The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 28. 2012   

July 9, 2012   
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Wani Yukio, Barren Senkaku Nationalism and China-Japan Conflict

On April 17, 2012, the day that Tokyo Mayor Ishihara Shintarô went public with his plan for the metropolis to purchase the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands, the government of Yilan County in Taiwan responded, "The only way to carry out a sale of the Diaoyu Islands is through an official open, competitive bidding process."  

This response was based on the fact that in Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands fall under the jurisdiction of the township of Toucheng in Yilan County, and on January 29, 2004 the county completed land registration for the islands, based on satellite photographs. It is noteworthy that this took place during the pro-independence administration of President Chen Shui-bian. Shukan Kinyobi has obtained copies of the land registry documents.  

The author traces the rise of "Senkaku Nationalism" in Japan and in the Ryukyus and warns of the growing danger of China-Japan conflict.  


Wani Yukio is a journalist. This article appeared in Shukan Kinyobi on May 25, 2012.  

Recommended citation: Wani Yukio, "Barren Senkaku Nationalism and China-Japan Conflict," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 4, July 9, 2012.

 Read More. . .
Karel van Wolferen, Japan's Political Upheaval and Massive Public Dissent

On the surface the story is simple enough. Japan's most powerful and controversial politician has done it again: shaking up the party political world by leaving, and perhaps breaking up, the DPJ, Japan's ruling party. And that because things did not go his way. The Japanese media were, predictably, ready with their favorite epithet, 'the destroyer', and with quotes from political commentators that this time his star may be truly fading because the perennial polls show that the people have had it with him.


This is the first of two stories (the other by Yamaguchi Jiro) on the storm in the DPJ following the departure of fifty members associated with Ozawa Ichiro centered on the decision to pass a controversial consumption tax. 


Karel van Wolferen is a Dutch journalist, writer and Emeritus University Professor of Comparative Political and Economic Institutions at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power and of George W. Bush and the Destruction of World Order, as well as numerous books in Japanese to be found here. His website in English is 


Recommended citation: Karel van Wolferen, "Japan's Political Upheaval and Massive Public Dissent," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 2, July 9, 2012.

 Yamaguchi Jiro, The End of the Democratic Experiment

 The departure of former leader, Ozawa Ichiro, from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) signifies that the twenty year-long effort at reform of politics and realignment of the political party system has come to a dead end. It was just twenty years ago, in the summer, that the resignation of Deputy Prime Minster Kanemaru Shin over political fund problems led to crisis within the Takeshita faction and the search for a way to reform Japanese party politics.

And always at the centre of the process was Ozawa Ichiro. Perhaps it is an irony that each step forward Japanese politics made was at the price of an Ozawa defeat. Ozawa's designs failed dismally, in the Takeshita factional contest, the collapse of the non-LDP Hosokawa coalition government, the collapse of the Shinshinto, with the end result being merger in the DPJ.


This is the second of two stories (the other by Karel van Wolferen) on the storm in the DPJ following the departure of fifty members associated with Ozawa Ichiro centered on the decision to pass a controversial consumption tax.   

Yamaguchi Jiro is Professor of Public Administration at the Graduate School of Law, Hokkaido University. In 2002-2007 he directed a comparative research project on "Transformations in Governance in the Age of Globalization". After its completion Yamaguchi initiated a follow-up project on "Civil Social Democracy". The term "civil social democracy" is conceived as a key concept for overcoming the "post-democratic" condition in developed countries. Yamaguchi has extensively published on contemporary Japanese politics.

Recommended citation: Yamaguchi Jiro, 'The End of the Democratic Experiment,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 5, July 9, 2012. 


Read More. . . 

Heonik Kwon and Byung-Ho Chung, North Korea's Partisan Family State


The decade after the Korean War (1950-1953) was a formative era for North Korea. Many of the striking features of the country's political and social system visible today took root during the postwar era, from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s.


The era was, above all, a time of proud achievements for North Korea. Socialist politics are often referred to as substantive economic democracy based on the principle of egalitarian access to and distribution of social goods, in contrast to the formal democracy of liberal states founded on ideas of universal suffrage and personal liberty to pursue greater access to social goods. In the early postwar years, North Korea achieved great success in building a state and economic system on the model of substantive democracy, rapidly transforming a war-torn, and previously highly stratified, primarily agrarian society into an energetic, industrial society enjoying distributive justice and universal literacy.


North Korea recorded this achievement in a relatively brief period of time and with relatively little social turbulence or political violence compared to other revolutionary socialist states. This was, in significant measure, an ironically positive consequence of the Korean War, which, although it literally brought North Korea to ashes and claimed unimaginable suffering from its population, nevertheless had the effect of eliminating major class conflicts and social inequalities. The war resulted in poverty and deprivation for everyone; it also uprooted potential class and political enemies, many of whom moved to South Korea during the war.  

Ranging broadly across the period from the guerrilla struggle in Manchukuo to today, the authors examine the character and contradictions of the North Korean partisan family state.  


Heonik Kwon is professorial senior research fellow in social anthropology at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. Byung-Ho Chung is professor of cultural anthropology and director of the Institute for Globalization and Multicultural Studies at Hanyang University, South Korea. Their co-authored book, North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics, was published in 2012 by Rowman & Littlefield.


Recommended citation: Heonik Kwon and Byung-Ho Chung, "North Korea's Partisan Family State," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 1, July 9, 2012.

Read More. . . 
Jonathan Watts with a Comment by Robert Marks, China's Green Power Experiment: Whither the Environment

As it aims to reduce fossil-fuel use, the country is investing heavily in wind and solar energy. Gansu province, once known for dirty mines and oil wells, is being revitalised. Watts examines the wide-ranging innovations in one of China's poorest provinces. Where will such environmentally-directed efforts fit in the context of the nation's breakneck industrialization and automobilization? Robert Marks examines the Gansu experiment in light of China's development priorities.  


Jonathan Watts is the Guardian's Asian environment correspondent.  

Robert B. Marks is Richard and Billie Deihl Professor of History at Whittier College. He is the author of China: Its Environment and History (2012), The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century (2007).  

Recommended citation: Jonathan Watts with a comment by Robert Marks, "China's Green Power Experiment: Whither the Environment," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 3, July 9, 2012.

Read More. . .