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Florentine Koppenborg

PhD Political Science, May 2017

GEAS Award Postdoc 2016-17

Postdoctoral Fellow, TUm School of Governance, TU Munich

Reforming nuclear safety administration in Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident: A critical juncture in regulatory practices (Committee: M. Schreurs, V. Blechinger-Talcott, G.W. Noble)

Chair of Environmental Policy
TUM School of Governance


Florentine Koppenborg is a political scientist focusing on contemporary Japan. She wrote her dissertation on the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin.

Dissertation Abstract

Her dissertation contributes to the vibrant conversation in social sciences about a crisis acting as a mechanism for change. It shows how the Fukushima nuclear accident functioned as a change mechanism in the case of nuclear safety regulation practices in Japan. To do so, it process traced the nuclear safety administration reform following the accident drawing on historical institutionalism, and the literature on independent regulatory agencies. Her dissertations argues that the newly emerging institutional path of nuclear safety regulation practices resembles a rift inside the ‘nuclear village’, a powerful iron triangle of pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), parts of the administration, and nuclear industry, that fostered industry-friendly regulatory practices prior to the establishment of the Nuclear Regulation Agency (NRA).

The reform outcome, the establishment of the NRA as an independent regulatory commission, was a function of the breadth of the problem definition associated with the nuclear accident, as well as political power constellations at the time. The NRA commission used its independent legal status to establish less industry-friendly regulatory practices characterised by binding and costly safety requirements, no revolving door between promoters and regulators of nuclear power, and operational transparency. These changes in nuclear safety administration not only resulted in new regulatory practices, but they will also lead to a different nuclear policy trajectory in the long run.

Peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters

Koppenborg (2018): “Legal fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident: Reforming nuclear safety administration in Japan” In: Weizdörfer, Julius F.; Lauta, Kristian C. (Ed.) (2018 forthcoming): Fukushima and the Law, Cambridge University Press

Koppenborg (2017): “Ausstieg oder Wiedereinstieg?: Abes widersprüchliche Atompolitik” In: Heinrich, Steffen; Gabriele Vogt (Ed.) (2017): Japan in der Ära Abe. Eine politikwissenschaftliche Analyse, Iudicium

Koppenborg (2016): “Japanese climate related aid to South East Asia: Furthering 'weak' or 'strong' sustainability?" In: ASIEN- German Journal on Contemporary Asia, No. 138, 1/2016, p.31-51

Online Blog Articles

Koppenborg (2017): “Will the silent comeback of coal threaten Japan’s climate goals?” In: East Asia Forum, accessible at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/04/06/will-the-silent-comeback-of-coal-threaten-japans-climate-goals/

Koppenborg (2016): "Japan’s nuclear power plans don’t add up" In: East Asia Forum, accessible at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2016/03/03/japans-nuclear-power-plans-dont-add-up/