The politics of distributive equity in conflicts over locally unwanted facility siting: in ward waste disposal in the 23 wards of Tokyo

Nakazawa, Takashi (2016) The politics of distributive equity in conflicts over locally unwanted facility siting: in ward waste disposal in the 23 wards of Tokyo. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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This thesis explores the politics of distributive equity in conflicts over locally unwanted facilities. Some types of facilities regularly face opposition from local residents because of negative side effects, even though their existence somewhere is necessary for the betterment of the wider public. These facilities are often called locally unwanted land uses (LULUs), and local opposition to them is often referred to as not in my back yard. Distributive equity is one of the most essential issues over siting conflicts because locally unwanted facilities impose concentrated burdens on people living around them, while the benefits from them are dispersed over the wider society. Furthermore, it is pointed out that these facilities tend to be disproportionately concentrated in certain communities, especially those of the socially and/or economically disadvantaged. Therefore, how to address distributive inequity is one of the most crucial issues in siting conflicts.

The objective of the thesis is to explain the rise and fall of a particular idea of distributive equity in policies of locally unwanted facility siting by examining the case of Tokyo. Tokyo went through a lot of conflicts over waste disposal facilities and how to redress inter-ward distributive inequity had been one of the most crucial issues. An idea of distributive equity known as "In Ward Waste Disposal" (Jikunaishori [自 区内処理], or IWWD) emerged in the early 1970s. IWWD means that waste in a ward should be disposed of within the ward. IWWD consists of two different, but closely related requirements: that an incinerator should be sited in every ward (siting incinerators in every ward), and that a ward should be institutionally responsible in incineration of its own waste (institutional responsibility of each ward). This idea of distributive equity was adopted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and has been recognised as a significant principle of waste management since then.

However, its influence in policies fluctuated over time. The influence was strong in the early 1970s (the first period: 1971-1973), but limited to the siting of incinerators in every ward; the idea of the institutional responsibility of each ward was not reflected in policies. Even the idea of siting incinerators in every ward started to decline in 1974, and continued in this downward trend well into the 1980s (the second period: 1974-1989). The impact of this idea became strong in both of the requirements during the early half of the 1990s (the third period: 1990-1996). Nonetheless, it started declining again in the latter half of the 1990s until IWWD was abandoned in 2003 (the fourth period: 1997-2003). By examining the case of IWWD in Tokyo, this study considers what determines the influence of a particular idea of distributive equity in siting policies.

For this purpose, the study critically reviews ideational approaches in political studies. An increasing number of studies incorporate roles that ideas play in policy formulation and implementation into political analysis. This thesis argues that it is necessary to adopt a comprehensive framework which takes into account not only ideational causes but also the power struggles between rationally calculating actors as well as the influence of external events and environments. It is argued that the dominance of an idea of distributive equity at any point of time is determined through four different types of variables (i.e. ideational legitimacy, interests, power of claimants, and exogenous environments) and the interaction between them. The dominance changes over time as these explanatory variables and the way they interact change from one period to another. An in-depth case study is conducted to examine what caused the changes in the degree of the dominance of IWWD in the 23 wards. By document analysis and semi-structured interviews, this study unravels complicated political processes through which the influence of IWWD waxed and waned. A diachronic comparison of the four periods makes it possible to better understand what affected the strength of IWWD.

The empirical result shows that the dominance of IWWD rose and fell as a result of the complicated interaction between the ideational legitimacy of the idea, the interests and power of actors, and economic, political and ideational environments outside of Tokyo. It is found that all four variables rose and fell in a synchronised pattern for the idea of siting incinerators in every ward, resulting in very clear changes in the influence of IWWD. This is because economic changes affected the other three variables by impacting both the production of waste and governments' financial capacity. This does not mean, however, that an idea's influence is determined by economic conditions. Although the economy can greatly impact an idea's viability, the role of a competing paradigm as another exogenous factor must also be considered. The cognitive legitimacy of IWWD was influenced not only by economic conditions and the resulting amount of waste production but also by changing policy paradigms in waste management. Furthermore, the idea of the self-responsibility of each ward gained or lost influence mainly because of the interests and power of the Tokyo Cleaning Workers Union in the autonomy expansion movement of the 23 wards. This demonstrates the importance of considering multiple, different types of variables and examining the interaction between them to explain the prominence of an idea and its change over time.

Item ID: 46079
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: distributive equity; environmental politics; environmental sociology; garbage disposal; Japan; locally unwanted land uses; NIMBY; not in my back yard; Tokyo; urban sociology; waste disposal
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2016 23:59
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 35%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 35%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160810 Urban Sociology and Community Studies @ 30%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940204 Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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