The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 29. 2011  
July 18, 2011  
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue


As this issue goes to press, we celebrate the fact that Japan is the FIFA World Cup Champion. Can the magic of a team that apparently includes a former worker at the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor in coming from
nowhere to defeat the United States in the final  provide inspiration that might encourage new directions toward a post 3.11 recovery and a basic rethinking of Japan's direction?
The Journal has now published more than sixty articles on the catastrophe that has shaken Eastern Japan since 3.11. This week we publish several critically important articles related to 3.11. They include an interview with British nuclear scientist Chris Busby which criticizes the official Japanese projections for cancer deaths and offers an analysis based on the methodology of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. Japan's best-selling novelist Murakami Haruki used his acceptance speech for the Catalunya Prize in Barcelona to "Speak as an Unrealistic Dreamer", or rather to speak truths to power concerning Japan's nuclear power assumptions as articulated by TEPCO and the Japanese state. Poet Wago Ryoichi offers a view from Ground Zero following the 3.11 disaster. Richard Falk and Oishi Matashichi revisit the Lucky Dragon #5 nuclear disaster of 1954 which may be viewed as the start of the Japanese and world anti-nuclear movements.

Many of our most important articles 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.

Two major articles examine Korean issues. Tim Shorrock reads the Egyptian Revolution through the lens of Korea's Kwangju Rebellion of 1980 in light of newly released classified US documents. And Gwisook Gwon offers a close look at the fierce resistance to plans for a new naval base in South Korea, a story with many of the resonances of the Okinawan opposition for plans to construct a new US base at Henoko.

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Busby interviewed by Norimatsu Satoko and Narusawa Muneo, Fukushima is Worse than Chernobyl - on Global Contamination



Chemical physicist Chris Busby is at the forefront of scientists who are challenging the radiation risk model propounded by ICRP, the International Commission on Radiological Protection, whose standards for allowable radiation doses the Japanese government has adopted for its citizens affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. Busby, Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), points out that the ICRP model "deals with radiation exposure from all sources in the same way, as if it were external to the body," and then takes this dose and multiplies it by a risk factor based on the high acute external doses of the atomic-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The ICRP method thus fails to take into account a number of ways in which certain internal radionuclides can deliver very high doses to critical targets in cells, particularly the cell DNA. One of these is from "inhaled or ingested hot particles, which are solid but microscopic and can lodge in tissue delivering high doses to local cells." As a result, internal radiation exposure can be "up to 1,000 times more harmful than the ICRP model concludes."

In his calculation based on the ECRR model that considers such internal radiation risks, Busby has estimated that within 100 km of Fukushima Daiichi, approximately 200,000 excess cancers will occur within the next 50 years with about half of them diagnosed in the next 10 years, if the 3.3 million people in the area remain there for one year. He estimates over 220,000 excess cancers in the 7.9 million people from 100 to 200 km in the next 50 years, also with about half of them to be diagnosed in the next 10 years. By contrast, the ICRP model predicts 2,838 extra cancers in the 100 km population. "The eventual yield will therefore be another test of the two risk models," Busby contends, pointing out that many studies of the Chernobyl disaster showed much higher cancer yields than the ICRP model had predicted.

Chris Busby is Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), Visiting Professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster.

Norimatsu Satoko, a Japan Focus Coordinator, is Director of Peace Philosophy Centre, a peace-education centre in Vancouver, Canada, and Director of Vancouver Save Article 9.

Narusawa Muneo is an editor of Shukan Kin'yobi (Weekly Friday).

Recommended citation: Chris Busby, Norimatsu Satoko and Narusawa Muneo, Fukushima is Worse than Chernobyl - on Global Contamination, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 1, July 18, 2011.

  Read more . . .  
Roger Pulvers, Murakami, the No-Nuclear Principles, Nuclear Power and the Bomb

Murakami Haruki's brilliant speech on June 9 in Barcelona, Spain, delivered in acceptance of the International Catalunya Prize, has contributed to the resetting of the anti-nuclear agenda in Japan.

In January 2009, in his acceptance speech for the Jerusalem Prize in Israel, the author had used his podium time to deliver a keenly aimed attack on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In Barcelona, by turning his sights to "peaceful uses" of atoms, he again gave voice to the Japanese conscience of our era.

"The recent earthquake came as a tremendous shock for almost all Japanese," he told his audience in Barcelona. "Even we Japanese who are so accustomed to earthquakes were completely overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the damage. Gripped by a sense of powerlessness, we feel uncertainty about the future of our country."

