Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mike Allen

Committee Members

Nancy Burrell, Tae-Seop Lim, Hayeon Song, Patricia Stevens


Crisis, Disaster, Fukushima, Nuclear, Public, Response


This narrative content analysis was conducted to gain an understanding of the experiences and perspectives of the Japanese public and explore how individuals have responded to and been impacted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. After application of selection criteria, content from one alternative media website - Fukushima Diary - became identified as a source of data in this study. In all, 841 single-spaced pages of data analyzed to further understanding of the public's cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses to the health threat posed by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe resulted in identification of six themes arranged according to two dimensions. The first dimension, "when the impossible happens," consists of three themes centered on the public's affective and cognitive responses: (a) a shock to the system, (b) increasing perception of threat, and (c) betrayal and systemic domination. The second dimension, "we have to save ourselves," includes three themes highlighting the public's behavioral responses: (a) the mosquito and the dinosaur, (b) two kinds of people, and (c) a butterfly trying to move a mountain. Collectively, these six themes reveal how this disaster has impacted the wellbeing of those living in Japan and illuminate the centrality of culture and communication to the Japanese public's understanding of and response to this nuclear catastrophe. Findings confirm the heuristic value of the EPPM and the five cultural dimensions in Hofstede's framework. As an emergent theory, Iori Mochizuki's self-hypnosis model provided a valuable lens for furthering understanding of how this disaster impacted the Japanese public. As suggested by this research, the Japanese response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster remains highly heterogeneous. While statistics on overall releases of radiation provide an essential objective measure of the severity and potential impact of the disaster, this study illuminates the value of examining detailed narrative accounts when seeking to understand the human toll of this catastrophe.

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