25.1.1 The Situation Now

Although the problems surrounding nuclear power have certainly become a social issue, it cannot be said that the present discussion on this issue is always calm and rooted in science. Elsewhere in the world, including in the USA and various European countries, the importance of public debate has been emphasized and reports published on the efficacy of specific examples. In Japan, however, partic­ularly since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, sensational media reporting

A. Yoshida (*)

Sugiyama Jogakuen University, 3-2005 Takenoyama, Nissin-City, Aichi, Japan e-mail: ayoshida@sugiyama-u. ac. jp

© The Author(s) 2015

K. Nakajima (ed.), Nuclear Back-end and Transmutation Technology for Waste Disposal, DOI 10.1007/978-4-431-55111-9_25

has not served to encourage sound debate on the issue of nuclear power. Moreover, this is not limited to the issue of nuclear power, nor is it a phenomenon that dates from the Fukushima disaster: issues around food safety and gender equality have been similarly characterized by emotive media reporting. Debate around these issues has not been informed by current scientific knowledge; indeed, what has prevailed is argument based on emotion engaged in without even an understanding of the relevant laws.

Being a democratic society entails that the path society follows is set according to the wishes of its citizens. These citizens exchange their divergent views and do their utmost to reach a consensus. If an agreement cannot be reached, society acts in accordance with the opinion of the majority. Necessary for such a process is that people think about an issue and express their views. In modern society, however, because many issues are complicated and difficult for people to adequately under­stand, often such issues are left to the “experts.”

Although the citizens’ right of self-determination should go hand in hand with responsibility, entrusting decision making to the experts has resulted in responsi­bility for these decisions being thrust upon them. Entrusting all responsibility to the experts could be expected to expedite decision making, but this has not been the case; instead, the emotional response of the public has contributed further to the deferring of decision making.

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