The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 27. 2012   

July 2, 2012   
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This week's issue features mass demonstrations in Tokyo and Bangkok, the former protesting PM Noda's restart of nuclear power plants in Oi, the latter the ongoing clashes between Yellow and Red forces to shape Thailand's future. Makiko Segawa introduces a photo exhibit at Nikon that was suppressed but subsequently opened under court order. Muto Reiko and Tomomi Yamaguchi examine the attempt by Fukushimia residents to file criminal charges against Tepco executives and government officials for their responsibility in the nuclear meltdown disasters. Finally, Jeremy Kuzmarov examine US police training in postwar and wartime Korea.

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Piers Williamson, Largest Demonstrations in Half a Century Protest the Restart of Japanese Nuclear Power Plants

On 29 June, Japan witnessed its largest public protest since the 1960s. This was the latest in a series of Friday night gatherings outside Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko's official residence. Well over one hundred thousand people came together to vent their anger at his 16 June decision to order a restart of Units 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear plant . This article discusses the events of the last several weeks which sparked this massive turnout as well as the nature of the protest. It begins by outlining the Japanese government's recent policies affirming nuclear power, from  Noda's nationwide address of 8 June justifying the Oi restarts on the grounds of 'protecting livelihoods', and continuing with the move on 20 June to revise the Atomic Energy Basic Law and establish a law to set up a new, yet potentially toothless, nuclear regulatory agency.


It then examines the main criticisms that drove people into the streets in successive demonstrations. Popular suspicions centre not only on regulatory questions, namely concerns over the neutering of a new regulatory agency, and the half-hearted temporary 'safety' standards applicable to restarts, but also on conditions on the ground at Oi. It concludes with accounts of the 22 June demonstration in which 40,000 citizens suddenly appeared to vent their anger, and the even larger 29 June action. 


Piers Williamson is a research assistant to Professor Andrew DeWitat Rikkyo University. He holds a PhD in East Asian Studies from the University of Sheffield.


Recommended citation: Piers Williamson, "Largest Demonstrations in Half a Century Protest the Restart of Japanese Nuclear Power Plants," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 5, July 2, 2012.

 Read More. . .
Philip J. Cunningham, Red and Yellow: Thailand's Future in Check and Balance

Clashing views about Thailand's future are being played out on the streets of Bangkok, taking the form of forceful demonstrations, contentious commemorations and populist grandstanding by red shirted and yellow shirted rivals. Behind the searing rhetoric and policy clashes are battles of personality, in which patron-client links coalesce, regroup and solidify, rewarding loyalty with a top-down sharing of power and spoils.

The paramount patron of the red shirts, Thaksin Shinawatra, has been especially resourceful at exerting full-spectrum influence, even in exile, from the red villages in the countryside to the corridors of the red building in Government House. He can exert influence through his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, his political party, Pheu Thai, "his" red shirts and a vast network of proxies, cronies and allies in places high and low.

Former business associate and current nemesis, Sondhi Limthongkul, has in his own way enjoyed something of a charmed existence, enjoying the discreet support of traditional power holders, wealthy supporters, media influence through ASTV and sheer good luck. Having survived an ambush that left his car riddled with over a hundred bullet holes, he has now, in the face of bankruptcy, and a host of legal problems, declared that the do or die "final struggle" is at hand.

Philip Cunningham is a professor of media studies who has taught at Chulalongkorn University and Doshisha University. He is the author of Tiananmen Moon: Inside the Chinese Student Uprising of 1989. A long-time student of Chinese, Japanese and Thai affairs, his blogspot is here.


Recommended citation: Philip J Cunningham, "Red and Yellow: Thailand's Future in Check and Balance,"  The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 4, July 2, 2012.

Read More. . .
Makiko SEGAWA, Nikon, Neo-Nationalists and a Censored Comfort Women Photo Exhibition
Nikon is the one of the world's most renowned and trusted camera makers, especially among professional photographers and journalists. So, its recent decision to pull the plug on an exhibition by Ahn Sehong, a 41-year-old Nagoya-based Korean photo-documentary artist, surprised many who might have expected the company to defend the integrity of artistic expression.  Forced to reverse that decision by the Tokyo District Court, which ordered it to hold the exhibit, the company banned Ahn from giving interviews to the media at the gallery - in effect censoring him from discussing his own work - and prevents foreign press from entering the venue.

