“How Japan’s Nuclear Industry Got Here”

In today’s “Breakingviews,” hosted by Reuters, Martin Dusinberre, author of the forthcoming UH Press title Hard Times in the Hometown: A History of Community Survival in Modern Japan, addresses the question of how Japan, a country “that experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons in 1945[,] came to embrace nuclear power so expansively in the postwar decades.” The Reuters column may be viewed here; and also at a TD Waterhouse site.

Hard Times in the Hometown tells the story of Kaminoseki, a small town on Japan’s Inland Sea. Once one of the most prosperous ports in the country, Kaminoseki fell into profound economic decline following Japan’s reengagement with the West in the late nineteenth century. Using a recently discovered archive and oral histories collected during his years of research in Kaminoseki, Martin Dusinberre reconstructs the lives of households and townspeople as they tried to make sense of their changing place in the world. In challenging the familiar story of modern Japanese growth, Dusinberre provides important new insights into how ordinary people shaped the development of the modern state. His account of Kaminoseki comes to a climax when, in the 1980s, the town’s councilors agree to the construction of a nuclear power station, unleashing a storm of protests from the community.

Martin Dusinberre is lecturer in modern Japanese history at Newcastle University, UK.