The Effects of Institutional Change on Japanese Nuclear Policies
Jacques E. C. Hymans
School of International Relations, University of Southern California
APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper
A growing chorus of American analysts today contends that Japan’s longstanding nuclear policies may be on the verge of radical change. Some opine that in addition to maintaining its commitment to building a “plutonium economy” based on fuel reprocessing and fast breeder reactors, Japan may soon decide to acquire nuclear weapons. In stark contrast to that analysis, others argue that Japanese public opinion has turned clearly against nuclear power on safety grounds, thus calling into question Japan’s heavy reliance on the technology for its electricity needs. Despite their differences, both sides in this debate share the idea that the Japanese institutional reforms since the 1990s have at least opened up considerable space for nuclear policy change. However, the detailed investigation of Japan’s new nuclear policy regime offered in this paper shows that the current institutional configuration is no more permissive of radical departures than the old one was. Whether or not there is political will for major nuclear policy change today, in fact such change could happen only after another equally wrenching institutional reform process.
working papers series
Date posted: August 13, 2009 ; Last revised: October 4, 2009
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