The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 8. 2009
February 23, 2009
New Articles Posted
In This Issue
Gavan McCormack,
Hillary in Japan - The Enforcer

Lee Jae-bong,
The U.S. Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in 1950s South Korea & North Korea's Nuclear Development: Toward Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

Bruce Cumings & Selig Harrison,
North Korea, the US and the Bottom Line in Negotiating the Future

Gavan McCormack and Kim Dong-Choon,
Grappling with Cold War History: Korea's Embattled Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Mark J. Valencia and Nazery Khalid,
The Somalia Multilateral Anti-Piracy Approach: Caveats on Vigilantism

Norma Field,
Commercial Appetite and Human Need: The Accidental and Fated Revival of Kobayashi Takiji's Cannery Ship

H. H. Michael Hsiao and Alan Yang,
Soft Power Politics in the Asia Pacific: Chinese and Japanese Quests for Regional Leadership

Q. Edward Wang,
Globalization, Global History and Local Identity in "Greater China"

Quick Links
Greetings!

This week features a series of articles on the geopolitics of the Asia Pacific at the dawn of the Obama administration. This includes the first reports on the emerging US-Japan relationship in the wake of Hillary Clinton's visit to Japan. Our focus, again, in Gavan McCormack's report, is the fraught issue of US bases on Okinawa and the planned transfer of 7,000 US Marines to Guam-at Japanese government expense. Three reports examine Korea issues, including Lee Jae-bong on US nuclear weapons in Korea  from the 1950s forward and the North Korea bomb; Bruce Cumings and Selig Harrison on the North Korea bomb and US diplomacy, and Kim Dong-choon on South Korea's embattled Truth and Reconciliation. In addition, Mark Valencia and Nazery Khalid examine multi-lateral anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.


Please check out our special archive on the unfolding of the economic and financial crisis in the United States and across the Asia Pacific under the editorship of R. Taggart Murphy. We hope to add to it shortly another archive on the geopolitics of the contemporary Asia Pacific.

To access our full archive with more than 1,400 articles and to view the most widely read articles, go to: http://japanfocus.org
 

Contact Japan Focus by email at info@japanfocus.org


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Gavan McCormack, Hillary in Japan - The Enforcer


Hillary Clinton's visit to Japan comes at a moment of the most severe economic and political crisis that Japan has faced since the Asia-Pacific War. Is help at hand? This report places the issue of Okinawa bases at the heart of the US-Japan relationship and warns of yet another American attempt to force Okinawan submission to an unwanted and costly new air base in Okinawa's pristine North.

Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at Australian National University in Canberra, a coordinator at Japan Focus, and author of many essays at Japan Focus and of Client State: Japan in the American Embrace, New York and London, Verso, 2007, with Japanese, Korean, and Chinese editions in 2008.

He wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal. Posted on February 22, 2009.

Read more...
Lee Jae-bong, The U.S. Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in 1950s South Korea & North Korea's Nuclear Development: Toward Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

The United States suffered a serious financial deficit as a result of the Korean War in the 1950s. To solve this problem, it moved to reduce the sizes of US forces in Korea and the South Korean military which depended on U.S. financial aid. As President Rhee Syng-man opposed this plan, the U.S. introduced nuclear weapons into South Korea in January 1958. For this purpose, the UN Command removed NNSC personnel from South Korea in June 1956, and nullified part of the Armistice Agreement in June 1957.

As nuclear weapons were deployed in South Korea, North Korea began a massive program of underground construction in the 1960s and deployed its conventional forces in forward positions. North Korea asked the Soviet Union in 1963 and China in 1964 for help in developing nuclear weapons of its own, but was rebuffed. South Korea prepared to develop its own nuclear weapons in 1974 and North Korea began to develop its own program in the late 1970s.

This article examines the North Korea nuclear development program in light of the US decision to deploy nuclear weapons in South Korea beginning in the 1950s.


