Site Fights

Site Fights: Divisive Facilities and Civil Society in Japan and the West

Daniel P. Aldrich
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Site Fights
    Book Description:

    One of the most vexing problems for governments is building controversial facilities that serve the needs of all citizens but have adverse consequences for host communities. Policymakers must decide not only where to locate often unwanted projects but also what methods to use when interacting with opposition groups. In Site Fights, Daniel P. Aldrich gathers quantitative evidence from close to five hundred municipalities across Japan to show that planners deliberately seek out acquiescent and unorganized communities for such facilities in order to minimize conflict.

    When protests arise over nuclear power plants, dams, and airports, agencies regularly rely on the coercive powers of the modern state, such as land expropriation and police repression. Only under pressure from civil society do policymakers move toward financial incentives and public relations campaigns. Through fieldwork and interviews with bureaucrats and activists, Aldrich illustrates these dynamics with case studies from Japan, France, and the United States. The incidents highlighted in Site Fights stress the importance of developing engaged civil society even in the absence of crisis, thereby making communities both less attractive to planners of controversial projects and more effective at resisting future threats.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5825-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Daniel P. Aldrich
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction: Site Fights and Policy Tools
    (pp. 1-25)

    By some accounts, the location of our nation’s capital was decided at a secret dinner party that Thomas Jefferson held in 1790 at his New York City residence. There, through the age-old practice of logrolling, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton hatched a plan to build the nation’s capital in Virginia. “Madison agreed to permit the core provision of Hamilton’s fiscal program to pass; and in return, Hamilton agreed to use his influence to assure that the permanent residence of the national capital would be on the Potomac River” (Ellis 2001, 49).

    Alas, siting decisions are rarely made that smoothly. In...

  7. 1 Picking Sites
    (pp. 26-49)

    How authorities site public bads is a matter of great controversy among observers. This chapter argues that authorities base their choice among technically appropriate sites on the strength of local civil society. In a handful of cases, powerful legislators intervene in the siting process to place these projects in their own districts. Available data from Japan support these explanations over other accounts, including concentrations of minorities, partisan discrimination, and local economic conditions.

    Different observers see dissimilar landscapes when analyzing how authorities choose where to locate public bads. Table 2 lays out six approaches along with their key siting criteria. Whether...

  8. 2 A Logic of Tool Choice
    (pp. 50-69)

    Depending on the characteristics of organized civil society, the policy instruments that state agencies can select for handling conflict vary in visibility, power, and time scale. This chapter breaks new ground not only by presenting a viable framework for classifying and analyzing a state’s toolkit but also by connecting the state’s strategies to the characteristics of its civil society opponents.

    Ever since Max Weber, social scientists have distinguished states from other political and social organizations by their monopoly over physical force. Force defines a state, as Machiavelli suggests in The Prince; however, he continues, it must be both a lion,...

  9. 3 Occasional Turbulence: Airport Siting in Japan and France
    (pp. 70-94)

    In 1990 the japanese ministry of transportation announced plans for a new international airport to be built offshore near Nagoya in Ise Bay, Aichi prefecture. The airport—known as the Chubu, or Central, Airport—would absorb flights from nearby but aging Nagoya Airport and be the third largest in Japan. By building this enormous facility on artificial landfill in the center of the bay, planners hoped to avoid the delays caused by local resistance that had plagued Narita Airport. The government prepared to raze lush local mountains to provide the landfill material and notified local residents of its intention to...

  10. 4 Dam the Rivers: Siting Water Projects in Japan and France
    (pp. 95-118)

    Early in the summer of 1952 a representative of the Ministry of Construction appeared at the village of Kawarayu in Gunma prefecture, 151 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, and called a village meeting without any prior explanation. To the mayor and townspeople the official brusquely announced, “We are building a dam here. . . . This village is going to be flooded out” (Hagiwara 1996, 1). That was how local residents learned of the state’s plan to construct the Yanba Dam in their backyard. The project would flood the village, displace approximately 1,200 people, and cover 340 homes and 50 hectares...

  11. 5 Trying to Change Hearts and Minds: Japanese Nuclear Power Plant Siting
    (pp. 119-151)

    In early 1981, after initial surveys by the central government had determined that local conditions met the necessary geological and geographical criteria, the private Chūgoku Electric Power Company proposed a nuclear reactor complex for the rural town of Kaminoseki in the southern prefecture of Yamaguchi. Central government bureaucrats assisting with the process learned through phone surveys, visits, and discussions with local politicians that local feelings about the project were mixed. To overcome opposition from fishermen’s cooperatives, the utility and the local government used central government funds to fly local residents to visit other communities that were hosting nuclear power plants.¹...

  12. 6 David versus Goliath: French Nuclear Power Plant Siting
    (pp. 152-184)

    Southeast of Paris, near the Swiss border, lies the small rural French town of Creys-Malville. On its outskirts in the early 1970s, foundation and construction work began on the site of a secret new facility, but few locals understood its nature. The French government set up a “public inquiry” to receive citizen opinions about the project—actually the world’s largest experimental, highly enriched plutonium-using Superphoenix fast breeder reactor—but almost no citizens were notified of its existence, and no local groups were consulted. Any opinions voiced by the few local citizens attending the inquiry were duly written down by the...

  13. Conclusion: Areas for Future Investigation
    (pp. 185-196)

    This book provides evidence that civil society alters state policies in advanced industrial democracies in at least two important ways. First, dense local networks and voluntary associations with greater capacity push siting authorities to choose localities with diminished social capital as host communities for public bads. By avoiding areas with greater potential for resistance—even before any protests begin—bureaucrats and developers hope to avoid delays or cancellations. Second, stronger civil society forces authorities to move away from standard coercive policy instruments in handling conflict and to create new policies and tools for dealing with current and future contention. And...

  14. Appendix 1: Data Sources
    (pp. 197-198)
  15. Appendix 2: Methodological Details
    (pp. 199-202)
  16. Appendix 3: Interviewees
    (pp. 203-206)
  17. Periodicals and News Services
    (pp. 207-208)
  18. References
    (pp. 209-242)
  19. Index
    (pp. 243-254)