The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 19. 2012   

May 7, 2012   
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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.

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Gavan McCormack, North Korea's 100th - Celebrations Gone Awry 

This revised and updated version of the author's earlier "North Korea's 100th - To Celebrate or To Surrender?"  was prepared for the Korean journal Changbi. Given strong interest in the issues, The Asia-Pacific Journal is publishing the updated version of the original.

Spring always brings reminders of the abiding insecurity that stems from the continuing division and confrontation of two states and systems on the Korean peninsula. On the one side, South Korea and the United States conduct large-scale military exercises, involving land, sea and air forces, (Operations Key Resolve and Foal Eagle) designed to rehearse a reopening of war. North Korea inevitably raises its levels of alert and readiness and its tone of belligerence, and in such climate the Cheonan incident occurred in March 2010.

Eighth Army trains with its South Korean allies during Exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle.
In 2012, however, as the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises mobilized a massive multinational, joint service force of destroyers, submarines, fighter jets and hundreds of thousands of soldiers to carry out live shooting from islands within North Korean-claimed zones of the West Sea and to rehearse, among other things, landings behind North Korean lines, global attention focussed almost exclusively on the plan announced by North Korea on 16 March to launch an earth observation satellite, Kwangmyongsong 3.

Gavan McCormack is an emeritus professor of the Australian National University and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. His Target North Korea: Pushing North Korea to the brink of Nuclear Catastrophe, 2004, was published in Korean as Beomjoegukga:Bukhan Geurigo Miguk, Seoul: Icarus Media, 2006 His most recent book, co-authored with Satoko Oka Norimatsu, is Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, Rowman and Littlefield, July 2012.


Recommended Citation: Gavan McCormack, "North Korea's 100th - Celebrations Gone Awry," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 19, No. 1, May 7, 2012.

Read More. . .

Makiko SEGAWA, After The Media Has Gone: Fukushima, Suicide and the Legacy of 3.11    


For the media, time is of the essence in a news story.  The March 11, 2011 disaster attracted thousands of reporters and photographers from around the world.  There was a brief deluge of Japanese and international media coverage on the first anniversary, this spring.  Now the journalists have packed up and gone and by accident or design Japan's government seems to be mobilizing its agenda, aware that it is under less scrutiny.

The press pack has disappeared like a ghost since this April.  The influx of foreign media has suddenly stopped.  Using the keywords 'Fukushima' and 'nuclear plant' in Japanese to scour the Nikkei TELECOM 21 search engine shows 9,981 domestic news items in April 2012, just over half the 17,272 stories the previous month.

As if to take advantage of the precise timing of the media evacuation, the municipal government of Minami-soma city, Fukushima Prefecture began implementing a blueprint planned some time earlier.  In the dead of night on Monday April 16th, the city lifted the no-entry regulations and changed evacuation zone designations that had stood since March 12, 2011.  The decision allowed people to return to the district of Odaka and some parts of the Haramachi district.


The city of Minami-Soma reopened the no-entry zone in May, insisting that radiation levels in Odaka and some parts of Haramachi had fallen enough to be safe.  However, some residents are unhappy with this decision. Shibaguchi Takashi (42), a former acupuncturist and the father of a 6-year-old daughter Nana, refuses to return to his home inside the former exclusion zone, preferring his temporary accommodation.  "The city says that the radiation level is completely safe, but when my neighbors checked the radiation level under the eaves of my house, it was over two microsieverts." (henceforth, μSv) He added:  "I am sure that radioactive materials released immediately after the explosion are unchanged on the leaking roof. I believe it is too dangerous to go back there."

Even if it were safe, Odaka has other problems: "There is no reconstruction of public facilities and infrastructure, and I wonder how we can make a living there."  There is also growing anxiety over the compensation process among evacuees inside the newly liberated zone.  Does this mean that compensation is going to be halted, as many fear? 


Makiko SEGAWA is a freelance journalist based in Japan, as well as a translator and guide to overseas media. Her clients include France 24, The Wall Street Journal and other European television production companies such as RAI TV, the U.K Performgroup, AB International and Seven Saint Production. She can be contacted at 


Recommended citation: Makiko Segawa, "After The Media Has Gone: Fukushima, Suicide and the Legacy of 3.11," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 19, No. 2, May 7, 2012.


Read More. . . 

Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Radiation and Fukushima's Future 

In the climate of fear and uncertainty concerning current levels of radioactive contamination in Fukushima Prefecture and their potential impact on public health, new government reports are indicating that these problems will remain serious ones for years.
Below are recent reports from Asahi and Jiji concerning the extent of contamination in Fukushima and the likely medium and long-term prognosis. Several areas of Fukushima will have high radiation levels for at least a decade and it will be 5 years or more before residents of the municipalities closest to Fukushia Daiichi will be able to consider returning to their homes. The Japanese government is deliberating  buying the area around Fukushima Daiichi, including residential properties, and making it public land. The government's Reconstruction Agency is also investigating whether or not evacuees are interested in returning at all. At this stage, serious decontamination efforts in the most effected zones have yet to begin.

Read more . . .