The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 17. 2012   

April 23, 2012   
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You may find it interesting, and perhaps surprising, to check out our most read articles . . . for the last month, last year and last decade. Find it by clicking on Top Ten Articles at the top of our home page.

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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.

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Shaun Burnie, Matsumura Akio and Murata Mitsuhei, The Highest Risk: Problems of Radiation at Reactor Unit 4, Fukushima Daiichi


The efforts of two Japanese citizens to raise awareness of the risk of a further major accident at Fukushima are to be commended. More than 13 months after the accident began - the threats from the Fukushima Daiichi site are multi-dimensional and on-going, but the under reporting of these risks as a result of nuclear crisis fatigue tied with the 24 hour news cycle can lead to a complacency on the current and future reality at the site.


The specific issue highlighted by Matsumura and Murata is the risk and consequences of the failure of the spent fuel pool at the destroyed reactor unit 4 at Fukushima Daiichi. As they report the spent fuel inventory at this pool is the largest of all 4 reactors that were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.


While one can take issue with some of the language used - fate of the whole world being one - it is important to understand the scale of the threat, and why there are no easy and quick solutions. The risks from spent fuel have been known almost since the beginning of nuclear power - the radiation levels are so high that without shielding, direct exposure to spent fuel rods is fatal. Despite this knowledge the world proceeded to deploy nuclear power reactors - led by the United States - that has created a total global inventory of over one quarter of million tons. Most of this is stored in water filled pools. In addition to creating a massive plutonium stock - 2500 tons (contained in spent fuel) the spent fuel crisis has spread worldwide to every nation operating nuclear reactors.


Shaun Burnie is a nuclear consultant to Friends of the Earth U.S. and Greenpeace Germany. For over two decades he has been a campaigner and coordinator and now consultant to Greenpeace. He has visited and worked in Japan over 20 years - including in support of citizens seeking to prevent  TEPCO plans for MOX fuel loading at Fukushima in 1999-2001. He is Scottish, currently visiting the United States. 


Murata Mitsuhei isExecutive Director, the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics.


Recommended Citation: Shaun Burnie, Matsumura Akio and Murata Mitsuhei, "The Highest Risk: Problems of Radiation at Reactor Unit 4, Fukushima Daiichi," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No. 4 


Read More. . .
Jon Mitchell, U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon's Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa 

Thousands of barrels of Agent Orange were unloaded on Okinawa Island and stored at the port of Naha, and at the U.S. military's Kadena and Camp Schwab bases between 1965 and 1966, an American veteran who served in Okinawa claims.


In a Jacksonville Florida interview in early April with The Japan Times and Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting Co., former infantryman Larry Carlson, 67, also said that Okinawan stevedores were exposed to the highly toxic herbicide as they labored in the holds of ships, and that he witnessed it being sprayed at Kadena Air Base.


Carlson is one of only three American servicemen who have won benefits from the U.S. government over exposure to the toxic defoliant on Okinawa - and the first of them to step forward and reveal that massive amounts of it were kept on the island.


His claims, which are corroborated by five fellow soldiers and a 1966 U.S. government document, directly challenge the Pentagon's consistent denials that Agent Orange was ever stored on Okinawa.



Jon Mitchell is currently coordinating two Japanese TV documentaries about Agent Orange on Okinawa - including "The Scoop Special", a 90-minute program for TV-Asahi which is set to air on May 20th 2012. The Welsh-born writer is based in Yokohama. He has written widely on Okinawan social issues for the Japanese and American press. He teaches at Tokyo Institute of Technology and is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.


Recommended Citation: Mitchell, John. "U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon's Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No. 2.

Read More. . .


Kimie Hara, The San Francisco Peace Treaty and Frontier Problems in the Regional Order in East Asia: A Sixty Year Perspective  


Sixty years have passed since the signing and enactment of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. This post-World War II settlement with Japan, prepared and signed against the background of the intensifying Cold War, sowed seeds of frontier problems that continue to challenge regional security in East Asia. Taking the "San Francisco System" as its conceptual grounding, this article examines these problems in the context of the post-World War II regional international order and its transformation. In light of their multilateral origins, particularly the unresolved territorial problems involving Japan and its neighbors, the article explores ideas for multilateral settlements that could lead East Asia toward greater regional cooperation and community building.



Kimie Hara is the Director of East Asian Studies at Renison University College, the Renison Research Professor and a management team member of the Japan Futures Initiative at the University of Waterloo (Canada), and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. Her books include Northern Territories, Asia-Pacific Regional Conflicts and the Aland Experience: Untying the Kurillian Knot (with Geoffrey Jukes), "Zaigai" nihonjin kenkyusha ga mita nihon gaiko (Japanese Diplomacy through the Eyes of Japanese Scholars Overseas), Cold War Frontiers in the Asia-Pacific: Divided Territories in the San Francisco System, Japanese-Soviet/Russian Relations since 1945: A Difficult Peace.


Recommended Citation: Hara, Kimie. "The San Francisco Peace Treaty and Frontier Problems in the Regional Order in East Asia: A Sixty Year Perspective," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No 1.

 Read More. . . 

Vanessa Warheit, Living Along the Fenceline and Standing Army

Vanessa Warheit reviews two new documentaries on American Military Bases Overseas.


Two recent documentaries make excellent viewing for anyone interested in the history of American military bases overseas - and their ongoing ramifications. With an estimated 1,000 US military bases outside of the 50 states,1 the United States currently has the largest number of overseas military bases of any country in history. Why does the US need military bases in over 130 countries? Why do countries like Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea still host hundreds of American military bases and thousands or tens of thousands of US soldiers, more than six decades after World War II? Why is the US still aggressively expanding into many new countries? Standing Army (72 min., 2010) is a far-reaching exploration of the ideological and geo-political answers to these questions. Living Along the Fenceline (67 min., 2011), though also international in scope, is a more narrowly focused film, answering a critical question: How do these bases affect local populations? Offering both global and personal perspectives, these two films are complementary and would work well together as tools to initiate dialogue and discussion on base issues and the role of American global military power.




Vanessa Warheit works as a filmmaker and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her documentary The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands aired nationally on PBS and is distributed by New Day Films.
Recommended Citation: Warheit, Vanessa. "Living Along the Fenceline and Standing Army," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No. 3.



Recommended Citation: Warheit, Vanessa. "Living Along the Fenceline and Standing Army," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No. 3. 


 Read More. . .