The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 29. 2012   

July 16, 2012   
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In This Issue
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In This Issue

Many of our readers of a certain age will recall the fear generated by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 when Kennedy and Khrushchev brought the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust. This week Jon Mitchell introduces another dimension of that crisis: the view from the secret US missile base on Okinawa as former US missileers tell their story. Noriko Manabe details the No Nukes 2012 Concert and the role of musicians in the anti-nuclear power movement that is sweeping Japan. Those of a certain age will enjoy performances of musicians who are putting their energy into the movement.

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Jon Mitchell, "Seconds Away From Midnight": U.S. Nuclear Missile Pioneers on Okinawa Break Fifty Year Silence on a Hidden Nuclear Crisis of 1962

In October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union teetered on the brink of nuclear war after American spy planes discovered that the Kremlin had stationed medium-range atomic missiles on the communist island of Cuba in the Caribbean, barely over the horizon from Florida.

The weapons placed large swaths of the Eastern U.S. - including Washington, D.C. - within range of attack and sparked a two-week showdown between the superpowers that Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called "the most dangerous moment in human history."
Six months prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, however, a parallel drama had played out on the other side of the world as the U.S. secretly brought near-identical missiles to the ones the Russians stationed on Cuba to another small island - Okinawa.

While the full facts of that deployment have never been officially disclosed, now for the first time three of the U.S. Air Force's nuclear pioneers have broken the silence about Okinawa's secret missiles, life within the bunkers and a military miscalculation of apocalyptic proportions - the targeting of unaligned China at a time when China-Soviet polemics were in full public view.

Jon Mitchell is a Welsh-born writer based in Yokohama. On 15 May 2012, Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting aired an hour-long documentary based upon Jon's research called 枯れ葉剤を浴びた島 - Defoliated Island - Defoliated Island. This was followed by a 90-minute program - The Scoop Special - aired by TV-Asahi on 20 May 2012. He has written widely on Okinawan social issues for the Japanese and American press - a selection of which can be found here. He teaches at Tokyo Institute of Technology and is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.


Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, "Seconds Away From Midnight": U.S. Nuclear Missile Pioneers on Okinawa Break Fifty Year Silence on a Hidden Nuclear Crisis of 1962," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 29, No. 1. July 16, 2012.

 Read More. . .
Noriko MANABE, The No Nukes 2012 Concert and the Role of Musicians in the Anti-Nuclear Movement

On July 7-8, 2012, a two-day mass rock concert called No Nukes 2012 was held in the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, near Tokyo. The organizer was Sakamoto Ryuichi, member of the groundbreaking Japanese technopop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) and Academy Award-winning composer. Profits for the concert were donated to Sayonara Genpatsu 1000 Man Nin Akushon (Citizens' Committee for the 10 Million People's Petition to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants), an antinuclear group which Sakamoto has been backing, along with Nobel Prize-winning author Oe Kenzaburo and others. The concert featured performances by 18 groups, including pioneering electronic groups Kraftwerk and YMO as well as rock bands Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Acidman, and others.

The concert took place the day after a massive protest in front of the Prime Minister's official residence (Kantei)-the latest and biggest in what has become a regular Friday-night protest, which, organizers estimated, attracted 150,000 people that evening. Sakamoto himself had participated in this protest, saying before the camera, "I come here as a shimin (citizen); it's important that we all do what we can and raise our voices."

Sakamoto's concert is a significant moment for the Japanese antinuclear movement.

Noriko Manabe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Associated Faculty in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, where she teaches courses in popular music and ethnomusicology. She has published articles on Japanese rap, mobile music, and Cuban music, and has articles in press on Japanese hip-hop DJs, wartime children's songs, and online radio. Information about her work can be found here.

Recommended citation: Noriko MANABE, "The No Nukes 2012 Concert and the Role of Musicians in the Anti-Nuclear Movement," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 29, No. 2, July 16, 2012.