Murakami spoke of the depth and breadth of trauma caused by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and the loss of life and damage to landscape and property caused by the tsunami and the nuclear accident that followed. He went on to criticize the government for having failed to strictly monitor the nuclear industry for safety.

But it was when he turned to Japan's earlier experience with nuclear disaster - the U.S. attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atom bombs in August 1945 - that Murakami's speech took a radical turn.

Roger Pulvers is an American-born Australian author, playwright, theatre director and translator living in Japan. He has published 40 books in Japanese and English and, in 2008, was the recipient of the Miyazawa Kenji Prize. In 2009 he was awarded Best Script Prize at the Teheran International Film Festival for "Ashita e no Yuigon." He is the translator of Kenji Miyazawa, Strong in the Rain: Selected Poems. The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn is his most recent book.

  Read more . . .   


Murakami Haruki, Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer



As you well know, on March 11 at 2:46 PM a tremendous earthquake shook the Tohoku region of Northeast Japan. So great was the earthquake that the rotation of the earth was slightly accelerated, and the day shortened by 1.8 millionths of a second.

The damage caused by the earthquake was tremendous. The tsunami that followed left its deep and terrible talon marks on the earth. In some places, the tsunami reached a height of thirty-nine meters. Even if you run to the top of a ten-story building you will not be safe if a tsunami reaches thirty-nine meters. People near the ocean had no way to escape, so close to 24,000 people lost their lives. Out of that number, almost nine thousand remain unaccounted for. They were carried off by that tremendous wave that swept over the dikes.  Their bodies were never recovered. Probably most of those bodies have sunk to the floor of the cold sea.


What I want to touch on here is not buildings or roads, but rather those things that cannot be so easily repaired. What I mean by that is things like morality, or ethical standards. Those are things that do not have tangible forms. It is not so easy to restore them to their original state if they are damaged. These are things that cannot be just put together if machinery is provided, materials supplied, and workers recruited.

To be more specific, I am referring to the nuclear power plant at Fukushima.
As all of you are no doubt aware, out of the six nuclear power reactors in Fukushima damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, at least three have yet to be repaired and are spewing radiation into the area. Meltdowns have occurred and the surrounding soil has been contaminated. Most likely, highly radioactive waste water is flowing out into the surrounding ocean. In turn, the winds are pushing that radiation out over a wide area.

One hundred thousand people who inhabit the vicinity of the nuclear power plant have been forced to leave their land. Fields and rice paddies, factories, shopping districts and harbors, have been left deserted. The people who lived there may never be able to return to their homes. And the damage from this accident may not be limited to Japan. It is with great regret that I say this, but the impact of the accident will probably extend to neighboring nations.

Murakami Haruki, born in Kyoto in 1949, is among the most successful and influential authors in the world today. He sells millions of books in Japan. His fifth novel, Norwegian Wood, sold more than 3.5m copies in its first year and his work has been translated into 40 languages, in which he sells almost as well. His translator, Jay Rubin, says reading Murakami changes your brain. His world-view has inspired Sofia Coppola, the author David Mitchell and American bands such as the Flaming Lips. He is a recipient of the Franz Kafka prize, has honorary degrees from Princeton and Liège, and is tipped for the Nobel prize for literature. For more about his life and work, see his pulsating home page at Random House where the beat goes on.

Recommended citation: Murakami Haruki, Speaking as an Unrealistic Dreamer, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 7, July 18, 2011.

  Read more . . .    



Wago Ryoichi and Jeffrey Angles, Pebbles of Poetry: The Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami


The poet Wago Ryoichi 一 was living in Fukushima on March 11, 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, sending the entire northeastern Tohoku region into chaos.  After spending a few days in a camp for evacuees, he began documenting his experiences in a powerful and poetic Twitter feed, which seemed to touch a nerve as the nation listened in horror to the stories of the survivors.  Wago's Twitter feed quickly earned over 14,000 followers, and his poignant, pithy statements were frequently retweeted by many others.  In this feed, he writes about the sights with the earthquake zone, his horror at the devastation in Minami Soma (a town where he had worked as a high school teacher), and the need for a new kind of direct and powerful writing to capture the realities of the destruction.


The powerful and often epigrammatic statements in Wago's Twitter feed have attracted much attention, appealing to a nation that, reeling from the disaster, began asking itself "Why me?"  Poets have been reading Wago's text live in poetry slams to raise money for the disaster victims.  In May 2011, Japan's most important poetry journal, Handbook of Contemporary Poetry republished it under the title "Pebbles of Poetry" as the centerpiece of a special issue dedicated to the reflections of a group of poets from northeastern Japan who had experienced the disaster firsthand.

