This article examines the challenges of democratic governance in Japan through the case of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 2011. Institutionally, the Japanese people lack access to nuclear policy-making. Major political parties fail to heed the voice of the people while an iron triangle of pro-nuclear bureaucrats, politicians and power industries dominate nuclear policy-making. Japanese civil society has remained quiescent for too long and now lacks the capacity effectively to shape nuclear policies. Even recent civil activism and new mechanisms of democratic governance fall short in enhancing the role of civil society in shaping Japan's nuclear agenda. The article concludes with a discussion on the prospects of improved democratic governance in Japan.