Collective Recognition and Shared Identity: Factors Behind the Emergence and Mobilization Process in a Referendum Movement1

  • Yuko HirabayashiEmail author
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


On August 4, 1996, the town of Maki, Niigata Prefecture, made headlines throughout Japan. Hundreds of reporters descended on this community of 30,000 people to provide live national coverage of what the locals were doing and thinking on this particular day. The occasion was a referendum on the proposed construction of a nuclear power plant in Maki by the Tohoku Electric Power Company. Virtually every eligible voter in Maki (excluding those who were ill or out of town) participated in this referendum, producing a final voter turnout of 88.29%. The tally was 7,904 in favor of building the nuclear plant, and 12,478 opposed. Upon learning the results, Maki Mayor Takaaki Sasaguchi announced, “We will not sell the municipal land [on the site of the plant],” effectively making it impossible to build the plant for the time being. This event was the culmination of 2 years of stormy controversy following the formation of the Association for Holding the Referendum (Juumin touhyou wo jikkou suru kai), a group of Maki townspeople whose sole demand was to have the construction of the nuclear plant decided by a citizens’ vote. It also represented the attainment of the Association’s ultimate goal.


Liberal Democratic Party Nuclear Plant Political Opportunity Niigata Prefecture Association Member 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tsuru UniversityTsuru-shiJapan

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