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Accepted Paper:

A Workbook for a Rational Debate and Sustainable Energy Transition  
Ariyoshi Kusumi (Chukyo University)

Paper short abstract:

It is my perspective that a Habermas-style debate by rational citizens is important to achieve a social agreement on nuclear power. Toward this end I developed an easy-to-use workbook to facilitate the decision-making process and contribute to a resolution of this social conflict.

Paper long abstract:

Since the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, questioning the necessity of nuclear power has, particularly in Japan, been analogous to questioning the strategy of a sustainable energy transition. It is a field of contention, a social conflict, lacking social practices for a constructive dialogue.

Before Fukushima, mention of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Chernobyl was implicitly frowned upon. The Science and Technology Agency was legally charged with promoting nuclear power, and annual reports on the environment emphasized its contribution to reducing CO2. Advertisements on TV and in other media touted the safety of nuclear power plants, with their protective five-layer containment walls. Influenced by this, a majority of Japanese supported nuclear power. Opponents of nuclear power, meanwhile, were often emotional and unscientific. The debate was basically unproductive, with both sides simply asserting their position. After Fukushima, the tide of public opinion turned, but the debate remained a "field of contention."

It is my perspective that a Habermas-style rational debate by rational citizens is the most effective means for reaching a social agreement. Toward this end I developed a workbook featuring easy-to-use yes/no flowcharts and explanatory texts to facilitate the decision-making process. The main issues are itemized so students can understand and take a stand on each point and ultimately draw a conclusion on the issue as a whole. In classrooms where I used this workbook, I undertook a follow-up survey to confirm its validity, usefulness, and fairness.

Panel T046
New Technologies, social practices and social conflict - sustainable energy transitions as a field of contention
  Session 1 Saturday 3 September, 2016, -