The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 7. 2012   

February 13, 2012   
New Articles Posted
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In This Issue

Who's reading the Asia-Pacific Journal? Here's what the record shows for the last four minutes as we prepared this Newsletter: readers in ten countries on four continents.

February 13 @ 8:44 : Parramatta, AU
February 13 @ 8:44 : Ithaca, New York, US
February 13 @ 8:44 : Thiruvananthapuram, IN
February 13 @ 8:43 : Toronto, CA
February 13 @ 8:43 : Dollard-des-ormeaux, CA
February 13 @ 8:43 : Chiang Mai, TH
February 13 @ 8:43 : Federal Way, Washington, US
February 13 @ 8:43 : Bandar Seri Begawan, BN
February 13 @ 8:42 : Dollard-des-ormeaux, CA
February 13 @ 8:42 : New Orleans, Louisiana, US
February 13 @ 8:41 : Singapore, SG
February 13 @ 8:41 : Los Angeles, California, US
February 13 @ 8:41 : Adelaide, AU
February 13 @ 8:41 : Penang, MY
February 13 @ 8:41 : New Orleans, Louisiana, US
February 13 @ 8:41 : Querétaro, MX
February 13 @ 8:41 : Tokyo, JP
February 13 @ 8:41 : Denver, Colorado, US
February 13 @ 8:40 : Tokyo, JP

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 will remain available to all readers at no charge.

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.Watch for more important work on developments in Tohoku and recovery efforts. 

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. 

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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 

Bruce Cumings, Dominion From Sea to Sea: America's Pacific Ascendancy


Dominion From Sea to Sea differs from my other books in that it does not have so much to say about Korea or East Asia. Obviously my books on the Korean War have Korean history as the centerpiece, and even my book of essays, Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relation, is a Korea-centric examination of U.S. relations with China, Japan and Korea. Nevertheless, this new book could not have been written without the years of experience since I first landed in Seoul in 1967. East Asia's history in the modern period, and its relationship with the United States, gave me an optic that was indispensable for examining America's relationship not just toward East Asia, but to the world. It is an optic that differs radically from most American orientations toward the foreign.


The vast majority of Americans who write about foreign affairs and foreign policy write from an Atlanticist or Europe-first perspective. It is simply assumed that cross-Atlantic relations are paramount, that they are the first priority, and that they always have been. In fact for 150 years from the revolution against the British down to Pearl Harbor, most Americans were uninterested in Europe, had more or less contempt for the British, and built the country by turning their back to the Atlantic and "facing West" across the continent. Of course, many American experts on international relations also write about U.S. relations with East Asia, but rarely with much discernment or deep knowledge. The best example of this is Henry Kissinger, a charter Atlanticist, whose three-volume memoir is very learned about Europe, but when it comes to Japan and China, one is a kabuki play and the other is "boxes within boxes." Academic specialists routinely assume that theories derived from the European experience-like "realism"-can be applied to East Asia.


Bruce Cumings is chair of the History Department at the University of Chicago. Author of The Origins of the Korean War, he has also written for the  New York  Review of Books, the New Left Review, the London Review of Books, and the Nation. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. His most recent book, from which this is drawn, is Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power.

Recommended citation: Bruce Cumings, 'Dominion from Sea to Sea: America's Pacific Ascendancy,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 7 No 1, February 13, 2012.


Read more . . .

Andrew Rankin, 21st-Century Yakuza: Recent Trends in Organized Crime in Japan Part I 


Japan has had a love-hate relationship with its outlaws.  Medieval seafaring bands freelanced as mercenaries for the warlords or provided security for trading vessels; when not needed they were hunted as pirates.  Horse-thieves and mounted raiders sold their skills to military households in return for a degree of tolerance toward their banditry.  In the 1600s urban street gangs policed their own neighborhoods while fighting with samurai in the service of the Shogun.  Feudal lords paid gang bosses to supply day laborers for construction projects.  In the 1800s gambling syndicates assisted government forces in military operations. Underworld societies joined with nationalists to become a significant force in politics.  For many years police colluded profitably with pickpocketing gangs before being ordered to eliminate them in a nationwide crackdown of 1912.  In the 1920s yakuza bosses were elected to the Diet.  In the postwar era police struggled to control violent street gangs.  Business leaders hired the same gangs to impede labor unions and silence leftists.  When Eisenhower visited Japan in 1960 the government called on yakuza bosses to lend tens of thousands of their men as security guards.  Corruption scandals entwined parliamentary lawmakers and yakuza lawbreakers throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  One history of Japan would be a history of gangs: official gangs and unofficial gangs.  The relationships between the two sides are complex and fluid, with boundaries continually being reassessed, redrawn, or erased.


