The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 45. 2011  
November 7, 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. Coming this week. In addition, we have added a guide to some of the most important, and liveliest, online and print sources on 3.11 including blogs and websites. Secondly, the list of articles now indicates all articles available in Japanese translation or original, as well as other languages. Please draw the attention of colleagues and friends to our comprehensive coverage of 3.11.

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.

We encourage those who wish continuing coverage of the earthquake and aftermath to follow Fukushima on Twitter!/FukushimaEng and the English and Japanese coverage on the Peace Philosophy Facebook page: 


More than fifteen hundred people now follow Focus through Twitter or Facebook and their numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on our home page:  


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We invite authors, publishers and directors to bring their books, films and events on East Asia and the Pacific to the attention of our readers. See the home page for information about presenting relevant books and films at our site and for examples of authors, publishers and filmmakers who are presenting their work at the Journal. 

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tammy ko Robinson, South Korea's 300 Day Aerial Sit-in Strike Highlights Plight of Precarious Workers in Korea and the Philippines


November 1 marks the passage of day 300 of the aerial sit-in strike being waged by Kim Jin-suk.  The former employee of Hanjin and current Direction Committee member for the Busan chapter of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and other union members face subzero temperatures and enforcement fines of one million won per day. Currently, management and labor are reviewing a parliamentary proposal to reinstate laid-off workers, as numbers continue to grow supporting "A World without Redundancy Dismissals & Precarious Work." The case, and the solidarity movement it prompted, illuminates issues of precarious, contract and migrant labor in South Korea, the Philippines, Germany the United States and beyond.


From atop the No. 85 crane's cab 35 meters above Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction's (HHIC) Yeongdo Shipbuilding Yard in Busan, Kim Jin-suk has been protesting the company's Dec. 15, 2010 announcement of a reduction in force plan, supported on the ground by the Korean Metal Workers' Federation (KMWU).

Not long after HHIC gave notice to workers, the company's shareholders received dividends of 17.4 billion Won, more than three times the combined annual salaries of the 170 dismissed workers who have refused to comply. Over the past decade HHIC has made profits of 430 billion Won, and bought 15 billion Won in shares in another company. During the January strike, management reportedly fired 290 manufacturing workers.



tammy ko Robinson is a Professor at Hanyang University, and contributor to The Hankyoreh.

Recommended citation: tammy ko Robinson, 'South Korea's 300 Day Aerial Sit-in Strike Highlights Plight of Precarious Workers in Korea and the Philippines,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 4, August 1, 2011.  


 Read more . . .
Andrew DeWit, Fallout From the Fukushima Shock: Japan's Emerging Energy Policy

Japan's tragic March 11 earthquake, tsunami and its continuing nuclear crisis struck in the midst of the world's unfolding financial, economic, environmental and energy crises. The Fukushima Shock is drastically reshaping Japan's energy policy and politics. This opportunity for change is being seized by a rapidly expanding coalition of large Japanese and foreign firms, small and medium businesses, subnational governments, farmers, NPOs, and others. Their interests are united and focused by the feed-in tariff policy championed by former PM Kan Naoto. They are further channeled and reinforced by the YEN 23 trillion commitment for the 10-year rebuild of Tohoku, a project committed to renewables and smart-city infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Japan's central government is adrift, its fiscal and regulatory tools blunted by a continuing rearguard action to undermine renewables and keep nuclear as the main pillar of Japan's power economy. The clash between contending energy regimes is being played out at the international level as well, and remains very fluid and difficult to predict. What is certain is that it involves strikingly different political coalitions and implies equally contrasting infrastructure choices, institutions and ideas. In Japan, the challenge is whether to protect a monopolized, centralized, expensive, and probably cul de sac power economy or opt to innovate a potentially world-beating decentralized smart-power economy. The evidence suggests Japan risks forfeiting an historic opportunity if renewable power generation does not become the main pillar of an emerging, smart power economy.

Andrew DeWit is Professor of the Political Economy of Public Finance, School of Policy Studies, Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Kaneko Masaru, he is the coauthor of Global Financial Crisis published by Iwanami.

Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, 'Fallout From the Fukushima Shock: Japan's Emerging Energy Policy,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 5, November 7, 2011.

Read more . . .
Joshua Roth, Who Should Bear the Burden of US Bases? Governor Nakaima's Plea for a "Relocation Site Outside of Okinawa Prefecture, but within Japan"

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, one cannot help but ask why Japanese authorities long promoted an ambitious nuclear program that included over fifty reactors spread all over one of the most seismically active geological zones in the world, vulnerable not only to earthquakes but also to devastating tsunamis. However, other technological systems have been adopted in Japan and elsewhere despite their inherent dangers and high cost, and have come to be taken for granted as intrinsic to modern life. A comparison of nuclear power and the system of automobility raises the question of how people come to embrace different kinds of technological and social systems, and what sort of event or tipping point may push people in new directions. No one ever asks why the Japanese government has promoted the system of mass automobility. Yet since the 1960s, more than 500,000 people in Japan have died in traffic accidents. This is far more than the number of those who have died as a result of natural disasters over the same period of time. The number of Japanese injured in traffic accidents over those decades reaches almost 40 million.


Oe Kenzaburo highlights the particular tragedy of Japan's embrace of nuclear power in light of the history of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the fallout from the Bikini testing of the hydrogen bomb. In these cases, many Japanese were able to mentally compartmentalize the civilian use of nuclear energy from its military use in the form of bombs, with the help of the US-promoted "Atoms for Peace" campaign. In the case of automobiles, where the byproduct of death, injury, and pollution was quite evident from the very start, the allure of individualized mobility, and of profits for automobile manufacturers and construction companies, proved irresistible. Although the fatality rate has declined from 21 per 100,000 population in 1970 to 4.5 per 100,000 by 2009, the total number of fatalities remains substantial at 5,772 in 2009. How has this level of fatalities come to be considered acceptable collateral damage to the system of automobility in Japan and elsewhere?.

At a time when Japanese politicians and citizens are intently reconsidering the human costs associated with nuclear power and other energy alternatives, Joshua Hotaka Roth suggests the importance for Japan, and many others, to review the human and social costs associated with automobile culture.


Joshua Hotaka Roth is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College and the author of Brokered Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Migrants in Japan.


Recommended citation: Joshua Hotaka Roth, 'Harmonizing Cars and Humans in Japan's Era of Mass Automobility,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 3, November 7, 2011.

 Read more . . .
Annmaria Shimabuku,  Who Should Bear the Burden of US Bases? Governor Nakaima's Plea for a "Relocation Site Outside of Okinawa Prefecture, but within Japan" 

This article provides a genealogy of the argument for kengai isetsu, or the relocation of US military bases outside of Okinawa to another part of Japan. It shows how kengai isetsu has been reduced to a politics of NIMBY, or "Not In My Back Yard" when understood through a politically conservative vs. progressive grid of intelligibility. Instead, a colonial vs. anticolonial reading informed by postcolonial studies is offered to show how kengai isetsu reveals Okinawa as the lynchpin holding together the US-Japanese security relationship. In particular, this paper problematizes the reluctance on the part of international and Japanese progressive activists and intellectuals to criticize Japan's role in maintaining US military bases in Okinawa because of the deeply entrenched desire to posit Japan as a passive victim of American power, thereby maintaining the Eurocentric position of the US as the more aggressive agent.

Annmaria Shimabuku is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside in the Department of Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages. She is 

currently working on her book Securing Okinawa for Miscegenation. She is the author of several articles and book chapters in English and Japanese including "Petitioning Subjects: Miscegenation and the Crisis of Sovereignty in Okinawa, 1945-1952." Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.  


Recommended citation: Annmaria Shimabuku, 'Who Should Bear the Burden of US Bases? Governor Nakaima's Plea for a "Relocation Site Outside of Okinawa Prefecture, but within Japan"    アメリカで県外移設を訴える仲井真知事,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 1, November 7, 2011.

 Read more . . .
Simon Cotterill, Documenting Urban Indigeneity: TOKYO Ainu and the 2011 survey on the living conditions of Ainu outside Hokkaido

If acknowledged at all, Japan's indigenous population the Ainu are usually represented as a rural, exotic group, bound to ancestral homes in Hokkaido and the Northern territories. Yet, large numbers of Ainu, perhaps even the majority of their population, now live in urban centres outside Hokkaido. The recent documentary TOKYO Ainu challenges traditional, detrimental representations of Ainu culture as solely rural and sedentary, and records the complex contemporaneous reality of urban indigeneity lived by those Ainu within Greater Tokyo. This article firstly reports the main themes of the film. It then compares the relative success of TOKYO Ainu in broadening discourse and understanding of Ainu identity to the Japanese government's recent living conditions survey released this year.   

Recommended citation: Simon Cotterill, 'Documenting Urban Indigeneity: TOKYO Ainu and the 2011 survey on the living conditions of Ainu outside Hokkaido,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 2, November 7, 2011.

 Read more . . .