The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has radically reshaped domestic Japanese energy policy, political economy and citizen–state relationships within a very short time period. This destabilised period of post-Fukushima nuclear policy is considered in meta-theoretical terms, drawing upon the work of Colin Hay in describing a punctuated evolution model of stability and change. This, in turn, draws upon the concepts of structure and agency, and the material and ideational. I assess and apply Jessop and Hay’s strategic-relational approach (SRA) to resolving these issues, with reference to the Fukushima disaster throughout. The ontological weaknesses of the SRA are discussed, namely the weak conceptualisation of ‘the material’, leading to the construction of a new hybrid model. Hay’s concept of structure–strategy–agency is augmented into one of alliance-context-actantiality; drawing upon concepts from actor network theory to better articulate the role of artefacts, physical and material processes in influencing stability and change in risk politics.