Fairness in Educational Materials on Nuclear Power and Radiation by the Japanese Government for Formal Education

By Shinobu Goto.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2016 $US5.00

Before the severe accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the Japanese government had devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public that nuclear power is safe and necessary. These resources included public educational materials—for instance, a supplementary reader on nuclear power for students. Consequently, many Japanese people believed that the nuclear power plants in Japan would be safe even if a large earthquake and tsunami occurred—this notion is now called “the myth of nuclear power plant safety.” One of the most important lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident involves ensuring fairness, accuracy, and balance in public education and public relations on nuclear power to prevent the spread of myth and, conversely, to promote the Japanese people’s critical thinking ability, a very important competency in education for sustainable development (ESD). The main objectives of this study are to analyze the content of educational materials on nuclear power and radiation by the Japanese government for formal education and to discuss requirements in the context of ESD. First, unfairness is illustrated with some examples in public education and public relations on Japan’s nuclear power. Second, unfairness in the Japanese government’s supplementary readers on nuclear power and radiation is objectively and quantitatively analyzed using the method of content analysis. Third, the people’s activities criticizing unfairness in public education and public relations—including issuing an original, alternative supplementary reader on radiation—are introduced. Fourth, the current situation and concerns about nuclear power and radiation education in Fukushima prefecture are described based on questionnaire-survey results from science teachers in Fukushima’s prefectural junior high schools. Finally, important points in ESD after the Fukushima nuclear accident are discussed for promoting the Japanese people’s competencies in critical thinking.

Keywords: Fukushima Nuclear Accident, Fairness in Educational Materials, Critical Thinking, Education for Sustainable Development, The Japanese Government’s Supplementary Readers

The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 12, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.9-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.375MB)).

Assoc. Prof. Shinobu Goto

Associate Professor, Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science, Fukushima University, Fukushima, Japan