The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 2. 2012   

January 9, 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. We're pleased to report that your response to our fundraising appeal has been successful and Asia-Pacific Journal available to all readers at no charge. We've  reached 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 allows 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. Of course, it remains possible to contribute if you've not already done so. Click on the above hot link, or go to our   
home page.

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.   
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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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Thank you for your support of our $10,000 fundraising appeal which has enabled us to continue to make Asia-Pacific Journal available to all at no charge and to continue to expand post-3.11 coverage of Japan and the Asia-Pacific and to operate for the coming year.  If you missed the chance to join supporters, authors and readers who find the journal useful by making a contribution to support technical upgrades, defray technical, mailing and maintenance fees, and help us to expand outreach, it is not too late. 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 

Ruediger Frank, North Korea after Kim Jong Il: The Kim Jong Un era and its challenges


In the wake of the media barrage following the death of Kim Jong Il, Ruediger Frank offers a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the issues and prospects for the future of North Korea and the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific.

Ruediger Frank is Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna, Vice Head of Department, and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Korea and did consultancy work for The Elders in preparation for the visit by President Martti Ahtisaari, Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, President Jimmy Carter and President Mary Robinson to the Korean Peninsula and China in 2011.

Recommended citation: Ruediger Frank, 'North Korea after Kim Jong Il: The Kim Jong Un era and its challenges,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 2 No 2, January 9, 2012.


 Read more . . .
Gavan McCormack, Sakurai Kunitoshi, Urashima Etsuko, Okinawa, New Year 2012: Tokyo's Year End Surprise Attack

We present two Okinawan accounts of the events on which the year 2011 ended: one by Okinawa's leading environmentalist, specialist in environmental assessment law and till 2010 president of Okinawa University, the other by the long-time chronicler of the Okinawan resistance movement and Nago city resident. Both are core members of that movement. They write of the astonishing events that marked the end of 2011.

By then, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government, elected at the end of August 2009, was into its third Prime Minister and had abandoned or reversed almost all the key policies on which it had been elected: the commitment to substitute political for bureaucratic direction, the renegotiation of the relationship with the US on an equal basis, the promotion of an East Asian community, the maintaining of the current level of consumption tax, an end to the Liberal-Democratic Party's long-entrenched "construction state" policies which would be symbolized in particular by the abandonment of the Yamba dam project, and, not least, the closure of Futenma Marine Air Station in Okinawa without substitution in the prefecture.

It is the latter, superficially a "local" issue, that increasingly seems to have the potential to bring the DPJ down and create crisis in the US-Japan relationship it is nominally reinforcing. At some point, probably during 2012, it is going to have to face the fact that the promises it keeps making to the Obama administration in Washington of construction of a substitute Marine base in Henoko in northern Okinawa will never be implemented. Okinawan civil society has issued a definitive "No!" Okinawan democracy has repeatedly shown that it will not be crushed and defeated, even in the face of a unified front by Tokyo and Washington. For Tokyo to attempt to impose its will violently on Okinawa would be to accentuate the crisis and destabilize  Japanese politics, the alliane, and perhaps the entire region.

The fact is that the DPJ government today faces a level of resistance unprecedented in the history of the modern Japanese state, with the (conservative) Governor, the prefectural Assembly (Okinawa's parliament), virtually all city, town and village assemblies and mayors, and all media groups and civic and labour organizations firmly opposed to the attempted relocation of the Marine base to Henoko.

The following accounts deal with the submission by the Government of Japan of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) designed to accelerate construction at the projected Henoko site. Okinawa is Japan's Tahrir Square. The "Okinawa problem" is Japan's problem. And it is presently the crux of the US-Japan problem.

Sakurai Kunitoshi is a member of the Okinawan Environmental Network, professor (to 2010 President) of Okinawa University, and a Councilor of the Japan Society of Impact Assessment.

Urashima Etsuko is an environmental activist, author, and chronicler of Okinawan people's movements of resistance against bases and hyper-development and for nature conservation. The Japanese text of this article was written (dated 29 December 2011) as her regular essay in the monthly Impaction.

Gavan McCormack is a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal - Japan Focus, and author of many Okinawa-related essays. For the NHK New Year television production that features his discussions with MIT scholar John Dower on matters incuding the Okinawa struggle, see "2012 BS-1, Kantogen tokushu, Shinsaigo, Nihon to Sekai e no me," NHK, BS-1, 2 and 8 January 2012.

Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack, Sakurai Kunitoshi, Urashima Etsuko, 'Okinawa, New Year 2012: Tokyo's Year End Surprise Attack,'
The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 2 No 1, January 7, 2012.

Read more . . .