The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 7. 2011  
February 14, 2011  
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In This Issue


Did the American occupation liberate women? Mire Koikari offers a critical feminist perspective on the imbrication of Japanese women within the US Cold War framework  in our featured article. Mohammed Bamyeh writing from Tahrir, inside the Egyptian revolution, updates his report in light of the fall of Mubarak. Need we add that this is the beginning and not the end of Egyptian revolution?


We apologize for the delay in posting an article promised in last week's newsletter: That is the call by Kim Man-bok, director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service under Roh Moo-hyun,  for a return to the politics of peace and prosperity in North-South relations. We hope to be able to post a version of this report in the coming weeks. 


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Mire Koikari,  Feminism and the Cold War in the U.S. Occupation of Japan, 1945 - 1952

This article reassesses the impact of the US occupation on Japanese women. The American project to civilize and democratize a racially inferior other that Japanese women as gendered subjects emerged as centrally important figures. Seen by the occupation authorities as victims for centuries of "Oriental male chauvinism," Japanese women embodied feudal tradition, backwardness, and lack of civilization. As helpless women of color, they became ideal candidates for American salvation and emancipation. The occupier's zeal for liberation of Japanese women from indigenous male domination was all-consuming and multifaceted. MacArthur granted suffrage to Japanese women and praised their "progress" under U.S. tutelage as setting an example for the world. Other male occupiers "emancipated" Japanese women by initiating various constitutional and legal changes and policies.

The author rethinks the issues of women's emancipation within the Cold War framework that dominated US policies throughout the occupation.

Mire Koikari is Associate Professor and Director of Women's Studies, University of Hawai'i. Her research and teaching center on re-examining European, American, and Japanese feminisms from critical perspectives involving race, nation, and empire. The present article draws on and develops material from her book, Pedagogy of Democracy: Feminism and the Cold War in the U.S. Occupation of Japan.

Recommended citation: Mire Koikari, Feminism and the Cold War in the U.S. Occupation of Japan, 1945 - 1952, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 7 No 1, February 14, 2011.

 Read more . . . 
Mohammed A. Bamyeh,  The Egyptian Revolution: First Impressions from the Field (updated)

Never has a revolution that seemed so lacking in prospects gathered momentum so quickly and so unexpectedly, the author writes from inside Tahrir Square. The Egyptian Revolution, starting on January 25, lacked leadership and possessed little organization; its defining events, on Friday, January 28, occurred on a day when all communication technologies, including all internet and phones, were barred; it took place in a large country known for sedate political life, a very long legacy of authoritarian continuity, and an enviable repressive apparatus consisting of more than 2 million members. But on that day, the regime of Hosni Mubarak, entrenched for 30 years and seemingly eternal, the only regime that the vast majority of the protesters had ever known, evaporated in one day.

Though the regime continues to struggle, practically little government exists. All ministries and government offices have been closed, and almost all police headquarters were burned down on January 28. Except for the army, all security personnel disappeared, and a week after the uprising, only a few police officers ventured out. Popular committees have since taken over security in the neighborhoods. I saw patriotism expressed everywhere as collective pride in the realization that people who did not know each other could act together, intentionally and with a purpose. During the ensuing week and a half, millions converged on the streets almost everywhere in Egypt, and one could empirically see how noble ethics-community and solidarity, care for others, respect for the dignity of all, feeling of personal responsibility for everyone-emerge precisely out of the disappearance of government.

Undoubtedly this revolution, which is continuing to unfold, will be the formative event in the lives of the millions of youth who spearheaded it in Egypt, and perhaps also the many more millions of youth who followed it throughout the Arab world. It is clear that it is providing a new generation with a grand spectacle of the type that had shaped the political consciousness of every generation before them in modern Arab history. All those common formative experiences of past generations were also grand national moments: whether catastrophic defeats or triumphs against colonial powers or allies. The story has been updated to February 11 to chronicle the fall of Mubarak.

Mohammed A. Bamyeh teaches sociology at The University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Anarchy as Order: The History and Future of Civic Humanity and the forthcoming Intellectuals and Civil Society in the Middle East: Liberalism, Modernity and Political Discourse. Text and photographs by the author.

Recommended citation: Mohammed A. Bamyeh, The Egyptian Revolution: First Impressions from the Field, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 6 No 3, February 7, 2011.

   Read more . . . 
 What's Hot?, Tokyo High Court Rejects Teachers' Claims to Freedom of Thought; Another Okinawa Battle; The NHK Comfort Women Documentary -- 10 Years Later

Breaking news articles, documents, videos, contentions, and snippets from across the web that illuminate major Asia-Pacific Journal themes.

 Read more . . .