The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 12. 2012   

March 19, 2012   
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Each of our last two issues has presented a major special issue on Japan's 3.11 earthquake-tsunami-meltdown disaster and the present issue continues to present several important new articles on 3.11 and its aftermath, particularly reassessing government handling of the disaster from numerous perspectives (Kingston and Frid) and new forces from below charting a direction of renewable energy (DeWit).

As we pass the first anniversary, however, we expand coverage of a wide range of issues pertaining to the Asia-Pacific and the world, contemporary and historical. In the present issue these include articles on the American responses to Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Nuke York, New York) (Broderick and Jacobs),
the US terror war from 9.11 to Afghanistan (Scott), a review of peace thought in ancient China (Gittings), and Okinawan migration to Japan (Rabson). 

Our home page has two important 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.  Second, the list of articles now indicates all those available in Japanese translation or original, as well as other languages.

Many 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 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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Mick Broderick and Robert Jacobs, Nuke York, New York: Nuclear Holocaust in the American Imagination from Hiroshima to 9/11


Almost immediately after 9/11, cultural tropes that had long been associated with the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were relocated to new roles as descriptors of the attack on New York City. Where once terms like "ground zero" referred to the detonation points of the nuclear weapons that were dropped in Japan, Ground Zero now refers to the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood in lower Manhattan. This appropriation of framing mechanisms from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to New York City was nothing new: it held true to an American tradition that began in August of 1945. When Americans felt that bifurcated sense of victory and vulnerability upon the news of the bombing of Hiroshima, it was a short journey for the word Hiroshima to take on a second, shadow meaning in American culture-it became shorthand for fears of an inevitable nuclear attack on America itself-and almost always the target of this imagined attack was New York City. While Lifton and Mitchell claim that, "Hidden from the beginning, Hiroshima quickly disappeared into the depths of American awareness," we have found instead that it became ubiquitous in American culture and remained so throughout the Cold War and beyond, particularly as shorthand for America as nuclear victim, not nuclear perpetrator.

This same inclination can be seen in early press coverage of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year. A great deal of press coverage in the United States was focused on the dangers of radioactive contamination on the American West coast, on America as vulnerable and a victim. This inversion of the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took a firm hold on the American imagination once the former Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons of their own in late 1949. However, even with the end of the Cold War, the 9/11 attacks reinvented notions of an American Hiroshima as the inevitable follow-up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks we staged the first public showing of the Nuke York, New York exhibition at the Hartell Gallery, Cornell University. Nuke York, New York exhibited of a broad range of depictions of a nuclear attack on New York City drawn from American popular culture from 1945 to 2011, including sources from newspapers, magazines, Civil Defense pamphlets, film, television, books, protest material, comics, computer games, online websites and material culture objects. This article presents an overview of the material exhibited in the Nuke York, New York installation and its significance for reflecting on the bomb in American historical memory and representation.

Mick Broderick is Associate Professor and Research Coordinator in the School of Media, Communication & Culture at Murdoch University, where he is Deputy Director of the National Academy of Screen & Sound (NASS). Broderick's  publications include editions of the reference work Nuclear Movies(1988, 1991) and, as editor, Hibakusha Cinema: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Nuclear Image in Japanese Film(1996, 1999). Recent co-edited collections include Interrogating Trauma: Arts & Media Responses to Collective Suffering(2011) and Trauma, Media, Art: New Perspectives(2010).

Robert Jacobs is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University. He is the author of The Dragon's Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (2010), the editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb(2010), and co-editor of Images of Rupture in Civilization Between East and West: The Iconography of Auschwitz and Hiroshima in Eastern European Arts and Media(2012-forthcoming).  He is the principal investigator of the Global Hibakusha Project.

Recommended citation: Mick Broderick and Robert Jacobs, 'Nuke York, New York: Nuclear Holocaust in the American Imagination from Hiroshima to 9/11,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 11, No 6, March 12, 2012.

Read more . . .
Peter Dale Scott, Launching the U.S. Terror War: the CIA, 9/11,

 Afghanistan, and Central Asia


On September 11, 2001, within hours of the murderous 9/11 attacks, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney had committed America to what they later called the "War on Terror." It should more properly, I believe, be called the "Terror War," one in which terror has been directed repeatedly against civilians by all participants, both states and non-state actors. It should also be seen as part of a larger, indeed global, process in which terror has been used against civilians in interrelated campaigns by all major powers, including China in Xinjiang and Russia in Chechnya, as well as the United States. Terror war in its global context should perhaps be seen as the latest stage of the age-long secular spread of transurban civilization into areas of mostly rural resistance -- areas where conventional forms of warfare, for either geographic or cultural reasons, prove inconclusive.

