- Hirokazu Miyazaki
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake hit northeastern Japan. A massive tsunami that followed the earthquake damaged the cooling systems of the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant leading to meltdowns and explosions. Ten years later, residents and former residents of the areas severely affected by the nuclear disaster continue to struggle to recover from the damage they sustained and reconstruct a dignified everyday life. Nearly 30 collective lawsuits have been filed against the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the troubled nuclear power plant. These lawsuits, as well as transborder claims filed in US courts by Fukushima residents and US servicemembers who participated in rescue operations following the disaster, have exposed the limitations of the current domestic and international legal regimes for nuclear damage compensation.
Nuclear Compensation: Lessons from Fukushima is the result of five years of international collaboration by the Meridian 180 Global Working Group on Nuclear Energy. The working group was originally founded at Cornell University in 2016 as a joint project of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University and Meridian 180, a trans-Pacific network and platform for transnational collaboration supported by of the Jack G. Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture at Cornell Law School.
We gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Cornell Law School and Cornell University's Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, where this project began, and our continuing collaborations with the Einaudi Center's Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and East Asia Program. We thank Cornell Law School Deans Stuart Schwab and Eduardo Peñalver, as well as Vice Provosts for International Affairs Fredrik Logevall and Laura Spitz, for their generous support. Special thanks are due to Einaudi Center staff, especially Nishi Dhupa, Heike Michelsen, Jonathan Miller, and Joshua Young for their support of many kinds during the early stages of the project. We also thank Naoki Sakai and Chika Watanabe for their help with the preparation of supplementary materials, originally created for a conference sponsored by the Einaudi Center and Cornell Law School on the first anniversary of Japan's earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant accident. We are deeply indebted to Rebecca Slayton for her continued intellectual support for the project as a whole.
The project's focus on nuclear damage compensation grew out of a series of brainstorming sessions and online forum conversations hosted by the Einaudi Center and Meridian 180 in the spring of 2016. We thank all the participants in these conversations, which included nuclear energy experts, legal experts, project finance specialists, environmental activists, anthropologists, science and technology studies scholars, policy studies scholars, and legal scholars from Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, and Europe. We especially thank Leigh Bienen, Haejoang Cho, Naruhito Cho, Yuji Genda, Mitsuhiro Hayashi, Vincent Ialenti, Eunice Kim, Jonathan Miller, Hiroyuki Mori, Kim Eric Möric, Takayuki Kihira, YJ Kim, and Rebecca Slayton for their valuable guidance of many kinds during this process. We also thank Chiaki Tanuma and Tetsuomi Hishinuma for hosting some of these early conversations.
Early versions of the report were presented at a press briefing organized by Takao Suami at Waseda University in Tokyo, the Cornell Asia-Pacific Leadership Conference in Hong Kong, and a press briefing held in Brussels in 2017, as well as at a “Day with Northwestern” event in 2019 and the “Energy Ethics 2020” conference at the University of St. Andrews. We thank all those who posed challenging questions at these occasions.
Special thanks are due to the Japan Law Foundation and Waseda University for their generous support of the collaborative work for Chapter 1. The authors of Chapter 1 also thank the Japan Federation of Bar Associations Disaster Reconstruction Assistance Committee for providing valuable information. Mary Mitchell wishes to acknowledge the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability's support of her scholarly work presented in Chapters 2 and 4.
Special thanks are also due to Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, for her guidance at the final stage of the production of this report.
We benefited a great deal from extensive comments provided by Kennette Benedict, Rachel Bronson, Norma Field, Robert Rosner, and Edward Tanzman, who served as expert readers for this project. We also thank Kemi Adeyemi for her careful copyediting work. The preparation of the final manuscript would have been impossible without Alexandra De Leon's resourceful, thorough, and timely editorial work.
We thank the extraordinarily dedicated staff of the Northwestern Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, especially Ariel Schwartz, Dayna Dion, Hiroko Strulovici, Tim Mclellan, and Ahmed Khan, for their thoughtful guidance and much needed encouragement. We are deeply indebted to Chris Diaz, Digital Publishing Librarian at the Northwestern University Libraries, for his dedication, creativity, and flexibility, which are reflected in all versions and dimensions of the final published work.
The production of this report was funded in part with generous gifts from Shawn Galey and Thomas Riles to Meridian 180.