The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 13. 2011  
March 28, 2011  
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue

APJ Editors,

"Long Since Passed the Level of Three Mile Island" - The Fukushima Crisis in Comparative Perspective


Matthew Penney,   

Outpouring of International Support for Japan


Yuki Tanaka,   

The Atomic Bomb and "Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy"


Andrew DeWit,   

The Earthquake in Japanese Energy Policy


R. Taggart Murphy,   

Assessing the Economic Aftershocks of Japan's March 11 Earthquake  


Lawrence W. Wittner,   

How Japan Learned About "Nuclear Safety": The Politics of Denial


Philip Cunningham,   

Japan Quake Shakes TV: The Media Response to Catastrophe


Robert Jacobs,   

Whole Earth or No Earth: The Origin of the Whole Earth Icon in the Ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki


Robert Y. Eng,   

China-Korea Culture Wars and National Myths: TV Dramas as Battleground

Peter Dale Scott,   

 Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?





This is the second issue devoted to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, and the largest issue we have ever published with eleventh articles, many of them illuminating the quake, its aftermath and its implications. Before turning to the articles themselves, I would like to invite you to join in supporting the efforts of the Japanese people in overcoming the gravest challenge the nation has faced since the destruction at the end of the Asia-Pacific War. We will continuing our fund-raising efforts for one more week. You can contribute directly to the Japan Red Cross through the link on our home page or in many articles:

The articles below examine the post-3.11 events from numerous perspectives including: an authoritative discussion of the present state of the meltdown of the reactors (surpassing Three Mile Island), the plight of people in an around Fukushima, the outpouring of International Support for Japan including the Chinese and Koreans who have so often been critical (but few of the readers of The Asia-Pacific Journal thus far). Other articles consider the interface of nuclear energy and nuclear bombs, the future of Japanese energy policies, the economic impact of the quake, and the approach of the Japanese media to the disaster.

Because this is the most ambitious issue we have attempted, we would like to invite you to bring it to the attention of your friends and colleagues who might find APJ a valuable source as they seek reliable information about the catastrophe and its global implications.

Many of the  articles mentioned above all appear in What's hot and they bring a diversity of sources and reports from Ground Zero in Tohoku and Tokyo. "What's hot" zeroes in on breaking stories and provides information beyond the headlines, to cast them in broader perspective. What's hot is regularly updated, often on a daily basis and we invite you to consult it and contribute to it.

We encourage those who wish up-to-the minute coverage of the earthquake and aftermath to follow the English and Japanese coverage by our colleague Norimatsu Satoko on the Peace Philosophy Facebook page: 


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APJ Editors,"Long Since Passed the Level of Three Mile Island" - The Fukushima Crisis in Comparative Perspective


As the crisis in Fukushima grows more serious (see reports here, here, and here), international scientific organizations have begun painting an increasingly dire picture of radiation releases from the plant.

We feature authoritative reports by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (English and Japanese texts) as well as those by major French and Austrian research institutes assessing the situation on the ground. See in particular the press release by the IEER, and the response to our questions by Arjun Makhijani, its director. 

     Read more . . . 
JPR Editors,  Fukushima: The Situation on the Ground

Updated March 25  This report introduces the first photographs of TEPCO workers inside the plant, the accounts of family members together with recent reports on the present status of the six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.


The Daily Mail has published a series of photos that show the ongoing work at the plant. This is the first look at the individuals working to cool the reactors at great personal risk. There are now as many as 200 working around the clock in rotating teams in order to limit exposure to radiation.

 Read more . . . 
Matthew Penney, Outpouring of International Support for Japan

The exceptions can be brutal, such as the Twitter comments by Alec Sulkin and Gilbert Godfried, but overall, online and print media have conveyed an incredible outpouring of sympathy for Japan in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake. This trend seems particularly pronounced among Japan's neighbors, many of whom have often been at odds with it over historical and territorial issues.

We survey Taiwan, South Korea and China for responses to the human tragedy of the quake and tsunami.

 Read more . . . 

Yuki Tanaka,

The Atomic Bomb and "Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy"

What went wrong with Japan's nuclear industry? The Japanese are often said to be hypersensitive about nuclear issues because of the experience of nuclear holocaust. How could they not be? On the morning of August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb instantly killed 70,000 to 80,000 civilian residents of Hiroshima city and by the end of that year, 140,000 residents of that city had died as a result of the bombing. Another 70,000 were killed in Nagasaki. Many others have subsequently died, often after experiencing a lifetime of suffering, or are still suffering from various diseases caused by the blast, fire and radiation.

Yet opposition to nuclear energy has never been strong in Japan. Why? It is true that the Japanese, in particular the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are highly conscious of the danger of nuclear weapons. A-bomb survivors, who know well the terror of the bomb and who fear the long-lasting effects of radiation, have therefore been the vanguard of the anti-nuclear weapons campaign. Despite this, however, many A-bomb survivors and anti-nuclear weapon activists have so far been indifferent to the nuclear energy issue. Despite a number of vibrant local movements contesting the construction of nuclear plants, anti-nuclear energy campaigners overall have long been marginalized.

Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor, Hiroshima Peace Institute, and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. He is the author most recently of Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn Young, eds., Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History as well as of Japan's Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II.


Recommended Citation: Yuki Tanaka, The Atomic Bomb and "Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 2, March 28, 2011.

  Read more . . . 
Andrew DeWit, 

The Earthquake in Japanese Energy Policy

In this article, I argue that while Japan's crisis reaches across public health, provisioning, financial policy, and the like, it centres on energy. Energy is the world's largest business, at fully 10 per cent of the USD 60 trillion global economy. It is certainly the bedrock sector of any modern economy. And in this crisis, Japan's power generation, energy security, and energy plans have taken perhaps the most profound and protracted blow. Energy is already the critical short-term challenge. That will not change in the medium- and long-term either. But policy choices made now, in the midst of this crisis, and right in its wake, will be of utmost importance in shaping the future. Energy policy, it is often said, responds to crises rather than elections, and Japan is reeling from an unprecedented shock in what was already a fraught global context. Japan's predicament may in fact be far worse in its urgency, and the global implications of inadequate or inapt responses more dire, than the collapse of it bubble economy two decades ago or even the global financial shock of just a few years past. This article begins by assessing the nature and magnitude of Japan's crisis. But it goes on to show how Japan could emerge from the disaster, one that has effectively nullified its energy strategy, much stronger for it. Japan is at present menaced by several concurrent, concatenating crises. But with smart and responsible energy policies and politics, it could pioneer approaches that help lead us all out of our increasing dire, energy-centred dilemmas.

Andrew DeWit is Professor of the Political Economy of Public Finance, School of Policy Studies, Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Kaneko Masaru, he is the coauthor of Global Financial Crisis published by Iwanami in 2008.


Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, The Earthquake in Japanese Energy Policy, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 1, March 28, 2011.

   Read more . . . 
R. Taggart Murphy, Assessing the Economic Aftershocks of Japan's March 11 Earthquake

Assessing the Economic Aftershocks of Japan's March 11 Earthquake Stephen S. Roach warns us not to be complacent about the effects of the March 11 earthquake in Japan on the global economy. After outlining a "narrow view" based on a declining global profile for the Japanese economy - a shrinking percentage of both global exports and GDP, a rising China, and an irreplaceable position in only a handful of critical upstream industrial components - Roach urges us not to accept the "superficial" conclusions that might flow from this view: that Japan "doesn't really matter any more" and that disruptions to global economic activity from the March 11 earthquake and its aftermath will be "transitory" and "small."


Roach points out that this "narrow view misses the most critical consideration" - that this latest shock comes at a time of global economic fragility. In particular, with interest rates worldwide at historic lows, the usual levers of monetary policy - interest rate cuts - are no longer available to central bankers to pump up growth. And "outsize fiscal deficits" suggest that fiscal stimulus may also be exhausted. That leaves policy makers with nothing but "untested" and "unconventional" measures such as the quantitative easing being implemented by the Federal Reserve - and, in the immediate wake of the earthquake, by the Bank of Japan. Murphy assesses the Roach perspective on Japan's economic crisis.


  Read more . . . 
Lawrence W. Wittner,  How Japan Learned About "Nuclear Safety": The Politics of Denial

Although people can be educated in a variety of ways, experience is a particularly effective teacher. Consider the Japanese, who today are certainly learning how dangerous nuclear power can be.


Of course, the Japanese people also have had a disastrous experience with nuclear weapons-not only in 1945, when the U.S. government destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, but in 1954, when a U.S. government H-bomb test showered a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon #5, with deadly radioactive fallout, and a vast nuclear disarmament movement began.

This article presents new evidence about the Lucky Dragon incident in light of the most recent atomic catastrophe.

  Read more . . . 

Philip Cunningham, 

Japan Quake Shakes TV: The Media Response to Catastrophe

"Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. We have just experienced an earthquake. Please move away from the buildings to an open area...We will provide more detailed information as soon as possible..."


The polite but authoritative "we" was the voice of the Tokyo DisneySea theme park in this instance, but similar, oddly reassuring warnings of peril were being echoed across Japan, mostly following the lead of television broadcaster NHK.

Japan has a thriving terrestrial broadcast television market, which in most cities comes down to half a dozen key players. To watch Tokyo's six main TV stations side by side, as media scholars sometimes do, is to be subjected to an overload of dazzling color, brightly-lit sets, short, snappy jingles, silly commercials and plodding documentaries.


When the biggest earthquake in memory hit Japan at 2:46 PM on the afternoon of March 11, 2011, it took less than ten minutes for the bright, cluttered screens to be drained of color, commercialism and fun. With a disaster unfolding, TV stations were under intense pressure to change the tone of their broadcasts. This article assesses-and shows major footage-on the Japanese media's response to disaster as it struck.  

