The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 40 2011  
October 3, 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. Articles are arranged topically and will shortly be supplemented by a guide to other sources. 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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Gavan McCormack and Norimatsu Satoko, Discordant Visitors: Japanese and Okinawan Messages to the US


Governments come and go in Japan, Noda Yoshihiko's the most recent, being the third since the general elections of 30 August 2009 brought the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to power, following those of Hatoyama Yukio and Kan Naoto. In the weeks following his assumption of office, Noda has stated his core vision for the office on many occasions, including his inaugural Diet speech as Prime Minister on 13 September. He promises to confirm, deepen, and strengthen the alliance with the US, "the axis of Japan foreign policy and security." That means, above all else, he will construct the base for the Marine Corps in northern Okinawa designed to substitute for the Futenma base that squats dangerously in the middle of the township of Ginowan.

The fact is, however, that for the past 15 years a series of Prime Ministers - seven of the LDP and three of the DPJ1 - have tried without success to accomplish this. Inter-governmental agreements on the "Futenma Replacement Facility" have been made, postponed, revised, and postponed again (1996, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011), mostly because of the constant opposition in Okinawa, and Noda is no more likely than his predecessors to resolve the issue. The Okinawan opposition has grown steadily more determined over those fifteen years, especially the last two, since the DPJ took power promising to transfer Futenma base outside of Okinawa and then reneged on its promise. So Noda takes office pledging to do the impossible, and therefore is almost guaranteed to join the conga line of Prime Ministers jigging offstage after the others in the near future.

This article locates the issue of Okinawa base construction at the heart of the troubled US-Japan relationship and explains how it has been possible for the Okinawan resistance to thwart the demands of Washington and Tokyo on base construction for more than fifteen years.

Gavan McCormack and Norimatsu Satoko are co-ordinators of The Asia-Pacific Journal. Gavan McCormack is an emeritus professor at Australian National University and Norimatsu Satoko is director of the Peace Philosophy Centre in Vancouver, B.C. They are currently engaged in writing a book on the Okinawa problem.

Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack and Norimatsu Satoko, 'Discordant Visitors: Japanese and Okinawan Messages to the US,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 40 No 1, October 3, 2011.



 Read more . . .
APJ Feature, What are the Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown? Japanese Press Assessments

In a September 21 editorial, the Mainichi Shimbun called into question statements of government spokesmen suggesting that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors are well on their way to stabilization. They point out that a rise in temperature in one of the cores is still possible, calling into question the optimistic forecasts of officialdom. The Mainichi editors also remind readers that the location of melted core materials cannot be precisely determined, making any claims of a sustainable cool down premature.  Another Mainichi piece has drawn attention to a different facet of Fukushima Daiichi instability - cracks in the containment structures. It is estimated that between 200 and 500 cubic meters of contaminated water is leaking out daily. The Tokyo Shimbun has also picked up the contaminated water story and argues that TEPCO simply does not know for sure how much water is being released per day.
An Asahi Shimbun article by staff writer Ishizuka Hiroshi puts forward the newspaper's calculations that an area of over 8000 square kilometers has cesium 137 levels of 30,000 becquerels per square meter or more. This is, of course, an extremely serious situation for the people of Fukushima. But the Asahi puts it into comparative perspective, estimating that "The affected area is one-18th of about 145,000 square kilometers contaminated with cesium 137 levels of 37,000 becquerels per square meter or more following the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union." In other words, the area is barely five percent of the comparably affected Chernobyl disaster area.

This article surveys major issues and controversies concerning the meltdown covered by the Japanese press.

 Read more . . .
Kyoko Selden, Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Messages from Hibakusha: An Introduction

In September 2011 the Asahi Shimbun added an English language webpage to the Japanese language site, launched in November 2010, introducing Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors' memoirs, "Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Messages from Hibakusha" (広島・長崎の記憶−−被爆者からのメッセージ , link).

The project, which provides vivid memoirs and reflections of the atomic bombing and its aftermath, goes back to 2005 when the Asahi sent out "Sixtieth Year Questionnaires" to over 40,000 Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors who were then reachable. Of these, 13,204 people responded. The questionnaire consisted of multiple choice and essay-type questions, formulated with the assistance of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization, Hiroshima University, and Nagasaki University. It also provided a "message area." The original Japanese language "Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" site mostly consists of those messages attached to the questionnaire. The respondents included nine people who experienced the bombing in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The questionnaire revealed that nearly 90 percent of the respondents felt insecure about their health and that nearly 80 percent constantly recalled their bomb experiences in their daily lives (link).

This article introduces the site and some of the respondents.

Kyoko Selden is the coeditor and translator of The Atomic Bomb: Voices From Hiroshima and Nagasaki and translation coordinator for The Asia-Pacific Journal.

Recommended citation: Kyoko Selden, 'Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Messages from Hibakusha: An Introduction,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 41 No 1, October 10, 2011.

Read more . . .