Daniel P. Aldrich, associate professor of political science at Purdue University, is studying changes in Japan's government and civic engagement since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Japan announced that a few hundred residents, who were evacuated because of radiation leaks when the 2011 disaster damaged the nuclear power plant, will be able to return home permanently in April.
Aldrich interviewed residents in Japan while on a Fulbright fellowship in 2012-13. His data, based on interviews with residents displaced by the 2011 radiation leak, shows:
* High levels of anxiety among the people who have been displaced.
* Frustration that government and other official organizations do not always share information about radioactive contamination.
* Concerns from parents about potential effects on children.
* As a result of this anxiety, frustration and concerns, local social networks are engaging in public science and mobilizing civic involvement.
Aldrich, who speaks Japanese, also can talk about Japan's commercial nuclear power industry, related policy issues and civic science watchdog groups. His research also focuses on the Fukushima nuclear power plant prior to the 2011 disaster and is included in his book "Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West." He also is the author of "Building Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery."
Aldrich has studied evacuation, disaster recovery and community rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as well as other natural disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, the 1923 earthquake in Tokyo and the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan.