Satsuki Takahashi, “Fukushima Futures: Survival Stories in a Repeatedly Ruined Seascape” (U Washington Press, 2023)

Both before and after the 2011 “Triple Disaster” of earthquake, tidal wave, and consequent meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, anthropologist Satsuki Takahashi visited nearby communities, collecting accounts of life and livelihoods along the industrialized seascape. The resulting environmental ethnography examines the complex relationship between commercial fishing families and the Joban Sea–once known for premium-quality fish and now notorious as the location of the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe. 

Satsuki Takahashi’s book Fukushima Futures: Survival Stories in a Repeatedly Ruined Seascape (U Washington Press, 2023) follows postwar Japan’s maritime modernization from the perspectives of those most entangled with its successes and failures. In response to unrelenting setbacks, including an earlier nuclear accident at neighboring Tokaimura and the oil spills of stranded tankers during typhoons, these communities have developed survival strategies shaped by the precarity they share with their marine ecosystem. The collaborative resilience that emerges against this backdrop of vulnerability and uncertainty challenges the progress-bound logic of futurism, bringing more hopeful possibilities for the future into sharper focus.

Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.

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