The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 30. 2012   

July 23, 2012   
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In This Issue
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In This Issue

We continue to chronicle the extraordinary popular anti-nuclear power movement that is sweeping Japan and challenging the Noda administration, now on its last legs as it prioritizes nuclear startup and protection of TEPCO along with a sales tax hike. Here we profile the activities of the artist collective Chim↑Pom, which has been skewering the nuclear village. Stephan Feuchtwang reflects on the nature of Chinese civilisation in the longue durée and its contemporary relevance. We provide an updated and sourced version of Jon Mitchell's important report "Seconds Away From Midnight" on the Okinawa missile crisis of 1962.

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Chim↑Pom with an introduction by Linda Hoaglund, The Suddenly Relevant Activist Antics of Artist Collective Chim↑Pom: Challenging Japan's Nuclear Power Agenda

Chim↑Pom, the young Japanese art provocateurs' collective, first attained notoriety in 2008, when they hired a small plane to fly over Hiroshima to draw the word Pika (an onomatopoetic for the atomic flash) in smoke against skies once dwarfed by the mushroom cloud. Their un-announced "art prank," which they filmed for a video art project, drew sharp rebukes for its insensitivity to the hibakusha community and the group of five men and one woman had to publicly apologize. That was three years before the great trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and meltdown jolted the nation's consciousness into a re-evaluation of their singular nuclear history and vulnerability. Since March 11th, 2011, the group has responded by deploying their deceptive amateurism (none has attended art school and all have day jobs) to detonate Japan's post-3/11 taboos.   



Producer/Director Linda Hoaglund was born and raised in Japan. Her previous film, Wings of Defeat, told the story of Kamikaze pilots who survived WWII. She directed and produced ANPO, a film about Japanese resistance to U.S. bases seen through the eyes and works of celebrated Japanese artists. She has subtitled Japanese films, represents Japanese directors and artists, and serves as an international liaison for film producers. An Asia-Pacific Journal Associate, she can be contacted here.


Recommended citation: Chim↑Pom with an introduction by Linda Hoaglund, "The Suddenly Relevant Activist Antics of Artist Collective Chim↑Pom: Challenging Japan's Nuclear Power Agenda," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 30, No. 3, July 23, 2012.

Read More. . .
Stephan Feuchtwang, Civilisation and Its Discontents in Contemporary China

The governments of both mainland China and of Taiwan have turned their civilisation' into a national heritage, in different but often converging ways. But civilisation was transmitted before without its being a tradition' (chuantong) or a material and non-material heritage in the UNESCO-speak that prevails. Sinocentric views of civilisation speak a language of national pride and exaggeration of longevity and continuity, just as do Eurocentric and other nationalist views of their civilisations. All these claims need to be taken with at least pinches of salt. This article will be a handful of salt. Taking a more dispassionate and distanced concept of civilisation, I shall seek answers to what has happened to civilisation in China under its present government. I will focus on the People's Republic of China.

It will be an essay on the mixing of civilisations. However, it will not be on the mixing of Chinese with a neighbouring civilisation, but with so-called modern civilisation', which according to the great French anthropological theoretician of civilisation, Marcel Mauss, is a truly global civilisation that spread from Europe. Marshall Sahlins, referring to its origins, called it the native anthropological themes' of Western cosmology.

Its principal features are a self-consciousness about culture' and civilisation', a mass schooling system, secular authority of science, a narrative history of a people, and a state that is greater in its powers, particularly its administrative bureaucracy and its organisation of physical force, than any previous kind of state. It can be said that the state justifies its existence by claiming to lead and serve a people and to further the project of modernisation. Modernisation is a project of change and growth through the accumulation of capital and its investment through a mixture of market competition and monopoly (corporate and state), professing to realise equality of opportunity in its ideology of individual freedom and universality.    


Stephan Feuchtwang is Professor Emeritus in Anthropology at the London School of Economics and presently in charge of research on community planning and residents' self-organisation in four Chinese cities, funded by the European Union. His books include Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor, Making place: state projects, globalisation and local responses in China, and After the Event: The Transmission of Grievous Loss in Germany, China and Taiwan.


Recommended citation: Stephan Feuchtwang, "Civilization and its Discontents in Contemporary China," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 28, No. 2, July 23, 2012.


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.

This is a slightly revised and sourced version of a previously published article.

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 123, 2012.

 Read More. . .