To Tokyo for summer

Aberdeen Airport (again) 11.40am

Back at my favourite place in the world – Aberdeen Airport. Although this time, I am happy to endure the oil drilling posters because I have a pretty exciting destination lined up – Tokyo.

I haven’t wanted to post about this until all the I’s have been dotted and T’s crossed, but in half an hour I will be departing for Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology to begin a six-week stint as a Japan Foundation Fellow. With a visa in my passport, boarding pass in my rucksack and gallons of whisky in my suitcase (customs people, I exaggerate in case you are reading), I am about to embark on a summer of fieldwork.

I will write more about this in the coming days, but loosely the topic of my research will be communicating and understanding risk and uncertainty around energy and environmental change. I visited TUMSAT back in 2012, and was hugely moved by the work they were doing with fishers in Fukushima Prefecture to engage on issues of marine radioactive contamination. Prof Midori Kawabe at TUMSAT (or Kaiyodai as it’s known locally) will be hosting me, and I am keen to see what kinds of work she and her colleagues have been undertaking pertaining to the social dimensions of radiation.

However, from the outset I’ve been anxious to make sure this isn’t just a post-Fukushima project, so while I am in Japan I will be learning about engagement with society on questions of energy and environmental change more widely. For instance, I shall be heading up to Hokkaido to take a look at Japan’s first integrated carbon capture and storage project at Tomakomai, and will be taking part in some of the wider events that go on as part of Kaiyodai’s education for sustainable development (ESD) and science in society programmes.

Right now I’m feeling rather nervous about it all – doing fieldwork in Japanese, coping with the notoriously humid summer and making sure I deliver on what I planned. But above all else, I am very much looking forward to arriving and immersing myself in the work. Boarding is about to be called, so more to follow when I land.

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