Terror War was formally declared by George W. Bush on the evening of September 11, 2001, with his statement to the American nation that "we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."   But the notion that Bush's terror war was in pursuit of actual terrorists lost credibility in 2003, when it was applied to Saddam Hussein's Iraq, a country known to have been targeted by terrorists but not to have harbored them. It lost still more credibility with the 2005 publication in Britain of the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the head of the British intelligence service MI6 reported after a visit to Washington in 2002 that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam Hussein, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." False stories followed in due course linking Iraq to WMD, anthrax, and Niger yellowcake (uranium).
This essay will demonstrate that before 9/11 a small element inside the CIA's Bin Laden Unit and related agencies, the so-called Alec Station Group, were also busy, "fixing" intelligence by suppressing it, in a way which, accidentally or deliberately, enabled the Terror War. They did so by withholding evidence from the FBI before 9/11 about two of the eventual alleged hijackers on 9/11, Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi, thus ensuring that the FBI could not surveil the two men or their colleagues.

This failure to share was recognized in the 9/11 Commission Report, but treated as an accident that might not have occurred "if more resources had been applied."  Below I show that the withholding of evidence was part of the larger ominous pattern of the time, including the malperformance of the U.S. government in response to the 9/11 attacks, and the murderous anthrax letters which helped secure the passage of the Patriot Act.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here

Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, 'Launching the U.S. Terror War: the CIA, 9/11, Afghanistan, and Central Asia,'  The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 3, March 19, 2012.


Read more . . .
John Gittings, Ocean Contamination in the Wake of Japan's 3.11 


The challenges of nuclear proliferation, conflict and terrorism, poverty and inequality, climate change and the deteriorating environment, are inextricably linked in our current world, and can only be tackled by a broad and unified effort to achieve peace in its fullest sense. Yet the perception of peace is much less vivid in popular imagination than that of war, and the growing body of serious peace studies is less accessible than it should be. Peace is often written off - especially by war historians - as a difficult concept to define, as a dull subject compared to war, or simply as 'the absence of war', a mere interval between wars which are claimed to be the driving motor of history.  In my new book, The Glorious Art of Peace: From the Iliad to Iraq, I argue to the contrary that from ancient times onwards there has been a rich discourse about the meaning of peace and how to secure it, that there is a wealth of ideas and debate which continues to be relevant, and that The Art of Peace is as complex as the Art of War. Human civilisation could not have developed without long periods of productive peace, which have allowed for the emergence of stable agriculture, the growth of urban society, and the expansion of peaceful trade and intercourse between societies. Peace, as the great humanist thinker Erasmus (1466-1536) put it, is 'the mother and nurse of all that is good for man'.

I examine a number of historical and literary texts from ancient Greece and China, to show that a great deal was thought and said in these cultures about peace as well as about war. We can discern in Homer's Iliad, alongside the more familiar themes of rage and war, an alternative vision of the peace denied by war - expressed visually in his remarkable description of the Shield of Achilles. Modern scholarship also shows that attitudes towards peace and war in classical Greece are much more complex than might be inferred from the Thucydidean approach, while critical attitudes on the Greek stage can be identified not only in the 'Peace' and other familiar works of Aristophanes, but in several of the surviving plays of the great tragedians. The chronicles of the Spring and Autumn and subsequent Warring States periods of pre-imperial China, with their endless tales of battle and intrigue, might also seem poor material for a peace-oriented study, yet they too reveal a wide range of thought and argument in which rulers and their advisers seriously engaged questions of both morality and expediency in the exercise of power, weighing up the benefits of peace against the advantages of war. In the extract from this chapter which follows below, I explore the way that peace and war were discussed in the main schools of political thought from Kongzi (Confucius) onwards, in a lively debate from which we can still learn today. This debate among China's early thinkers casts interesting light on the Chinese government's current claim to pursue a peaceful and harmonious foreign policy based on Confucian principles. It may also help us in setting out some basic principles on how to move from war to peace - particularly in focusing on human justice and welfare -- a task which remains as important today as it was in pre-imperial China. Do the debates over war and peace among China's early thinkers cast light on contemporary issues, in China and globally, particularly on the preconditions for moving from war to peace?

John Gittings was for many years chief foreign leader-writer and East Asia Editor at The Guardian, and is now on the editorial board of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace and a research associate of the Centre of Chinese Studies at the School of Oriental & African Studies. After working at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, he began reporting on China during the Cultural Revolution, and later covered major events such as the Beijing massacre and the Hong Kong handover. He has also written extensively on the politics of the cold war. His latest book, from which this material is excerpted, is The Glorious Art of Peace: From the Iliad to Iraq (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Recommended citation: John Gittings, 'The Conflict Between War and Peace in Early Chinese Thought,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 5, March 19, 2012.


