The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 37 2011  
September 12, 2011  
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In This Issue


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C. Douglas Lummis, The United States and Terror on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11



11 September 2011 marks ten years since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC.  However, I would also like to call attention to the date, 20 September, which marks ten years since the United States entered its present condition of perpetual war.  It was on 20 September 2001 that then U.S. President George W. Bush declared the opening of the "war on terror."


Delivering the "War on Terror" speech to Congress
It was this announcement, not the 9/11 attacks, that radically changed U.S. foreign policy and the nature of U.S. wars. Before 9/11 (non-state) terrorism had been treated as a crime, to be dealt with by police and the courts.  By declaring a "war on terror", Bush was announcing that thenceforth it would be dealt with by the military. To grasp the significance of this, it is useful to recall the difference between what police officers do, and what soldiers do.

C. Douglas Lummis, a former US Marine stationed on Okinawa, is the author of Radical Democracy and other books in Japanese and English. A Japan Focus associate, he formerly taught at Tsuda College.

Recommended citation: C. Douglas Lummis, 'The United States and Terror on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 4, September 12, 2011.

 Read more . . .
Jon Mitchell, US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange

On August 19th, 2011, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in response to recent media coverage about the US military's use and storage of defoliants (including Agent Orange) on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. MOFA announced that, although it had requested the US Department of Defense to investigate these allegations, Washington had replied that it was unable to find any evidence from the period in question. As a result, Tokyo asked the US government to re-check its records in more detail.1 This was the first time that the Japanese government had asked the US about military defoliants since 2007 - and its refusal to accept the Pentagon's stock denial was rare. The current announcement arose after two weeks of unprecedented press reports which alleged that these chemicals had been widely used on Okinawa during the 1960s and '70s.

With fresh revelations coming to light on a regular basis, this is still a rapidly developing issue. However in this paper, I will attempt to unravel the situation as it currently stands. Starting with a brief overview of the role of Okinawa during the Vietnam War and the military's use of defoliants during the conflict, I will then explore the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rulings of 1998 and 2009 that appeared to offer official recognition of the presence of these defoliants on the island. Following this, I will summarize US veterans' accounts of their experiences handling these defoliants on Okinawa - including their transportation, storage, spraying and burial. In conclusion, I will assess the obstacles that these veterans and Okinawan residents face in winning an admission from the Pentagon - plus possible signs of hope that, while difficult, such an acknowledgement is achievable.

Jon Mitchell is a Welsh-born writer based in Yokohama and represented by Curtis Brown Ltd., New York. He has written widely on Okinawan social issues for the Japanese and American press. Currently, he teaches at Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, 'US Military Defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 5, September 12, 2011.

Read more . . .

Fujioka Atsushi, Understanding the Ongoing Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima: A "Two-Headed Dragon" Descends into the Earth's Biosphere

The author assesses the Fukushima nuclear disaster in light of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hanford, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the nexus between nuclear weapons and nuclear power.

Fujioka Atsushi, the author, is Professor of Economics, Ritsumeikan University and Planning Director, Kyoto Museum for World Peace. He is a specialist on the US nuclear economy, space and intelligence strategy, and economic conversion from military to civilian-oriented industry.

Michael Bourdaghs, the translator, is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature, University of Chicago. He is the author of The Dawn That Never Comes: Shimazaki Toson and Japanese Nationalism, and editor of The Linguistic Turn in Contemporary Japanese Literary Studies: Textuality, Language, Politics.

Recommended citation: Fujioka Atsushi, 'Understanding the Ongoing Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima: A "Two-Headed Dragon" Descends into the Earth's Biosphere,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 3, September 12, 2011.

Read more . . .

Roger Pulvers & John Junkerman, Remembering Victims of Agent Orange in the Shadow of 9/11

As the drum rolls sound once again for those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Roger Pulvers has provided a poignant reminder of those other, far more numerous, victims the United States has left in the wake of its wars overseas. In particular, the victims of the dioxin-contaminated herbicide Agent Orange, whose suffering continues decades after the Vietnam War ended.

August 2011 was the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the American herbicide-spraying campaign in Vietnam, and the anniversary was well marked. An international conference of Agent Orange victims was held in Hanoi (link) with participants from more than 20 countries, it reflected the wide geographical and generational scope of the contamination. As Jon Mitchell's reporting on Agent Orange in Okinawa demonstrates, we still do not know the full extent of the environmental damage. The 50th anniversary also saw the introduction of new legislation in the US Congress to provide much-delayed relief to victims of Agent Orange in the US and Vietnam.

Roger Pulvers is an American-born Australian author, playwright, theatre director and translator living in Japan. An Asia-Pacific Journal associate, 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. He will talk, sponsored by The Japan Society, London, on October 24 on "The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn: How did this Greek-Irishman conquer Japan?"

John Junkerman is an American documentary filmmaker and Asia-Pacific Journal associate living in Tokyo. His film, "Japan's Peace Constitution" (2005), won the Kinema Jumpo and Japan PEN Club best documentary awards. It is available in North America from Icarus Films.

Recommended citation: Roger Pulvers and John Junkerman, 'Remembering Victims of Agent Orange in the Shadow of 9/11,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 2, September 12, 2011.

Read more . . .
David Adam Stott, Would An Independent West Papua Be A Failing State?

"Where it cuts across the island of New Guinea, the 141st meridian east remains one of colonial cartography's more arbitrary yet effective of boundaries."


On July 9, 2011 another irrational colonial border that demarcated Sudan was consigned to history when South Sudan achieved independence. In the process an often seemingly irrevocable principle of decolonisation, that boundaries inherited from colonial entities should remain sacrosanct, has been challenged once again. Indeed, a cautious trend in international relations has been to support greater self-determination for 'nations' without awarding full statehood. Yet Kosovo is another state whose recent independence has been recognised by most major players in the international community. In West Papua's case, the territory's small but growing elite had been preparing for independence from the Netherlands in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and Dutch plans envisaged full independence by 1970. However, in 1962 Cold War realpolitik intervened and the United States engineered a transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia under the auspices of the United Nations. To Indonesian nationalists their revolution became complete since West New Guinea had previously been part of the larger colonial unit of the Netherlands East Indies, which had realised its independence as Indonesia in 1949. In West New Guinea, most Papuans felt betrayed by the international community and have been campaigning for a proper referendum on independence ever since. This article examines the Papua-Indonesian relationship and assesses the future of Papua.

David Adam Stott is an associate professor at the University of Kitakyushu, Japan and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. His work centers on the political economy of conflict and development in Southeast Asia, Japan's relations with the region, and natural resource issues in the Asia-Pacific.


Recommended citation: David Adam Stott, "Would An Independent West Papua Be A Failing State?," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 37 No 1, September 12, 2011.

Read more . . .