The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 21. 2011  
May 23, 2011  
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue


The Asia-Pacific Journal has a new home page. Please have a look and let us know if you encounter technical problems as we work these out. The Journal has published fifty articles on the catastrophe that has shaken Eastern Japan since 3.11. If you appreciate this work, we would be pleased to have your financial support as subscriber or donor to help us meet the heavy expenses this additional coverage has entailed.

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" present 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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Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Exodus to North Korea Revisited: Japan, North Korea, and the ICRC in the "Repatriation" of Ethnic Koreans from Japan


Fifty years ago, the mass repatriation of ethnic Koreans from Japan to North Korea was reaching its peak. In towns and cities all over Japan farewell gatherings were being held, as "returnees" to North Korea packed their bags and boarded trains that would take them to the port of Niigata where, after various formalities including a "confirmation of free will" by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), they would board Russian ships for the voyage to Cheongjin in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Over 49,000 people embarked on this journey in 1960 alone, and 93,340 over the full span of the "repatriation project"[帰国事業, 북성사업) from December 1959 to July 1984.

I first became involved in research about the repatriation to North Korea almost by chance in 2004, and during the six years in which I have been engaged in this research, historical knowledge about this complex and troubling story has expanded greatly, as growing numbers of Cold War archives have been opened, and the testimony of an expanding flow of refugees from North Korea has become available. At the time when I began to study the "repatriation project", a widely held perception of this event went (in essence) as follows: After the end of the Asia-Pacific War, around 600,000 Koreans remained living in Japan, often in conditions of great insecurity. Although most originated from the southern half of Korea, many were politically sympathetic to the DPRK, and (from 1955 on) to the North Korea affiliated General Association of Korean Residents in Japan [generally known as Chongryun 총련in Korean and as Sōren総連in Japanese].

This article examines the continuing controversies over the roles of the Japanese Government, Japan Red Cross, the International Red Cross, and the DPRK government in the exodus of 93,340 people from Japan to North Korea between 1959 and 1984.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. Her most recent books are Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War, Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era and To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey Through China and Korea.

Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Exodus to North Korea Revisited: Japan, North Korea, and the ICRC in the "Repatriation" of Ethnic Koreans from Japan, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 22 No 2, May 30, 2011.

 Read more . . .  
Nishioka Takeshi, Resign now, Prime Minister Kan

Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun has published a letter from Nishioka Takeo, the House of Councillors President and an important member of Kan's own Democratic Party calling for Prime Minister Kan's resignation.
The original link in English and a reproduction of the original in Japanese (not available in full on the Yomiuri website) is published.
Nishioka has consistently criticized Kan since early April. In an April 7 press conference he said "The Kan Cabinet cannot be allowed to run the country at a time like this. As the President of the House of Councilors, I just cannot remain silent."

 Read more . . . 

Amory Lovins, Learning From Japan's Nuclear Disaster

As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror--radioactive fallout--some truths known for 40 years bear repeating.
An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can't contain 90% of meltdowns. The U.S. has 6 identical and 17 very similar plants.
Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down. Fukushima had eight-hour battery reserves, but fuel has melted in three reactors. Most U.S. reactors get in trouble after four hours. Some have had shorter blackouts. Much longer ones could happen.
Overheated fuel risks hydrogen or steam explosions that damage equipment and contaminate the whole site--so clustering many reactors together (to save money) can make failure at one reactor cascade to the rest.
Nuclear power is uniquely unforgiving: as Swedish Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén said, "No acts of God can be permitted." Fallible people have created its half-century history of a few calamities, a steady stream of worrying incidents, and many near-misses. America has beenlucky so far. Had Three Mile Island's containment dome not been built double-strength because it was under an airport landing path, it may not have withstood the 1979 accident's hydrogen explosion. In 2002, Ohio's Davis-Besse reactor was luckily caught just before its massive pressure-vessel lid rusted through.

  Read more . . .