Jeffrey Angles is Associate Professor of Japanese Literature, Language and Translation Studies, Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature and translator of Tada Chimako, Forest of Eyes: Selected Poetry of Tada Chimako (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010)

Recommended citation: Wago Ryoichi, Pebbles of Poetry: The Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 4, July 18, 2011.

  Read more . . .   


Oishi Matashichi and Richard Falk, Oishi Matashichi and Richard Falk, The Day the Sun Rose in the West. Bikini, the Lucky Dragon and I



Oishi Matashichi, a fisherman aboard The Lucky Dragon #5, in a new book, tells the story of the 1954 Bikini Hydrogen bomb Bravo test that transformed his life and touched off the world anti-nuclear movement. The Asia-Pacific Journal is pleased to offer excerpts from Richard Falk's foreword and Oishi's riveting account of the bomb which exploded with a force 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima Bomb and left its imprint on the lives of the surviving members of the crew and our understanding of nuclear weapons and US atomic diplomacy.

Oishi Matashichi was born in 1934 and went to sea as a boy of fourteen. On March 1, 1954, the ship on which he was sailing encountered what one crewman called "the day the sun rose in the west." The Bikini test (Bravo) of the U.S. hydrogen bomb contaminated the ship and its crew with radioactive fallout. Once he had recovered from the dire immediate effects on his health, Oishi left the sea and became the proprietor of a laundry. Later in life he became a peace advocate-telling his story to groups of children throughout Japan.

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University, and United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Recommended citation: Ōishi Matashichi and Richard Falk, Ōishi Matashichi and Richard Falk, The Day the Sun Rose in the West. Bikini, the Lucky Dragon and I, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 3, July 18, 2011.

  Read more . . .  


Madoka Futamura, Japanese Societal Attitudes Towards the Tokyo Trial: A Contemorary Perspective



The positive and negative significance of the Tokyo Trial has been passionately debated among Japanese historians and intellectuals. However, the attitudes of the Japanese people in general towards the Trial have been rather apathetic. The Trial was almost absent in Japanese public discourse from the conclusion of the Trial until the 1980s, and according to opinion polls conducted recently, 60 per cent or even 70 per cent of Japanese people are unfamiliar with the specifics of the Trial. Some historians and intellectuals argue that the Tokyo Trial, unlike the Nuremberg Trial, had no direct impact on post-war Japanese society. Nonetheless, a close look at Japanese attitudes shows that the Tokyo Trial has had a subtle but substantial impact on the Japanese sense of history, war responsibility and war guilt, all of which are highly contemporary issues. This long-term societal impact of the Tokyo Trial became clearer in the 1990s and started to be recognised and pointed out publicly from 2005 onwards.


This article examines Japanese popular attitudes towards the Tokyo Trial from 1946 to 2008, and analyses the Trial's societal impact, especially on the Japanese sense of history and war responsibility. Japanese attitudes and perceptions are examined through popular reactions to the Tokyo Trial itself, as well as related events and movements within society - including films, symposiums, historical controversies, the rise of neo-nationalism, the Yasukuni Shrine row - and public and media responses to them.



Madoka FUTAMURA is an academic programme officer at the Institute for Sustainability and Peace, United Nations University, Tokyo. Educated in Japan and the UK, she is the author of War Crimes Tribunals and Transitional Justice: The Tokyo Trial and the Nuremberg Legacy (Routledge, 2008).

Recommended citation: Madoka FUTAMURA, Japanese Societal Attitudes Towards the Tokyo Trial: A Contemorary Perspective, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 5, July 18, 2011.

 Read more . . .  


David Chapman, Geographies of Self and Other: Mapping Japan through the Koseki


This paper traces the social history of the household registration system (koseki seido) in Japan from its beginning to the present day. The paper argues that the koseki has been an essential tool of social control used at various stages in history to facilitate the political needs and priorities of the ruling elite by constructing and policing the boundaries of Japanese self. This self has been mediated through the principles of family as defined by the state and has created diverse marginalised and excluded others. The study includes social unrest and agency of these others in furthering understanding of the role of the koseki in Japanese society. The paper also contributes understanding of nationality and citizenship in contemporary Japan in relation to the koseki.

David Chapman is the convenor of Japanese studies at the University of South Australia. His present research interests focus on the history of minority communities in Japan. He is the author of Zainichi Korean Identity and Ethnicity published by Routledge.

Recommended citation: David Chapman, Geographies of Self and Other: Mapping Japan through the Koseki, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 29 No 2, July 18, 2011.

  Read more . . .