The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 6. 2012   

February 6, 2012   
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Super toll has been completed. Actually, we are left to pick up the wreckage, both of 3.11 and the "Atoms for Peace" program that might be seen as its point of origin, as our two stories this week again suggest.

In the coming weeks we plan to offer an expanded What's Hot section with brief and timely articles on our signature themes, including reprints and commentaries.

Thank you to the many who 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   
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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:


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Miguel Quintana, Fukushima Crisis Concealed: Japanese government kept worst-case scenario under wraps


The Japanese government buried an official report in March 2011 outlining a worst-case scenario, including the evacuation of Tokyo, while emergency workers struggled to contain the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, according to numerous media reports. Combined with separate revelations that a task force chaired by the prime minister failed to keep records of its meetings, these developments raise serious concerns about the government's willingness to communicate openly and to accept public scrutiny over its management of the nuclear crisis.


A report delivered to then Prime Minister Kan Naoto on March 25 warned that if the situation at the plant spun completely out of control, authorities would have to issue mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders for all people living within 250 kilometers (155 miles) of the plant - a zone including greater Tokyo (population 35 million, the world's top city in terms of GDP) and the major cities of Sendai (pop. 1 million) and Fukushima (pop. 280,000).
Fearing widespread panic, the government chose to withhold the 15-page report compiled at Kan's request by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission. "It contained such shocking content that we decided to treat it as if it never existed," said a senior government official quoted by the Mainichi Daily.
January 31, 2012.


 Read more . . .

Ran Zwigenberg, "The Coming of a Second Sun": The 1956 Atoms for Peace Exhibit in Hiroshima and Japan's Embrace of Nuclear Power


In November 2011 when asked about the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO's) deteriorating finances, a Japanese official commented, "This is a war between humans and technology. While that war is being fought, we should not talk about bankruptcy."  The unnamed official, perhaps inadvertently, alluded to something more than the financial issues here; the fact that technological fixes are no longer an option and that Japan, sixty-six years after the bomb and fifty-five years after it welcomed atomic energy, finally is beginning to come to terms with the true cost of over-reliance on nuclear power.


Following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, a host of commentators, in Japan and internationally, decried the corruption, smugness and shortsightedness that led Japan to choose nuclear power in the fifties. These critics more often than not draw a picture of Japan's entry into the atomic age as a combination of American imposition and elite (conservative) complicity.  On the other side of this picture stand the hibakusha (A-bomb victims) and other activists who resisted this move. Drawing on the historically powerful symbolism of Hiroshima, Ōe Kenzaburō talked about Japan as becoming a fourth time victim of the atom, alluding to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Bikini victims aboard Lucky Dragon # 5.  Speaking of Japan's postwar history in these familiar black and white terms of the people falling victim to the machinations of powerful Japanese politicians in collusion with American imperialism, though not without credence, obscures the balance of forces of the fifties moment in which Japan went nuclear.

Nothing demonstrates this better than the reaction of the city of Hiroshima to the introduction of the Atomic age.5  On the 27th of May 1956 the Atoms for Peace exhibition opened in the peace memorial museum in Hiroshima. The exhibit was a key component of the American plan to present the atom as a positive force for progress and overcome the Japanese "nuclear allergy." The exhibit proved to be an enormous success, drawing well over 100,000 visitors and enthusiastic press reception. Significantly, the museum, which hosted the exhibit, one year earlier, had hosted the equally successful World Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, and it was also the museum that exhibited the horrors of the bombing.

Recommended citation: Ran Zwigenberg, '"The Coming of a Second Sun": The 1956 Atoms for Peace Exhibit in Hiroshima and Japan's Embrace of Nuclear Power,'
The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 6 No 1, February 6, 2012.

Read more . . .