Philip Cunningham is a professor of media studies who has taught at Chulalongkorn University and Doshisha University. He is the author of Tiananmen Moon: Inside the Chinese Student Uprising of 1989.

Recommended citation: Philip J Cunningham, "Japan Quake Shakes TV: The Media Response to Catastrophe," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 6, March 28, 2011

  Read more . . . 


Robert Jacobs, 

Whole Earth or No Earth: The Origin of the Whole Earth Icon in the Ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The image of the Whole Earth is one of the most ubiquitous visual icons of the late twentieth century. It is everywhere, on books, posters, advertisements, packaging, and all over the world-wide-web. It is the descendent of such essential early tools of human imagining as the map and the globe, but the Whole Earth is a radical reformulation of those older tools. It is a tool that opens humans to a new perspective about the relationship of the individual to the planet, and to the other creatures living on the planet, especially the other people.


The history of the modern visual image of the Whole Earth derives from photographs taken of the Earth from space. Much as the ability to see deeply into space has completely revised our ideas about the nature of the universe around us, the ability to see our home planet from space, has fundamentally revised our concepts of the nature of the planet on which we live.


Photographs of the Whole Earth entered culture in the late 1960s as a result of the development of satellites and manned space travel. But in this article I will argue that the visual content of the icon of the Whole Earth actually emerged several decades earlier. Before there were color photographs of the Earth from space, the visual image of the Earth as whole was first expressed in a manner we would come to associate with this icon by editorial cartoonists in direct and immediate response to the use of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Robert Jacobs is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University. He is the author of The Dragon's Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010) .


Recommended Citation: Robert Jacobs, "Whole Earth or No Earth: The Origin of the Whole Earth Icon in the Ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 5, March 28, 2011.

  Read more . . . 


Peter Dale Scott,  Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?

The world is facing a very unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation in North Africa and the Middle East. What began as a memorable, promising, relatively nonviolent achievement of New Politics - the Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt - has morphed very swiftly into a recrudescence of old habits: America, already mired in two decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sporadic air attacks in Yemen and Somalia, now bombing yet another Third World Country, in this case Libya.

The initially stated aim of this bombing was to diminish Libyan civilian casualties. But many senior figures in Washington, including President Obama, have indicated that the US is gearing up for a quite different war for regime change, one that may well be protracted and could also easily expand beyond Libya. If it does expand, the hope for a nonviolent transition to civilian government in Tunisia and Egypt and other Middle East nations experiencing political unrest, may be lost to a hard-edged militarization of government, especially in Egypt. All of us, not just Egyptians, have a major stake in seeing that that does not happen.

The present article does not attempt to propose solutions or a course of action for the United States and its allies, or for the people of the Middle East. It attempts rather to examine the nature of the forces that have emerged in Libya over the last four decades that are presently being played out.

To this end I have begun to compile what I call my Libyan Notebook, a collection of relevant facts that underlie the present crisis.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan.


Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 3, March 28, 2011.

  Read more . . . 

Robert Y. Eng, 

China-Korea Culture Wars and National Myths: TV Dramas as Battleground

China and Korea have been engaged in a culture war in recent years, contesting issues of national identity, historical territorial claims, and cultural heritage. The single most inflammatory topic in this culture war is conflicting interpretations of the history of Goguryeo (Koguryo ) (37 BCE-668 CE), which ruled large areas in present-day Northeast China and Northern Korea, and constituted one of the Three Kingdoms in Korean history, along with Baekje (Paekche) (18 BCE - 660 CE) and Silla (57 BCE - 935 CE). North and South Koreans consider Goguryeo to be a key foundation state of their history. They are therefore angered by Chinese claims that the "various tribes that inhabited Koguryo [were] ... among the many minorities that were eventually absorbed into "Greater China," and therefore "its history is considered a part of Chinese national history."

North and South Koreans regard this view of Goguryeo as a Chinese state, advanced through research by the government-sponsored Northeast Project, as a usurpation of their national history. South Korean scholars have criticized The Northeast Project as a politically motivated historical distortion that "has been designed to prove that the Northeast area, including areas in which Koguryo, Old Choson, Puyo, Parhae and even modern Korea were or are situated, were historically and culturally a part of China." South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon (now the United Nations Secretary-General) stated in 2004: "It is an indisputable historical fact that Koguryo is the root of the Korean nation and an inseparable part of our history ... We will sternly and confidently deal with any claims or arguments harming the legitimacy of our rights."


As the history wars threatened to escalate into a diplomatic crisis, both China and South Korea, which have much to gain from political cooperation and economic ties, reached an agreement in August 2004 "to refrain from waging "history wars" and leave the arguments to the historians."

Robert Eng is Professor of History and Director of the Asian Studies Program and the ASDP Regional Center, University of Redlands. He is the author of Economic Imperialism in China: Silk Production and Exports, 1861-1932.


Recommended Citation: Robert Y. Eng, "China-Korea Culture Wars and National Myths: TV Dramas as Battleground," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 4, March 28, 2011.

 Read more . . .