While a large literature exists on the siting of controversial facilities, few theories about spatial location have been tested on large samples. Using a new dataset from Japan, this paper demonstrates that state agencies choose localities judged weakest in local civil society as host communities for controversial projects. In some cases, powerful politicians deliberately seek to have facilities such as nuclear power plants, dams and airports placed in their home constituency. This paper then explores new territory: how demographic, political and civil society factors impact the outcomes of siting attempts. It finds that the strength of local civil society impacts the probability that a proposed project will come to fruition; the greater the concentration of local civil society, the less likely state-planned projects will be completed.


spatial location, controversial facilities, nuclear power plant, airport, dam, civil society, Japan, NIMBY

Date of this Version


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The Singapore Economic Review, Vol. 53, No. 1 (2008) 145–172