The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 27. 2011  
July 4, 2011  
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue


The Journal has now published more than sixty articles on the catastrophe that has shaken Eastern Japan since 3.11. Many of our most import articles, including two this week,  appear in What's hot and they bring a diversity of sources and reports from Ground Zero in Tohoku and Tokyo. "What's hot" presents 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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Matthew Penney, Nuclear Workers and Fukushima Residents at Risk: Cancer Expert on the Fukushima Situation



Japan's leading business journal Toyo Keizai has published an article by Hokkaido Cancer Center director Nishio Masamichi, a radiation treatment specialist. The piece, entitled "The Problem of Radiation Exposure Countermeasures for the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Concerns for the Present Situation", was published on June 27 and is consistent with the critical coverage of the Fukushima crisis that has appeared in independent weekly magazines, notably Shukan Kinyobi, which have taken a strong anti-nuclear stance since the March 11 earthquake-tsunami-meltdown, and have repeatedly focused on the dangers of radiation exposure while calling for far-reaching measures to protect those at risk.
Nishio begins by asserting that the Fukushima crisis has caused Japan's "myth of nuclear safety" to crumble. He has "grave concern" for the public health effects of the ongoing radiation leak.
Nishio originally called for "calm" in the days after the accident. Now, he argues, that as the gravity of the situation at the plant has become more clear, the specter of long-term radiation exposure must be reckoned with. At highest risk are TEPCO's nuclear workers.

 Read more . . .  
Jane Leung Larson and Feng Chongyi, Charter 08's Qing Dynasty Precursor

Over the gulf of one century and two revolutions, two groups of Chinese petitioners drafted remarkably similar blueprints for political reform.  Both groups sought civil rights and political responsibilities for Chinese citizens and a Western-influenced form of constitutional government to replace rule by autocracy.  Today, China's autocratic government is ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, and in the waning years of the Chinese empire, it was ruled by the Qing dynasty.   The striking differences between these petition movements are as instructive as their similarities, reflecting not only the qualities of the movements themselves but the radically different political environments-inside and outside China-from which they emerged.

In 2008, Charter 08 declared that "freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind, and democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values."1  Charter 08's drafters, of whom the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is the most prominent, describe themselves as inheriting China's historical legacy of political reform.  They called for a citizens' movement "so that we can bring to reality the goals and ideals our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years."  They credit the 1898 Hundred Days of Reform led by the Guangxu Emperor to transform China into a constitutional monarchy with being China's "first attempt at modern political change," and the first sentence of their petition reads, "A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first constitution."
Indeed, this decade, 1898 to 1908, foreshadowed what has been more than a century-long sporadic, often marginal, and as yet unfulfilled movement to eliminate China's autocratic system and give Chinese people the right to take part in national affairs.

Jane Leung Larson, independent scholar. Her article, "Articulating China's First Mass Movement: Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, the Baohuanghui, and the 1905 Anti-American Boycott," was published in Twentieth-Century China.

Feng Chongyi is Associate Professor in China Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, and adjunct Professor of History, Nankai University, Tianjin. His numerous books in English and Chinese include Peasant Consciousness and China; From Sinification to Globalisation; The Wisdom of Reconciliation: China's Road to Liberal Democracy and Liberalism within the CCP: From Chen Duxiu to Lishenzhi.

Recommended citation: Jane Leung Larson with Feng Chongyi, Charter 08's Qing Dynasty Precursor, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 27 No 2, July 5, 2011.

 Read more . . .  

Hong Kal, Flowing Back to the Future: The Cheongye Stream Restoration and the Remaking of Seoul



This article show how the urban life in Seoul under the Lee Myung-bak government, with its neoliberal political economy, has come to present an immense accumulation of spectacles. It examines the Cheonggye stream restoration promoted as upgrading Seoul to become a cleaner, greener and competitive global city. The Cheonggye stream project points to a new form of governance in which the display of national progress through conventional museums or monumental structures, as previous regimes once did, is no longer effective. Instead, the representation of progress of the city and the nation is increasingly being portrayed through the popular use of urban space.

Hong Kal is Associate Professor, Visual Arts Department (Art History) at York University. This article is drawn from her book Aesthetic Constructions of Korean Nationalism. Spectacle, politics and history.

Recommended citation: Hong Kal, Flowing Back to the Future: The Cheongye Stream Restoration and the Remaking of Seoul, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 27 No 1, July 4, 2011.

 Read more . . .  


Andrew DeWit, Japan's Richest Man Challenges Nuclear Future  



Read this fascinating and timely piece by Bloomberg for a succinct, "you are here" perspective on Japan's power politics. Bloomberg nicely captures the essence of what Softbank's CEO Son Masayoshi is doing in Japan. We have heard for years from LDP regimes that Japan was head of the pack when it came to the industrialized states' comparative environmental awareness, energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energy. Certainly it is true that many Japanese companies have highly efficient manufacturing processes and a strong presence in the production of geothermal, solar and other sustainable energy technologies. But we all learned in the wake of the Fukushima incident that Japan's domestic energy market is dominated by the nuclear village people. Their schemes included reprocessing waste on top of fault lines and ramping up nuclear energy to secure no less than 60% of all of Japan's energy needs by 2100. Fortunately, those plans are melting into air. Moreover, it has also become clear that Japan's nuclear policy relied on massive state aid and collusion to defray the immense costs through public budgets and other means. As Softbank's Son declares in his frequent public events, nuclear power is at least three time more expensive than the roughly YEN 6/kWh routinely asserted by its advocates and their cheerleaders. That financial cost (not to mention the essentially incalculable health and other risks) is the door that Son points to in describing his plan to open up new frontiers with increasingly cheap renewable power production.

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.

 Read more . . .