The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 17. 2011  
April 25, 2011  
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In This Issue


Once again pride of place in this issue goes to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, and the multifaceted responses by the Japanese state in Tokyo and throughout the Northeast, TEPCO, and citizens in the disaster zone. R. Taggart Murphy looks to the future to reflect on the implications of the disaster for Japan's economy. David McNeill introduces former Fukushima Governor Sato Eisaku's critique of TEPCO and the Japanese state's nuclear power policy. Saaler and Szpilman offer a wide-ranging historical analysis of the long, convoluted history of pan-Asianism against the background of contemporary pan-Asianism. Selden examines the history a century of Japan-Korea conflict over the Dokdo/Takeshima islets, and the US connection.

Many of our most import  articles on 3.11  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, at times on a daily basis, and we invite you to consult it and contribute to it.

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R. Taggart Murphy, 3/11 and Japan: A Hinge of History?


"3/11" is emerging as new shorthand for The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and its aftereffects: the tsunami that destroyed much of Japan's northeast coast, and the crippling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant . The sobriquet has the virtue of brevity; it also, of course, calls directly to mind the atrocities visited on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 - one of the reasons it seems to be coming into use. For while the two events had radically different causes and the scale of the devastation wrought in Tohoku -measured both in human suffering and in economic damage - was orders of magnitude greater than that inflicted on Manhattan, the parallels are sufficiently striking that the echo of "9/11" evoked by "3/l1" may well be justified. This article weighs Japan's economic options.

  Read more . . .  
David McNeill,Sato Eisaku's Warning

The worst-case scenario of Japan's nuclear crisis, reportedly floated by Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the dark night of March 16, that much of the east of the country including Tokyo could be "wrecked" has been averted. The reality though is shocking enough.
A 20km zone around the ruined Daiichi nuclear power complex has been irradiated, emptying towns and villages in Fukushima Prefecture of about 80,000 people who do not know when they can return. Unknown quantities of radiation continue to seep into the sea from the plant, which is swimming in 70,000 tons of toxic water.

The story of this epic disaster comes with a generous cast of Cassandra figures, the seismologists, conservationists and whistle-blowers ignored by the national nuclear planners. The most striking may be Eisaku Sato (71), who was governor of Fukushima Prefecture from 1988 - 2006, "roughly half the life of the plant," he told journalists at the Foreign Correspondent's Club this week.

Sato explains who he was transformed from a proponent of nuclear power to a critic . . . and the price that both Fukushima and he have paid for Japan's nuclear power course.

 Read more . . . 

Sven Saaler and Christopher W. A. Szpilman, Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian Identity and Solidarity, 1850-Present

The economic and political power of Asia, the world's largest continent, is increasing rapidly. According to the latest projections, the gross domestic products of China and India, the world's most populous nations, will each surpass that of the United States in the not-too-distant future. China's economy, like Japan's, is already larger than that of any single European country. With this new economic might comes growing diplomatic influence. The twenty-first century, many pundits agree, will be an Asian century. This undisputed Asian success story, together with its accompanying tensions and discontents, has attracted much media and scholarly attention. Yet for all this talk of Asia, there is no consensus on what Asia actually stands for as a whole. Is the vast Asian landmass a single entity? There has never been-and perhaps never will be-universal agreement on this question.

The authors draw on the introduction to their two volume documentary history of Pan-Asianism.

Sven Saaler is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese History at Sophia University. He is the co-editor with Christopher W. A. Szpilman Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History.

Christopher W. A. Szpilman is professor of modern Japanese history and international relations at Kyushu Sangyo University. He is co-editor with Sven Saaler of Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian Identity and Solidarity, 1850-Present, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 17 No 1, April 25, 2011.


Recommended citation: Sven Saaler and Christopher W. A. Szpilman, Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian Identity and Solidarity, 1850-Present, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 17 No 1, April 25, 2011.

 Read more . . . 
Mark Selden, Small Islets, Enduring Conflict: Dokdo, Korea-Japan Colonial Legacy and the United States

At a time when territorial conflicts in East Asia repeatedly raise tensions between China and Japan (Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands), North and South Korea (the Northern Limit Line) and Japan-Russia (the Northern Islands/Kurils), it is worth recalling that disputes continue to simmer not only between long-time rivals, but also among allies.

Dokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt Rocks (hereafter Dokdo) remains a sharp thorn in the side of contemporary Japan-ROK relations. The contentiousness of the issues is emblematic of unresolved political and territorial legacies of two centuries of colonialism in East Asia as well as of the post-war territorial disposition of the San Francisco Treaty and the global conflict that it mirrored and defined. The story has frequently been told in terms of Japan-ROK conflict. We explore its historical and contemporary ramifications here in a triangular century-long framework involving Japan, Korea and the United States.

Mark Selden is a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Journal and Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University.

Recommended citation: Mark Selden, Small Islets, Enduring Conflict: Dokdo, Korea-Japan Colonial Legacy and the United States, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 17 No 2, April 25, 2011.

  Read more . . .