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Nuclear Energy Policy and the National Deliberative Poll

Translation of an article published in Public Policy Studies Vol. 14 (December, 2014), Public Policy Studies Association Japan


The National Deliberative Poll on Energy and Environmental Policy was conducted in August 4-5, 2012. James Fishkin described it as “the first Deliberative Poll® (DP) anywhere in the world that was commissioned by a government to get input on a subject of national importance before a national decision.”

This paper focuses on three aspects of Deliberative Polling in the policy making process. 1) Why the government adopted it as a tool of public consultation in the formal decision making process, 2) what were the poll results, and 3) how the government used it for their policy decisions.

Interestingly, the poll shows us that the 285 randomly selected participants became more informed and changed their views on certain policy options. The public finally supported the zero nuclear option and concern for safety as a first criterion. It also shows that the public could not find any reliable authority to judge important key respects. It seems to be an “anomie” situation where there is no trust at all even in the nuclear specialists.

After an ad hoc committee of specialists examined public consultation results such as from deliberative polls, public comments, town-meetings, and public opinion polls by media, Energy and Environment Council decided ‘the Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment’ that recommended the policy proposal “zero nuclear power by 2030s along with strong commitments to energy conservation and renewable energy.” The Cabinet finally made a decision according to the recommendation.

Research Paper

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