Lee Jae-bong is a professor at Wonkwang University and an expert on the history of anti-American movements in Korea. The original article was published in Korean at
세계평화통일학회 <평화학연구> 제9권 3호 (2008년 12월 15일 발행)
(The Society of World Peace and Unification, The Journal of Peace Studies), Vol 9 No. 3 (December 15, 2008). Posted at The Asia-Pacific Journal on February 17, 2009.

Read more . . .
Bruce Cumings and Selig Harrison, North Korea, the US and the Bottom Line in Negotiating the Future


Selig Harrison originally visited North Korea in 1972, when he and Harrison Salisbury were the first independent or non-communist American journalists to visit since the Korean War. Mr. Harrison was also one of the first American experts to understand the strong grip of nationalism in North Korea, which he elucidated in his excellent 1978 book, The Widening Gulf: Asian Nationalism and American Policy. He now has more than 20 visits to Pyongyang under his belt, and his most recent book, Korean Endgame is a provocative call for American disengagement with Korea. This report on Harrison's latest visit to North Korea examines the negotiating terrain confronting a new administration in Washington.


Selig S. Harrison, Director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy.  Bruce Cumings teaches in the History Department and the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago. He is a Japan Focus associate. Selig Harrison wrote this commentary for Hankyoreh.
The Harrison commentary and Cumings introduction were published at The Asia-Pacific Journal on February 21, 2009.

Read more . . .
 
Gavan McCormack and Kim Dong-Choon, Grappling with Cold War History: Korea's Embattled Truth and Reconciliation Commission


For the countries of Northeast Asia to construct a future Northeast Asian community, or commonwealth, along something like European lines, a shared vision of the future is necessary, and for that they must first arrive at a shared understanding of the past. The turbulent 20th century of colonialism, war, and liberation struggle looms as a large obstacle. Most attention focuses on Japan (Has it admitted, apologized, compensated for its crimes? Has it been sincere?), or on China (Has it faced the catastrophes of its revolution, including the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution? Has it acknowledged or apologized for them?). As the "Great Powers" of East Asia, however, both Japan and China strive to construct a pure and proud history and identity, and to divert attention from the dark episodes of their past.

Korea is often overlooked. Yet its approach reflects its experience, unique in Asia, as a civil society that has grown out of decades of struggle for democracy and against fierce repression under US-supported military regimes, culminating in the uprising of 1987 and the steady advance of civil democracy in the two decades since then. The Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established to explore precisely the sort of skeletons in the national cupboard that many in Japan (most recently General Tamogami, the sacked Chief of Staff of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Forces) refuse to acknowledge, documenting the claims of the countless victims of former regimes and actively exposing its shameful past. It is the sole example in Asia of systematic attempt to explore the wrongdoing of its own governments, seeking closure and healing.

Kim Dong-Choon, professor of sociology at Sung Kong Hoe University, is currently a standing commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea. He is author of many works in Korean, and in English, of The Unending Korean War: A Social History, Larkspur, Ca, Tamal Vista Publications, 2008.

Kim Dong-choon wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal. Posted on February 21, 2009. Gavan McCormack, emeritus professor at Australian National University, is a coordinator at Japan Focus. His most recent book is Client State: Japan in America's Embrace.


Read more . . .
 
Mark J. Valencia and Nazery Khalid, The Islamic World and Obama's Middle East Initiative
 
Mark J. Valencia and Nazery Khalid of the Maritime Institute of Malaysia write that the "vigilante" approach inherent in unilateral and multilateral initiatives to deal with piracy in the Gulf of Aden region has "provided an opportunity for naval powers to demonstrate their prowess, feel each other out, and establish the precedent of unilateral individual and group intervention in such situations." Cooperative action amongst the littoral states of Southeast Asia has reduced piracy in that region: "the littoral states have invited co-operation from outside powers - as long as it on their terms and does not involve the independent use of armed force." Valencia and Khalid conclude that "it is this strategy which must be pursued with increased vigour and vigilance if piracy and the new bogeyman of maritime terrorism are not to become internationally accepted excuses for foreign interventions."
 