The important role played by the yakuza in Japan's postwar economic rise is well documented.   But in the late 1980s, when it became clear that the gangs had progressed far beyond their traditional rackets into real estate development, stock market speculation and full-fledged corporate management, the tide turned against them.  For the past two decades the yakuza have faced stricter anti-organized crime laws, more aggressive law enforcement, and rising intolerance toward their presence from the Japanese public.

1991 saw the introduction of the Anti-Yakuza Law, which imposed tight restrictions on yakuza activities, even to the extent of deeming some otherwise legal activities to be illegal when performed by members of blacklisted gangs.  A multitude of additions and amendments have followed, most recently in 2008.  Other relevant new laws have included the Anti-Drug Provisions Law (1992), the Organized Crime Punishment Law (2000), and the Transfer of Criminal Proceeds Prevention Law (2007).  These last two target yakuza profits by suppressing financial fraud, money-laundering, and transnational underworld banking.  The Criminal Investigations Wiretapping Law (2000) increased the range of surveillance methods available to investigators of gang-related cases.  So-called Yakuza Exclusion Ordinances, implemented at prefectural level across Japan between 2009 and 2011, aim to ostracize the yakuza even further by penalizing those who cooperate with them or pay them off. What has been the outcome?

Andrew Rankin lived in Japan for nearly twenty years and studied at Tokyo University.  He is currently in the Japanese Department at Cambridge University, writing up a PhD dissertation on Mishima Yukio's non-fiction.  He is the author of Seppuku: A History of Samurai Suicide (Kodansha International, 2011).

Recommended citation: Andrew Rankin, '21st-Century Yakuza: Recent Trends in Organized Crime in Japan - Part 1,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 7, No 2, February 13, 2012.

Read more . . .


Vladimir Tikhonov, Transcending Boundaries, Embracing Others: Nationalism and Transnationalism in Modern and Contemporary Korea


If we wish to define Korea's twentieth century in a word, "the century of nationalism" would be the most plausible definition. From the perspective of Korea's internal socio-political situation, nationalism, as Andre Schmid aptly described, from the very beginning provided the legitimising framework for the modern concept of equal, universal citizenship. Former slaves, members of discriminated hereditary professional groups (butchers etc.), women - all were to be accepted as equal "nationals," since national salvation, prosperity and eventual greatness required national cohesion and everyone's contribution to the national cause. Ethnic nationalism is hardly a popular concept now anywhere, including South Korea (which, at least in theory, switched from the early 2000s to multiculturalism, and strives now to integrate its ethnic minority populations), but, as Henry Em argues, the concept of Korea's ethnic nation (minjok) did possess democratic meaning in the early twentieth-century context. The historiography which focused upon the progressive development of the ethnic nation was able to do away with traditional patterns of dynastic history. In a word, nationalism was the main discursive force behind the creation of an all-inclusive democratic vision of modern "Koreanness" - from the very beginning of the modern age, defining all Koreans as first and foremost Koreans became possible only in the nationalist context. This article examines nationalism and transnationalism in Korea over the long twentieth century.


Vladimir Tikhonov received a Ph.D. from Moscow State University in ancient Korean history, 1996). He teaches at Oslo University. He is the author of Social Darwinism and Nationalism in Korea: The Beginnings (1880s-1910s) (Brill, 2010). He regularly contributes to South Korea's liberal and progressive media, including daily Hangyoreh and weekly Hangyoreh21.

Recommended citation: Vladimir Tikhonov, 'Transcending Boundaries, Embracing Others: Nationalism and Transnationalism in Modern and Contemporary Korea,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 10, Issue 7 No 3, February 13, 2012.


 Read more . . .  


Matthew Penney, Nuclear Power and Shifts in Japanese Public Opinion   


This article examines the changes responses to public opinion polls on nuclear power in Japan since the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power meltdown for clues to Japan's future energy policy.

February 13, 2012

Matthew Penney is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University and a Japan Focus Coordinator.


 Read more . . .