The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 39 2011  
September 26, 2011  
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue


Our home page has two new features. One is a guide to the more than 100 articles we have published on the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power meltdown which is transforming Japan and reshaping issues of nuclear power globally. Secondly, the list of articles now indicates all articles available in Japanese translation or original, as well as other languages.

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.

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Hirose Takashi, Japan's Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster Syndrome: An Unprecedented Form of Catastrophe


The seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko (presently Emeritus Professor at Kobe University) predicted that a nuclear power plant accident like the present one was possible, and issued warnings from the late '90s.  People had been warning of the danger of earthquake-caused nuclear accidents since the 1970s, but Ishibashi, from the specialized standpoint of seismology, proposed a new concept, which he called genpatsu shinsai [Translator's note: this expression literally means Nuclear-Power-Plant-Earthquake Disaster.  As there is no English expression for this (the phenomenon itself is new) in this work we will render it as genpatsu shinsai syndrome.]. By this he meant a situation in which, as the damage from the earthquake widens, the situation is made doubly worse by nuclear radiation damage. It was in the hope of preventing this that he was issuing warnings. Ishibashi wrote many books on this, including Daichidouran no Jidai (The Age of Shifting Earth) (Iwanami Shinsho) and he is a very well-known scholar, so it is impossible that his warnings were unknown to the officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). 


I myself published in August of last year (2010) Genshiro Jigen Bakudan - Daijishin ni Obieru Nihonretto (Nuclear Reactor Time Bomb - The Japanese Archipelago under the Danger of Great Earthquakes) (Diamond) in which I tried to give the warnings of Ishibashi and others a wider audience, and to call for preventive measures to be taken against a genpatsu shinsai syndrome.


Excerpted from Chapter One of Hirose Takashi's newly translated e-book, Fukushima Meltdown: The World's First Earthquake-Tsunami Nuclear Disaster (Kindle Books). Translated by a team headed by C. Douglas Lummis.

Recommended citation: Hirose Takashi, 'Japan's Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster Syndrome: An Unprecedented Form of Catastrophe,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 1, September 26, 2011.



Read more . . .
Chris Busby and Mark Selden, Fukushima Children at Risk of Heart Disease
(Japanese translation available)

In the six months since the March 11 earthquake tsunami and nuclear power meltdown, a large body of evidence has been produced (and much suppressed) documenting the vast quantities of radiation emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as well as other contaminants from ruined factories and farms: into the air, into the water, and into the soil in the vicinity of the incident, throughout Northeast Japan and beyond. For example, on April 11, the Nuclear Safety Commission announced that the Fukushima Daiichi plant, "in the first hours after the accident, was emitting as much as 10,000 terabecquerels of radiation per hour (one terabecquerel = one trillion becquerels)." On September 9, the Asahi cited a preliminary report by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency that between March 21 and April 30 the plant emitted more than 15 quadrillion becquerels of radioactivity into the sea. The figure was three times that provided earlier by TEPCO. The report concluded further that 11.4 quadrillion becquerels of iodine-131 and 3.6 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 had been leaked into the sea. This interview and discussion assesses the risk of  radiation to Fukushima's children with special reference to heart disease in light of evidence from Chernobyl.

Chris Busby, a chemical physicist, is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) and a visiting professor at the University of Ulster.

Mark Selden is a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal and Senior Research Associate, East Asia Program, Cornell University.

Recommended citation: Chris Busby, 'Fukushima Children at Risk of Heart Disease,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 4, September 26, 2011.

Read more . . .
Nakaima Hirokazu, An Irreparable Rift in Okinawa/Japan/US Relations Would Result From Forceful Construction of Henoko Base

This is Okinawa's Governor Nakaima Hirokazu's speech at George Washington University on September 19, 2011 on the relocation of the Futenma Base and its implications for US-Japan-Okinawa relations.   The English version is followed by a Japanese summary

Recommended citation: Nakaima Hirokazu, 'Okinawa Governor Nakaima: an Irreparable Rift in Okinawa/Japan/US Relations Would Result From Forceful Construction of Henoko Base 仲井真沖縄知事: 辺野古基地の強行は沖縄・日米関係に修復不能の亀裂を残す,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 2, September 26, 2011.

 Read more . . .


Philip Brasor, "Public Anger," Power, and the Rule of Japanese Elites
(Japanese translation follows)

Hachiro Yoshio's stint as the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in the new Noda Yoshihiko administration was not the briefest cabinet assignment on record, but it was certainly one of the most controversial. News outlets reported that it was "public outrage" over two remarks he made which forced Hachiro to quit. In the absence of evidence, we have to take their word for it.

One of the remarks, that the area around the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor was a "town of death," supposedly offended the people who had been evacuated from the region, but the media have been describing the place in similar terms for months now. The Japanese Twittersphere is still buzzing that it wasn't the public that was offended by Hachiro's remark but rather Tokyo Electric Power Company, which is still working out a payment system for residents harmed by the accident. Hachiro stated at his news conference when he assumed the METI position that "in principle" he would work to phase out nuclear energy.

The author locates the incident within the framework of contemporary Japanese elite politics.

Philip Brasor is a Japan Times columnist. He blogs at
Recommended citation: Phillip Brasor, '"Public Anger," Power, and the Rule of Japanese Elites,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 3, September 26, 2011.

 Read more . . .
Jeff Kingston, Ousting Kan Naoto: The Politics of Nuclear Crisis and Renewable Energy in Japan

On August 26, 2011, Prime Minister Kan Naoto resigned from office after a tempestuous fifteen months in power. Since May 2011 a virtual lynch mob egged on by the media bayed for his resignation. Kan's ouster became an obsession of the nation's powerbrokers. This article examines why, in the midst of an unprecedented cascade of disasters, natural and nuclear, the Kan problem trumped all others.

The fiercely partisan politics of the complex Tōhoku catastrophe has slowed action on recovery and discredited politicians of all political stripes.2 The public views Diet members with growing contempt because too many politicians seem to have prioritized petty party politics over reconstruction and safety of the victims. In early June 2011, while nearly 100,000 evacuees languished in evacuation centers, and with relatively little progress towards recovery in many battered coastal communities or controlling the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, the Diet devoted its energy to a no-confidence motion to oust Prime Minister Kan Naoto. Naturally, the public was dismayed by this unproductive vendetta at a time when the nation was looking for substantial emergency measures. Polls taken at the time of the no-confidence motion showed that a vast majority of Japanese did not think ousting Kan was a pressing priority even though he was unpopular. In the court of public opinion, the verdict on national politicians is dereliction of duty.

This article assessing the political drama of post-3.11 Japan and the Kan era as prime minister.

Jeff Kingston is Director of Asian Studies, Temple University (Japan Campus) and a Japan Focus associate. He is the author of Japan's Quiet Transformation: Social Change and Civil Society in the 21st Century and Contemporary Japan: History, Politics, and Social Change since the 1980s.

Recommended citation: Jeff Kingston, 'Ousting Kan Naoto: The Politics of Nuclear Crisis and Renewable Energy in Japan,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 39 No 5, September 26, 2011.

 Read more . . .