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, ordinary citizens or “lay people” have measured the level of nuclear radiation by using Geiger counters for their health safety, and distributed the collected data to those who are concerned about nuclear risk in Japan and beyond. This paper seeks to create a new model for dealing with health research and risk communication in an environmental justice setting after the Fukushima nuclear accident. More specifically, this paper analyzes how Japanese mothers formed a community to deal with the nuclear risk for their kids’ health safety in Tokyo, Japan. In doing so, this paper focuses primarily on examining a community named Setagaya kodomo mamorukai or “Save Our Kids in Setagaya” and discusses how community narratives about nuclear risk were constructed and shared by Japanese mothers. Established by mothers living in Setagaya, Tokyo, Setagaya kodomo mamorukai, is one division of the Tokyo rengo kodomo mamorukai or “The Tokyo Union for Protecting Our Kids [from Nuclear Radiation].”Setagaya kodomo mamorukai is primarily involved in the DIY (Do-it-yourself) reporting of nuclear radiation in schools, daycare centers, and parks where their kids are usually playing. In so doing, they use the resulting reports as a resource for lobbying for their local government. Drawing on the concept of popular epidemiology coined by Phil Brown, this paper critically analyzes how community narratives about nuclear risk are constructed by examining the website of the organization and the content of its magazine Mama Revo or “Mothers-driven revolution” in a cultural and historical context. By doing so, I show how Segayaga kodomo mamorukai contributes to the renegotiation of the nature of science communication in post-Fukushima Japan.

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