The Fukushima Nuclear Accident and the Set of Values of the Japanese People

Author Name HIROTA Shigeru (Kyoto Sangyo University) / YODO Masato (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) / YANO Makoto (Chairman, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. May 2020 20-J-029
Research Project Evidence-based Policy Study on the Law and Economics of Market Quality
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This study analyzes the impact of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant during the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 on the set of values of the Japanese people. Using panel data for two time periods, we examined the differences in the relationships between different values depending on the subjects' distance from the plant, which can be used as a proxy for the perception of seriousness of the accident. The major findings are as follows:

In general, those who place a greater emphasis on family relationships have higher current happiness, prospect of happiness in the future, and life satisfaction. Moreover, for those living closer to the plant, this tendency becomes stronger, which means that the experience of this serious disaster and the anxiety can strengthen family ties. We also find that those who are more health conscious tend to have higher prospect of future happiness and a greater sense of self-determination, but if they live closer to the plant, the effect is weaker. This tells us that the accident has a negative impact on future happiness and a sense of self-determination. In addition, if they live closer to the plant and trust the media, their life satisfaction tends to be lower. On the other hand, those who trust the local assemblies more have a sense of their future prospects of happiness being brighter if they live closer to the plant. This implies that local assemblies may have a greater effect on people's prospect on future happiness than the central government.

Thus, it is clear that the nuclear power plant accident affected the set of values of Japanese people.