The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 15. 2012   

April 9, 2012   
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue

Our subscribers via this Newsletter, as well as through Facebook and Twitter now number 6,000. We're calling on subscribers to help us expand these numbers by writing to colleagues, associates and friends who might find our work useful. Please send along a recent article of interest and invite them to subscribe via our homepage either to receive the Newsletter or to receive notification via Facebook or Twitter. Will you help us?

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.


More than 6,000 people now subscribe to APJ, either through our Newsletter or the more than 2,700 who follow us  through Twitter or Facebook, whose numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on our home page.       


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. 

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 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.   

Contact Japan Focus by email at

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. 
Subscription information
The Asia-Pacific Journal is freely available to all. We invite those who wish to support our work by allowing us to make technical upgrades, defray technical, mailing and maintenance fees, and to enable us to expand our output since the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. 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 
Medoruma Shun, We Cannot Allow Governor Nakaima to Falsify the History of the Battle of Okinawa

The following is from novelist and commentator Medorama Shun's blog, Uminari no shima kara (here) dated March 17, 2012. Medoruma has reported on the ongoing controversy surrounding the placement of a new sign outside the entrance to the site of the 32nd Army HQ Shelter, which is located in Shurijo Castle Park, the pre-eminent symbol of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and Okinawa's leading tourist site. The controversy, which has continued over many years, entered a new stage with the 2012 decision by Governor Nakaima Hirokazu to approve new wording in the sign explaining the events. At stake is the language used to represent key events in which many Okinawan civilians died during the 1945 Battle, and particularly the relationship between Japan's 32nd Army and the Okinawan civilian population. The Battle, took the lives of more than one fourth of Okinawa's civilian population. Phrases such as 'comfort women' and 'massacres of civilians' have been removed from the new signage ordered by Governor Nakaima. The following blog refers to the draft in Japanese of a new explanation panel, which has since been translated into English, Chinese and Korean and now appears on the new sign outside the 32nd Army HQ Shelter site.

Medoruma Shun is a novelist and critic of Japanese neo-nationalism, local pork-barrel politics, and the US military presence in Okinawa, particularly the plan to build a new marine airbase off the coast of Henoko in Nago City, where he resides. He is widely regarded as Okinawa's pre-eminent writer. Born in Okinawa, he graduated from the University of the Ryukyus. His story "Droplets" (Suiteki), for which he received Japan's Akutagawa Prize, is available in Michael Molasky's translation in Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson, eds., Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature From Okinawa.


Recommended citation: Medoruma Shun, "We Cannot Allow Governor Nakaima to Falsify the History of the Battle of Okinawa," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10,  Issue 15, No 2, April 9, 2012.


Read More. . .
Paul Jobin, BBC and ZDF documentaries on Fukushima + 1

Last month, many TV channels around the world broadcast special reports on the nuclear crisis of March 2011. Among these, BBC's "Inside the Meltdown" and German TV channel ZDF's "Die Fukushima-Lüge" (The Fukushima lie) deserve special mention, as they both drew significant attention on the Japanese web.[i]
Warning: if you are not in a good mood, these are not the best documentaries to look at. You will be faced with the fact that the scenario of a nuclear Apocalypse was not only our biggest fear last year, but could still be ahead of us. So better to have a drink and relax, and look at it as if it was some sort of disaster movie for entertainment. Indeed, they do share some tricks of those sorts of documentaries: the rather dramatic tone of the music and the voiceover keep up the suspense. Beyond these clichés, they are worth watching.

Paul Jobin is Director, French Center for Research on Contemporary China, CEFC, Taipei Office, and Associate Professor, University of Paris Diderot.

Posted April 8, 2012.

Read More. . .


Paik Nak-chung, A Conundrum and the 'Seventh Party': Envisioning Peace and Security in Northeast Asia

Just one week before the recent North Korean announcement of a forthcoming satellite launch, which was met by a chorus of denunciation around the world, a non-governmental "Six Party" conference gathered on March 7 to 9 at Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, New York City, under the name of the 2012 New York Conference on Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia. Its co-sponsors were the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, the Center for Peace and Public Integrity at Hanshin University, the National Association of Korean Americans, and the Pacific Century Institute.
The following article is a slightly revised version of a paper prepared for the opening Session of the conference devoted to a presentation by one speaker each from the participating countries (US, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and North Korea). Professor Paik here adds a postscript, dated March 28, on the significance of the New York meeting in light of subsequent
Paik Nak-chung, emeritus professor of Seoul National University and a prominent scholar, author, critic and activist, is one of Korea's most incisive contemporary public intellectuals. His latest book in English is The Division System in Crisis: Essays on Contemporary Korea, University of California Press, 2011.

Posted April 8, 2012.

 Read More. . .


Eelke P. Kraak, The Geopolitics of Hydropower in Central Asia: the Syr Darya 



The government of Kyrgyzstan has embarked on an ambitious hydropower development programme on the transboundary Syr Darya River, which has provoked strong opposition from downstream Uzbekistan. The programme is driven by the alignment of actual energy concerns with interests of the national hydraulic elites and the global politics of project finance, which provides a logic for dams that may exacerbate existing geopolitical tensions across the region.


Eelke P. Kraak is completing PhD research at the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford. His previous degrees include a BSc in natural sciences from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and an MPhil from the University of Oxford. His research interests are hydro-politics, water security, and dams. He has conducted fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as well as in Ethiopia and Uganda. Eelke previously worked for the Netherlands Embassy in Moscow and the Boston Consulting Group.


Recommended citation: Eelke P. Kraak, "The Geopolitics of Hydropower in Central Asia: the Syr Darya," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10,  Issue 15, No 1, April 9, 2012.

 Read more . . .