Fukushima’s Victories and Victims: The Fateful Alliance of Japanese Soccer and Nuclear Power

Elise Edwards, Associate Professor, Department of History and Anthropology, Butler University, and Luce Fellow, SAR

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Elise M. EdwardsElise M. Edwards2012–2013 Henry Luce Foundation Resident Scholar, photograph by Jason S. OrdazElise M. Edwards2012–2013 Henry Luce Foundation Resident Scholar, photograph by Jason S. Ordaz

When Japan’s women’s national soccer team—or Nadeshiko Japan—bested the greatly favored US team in the 2011 World Cup Final in Frankfurt, Germany, it was just one of many firsts achieved by the skillful and inspiring team. It was the first time Japan had ever beaten the Americans and also the first World Cup Championship for an Asian soccer team, women’s or men’s. Much of the national team’s success could be credited to Japanese corporations’ sponsorship of the L-League, a semi-professional domestic women’s soccer league, since the late 1980s. Ironically, one of the strongest sponsors of the L-League and Japan’s national team program in recent years has been TEPCO, the company responsible for Fukushima’s ill-fated Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. This talk will explore the entwined relationships and mutually beneficial growth plans pursued by TEPCO and the Japan Football Association since the 1990s, against the backdrop of a longer twentieth-century history of corporate-sport relations in Japan, and in light of the popular media’s story of the women’s soccer team’s victory and its ability to “heal a nation.”

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