Prospects for moving away from ongoing structural disaster

As long as the extreme imbalance of the allocation of responsibility' remains among the heterogeneous sectors, it would not be surprising to see that the agents with the least amount of resources and authority' (such as the citizen sector) begin to take on the risk of accepting of HLW disposal facilities with little opportunity to raise their concerns in the public sphere. There seems to be little difference between social relationships among individuals in such a situation and in “such a war as is of every man against every man” in the “natural condition” (Hobbes 1651: 65).28

Considering the dual underdetermination given in Chapter 1 and elaborated upon in this chapter, it is difficult to find a unique or optimum solution to the issue of transforming infinite responsibility into finite in order to allocate fair social responsibility' among heterogeneous agents within the social system as a whole regarding HLW disposal. One of the keys to breaking through this complicated situation is to make visible the connection between nuclear power generation, HLW disposal, and ensuing infinite responsibility', and make all parties aware of their connection. One way to guarantee that is to use the public space for comprehensively preserving, classifying, and updating all possible information on HLW disposal and related policies (pro or con) from all heterogeneous actors and sectors concerned. In general, a public record office dedicated to the serious issues relating to structural disaster that everyone can consult is crucial for reconciling techno-science with democracy under dual underdetermination.29

From the viewpoint of the sector model, the heterogeneous sectors should duly engage in setting up such a public record office to store all possible information on critical issues accompanying infinite responsibility, such as HLW disposal, to guarantee the citizen sector’s awareness of the infinite responsibility that originates from any policy on this disposal. Without such a public space in which all types of information on controversial issues have been coherently accumulated, any effort to build consensus would result in a “deadlock” or an endless postponement of substantial decision-making.

When reflecting on HLW disposal issues as an ongoing structural disaster, one of the basic principles to securing the legitimacy and feasibility of policy measures should be that those agents who plan, implement, and evaluate policy measures must also accept due risk related to HLW disposal and undesirable effects from the policy measures. Specifically, it is almost impossible for any policy measures to obtain trust in the public sphere without redressing the asymmetry between the citizen sector being asked to thoroughly accept risks emanating from HLW disposal and the governmental, industrial, and academic sectors who are requesting it. Even if policy measures lacking trust in the public sphere (and, therefore, legitimacy) are carried out, it would be difficult for them to serve the public interest because measures that lack trust and legitimacy could be easily transformed as a means for gaining private interest.30 Accordingly, if the governmental sector is willing to expend a large subsidy (such as the 2 billion yen offered to Toyo- cho) to solicit the citizen sector’s acceptance of the geological survey for HLW disposal, it is advisable to abolish a means of expenditure that lacks transparency and accountability and is almost indistinguishable from bribery, and to create new social arrangements by the fund to redress the noted asymmetry.

If the governmental sector, for example, is still willing to expend such funds to solicit the targeted local governments suffering from declining populations and the resulting financial crisis to accept the siting of HLW disposal facilities and associated risk, part of the fund should be used to solicit members of the governmental, industrial, and academic sectors to live in the targeted local areas in question to monitor and manage the facilities, and make related technological development and geological surveys. This means that the asymmetry between the citizen sector and the governmental, industrial, and academic sectors in accepting HLW disposal as well as the asymmetry between the flow of money and that of human resources would be redressed. In doing so, the acceptance and tolerance of HLW disposal should be equally shared by the heterogeneous sectors within the social system as a whole, which in turn would correct the extreme imbalance in terms of the allocation of social responsibility for the problem. Such an effect would eventually take the situation one step closer to transforming infinite responsibility for HLW disposal into finite; thus, the acceptance of HLW disposal should be converted to the redevelopment of the targeted local areas, including betterment of residents’ living conditions. Only with such a change can the lack of trust in policy measures and the resulting absence of legitimacy be ameliorated.

Of course, the above illustration presupposes the sector model, and there might be other possibilities for changing the nature of HLW disposal issues from an ongoing structural disaster to a problem that is not as far-reaching. As far as the problems entailing infinite responsibility are generally concerned, however, it is essential to break the chain of distrust and avoid the resulting loss of legitimacy because the existence of the chain necessitates a large amount of both human resources and money to cancel negative social outcomes from the chain by continuously carrying out directed consensus building, bilateral communication, and participatory evaluation, as well as appearance management practices as the means of temporarily patching over the problems. Understanding HLW disposal as an ongoing structural disaster suggests the need to disengage from a policy trajectory devoid of fair and balanced sharing of social responsibility for the disposal and to implement drastic structural reform across all sectors involved.

8 Conclusion

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