The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 20. 2012   

May 14, 2012   
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue

Our feature this week is Urashima Etsuko's view from Mt. Kushu of the Okinawa-US military relationship on the sixtieth anniversary of the San Francisco Treaty and the fortieth anniversary of Okinawa's 'reversion' to Japan. The two events sealed the fate of the Okinawan people in multiple ways, including permanent US military occupation of the Okinawan heartland, and sowing the seeds  the powerful waves of resistance that continue to throw the US-Japan alliance into turmoil.

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.

Our subscribers via this Newsletter, as well as through Facebook and Twitter now number 6,000. We're calling on you 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.


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 


Urashima Etsuko with an introduction by Gavan McCormack, Okinawa's Nature Groaning - Let's Turn Mt Kushi into a Forest of Life. On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the San Francisco Treaty and the Fortieth Anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan 


May 15 marks 40 years since Okinawa "reverted" from US military administration to Japan, but the celebrations in 2012 will be muted. While few Okinawans regret the fact of reversion, there is widespread resentment over the fact that the national government continues to insist the prefecture serve US military ends first and foremost. Newspaper opinion surveys taken on the eve of the commemoration found that 69 percent of Okinawans believed they were the subject of inequitable and discriminatory treatment because of the heavy concentration of US military bases, and nearly 90 percent took the position that the Futenma Marine Base should either be unconditionally closed and the land simply revert to Ginowan township or else be moved away, whether elsewhere in Japan or beyond it. That figure exceeds even the opposition of the time of the Hatoyama government (84 percent) less than two years ago. A similar 90 percent oppose the deployment within Okinawa of the accident-plagued MV22-Osprey VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft that the Pentagon, backed by the government of Japan, promises to deploy in Okinawa from July.


Such is the strength of this sentiment that Okinawa's governor, the conservative ex-bureaucrat Nakaima Hirokazu, visiting Tokyo at the time of the announcement, declared that such a deployment would be "extremely impossible " (sic), and suggested that if the aircraft were really so safe they could be deployed in Tokyo's Hibiya or Shinjuku Gyoen parks. The outrage deepened a week later when it was announced that the aircraft would be assembled and first tested at Naha Military Port, little more than a stone's throw from Okinawa's capital, Naha. Naha mayor Onaga described it as the worst proposal ever, and declared that he could not contain his fierce anger at the way the people of Okinawa and Naha were being mocked. Medoruma Shun, the prefecture's pre-eminent novelist, also widely respected as its conscience, called upon the governor to convene a mass meeting of Okinawans to formally declare their opposition.


Urashima Etsuko reflects on the issues, including the future of nature on Okinawa, from atop Mt. Kushu overlooking the area that Japan and the US propose as the site for a new base.  



Urashima Etsuko is an environmental activist, author, and chronicler of Okinawan people's movements of resistance against bases and hyper-development and for nature conservation. The Japanese text of this article was written (dated 30 April 2012) as her regular essay for the quarterly Impaction.


Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at Australian National University, a coordinator of The Asia Pacific Journal, and co-author (with Satoko Oka Norimatsu) of the soon to be released Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Rowman and Littlefield, July 2012).


Recommended citation: Urashima Etsuko with an introduction by Gavan McCormack, 'Okinawa's Nature Groaning - Let's Turn Mt Kushi into a Forest of Life. On the Sixtieth Anniversary of the San Francisco Treaty and the Fortieth Anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 20, No 1, May 14, 2012.


Read More. . . 

Andrew DeWit, Will Escalating LNG Imports Really Ruin Japan?  液化天然ガス輸入はほんとうに日本を滅ぼすか


The political difficulty of restarting reactors, combined with the adverse economic results following the world recession of 2008-09, national indebtedness, and the setbacks associated with the 3.11 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear power meltdown, has led much of the international community to declare Japan on the edge of the precipice. There's a Greek chorus chanting that Japan's faces ruin as a result of high gas and oil prices, because about 90% of its electricity is presently from thermal generation rather than about 60% before Fukushima (nuclear provided just under 30% of Japan's power prior to last year's disaster). The doom-criers marshal seemingly convincing statistics. Among other things, they show that Japan's LNG (liquid natural gas) imports rose a whopping 52% to YEN 5.4 trillion yen between March 2011 and March 2012.
But step back for a moment and recall that many market analysts were telling us a few years ago, when oil was at USD 140 and above, that Japan was made of the right stuff and would just get more efficient. So it is useful to go to the Japanese customs data page ( and see if these price increases are as unprecedented as some suggest. It is also probably best not to compare with dates during the past few years, because we have been in an historic "great recession" that has depressed economic activity in various spheres. So instead let us compare March 2008 and March 2012, to assess the relative burdens on Japan's economy.  


The author assesses Japan's energy prospects in light of the closure of the nation's nuclear power plants and recent efforts to advance one of the world's most ambitious renewable energy programs.  


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 a coauthor of "Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan," in Jeff Kingston (ed.) Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan.

Read More. . . 

Miguel Quintana, What Price Nuclear Zero for Japan? 日本での原発全面廃止の代価とは

For the first time in 42 years, the portion of nuclear power in Japan's energy mix reached zero on May 5 with the shutdown of Tomari's unit 3, operated by Hokkaido Electric on Japan's northernmost island. Difficulties in obtaining local approval for the restart of two reactors in Fukui Prefecture, combined with delays in establishing a new regulatory agency for the nuclear industry, could force Japan to ride out the summer months of peak demand by relying exclusively on thermal plants and energy-saving measures - a prospect the government is already taking into account. The author assesses the significance of closure of Japan's nuclear power plants which account for 30% of the nation's power.

Miguel Quintana is a freelance journalist and translator based in Tokyo. A regular contributor to Nuclear Intelligence Weekly (Washington DC) and correspondent for Le Soir (Belgium), he is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.    


Read More. . .


David Slater, How to Volunteer in Tohoku 東北で奉仕活動をするには

While the rhetoric in this post 3.11 era is "mae muki" (looking ahead), there are still hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Tohoku disasters, many of whom are living in "temporary housing" units.  This is not a self-sufficient way of life, and volunteers are still needed in many different ways, from playing with school kids and having tea parties with the elderly, to recovery activities, such as helping build a shotengai (shopping arcade) or fixing fisherman's nets. There is still rubble to be cleared, and beaches and parks to be cleaned. Of course, the more interaction with locals, the more Japanese language ability is useful.

Most "volunteer centers" and NPOs have closed or are no longer able to accommodate random volunteers, esp. those with little or no "skills" (carpentry, husbandry, etc). Most also expect you to stay for a longer period of time (a week or more) or are only interested in preformed groups.
I have selected four options for potential volunteers. Here are the selection criteria:

1. They are still active, with good connections to the local community
2. They are well-organized, safe and get you working
3. They provide all equipment (free), and can also provide
transportation, food and housing (for a fee)
4. They are open to short-term stays by those with various language
5. They are outside of any radiation areas (all in Ishinomaki)
6. I can vouch for them personally  

Slater assesses the opportunities for volunteer work with four major organizations active in providing a range of relief services in the disaster-stricken area. 



David H. Slater is an associate professor of cultural anthropology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and the Graduate Program of Japanese Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo. He is the co-editor with Ishida Hiroshi of Social Class in Contemporary Japan: Structures, Socialization and Strategies. He currently is completing a book on youth labor in neoliberal Japan. Contact:


Read More. . .