Dr. Mark J. Valencia is an internationally known maritime policy analyst, political commentator and consultant focused on Asia.  He is  a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia.  Nazery Khalid is Senior Research Fellow at the Maritime Institute of Malaysia, a Kuala Lumpur based policy research institute. 

This article appeared at the Austral Policy Forum 09-4A, 16 February 2009
Published at Japan Focus on February 17, 2009.

Read more...
Norma Field, Commercial Appetite and Human Need: The Accidental and Fated Revival of Kobayashi Takiji's Cannery Ship
 

Japan's best-known proletarian novel, Kani Kosen (depicting conditions aboard a crab-canning factory ship operating off Soviet waters)[2] [1] by Kobayashi Takiji (1903-1933), enjoyed an utterly unanticipated revival in the course of 2008.
 
Many attribute the revival of the novel to the deepening impoverishment of the ranks of the irregularly employed, now widely said to account for one-third of the work force. The majority of the latter earn less than two million yen per year.  It is their increasingly insistent presence that has given such terms as "income-gap society" (kakusa shakai), "working poor" (waakingu pua), and more recently, "lost generation" (rosu jene) widespread familiarity.

That said, it remains difficult to formulate a statement along the lines of "Because of a momentous socioeconomic shift, therefore the revival of a novel published in 1929." Why not a contemporary novel for grasping contemporary conditions? How can a novel from eight decades ago even be readable today, especially by those young readers whose circumstances it is said to elucidate? And finally, what meaning should we find in the "boom" beyond amazement that it actually happened?


Norma Field teaches in the Department of East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Chicago and is a Japan Focus associate. Her most recent book is Kobayashi Takiji: 21seiki ni do yomu ka  (Iwanami Shinsho 2009).
 
This article was written for Quarterly Changbi (Spring 2009) and is reprinted in slightly revised form with the addition of notes and photographs.
Posted at The Asia-Pacific Journal on February 22, 2009.

H. H. Michael Hsiao and Alan Yang, Soft Power Politics in the Asia Pacific: Chinese and Japanese Quests for Regional Leadership
 
Regional leadership matters. It can facilitate cooperation among states and bring about a prosperous common future. Nevertheless, the struggle for leadership may lead to serious rivalry and regional instability. In East Asia, the quest for leadership has been controversial.  Northeast Asian powers such as China, Japan and Korea have long been regarded as potential leaders striving to secure national interests by expanding their influence over their southeast neighbors. However, in the Asian financial crisis of 1997 none of these countries was able to play a dominant role, resulting in a "leadership deficit."[1] To some extent, the Asian financial crisis did witness a new architecture of collective leadership in East Asia. "ASEAN Plus Three" (APT), inclusive of ten ASEAN member states in addition to China, Japan, and Korea, convened in Kuala Lumpur in late 1997, pointed toward a model of co-governance among regional powers. Based on this framework, the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) and Asian Bond Market Initiative (ABMI) resulted in successful responses to the financial catastrophe. Ten years after its inaugural summit, APT cooperation has become the most effective track for regional cooperation. This article examines the quest for leadership in Asia by China and Japan.

Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies (CAPAS), and Research Fellow at the Institute of Sociology, both at Academia Sinica, Taiwan.  Alan Yang, Ph.D., is the Postdoctoral Fellow of the Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies (CAPAS) at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. They wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal. Posted on February 17, 2009.

Read more...
 
Q. Edward Wang, Globalization, Global History and Local Identity in "Greater China"


This article offers a survey of the differing interests in, and approaches to, the study of globalization and global history in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Q. Edward Wang, (Rowan University; Peking University) can be contacted at Wangq@rowan.edu. He wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal. Posted on February 17, 2009.


Read more...