Scholarship Recipient Report #9: Takehito

Reflections on the Atomic Age II: Fukushima Symposium

Takehito Kamata
Ph.D. Student, Higher Education
The Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development The University of Minnesota

I would like to extend my wholehearted thanks to the Atomic Age Symposium organizers for awarding me a scholarship to participate in this symposium. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss issues surrounding Fukushima from multiple perspectives and to network with activists, scholars, professionals, and other participants from diverse backgrounds. Participating in this symposium was crucial to advancing my academic research and professional growth, and provided an avenue for seeking international and interdisciplinary research collaborations.

The Atomic Age II: Fukushima was a one-day symposium held March 5, 2012 at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. The symposium’s goals were for participants to share their knowledge and analyze borderless issues from interdisciplinary perspectives. Activists, professionals, and scholars from different backgrounds shared their experiences, knowledge, and values in the symposium’s sessions. Participating in the symposium inspired my further academic pursuits in the field of higher education, and I was deeply impressed by the breadth of the discussion topics and perspectives presented at the symposium.

Symposium Notes
I learned about current nuclear science and technology through the following topics: examining nuclear industry development and its complexities (Professor Hiroaki Koide, Ms. Bobbie Paul , and Professor Jeff Patterson); recognizing humanitarian and technological perspectives (Ms. Ruiko Muto and Professor Robert Rosner); and reconsidering societal costs and benefits (Mr. Dean Wilkie, Ms. Nancy Foust, Professor Koide, Professor Patterson and Professor Rosner).

Examining nuclear industry development and its complexities
Professor Koide’s session discussed the limits of nuclear science and technology, and explained the Japanese government’s foreign policy interests during the post-World War II era. Professor Patterson explained industrial complexities in nuclear science and technology. His argument about radiation’s impact on the ecosystem is critical to understanding the Chernobyl case. Many potential stakeholders are involved in the formation of nuclear energy policies, and their discourses need to be carefully examined to analyze the issue in detail.

Recognizing humanitarian and technological perspectives
Ms. Muto explained her experience after the 311 Fukushima and emphasized the importance of “nonviolent action” in her anti-nuclear activities, while Ms. Paul stressed the importance of monitoring nuclear plants’ policies. Professor Rosner detailed the role and policies of International Atomic Energy Agency. He also pointed out communication’s crucial role in nuclear disaster management from the technological and cultural perspectives.

Reconsidering societal costs and benefits
Speaking from the perspective of the nuclear reactor operating management, Mr. Wilkie discussed the importance of emergency preparedness and the post-Fukushima regulatory requirements. He argued that it is imperative to collect data after the incident. Ms. Foust introduced how to connect individuals through online social networking systems. Professor Patterson stated that the nuclear industry’s tendencies toward secrecy, cover up, and minimization make it challenging for the public to collect data on nuclear issues.

The symposium offered great opportunities to meet scholars and professionals from different academic disciplines. I was fortunate to be exposed to balanced perspectives from academic and professional disciplines to analyze the Fukushima case, and I learned about the importance of utilizing multiple frameworks to analyze a single issue. Participating in the symposium and sharing knowledge with other participants were enriching experiences.

Final Thoughts
Attending the symposium provided me with fresh incentives, new insights, and encouragement. I am so glad this scholarship allowed me to participate in this symposium, which I hope to attend again in future years. The symposium offered great networking opportunities for passionate scholars and professionals interested in basic or applied research from multiple academic disciplines to analyze the Fukushima case and explore problem solving approaches. I would be happy to share my experience with anyone interested in hearing more about the symposium.

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