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Finished activity

Decision-making in a context of scientific controversy

The Fukushima disaster triggered a major political and societal crisis in Japan. SHINRAI analysed management by the Japanese authorities and how it was perceived by the population.


The recent nuclear disaster in Fukushima triggered a major political and societal crisis in Japan, marked in particular by a lasting loss of public trust in the authorities and their experts.

Project SHINRAI (2015-2018), initiated by the Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN, institute for radiological protection and nuclear safety), was set up to analyse the management of this crisis by the Japanese authorities and its reception by the population, so as to prepare for decision making in the event of a nuclear accident.

Project purpose

The multidisciplinary research project SHINRAI studied the post-accident situation, looking at both its “management” by the authorities and its political and societal consequences.

It provided an in-depth analysis of the authorities’ decision making in a context of scientific controversy – namely around the effects of “low doses” –, the role of public expertise in the context of the emergence of new citizen experts, and Japanese citizens’ loss of trust in the authorities in the aftermath of the accident. The issue of the population’s return after decontamination and evacuees’ decision-making process regarding this issue was central to the project.


The SHINRAI research project was based on a literature review and field research carried out between 2015 and 2017 in Fukushima with the populations affected by the accident (evacuees, residents, returnees, etc.), local and government authorities, civil society organizations supporting the victims, and Japanese and international experts and researchers on these issues.


This research was part of USPC’s 2014-2017 cross-cutting programme “Politiques de la terre à l’époque de l’Anthropocène” (“Earth policies in the Anthropocene”).

Coordinator: Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)

Partners: Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan)