The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 1. 2012   

January 2, 2012   
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue
Greetings in the Dragon Year!

Thank you to the many who have supported our campaign. Snow or sleet, this is the final week of our fundraising appeal to allow us to continue to make Asia-Pacific Journal available to all at no charge. We've  reached $9,100 toward our target of $10,000. We take a certain pride in our coverage of events in Fukushima and Tohoku over the last year and urge you to have a look at what we've done. Your support will allow us to continue to expand post-3.11 coverage of Japan and the Asia-Pacific in the coming year as Japan continues to face the gravest challenges since its defeat in war nearly seven decades ago. 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. We'd dearly like to wrap this up this week. Is it possible? To contribute, click on the above hot link, or go to our   
home page.

We continue to prioritize writing on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster, in important instances providing both English and Japanese texts that enable us to communicate better with people on the ground in Japan. See Gayle Greene's important article on Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima. Tom Gill provides a closeup portrait of Japan's homeless men. Breaking the gloom is Roger Pulvers and Lucy Pulvers Night on the Milky Way Train: Miyazawa Kenji's Space Oddysey.

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:    


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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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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. 
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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 

Gayle Greene, Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima


It is one of the marvels of our time that the nuclear industry managed to resurrect itself from its ruins at the end of the last century, when it crumbled under its costs, inefficiencies, and mega-accidents.    Chernobyl released hundreds of times the radioactivity of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined, contaminating more than 40% of Europe and the entire Northern Hemisphere.  But along came the nuclear lobby to breathe new life into the industry, passing off as "clean" this energy source that polluted half the globe.  The "fresh look at nuclear"-in the words of a New York Times makeover piece (May 13, 2006)-paved the way to a "nuclear Renaissance" in the United States that Fukushima has by no means brought to a halt. 

That mainstream media have been powerful advocates for nuclear power comes as no surprise.  "The media are saturated with a skilled, intensive, and effective advocacy campaign by the nuclear industry, resulting in disinformation" and "wholly counterfactual accounts...widely believed by otherwise sensible people," states the 2010-2011 World Nuclear Industry Status Report by Worldwatch Institute.  What is less well understood is the nature of the "evidence" that gives the nuclear industry its mandate, Cold War science which, with its reassurances about low-dose radiation risk, is being used to quiet alarms about Fukushima and to stonewall new evidence that would call a halt to the industry.

Gayle Greene examines the role of the media as cheerleader for nuclear power from the 1950s to the present, with particular emphasis on the New York Times before and after Japan's 3.11 disaster.

Gayle Greene is Professor of English at Scripps College. She is the author of
The Woman Who Knew Too Much: Alice Stewart and the Secrets of Radiation, a biography of pioneering British radiation epidemiologist and anti-nuclear guru Alice Stewart, and  "Alice Stewart and Richard Doll:  Reputation and the Shaping of Scientific 'Truth'," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, autumn 2011, 504-31.

Recommended citation: Gayle Greene, 'Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima,'
The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 1 No 3, January 2, 2012.


Read more . . .
Tom Gill, Failed Manhood on the Streets of Urban Japan: The Meanings of Self-Reliance for Homeless Men

The two questions Japanese people most often ask about the homeless people they see around them are "Why are there any homeless people here in Japan?" and "Why are they nearly all men?" Answering those two simple questions will, I believe, lead us in fruitful directions for understanding both homelessness and masculinity in contemporary Japan.

The first question is not quite as naive as it might sound. After all, article twenty-five of Japan's constitution clearly promises that "All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living," and the 1952 Livelihood Protection Law is there to see that the promise is kept. For many years the government refused to address the issue of homelessness on grounds that it was already covered by existing welfare provisions. The second question, usually based on the evidence of visual observation, may be slightly more naive than it sounds, since homeless women may have good reason for staying away from areas where there are many homeless men and thus are not necessarily immediately noticeable. Nonetheless, there is abundant quantitative data suggesting that at least 95% of homeless people, in the narrowly-defined sense of people not living in housing or shelter, are men. Men are I believe more likely than women to become homeless in all industrialized countries,2 but nowhere is the imbalance quite as striking as in Japan.

Thus the two questions I raised are closely related. Livelihood protection (seikatsu hogo) is designed to pay the rent on a small apartment and provide enough money to cover basic living expenses. People living on the streets, parks and riverbanks may be assumed to be not getting livelihood protection, which means in turn that they have not applied for it, or they have applied and been turned down, or they have been approved but then lost their eligibility. And since most of the people concerned are men, our inquiry leads us toward a consideration of Japanese men's relationship with the welfare system.

This article provides a close up portrait of five homeless men in Japan.

Tom Gill is a professor of social anthropology in the Faculty of International Studies at Meiji Gakuin University. He has written extensively in Japanese and English on the lives of underclass men in urban Japan, including Men of Uncertainty: The Social Organization of Day Laborers in Contemporary Japan (SUNY Press). His current research centers on comparative studies of the British and American underclass.
Recommended citation: Tom Gill, 'Failed Manhood on the Streets of Urban Japan: The Meanings of Self-Reliance for Homeless Men,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 1 No 2, January 2, 2012.

Read more . . .
Roger Pulvers, Night on the Milky Way Train: Miyazawa Kenji's Space Odyssey

Although Miyazawa Kenji did not start writing Night on the Milky Way Train until sometime in 1924, it is clear that the event that gave him the idea for the novel and, curiously, the strength to complete it, had taken place some two years earlier, on 27 November 1922, to be precise.  This was the day his beloved little sister, Toshi, died, age 24.  It was Kenji's way to accompany her on the journey he described in the first two lines of his poem "The Morning of Last Farewell"...

O my little sister
Who will travel so far on this day

Kenji worked on the story for at least seven years, probably nine, up to his own death in 1933, leaving a manuscript that was published for the first time the following year.  Since then it has become Japan's greatest children's classic, akin in Japan in stature and renown to Wind in the Willows or Charlotte's Web.

Roger Pulvers introduces a new translation of the story with illustrations by Lucy Pulvers.

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.

Artist Lucy Pulvers, who has loved Night on the Milky Way Train since she was little growing up in Japan, has created remarkable pen and ink drawings, highlighted with color, that take the reader on a spectacular visual journey.

Recommended citation: Roger Pulvers, 'Night on the Milky Way Train: Miyazawa Kenji's Space Odyssey,'
The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 1 No 1, January 2, 2012.

Read more . . .