Attitude Toward the Geological Disposal of Radioactive Wastes in Japan: the Opinion of the Youth prior to the Tohoku Earthquake

Document Type: Original Research Paper


1 AHS Australia Hydrogeology Solutions. 2/106 Shepperton Rd, Burswood 6100, Western Australia

2 Faculty of Business Administration, Daito Bunka University, 560 Iwadono Higashimatsuyamashi, Saitama 355-8501, Japan


The disposal of nuclear wastes is one of the most controversial issues faced by authorities in
Japan. In this regard, a survey was conducted among 172 university students to analyze the attitude towards the sitting of a nuclear waste repository in the country. The study focused on a number of variables that influenced the perception of risks before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Results indicate that nuclear wastes were not a top priority for the Japanese public before the event. However, there was already a strong concern about the potential leakage of radionuclides. Most respondents believed the government would take proper steps to protect them, but overall, trust in authorities was modest. Moreover, people were especially doubtful about scientists. Findings from the survey showed a polarization between supporters and
opponents to the project. The NIMBY (not in my backyard) phenomenon was relevant, as acceptance decreased drastically if the facility located near the respondents’ residential place. Economic incentives might not be enough to overcome the reluctance towards the sitting and therefore, authorities would need additional strategies to solve the controversy. At this stage the study provides only partial answers to a complex issue. Nevertheless, the study adds new information about public attitude on radioactive wastes, and help policymakers
in subsequent phases of the repository program.