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Abstract

This study examines stigma from the perspective of residents of Fukushima prefecture following the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, to better understand effective crisis communication strategies that can mitigate the negative effects of self-stigma and promote sustainable psychosocial recovery. Social cognitive theory was employed to explore cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes faced by Fukushima residents in response to the stigma imposed upon them after the disaster. The study result based on in-depth interviews with residents of Shinchimachi, Fukushima, indicates that affectively, participants experienced a remarkable amount of fear and sadness. Cognitively, they focused on concerns about outsiders’ negative images or misinformation about Fukushima, changed priorities or values, and self-efficacy. Behaviorally, they actively resisted the stigma while strengthening their connections and belonging to their own community. Additionally, residents felt that they were branded as polluted and contagious and attributed the creation of a Fukushima stigma to a lack of full and accurate information as well as mistrust in main information sources, including media and government. This research suggests that developing a more transparent and locally based communication and information system could mitigate the negative effects of self-stigma. Theoretical implications for future research and policy suggestions for crisis communications are discussed.

DOI

10.30658/jicrcr.2.2.4

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