The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 23. 2012   

June 4, 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 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 

Scott W. D. Pearse-Smith, Lower Mekong Basin hydropower development and the trade-off between the 'traditional' and 'modern' sectors: 'Out with the old, in with the new'


The Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) denotes the geographical area that drains into the Mekong River and its tributaries within Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam. Hydropower development of the LMB's water resources is proceeding at a rapid pace. In addition to to 124 hydropower projects at various stages of development, up to twelve mainstream dams are planned for the LMB.  This large-scale hydro-development involves countless trade-offs of interests, creating clear winners and losers. One of the most significant trade-offs is that between the 'traditional' and 'modern' sectors.

Scott W. D. Pearse-Smith

National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand. 


Recommended citation: Scott W. D. Pearse-Smith, 'Lower Mekong Basin hydropower development and the trade-off between the 'traditional' and 'modern' sectors: 'Out with the old, in with the new', The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 23, No 1, June 4, 2012.


Read More. . .

 Minakami Tsutomu,translated by Zeljko Cipris, Daffodils


"Daffodils" is a story set in the US occupation of Japan.


Minakami Tsutomu, March 8, 1919 - September 8, 2004),  was a popular and prolific Japanese author of novels, detective stories, biographies, and plays. Many of his stories were made into movies.


Zeljko Cipris teaches Asian Studies and Japanese at the University of the Pacific in California and is a Japan Focus associate. He is the translator of Ishikawa Tatsuzo's Soldiers Alive and A Flock of Swirling Crows and Other Proletarian Writings, a collection of works by Kuroshima Denji. Zeljko's translation of The Crab Cannery Ship and Other Novels of Struggle by Kobayashi Takiji will be published in early 2013.


Recommended citation: Minakami Tsutomu, "Daffodils," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 23, No 2, June 4, 2012.

Read More. . . 

 Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, The "Black Box" of Japanese Nuclear Power


Japan's Mainichi Shimbun has recently described Japan's nuclear industry and regulatory organs as a "black box" - an apparatus with visible inputs and outputs but no way to see its inner workings. A recent series of reports from the Mainichi and Asahi, describe a climate of secrecy and collusion that is still very much alive in Japan's "nuclear village". The five articles reproduced below were published between May 24 and May 26. They reveal a series of "secret" meetings between government officials, nuclear company representatives, and regulators at which no minutes were kept.


June 3, 2012.

Read More. . .  

Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Reporters Without Borders on Discrimination Against Freelance Journalists in Japan


"Kisha (reporter) Clubs" are a much-discussed and controversial part of Japan's media environment. Laurie Anne Freeman's Closing the Shop: Information Cartels and Japan's Mass Media argues that these groups, which organize press access to officials in government, police and other areas of Japanese public life, limit contact to a core of "approved" journalists from Japan's big media organs, effectively cutting off freelancers and foreign journalists and freezing out anyone deemed too critical. Since the March 11, 2011 disasters, several of Japan's major newspapers, notably the Mainichi and Tokyo Shimbun, have presented hard-hitting, critical reportage on TEPCO and government silences and irresponsibility. Freelancers, as outlined in a May 23 press release from Reporters Without Borders, however, have not been given adequate access and another potential avenue for critical examination of the government and TEPCO response to the nuclear disaster has been cut off.


June 3, 2012.

 Read More. . .