The exhibition, Layer by Layer: Surviving Korean Comfort Women Left Behind in China was scheduled to run from June 26th to July 9th at the Shinjuku Nikon Salon in Tokyo. About a month before it was due to open, Nikon told Ahn that the exhibition was cancelled.  All indications are that the company bent to pressure from Japanese neonationalist zealots.

To cap the incident, a great deal of Ahn's personal and contact information has been leaked online, possibly exposing him to danger from those zealots. "It suggests that in the future we photographers will have to think hard in advance about what we exhibit for Nikon."

Nevertheless, while hobbled by Nikon, the exhibit has opened.

Makiko SEGAWA is a freelance journalist based in Japan, as well as a translator and guide to overseas media. She is the Japan correspondent of the Committee to Protect Journalists. She can be contacted at


Recommended citation: Makiko Segawa, "Nikon, Neonationalists and a Censored Comfort Women Photo Exhibition," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 1, July 2, 2012.


Read More. . . 

Tomomi YAMAGUCHI and Muto Ruiko, Muto Ruiko and the Movement of Fukushima Residents to Pursue Criminal Charges against Tepco Executives and Government Officials

Muto Ruiko is a long-time antinuclear activist based in Fukushima. She is also one of 1,324 Fukushima residents who filed a criminal complaint in June 2012 pressing charges against Tepco executives and government officials. This article introduces Muto's activism on nuclear energy, her life before and after the Fukushima Dai'ichi disaster, and her recent effort to mobilize citizens for the criminal complaint. It also details the law suit in progress.  


Tomomi Yamaguchi is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Montana State University. Her co-authored book in Japanese (with Ogiue Chiki and Saito Masami), Social Movements at a Crossroads: Feminism's "lost years" vs. grassroots conservatism, is forthcoming in September 2012. Her current research involves nationalism, racism and xenophobia in contemporary Japan, particularly on the "Conservatives in Action" movement.


Recommended citation: Tomomi YAMAGUCHI and Muto Ruiko, "Muto Ruiko and the Movement of Fukushima Residents to Pursue Criminal Charges against Tepco Executives and Government Officials," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 2, July 2, 2012.

Read More. . . 
Jeremy Kuzmarov, Police Training, "Nation-Building," and Political Repression in Postcolonial South Korea

As American troops became bogged down first in Iraq and then Afghanistan, a key component of U.S. strategy was to build up local police and security forces in an attempt to establish law and order. This approach is consistent with practices honed over more than a century in developing nations within the expanding orbit of American global power. From the conquest of the Philippines and Haiti at the turn of the twentieth century through Cold War interventions and the War on Terror, police training has been valued as a cost-effective means of suppressing radical and nationalist movements, precluding the need for direct U.S. military intervention, thereby avoiding the public opposition it often arouses and the expense it invariably entails. Carried out by multiple agencies, including the military, State Department, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and, most recently private mercenary firms such as DynCorp, the programs have helped to fortify and gain leverage over the internal security apparatus of client regimes and provided an opportunity to export and test new policing technologies and administrative techniques, as well as modern weaponry and equipment which has all too often been used for repressive ends.

American advisers from the OSS, FBI, Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and the New York Police Department began instructing Chinese Guomindang leader Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek)'s secret police, commanded by Dai Li, in the late 1930s. The focus, OSS agent Milton Miles wrote, was on "political crimes and means of effective repression" against the communist movement, adding that the Americans were never able to "separate police activities from guerrilla activities." Clandestine police training in China set a precedent for Japan and South Korea under U.S. occupation, where police advisers provided training in riot control, set up modern communications and record-collection systems, and helped amass thousands of dossiers on alleged communists, weaving information into a dark tapestry of "threat" where sober analysis might have found none. Civil liberties and democratic standards were subordinated to larger geo-strategic goals centered on containing Chinese communist influence and rolling back the progress of the left. This article drawing on a wealth of US government documents, examines police training in Korea before and during the US-Korean War.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is Jay P. Walker Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tulsa. He is the author of Modernizing Repression. Police Training and Nation-Building in the American Century and The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs.


Recommended Citation: Jeremy Kuzmarov, "Police Training, 'Nation-Building,' and Political Repression in Postcolonial South Korea,"The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 3, July 2, 2012.

Read More. . .