The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 30. 2011  
July 25, 2011  
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In This Issue


Three of our articles this week explore diverse perspectives on women and gender, including our Feature by Paul Kramer on the "Military Sexual Complex" at the dawn of the US empire in the Philippines, while two others examine critical issues facing the people of Northeast Japan in the wake of 3.11.

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Paul A. Kramer, Fukushima is Worse than Chernobyl - on Global Contamination



Major Owen Sweet's campaign against prostitutes began shortly after his arrival in Jolo, in the southern Philippines, in May 1899. The situation was urgent. Four months into a war against the Philippine Republic, the 23rd Infantry had taken control of the area from Spanish forces, but, as Sweet lamented, his troops had fallen "heir to the lax moral conditions incident to the Philippines and Oriental countries generally." Lacking barracks space, his soldiers had been forced to live "in close contact" with "mixed races," and Sweet had been "confronted with the same status of immoralities and the lawless community" as commanders had in Manila, Iloilo, Cebu and elsewhere. A "personal" investigation in November involving a "house to house examination and inspection" had revealed gambling houses, grog-shops, saloons, "joints where the vilest drugs were dispensed," and "several resorts of prostitution" inhabited primarily by Chinese and Japanese, but also Filipinos, Moros, and "other immoral women scattered throughout the villages." Sweet feared that these conditions might spark local tensions, opening a second, Muslim-American front that the Americans could not afford.

In a report to his superiors, who later demanded a full account of his conduct at Jolo, Sweet recounted his energetic uprooting of vice. In the interests of "morality, discipline and good administration," he had raided "gambling resorts" and "regulated" liquor traffic, destroyed bino stocks, and closed down all liquor dealers and saloons in early 1900. Facing "an almost wholly immoral woman community," Sweet had given "these women and their keepers" a "course of regulation, restriction and control heretofore unknown in their lifetime." What he called "noted women" were "watched, restrained and examined." Regarding brothels, he at once "instituted a system of strict surveillance, exacting restriction, inspections and control and punishments and medical examinations by the [army] Surgeons." While a "Detention Camp" was established for diseased soldiers, Sweet had incarcerated "all women in Jolo known to be diseased" in a special hospital wing and "deported" those found infected with "so-called Asiatic diseases." Together these policies constituted a "system of attrition" that "tended to reduce the number in various ways." Sweet had first "rid the towns of the Chinese then the miscellaneous nationalities," then Moro women "in the most quiet way conceivable," and "from time to time the more objectionable Japanese women." He then "gradually drove out the Visaya [sic] and Filipino women." Proceeding gradually towards what he called "eventual elimination," Sweet's program of fees, inspections, incarcerations and deportations, directed against the "commoner women" had by his own measure succeeded by June 1900, as "only some twenty odd women remained." Had he remained in command a few months longer, 1901 would have seen the "social evil" there "eradicated." Kramer examine the issue of the "military-sexual complex" in the form of supervised prostitution in the Philippines and the attack from anti-imperialists and Christian moralists during the Philippine-American War at the turn of the twentieth century.

Paul A. Kramer is an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University, and the author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines (University of North Carolina Press; Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006).

Recommended citation: Paul A. Kramer, The Military-Sexual Complex: Prostitution, Disease and the Boundaries of Empire during the Philippine-American War, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 30 No 2, July 25, 2011.

  Read more . . .  
Cara O'Connell, Health and Safety Considerations: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Workers at Risk of Heat-Related Illness

What more can be done to protect the workers-those on the front lines of protecting the nation-so they can continue their efforts to stabilize the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant? The Japanese state and TEPCO should recognize the health and safety of front-line workers as a national priority

Concepts and best international practices presented in this document draw on current Japanese and international research and literature to provide information that may be of value in protecting the health of Fukushima workers and others who experience extreme heat and radiation.

Cara O'Connell is a physical therapist.

Recommended citation: Cara O'Connell, "Health and Safety Considerations: Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Workers at Risk of Heat-Related Illness," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 1 No 1, March 1, 2011.

Read more . . .


Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Japan's Irradiated Beef Scandal



The Japanese government claims (widely criticized - see here) that the Fukushima reactors have been stabilized and the threat of further hydrogen explosions removed, but now the Japanese public faces a new source of concern.

