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“Japan’s Green Voters: The Role of Social Capital in Women’s movements against Nuclear Power Policy” by Timothy Fraser

May 12, 2021 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am JST

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Author: Timothy Fraser (Northeastern).

Abstract: Why do voters mobilize around energy policy in some elections more than others? This study draws on the case of 31 Japanese gubernatorial elections between 2011-2020 in the 12 prefectures hosting nuclear power plants potentially eligible for restart after the TEPCO disaster at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Some of these cities saw greater turnout for antinuclear candidates than others. This mixed methods study tests the effect of social capital and the intervening role of gender on political mobilization over energy policy in these regions, controlling for communities’ economic dependence, policy constituencies, government performance, and voter and activist demographics. I combine statistical modeling, coarsened exact matching, and statistical simulations of a panel dataset of 1326 municipality-election years. Then, I apply qualitative case studies of key women activists in the antinuclear movement in Kagoshima Prefecture, based on 50 interviews with activists, officials, and residents between 2015 and 2017. This study finds that communities with stronger bonding, in-group social ties are more likely to mobilize against nuclear power, especially in communities with greater constituencies of women voters. Women activists energized interest in antinuclear campaigns using their social networks, gathering new participants through ties with women from similar backgrounds in organizations like food co-ops and women’s association. These bonding ties led to greater rates of support for antinuclear candidates for governor, but lacking strong cross-cutting, bridging ties to other demographic constituencies, these campaigns have less often won these races.

Discussants: Mary Alice Haddad (Wesleyan University), , Jacques E. C. Hymans (University of Southern California), and Nicolas Sternsdorff-Cisterna (Southern Methodist University).

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