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Fukushima Energy Debate

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Fam, S., Xiong, J., Xiong, G., Yong, D. and Ng, D. (2014) ‘Post-Fukushima Japan: The continuing nuclear controversy’, Energy Policy 68: 199-205.

Fam et al. discuss the impacts of the 2011 Fukushima disaster and the opposing values and interests that are involved in the nuclear energy debate. The value disagreement exists between the economic benefit of nuclear power versus the nuclear risk as evidenced in the disaster and the interest disagreement occurs for economic security versus environmental and safety risks. Their analysis primarily focusses on the actors in the energy conflict, the role they play and the ingrained institutional barrier to reform in the Japanese nuclear energy sector (Fam et al.: 2014). Fam et al. concludes that the
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He states the common opinion is that rational choice and action is determined by the final reward that can be gained, such as money or approval. If this is non-existent, interaction with a person will end and the self-centred individuals will seek other more ‘profitable’ exchanges. Scott points out however, that this excludes society’s associative behaviour which rational theorists have attempted to explain as an individual’s cunning ‘rational strategy’ and that potentially ‘moral force overrides self-interest’ through guilt. This is alike Haigh’s argument that institutions limit the contingent nature of making a choice (Haigh: 2012). I believe Scott’s text will be beneficial to my research more so than Haigh’s as his article references the rational choice theorists (Blau, Coleman, Elster) who have embraced and tried to decipher the contradiction in rational choice theory rather than simply conclude it is a limitation. In saying this, Scott’s discussion is centred around individual rational choice and not on a bureaucratic level which is holds greater significance for the discussion of nuclear energy policy in Japan. van den Bergh, J., Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. and Munda, G. (2000) ‘Alternative models of individual behaviour and implications for environmental policy’, …show more content…
review the utility maximisation hypothesis presented by rational choice and how social behaviour operates within environmental policy. The text is written from an economics approach, using consumer behaviour - specifically preference bundling - to explain why individuals maximise outcomes when making a rational choice. They criticise that traditional rational choice theory does not delve into the deep psychological motivations for individual behaviour. For environmental policy, van den Bergh et al. see the better methods for environmental change lie where an allocation of resources using a non-price mechanism is directed at producers rather than consumers as it is more effective in regards to the regulation process and the impact on the environment. Further, a strength of this text was the unique suggestion for the government to actively change consumer preferences on the environment through communication of ideology. One issue with the article is that it groups environmental policy as a singular unit without identifying the different implications for various environmental concerns. It does not take into account, for example, cultural and behavioural norms of a nuclear energy industry in Japan which are difficult to reform as the consumer preference method states. Thus the text is somewhat applicable to my research for environmental policy solutions, however it lacks commentary on public choice theory’s need for less government

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