The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 51. 2011  

December 19, 2011  
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue

We're now into the final weeks of our annual fundraising appeal to allow us to continue to make Asia-Pacific Journal available to all at no charge. We've  reached $6,900 toward our target of $10,000 which will allow us to continue to expand post-3.11 coverage of Japan and the Asia-Pacific and to operate for the coming year. Thanks to readers, authors and associates who have already responded to our appeal. We hope you will join them. We ask that you consider a donation of $25, $50, $100. To contribute, click on the above hot link, or  
go to our home page.

This week we demonstrate what the journal can provide with three pathbreaking pieces from Japan on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster, all available in both English and Japanese. We feature the demand by former PM Hatoyama Yukio and colleagues in 'Team B' for nationalization of TEPCO to permit full disclosure of what the corporation and government have thus far hidden, and perhaps to bring Japan's nuclear genii under control. Hatoyama documents TEPCO's stonewalling from 3.11 to the present. Hirose Takashi's three hour lecture on Japan's nuclear power policies with English subtitles offers a comprehensive critique. Norimatsu Satoko examines the data on the radioactive leaks from Fukushima and their significance. Meanwhile, the Japanese government this week made spurious claims that TEPCO has achieved a 'cold shut down' of the plants, resulting in increased rather than decreased fears among Japanese.

Library subscriptions, permitting unlimited duplication of Focus articles, are available at $40/year to institutions. If you use Focus in courses, please contact us about an institutional subscription at our website. You can also support the Journal by buying books through our Amazon account by clicking on a book cover on our home page or in an article. A small payment for any book ordered (not just those listed here) when placing your order is credited to the Journal.

Our home page has two new features. One is a regularly updated guide to the more than 100 articles we have published on the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power meltdown which is transforming Japanese politics and society, and is reshaping issues of nuclear power and energy policy in that nation and globally. Articles are arranged topically. 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 and widely read 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" offers 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. Find it at the top of the homepage.

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


More than 5,000 people now subscribe to Focus including 1,800 who follow us  through Twitter or Facebook, and their numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on our home page:    


Growing numbers of colleges and universities are subscribing to the journal for use in classes. If you or colleagues wish to incorporate Asia-Pacific Journal articles into courses, please encourage your library to join subscribers on three continents by taking out a subscription to the journal. The rate is $40/year for unlimited access to, and reproduction of, all articles. Please contact your reference librarian and provide us with an e-ddress to contact and send an invoice. Please send the information to

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. 

Thanks to readers who subscribe or become sustainers of the Journal, and who order books and other items through Amazon via our website. A small portion of the sales of books and any other products purchased when accessing the Amazon site through one of the book logos on our home page go to the Journal at no cost to you.   
Contact Japan Focus by email at

To access our full archive with more than 2,000 articles, and to view the most widely read articles through their titles or via our index, go here. 
Subscription information
We have begun our fundraising appeal to allow us to continue to make Asia-Pacific Journal available to all at no charge. $10,000 will allow us to continue to expand post-3.11 coverage of Japan and the Asia-Pacific and to operate for the coming year.  We invite supporters, authors and readers who find the journal useful to join our sustainers by making a small contribution to support technical upgrades, defray technical, mailing and maintenance fees, and help us to expand outreach. As we have expanded our output since the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami, our costs have risen sharply. Recommended support level: $25 ($10 for students and residents of developing countries); $40 for institutions including libraries, research centers, government offices. If you experience difficulty in subscribing, write to us with the error message at 

 Taira Tomoyuki, Hatoyama Yukio, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress & Arjun Makhijani, Nuclear Energy: Nationalize the Fukushima Daiichi Atomic Plant



Only by bringing the nuclear power station into government hands can scientists find out what really happened, say Taira Tomoyuki and Hatoyama Yukio.


Events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami are of crucial importance for the future of atomic energy - in Japan and globally. To respond adequately to the accident, we have to know precisely what happened then and what is continuing to happen now.

To establish the facts, all the evidence and counter-evidence for what might have taken place must be gathered and made public. Only then will the world be able to have faith in the containment plan developed by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), or be able to judge how it should be modified.

Exactly how much damage the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant sustained as a result of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami remains to be determined. Japan's former Prime Minister calls for nationalization of TEPCO as the first step to ascertain the truth and forge a responsible policy toward Fukushima Daiichi and nuclear power.

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is a Research Scientist at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is a specialist on nuclear disarmament and on aspects of global proliferation of fissile materials. He holds a PhD in high energy physics from Carleton University, Canada, specializing in ultra-low radioactivity background detectors.

Arjun Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research ( He holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley and has produced many studies on nuclear fuel cycle related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste, over the past twenty years.

Recommended citation: Taira Tomoyuki and Hatoyama Yukio with Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress and Arjun Makhijani, 'Nuclear Energy: Nationalize the Fukushima Daiichi Atomic Plant,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 51 No 2, December 19, 2011.


Read more . . .
Hirose Takashi and C. Douglas Lummis, Farewell to Nuclear Power - A Lecture on Fukushima

Many people in Japan have understood for years that the country's nuclear power industry was heading for catastrophe; few people have worked as hard or as passionately to prevent that catastrophe as Hirose Takashi.  Since the early 1980s he has written a shelf of books, mostly on that subject.  The first to attract notice was his Tokyo ni, Genpatsu wo! (Nuclear Plants in Tokyo! [1981]), a reductio ad absurdum of the nuke promoters' argument: if they are so safe, why not put them in the center of the city, rather than hundreds of miles away, forcing you to build expensive and destructive power lines all over the country, which also eat up a vast amount of electricity in the wires?  The book was a bombshell, exposing as it did big-city egoism: we get the electricity, somebody else gets the danger.  The exposť applies to the 3/11 catastrophe: many people haven't noticed the significance of the fact that the plants at Fukushima belong to the Tokyo Electric Co.  The electricity they (used to) generate goes (went) to Tokyo; Fukushima's electricity comes from elsewhere.
Before the catastrophe, Hirose had written that if a nuclear catastrophe ever really happened in Japan, he would go silent.  Of course, he has not been able to do that. Now the worst has happened and, astoundingly! most people don't seem to realize that it has.  Today Hirose is doing the work he hoped he would never have to do, writing article after article, doing interview after interview, travelling around the country on grueling speaking tours, explaining to people the obvious:  yes, this is a genuine nuclear catastrophe, and no, there is no reason to believe that that was the last major earthquake.
The video linked below in our What's Hot section is of a talk Hirose gave on September 11, in Ibaragi Prefecture. 

Read more . . .
Satoko Norimatsu and Matthew Penney, Japan Nuclear Safety Agency: Radioactive Water Leaks to the Ocean 'Zero'

Tokyo Shimbun, which many regard as one of the few Japanese newspapers  that honestly report what is going on at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, ran an important article yesterday, drawing on their own investigative interview with NISA, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, a division of METI, Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. Here is a translation of the report. This is a critical article that calls for further investigation, particularly in the wake of PM Noda's "Cold Shutdown" declaration concerning which questions have been raised by experts and international media (See New York Times, Bloomberg, CNN, Xinhua). According to Geoff Brumfiel at Nature: "the reactors are leaking, and TEPCO must continue to inject water at the rate of around half-a-million litres a day, according to its latest press release. Moreover, the plant continues to pose an environmental risk, as evidenced by a recent leak from a system designed to decontaminate water flowing out from the core." Bloomberg quotes reactor safety expert  Narabayashi Tadashi: "Achieving cold shutdown does not change the condition of the reactors. It does mean the government will start reviewing evacuation zones and perhaps lifting restrictions depending on extent of contamination." He also emphasises that "Work on decommissioning is a long way off. For now, they have to focus on making robots to remove melted fuel and developing new technologies to demolish facilities." With work on bringing Fukushima Daiichi under control far from over, despite the Japanese government's self-congratulatory tone in the "Cold Shutdown" announcement, Tokyo Shimbun's exposť on the lack of official concern for radiocative water leaks seems particularly important. Even if the situation at the plant itself is improving, honest reporting is absolutely necessary as Japan moves from control to clean-up. Here again, Japanese regulators and politicians seem to be falling short.

What's Hot . . . December 18, 2011.

Read more . . .
Tim Beal, Theatre of War and Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula on the Anniversary of the Yeonpyeong Incident

23rd November 2011 was the first anniversary of the artillery exchange between the two Koreas around the island of Yeonpyeong off the west coast of Korea. The artillery battle in 2010 was the first such since the Korean War armistice and brought the peninsula to a state of heightened tension.1 With the Lee Myung-bak administration mulling an invasion of the North in the event of a collapse of the DPRK, a local conflict could easily explode into war. The last year has seen a lopsided arms race with South Korea dramatically increasing its military capabilities on a scale the North cannot match. The South Korean military are under American 'wartime' control, and since for technical reasons as well they cannot engage in war without US support, the Americans would be automatically involved in any war.  A US-ROK invasion of the DPRK would almost certainly force China to intervene, as it did in 1950. A second Sino-US war would have calamitous, consequences. What happened at Yeonpyeong . . . and why? What does it augur for the future of the Korean peninsula and East Asia?

Tim Beal is the author of North Korea: The Struggle Against American Power, Senior Lecturer (emeritus) at Victoria University of Wellington, he is the editor of The Pyongyang Report and an Asia-Pacific Journal Associate.

Recommended citation: Tim Beal, 'Theatre of War and Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula on the Anniversary of the Yeonpyeong Incident,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 51 No 1, December 19, 2011.

 Read more . . .