Meat from more than 500 cattle fed with irradiated straw from the area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been sold to Japanese consumers. The beef was tainted with radioactive Cesium released from Fukushima Daiichi and contaminating straw by up to 500 times standard levels. With beef prices in the vicinity of Fukushima plummeting, farmers raced to market their cattle in the months following the nuclear meltdown. Previous findings of radioactive contamination were reported for spinach, milk, fish and tea leaves.

Government officials, caught unprepared by the beef contamination findings, are racing to ascertain the extent of the problem and threat to public health. It is now known that beef with three to six times the standard radiation safety level has made it onto the plates of consumers and it is also being reported that contaminated meat has been sold in 43 of Japan's 47 prefectures, including by Aeon, the nation's largest retailer.

Recommended citation: Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, "Japan's Irradiated Beef Scandal," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 30 No 5, July 25, 2011.

Read more . . .  



Rebecca Jennison and Laura Hein, Against Forgetting: Three Generations of Artists in Japan in Dialogue about the Legacies of World War II


Although international consensus has it that the Japanese people are unusually reluctant to face their own wartime past, this generalization has never been entirely true, as regular readers of The Asia Pacific Journal already know.  Like human beings everywhere, since 1945 Japanese have debated the lessons of war and disagreed about its meaning among themselves.  And, also like people everywhere, many Japanese regret both official policies and widespread individual behaviors of the past. They not only desire reconciliation with Koreans, Chinese, and other Asians, but also recognize that, as Japanese, they cannot dictate its terms. Some have already entered into cross-national dialogue about the war and the colonial violence that reached its crescendo during the war years.  Moreover, precisely because reflection on such issues is uncomfortable, they struggle over how to do so, often turning to oblique or refracted approaches, what Dora Apel calls "the sideways glance," such as through literary or artistic expression. Both this ambivalence and these strategies are human rather than Japanese traits.   


Visual artists, filmmakers, and fiction writers have far more experience expressing complex and contradictory emotions than do historians, so their prominent role in memory studies globally is not surprising.2 They show us how to convey the complex and sometimes messy individuality of actors.   When we appreciate the ways that people are simultaneously well-meaning, bigoted, intelligent, obtuse, flawed, internally contradictory, and/or troubled human beings, it is easier to recognize the individuality of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders, while still acknowledging the actions that divided them as groups.   Artistic work also directs our attention to the processes of imagination and to affective linking, explaining why some acts of historical imagination feel so much more satisfying than do others.  Finally, identifying these contradictory qualities helps indicate a standpoint that can make reconciliation possible.

This article examines the work of three generations of artists in response to the Asia-Pacific War.

Rebecca Jennison is a professor at Kyoto Seika University in the Department of Humanities, Division of Culture and Arts, and an Asia Pacific Journal.  She is active in a variety of feminist and peace networks. She recently curated with Fran Lloyd  (Kingston University London) The Art of Intervention Now - London & Kyoto at the Fleur Gallery, Kyoto Seika University.   Her most recent publications include, with Laura Hein, Imagination Without Borders: Feminist Artist Tomiyama Taeko and Social Responsibility, Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010.


Laura Hein is a professor of Japanese history at Northwestern University in Chicago and an Asia Pacific Journal coordinator.  Her most recent publications, in addition to the book edited with Rebecca Jennison mentioned above and its companion website, include "Reckoning with War in the Museum: Hijikata Teiichi at the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art" Critical Asian Studies, 43.1 Winter 2011, pp. 93-110 and "Japan, the Vulnerable, and All of Us" foreword to Dreams of Repair, Eleanor Rubin Milan: Charta, 2010.


Recommended citation: Rebecca Jennison and Laura Hein, Against Forgetting: Three Generations of Artists in Japan in Dialogue about the Legacies of World War II, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 30 No 1, July 25, 2011.

Read more . . . 


Vanessa B. Ward, "Lifelong homework": Chō Takeda Kiyoko's unofficial diplomacy and postwar Japan-Asia relations



This essay addresses the role of individual actors in unofficial diplomacy, and the contributions of non-governmental projects in building international relations in post-WWII Asia. I treat the case of one Christian female as an illustration of the role of progressive intellectuals working outside official circles-a much neglected aspect of Japan's mid-twentieth century foreign relations.

Recommended citation: Vanessa B. Ward, "Lifelong homework": Chō Takeda Kiyoko's unofficial diplomacy and postwar Japan-Asia relations, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 30 No 3, July 25, 2011.

  Read more . . .