The Weather after Fukushima (with Laura Beltz Imaoka)

In this week’s episode, guest Laura Beltz Imaoka discusses her chapter “Rain with a Chance of Radiation: Forecasting Local and Global Risk after Fukushima,” which traces the news coverage of the fallout of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Imaoka analyzes how the distinct organizations of the Japanese and U.S. news industries contributed to vastly different public perceptions of local risk and global atmospheric interconnections. She also notes an early moment when, in the absence of reliable data from official institutions, civilians turned to social media to obtain their information, often with disastrous effects.

“It really serves as a reminder to de-localize yourself from your space of information gathering…especially when unpacking a global event, you have to see that event through different lenses. And for students or researchers, it reflects on your own biases, it gives a fuller picture of that event and its repercussions.”

Episode Transcript (opens as PDF)

Show Notes

02:30 Esri, the largest global GIS company.

06:40 About the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe

14:20 RadNet system of the Environmental Protection Agency

15:30 Japan’s Press Clubs overview

17:00 Speedi scandal in Japan

21:15 Premediation by Richard Grusin

26:00 misleading maps of the 2020 Australian bush fires

30:05 The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser

33:15 Risk Society by Ulrich Beck

36:20 the Japan Disasters Digital Archive at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

About the Guest

Imaoka headshot

Laura Beltz Imaoka is an assistant professor of instruction and assistant dean of academic affairs for the School of the Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas. She received her Ph.D. in Visual Studies from the University of California, Irvine, and her M.A. in Anthropology from California State University, Northridge. Her work has been published in the journals Communication, Culture and Critique; The Canadian Geographer; Environment and Planning A; and Media Fields Journal. Her research interests engage the areas of visual studies, film and media studies, and critical geography with a particular interest in the political economy of geospatial technology and the (geo)spatial imagination of disasters.