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Risk Governance for Food and Nuclear Safety in Japan - Institutional Reform and Its Implementation

Prof Hideaki Shiroyama
University of Tokyo

Date: 26 May 2009
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
: CARR Seminar Room, H615


Since mid-1990's, Japanese society has undergone a range of serious accidents and malpractices related to science and technology. Among them, two events triggered major institutional transformation of risk governance in the area of food safety and nuclear safety. In the area of food safety, after the existence of BSE case was confirmed in 2001 in Japan, institutional separation of risk assessment and risk management was attempted and implemented. In the area of nuclear safety, after the JCO accident in 1999 and the cover up of cracks in the nuclear reactors by a major utility was discovered in 2002, quality assurance mechanism was introduced at various levels and the use of non-governmental standards set by professional associations, which were expected to responding to rapid development of science and technology, in the regulatory system was facilitated.

In both cases, basic direction of institutional reform was strengthening scientific basis of regulatory system. But the implementation of reformed institutions encountered various difficulties because factors outside of science are involved.  

In this presentation, I would like to analyze the implementation of institutional reform of risk governance of food safety and nuclear safety in recent Japan focusing on the interaction and tension between major actors, paying attentions to the framing of each actor. Difference of framing about the expected role of risk assessment under uncertainty, the expectation of delegated role and responsibility of professional associations and private entities and the multifaceted nature of risks to be dealt with in risk governance, are identified as sources of conflict and tension.

About the speaker

Hideaki Shiroyama is a Professor at the Graduate School of Law and Politics and Professor and Director of Science, Technology and Public Policy Study Unit at the Graduate School of Public Policy, Tokyo University. He specialises in public administration and is currently researching international administration, environmental/ safety regulations and policy process.