Read more . . .  
Andrew DeWit,  Japan's Remarkable Renewable Energy Drive-After Fukushima

The looming shutdown of every single one of Japan's nuclear plants-previously the providers of nearly one-third of the nation's electricity-has accelerated the country's initiatives on conservation, renewable energy sources, and decentralization of electricity supply. It has also injected considerable momentum into Japan's "green cities" initiative.

These changes are being fought by those who insist that Japan cannot live without nuclear power. The opponents include not just the utilities, but the banks who lent so much to the utilities, Keidanren (the main business federation) and much of the national government.

However, the growing cost of energy and worries about power supply are pushing firms and local governments to find alternatives. Japan responded with surprisingly rapid success in conservation and efficiency after the oil crises of 1973 and 1979. It may do so again. This article documents the remarkable new initiatives toward renewable energy taking place throughout Japan in the face of powerful opposition.

Andrew DeWit is Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Iida Tetsunari and Kaneko Masaru, he is coauthor of "Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan," in Jeff Kingston (ed.) Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan.

Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, 'Japan's Remarkable Renewable Energy Drive- After Fukushima,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 11, No 10, March 11, 2012.

Read more . . .


Steve Rabson, Being Okinawan in Japan: The Diaspora Experience

While much has been written recently on Okinawan emigration abroad, this article, drawing from my new book, introduces the Okinawan diaspora in Japan.

This article is adapted from the introduction to Steve Rabson, The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan: Crossing the Borders Within. University of Hawaii Press, 2012. He has also published Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1989, reprinted 1996) and Southern Exposure: Japanese Literature from Okinawa, co-edited with Michael Molasky (University of Hawaii Press, 2000). He is professor emeritus of East Asian studies, Brown University and an Asia-Pacific Journal Associate.

Recommended citation: Steve Rabson, 'Being Okinawan in Japan: The Diaspora Experience,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 2, March 19, 2012.

Read more . . .
Jeff Kingston, Mismanaging Risk and the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

The nuclear accident at Fukushima was precipitated by natural disaster, but poor risk management, including a failure to comprehend tectonic risk in the most earthquake prone country in the world, and an institutionalized complacency about risk, were major factors increasing the likelihood of a major accident and fumbling crisis response. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the utility operating the Fukushima Daiichi Plant, and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the government regulatory authority, mismanaged a range of risks - siting, seismic, tsunami, emergency preparedness and radiation - and it is this mismanagement that made Fukushima into Japan's Chernobyl. Investigations into the accident have established that the crisis response was improvised and inadequate because of lack of preparation, institutional flaws in emergency procedures, and poor communication within the government and between officials and TEPCO. This article offers a comprehensive assessment of Japanese government responses to the Fukushima meltdown and the ongoing debate.

Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. Editor of Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan: Response and Recovery after Japan's 3/11 (Routledge 2012). He is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.

Recommended citation: Jeff Kingston, 'Mismanaging Risk and the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 4, March 19, 2012.

 Read more . . .
Martin J. Frid, Food Safety in Japan: One Year after the Nuclear Disaster  

The issue food safety in the wake of 3.11 remains the subject of deep concern in Japan and abroad. In this article consumer affairs specialist Martin J. Frid examines the question of risk in light of international standards on radiation.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, what can be said about Japan's food safety? This article offers an assessment based on scrutiny of changing regulations and official data.

Martin J. Frid, born in Sweden, works for Consumers Union of Japan. He is the author of the food guide book Nippon no Shoku no Anzen 555 (Kodansha) published in 2009. He has participated in food safety meetings on the local, national, and international levels, including as an expert at FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission meetings. He currently resides in Saitama.

Recommended citation: Martin J. Frid, 'Food Safety in Japan: One Year After the Nuclear Disaster,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 1, March 19, 2012.

 Read more . . .


Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Fukushima Fuel Pools and Ongoing Dangers

For critical reporting on Japan's nuclear industry and continuing difficulties at the Fukushima Daiichi site, Japanese television has not kept up with the country's print media. There have been some powerful reports, however.
One important example was aired on March 8, 2012 as part of Asahi TV's "Morning Bird" program. An example of entertaining talk television, "Morning Bird" has taken an increasingly critical stand on nuclear power under the direction of regular commentator Tamakawa Toru.
In the program embedded with English subtitles below, Tamakawa discusses the work of Koide Hiroaki, a Research Associate at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University and one of Japan's most prominent anti-nuclear campaigners.

March 12, 2012.

 Read more . . .