The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 35. 2012   

August 27, 2012   
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This week we launch an experiment with our interactive feature on Japanese youth in the form of a dialogue among youthful Japanese and international researchers, one that we present in both English and Japanese. Furuichi, Toivonen, Terachi and Ogawa adapt the Japanese tradition of zadankai to highlight alternative perspectives on issues of importance to contemporary Japanese and international society. Mihalopoulos takes a fresh look at overseas sex work in Meiji Japan. Two pieces consider the pinnacles of manga literature, one by Penney assesses recent neonationalist attacks on the Hiroshima story of Barefoot Gen. Gill introduces and presents Tsuge's classic Incident at Nishibeta Village which opens questions of mental health treatment in Japan. Vltchek follows China's great pianist Yuan Sheng to his performance and interaction with youth in Kenya's slums.

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Noritoshi FURUICHI, Tuukka TOIVONEN, Mikito TERACHI and Tomu OGAWA, Japanese Youth: An Interactive Dialogue: Towards Comparative Youth Research 
While striving to provide insights into Japan's young people before and after 3.11, this collaborative article is a first attempt at building a critical platform for international dialogue on youth generally. It is the first substantial product of an ongoing project called PCYR (Project for Comparative Youth Research).

The format is somewhat unusual: it contains not only a two-way book review in which the lead authors Noritoshi Furuichi and Tuukka Toivonen critically survey each other's recent contributions, but also an in-depth dialogue among the four authors. We chose this interactive approach to begin bridging two often disconnected (but potentially mutually enriching) streams of literature, namely, research on Japanese youth by non-Japanese scholars disseminated via overseas publishers, and research by Japanese scholars published almost exclusively within Japan.

Noritoshi Furuichi is a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Tokyo and a visiting scholar at Keio University's SFC research centre. He is currently researching young social entrepreneurs from a historical sociological perspective while actively writing about current issues. His recent publications include: The Hope Refugees: Peace Boat and the Illusion of Communities of Recognition.


Tuukka Toivonen is a Junior Research Fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, and a visiting scholar at the Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration (RIEB) of Kobe University. His current  work is centered around youth, policy and social innovation. A co-editor of A Sociology of Japanese Youth: From Returnees to NEETs, his monograph, Japan's Emerging Youth Policy: Getting Young Adults Back to Work (Abingdon: Routledge) will be published later this year.


Mikito Terachi is a Research Fellow / Assistant Professor (Jokyo) at the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM), International University of Japan. He specializes in the sociology of education, work and youth. He currently analyzes social images of "Doryoku (effort, work hard)" in Japanese society.


Tomu Ogawa is a Ph.D. student at the Interfaculty Information Initiative of the University of Tokyo in the fields of sociology and media studies. He is currently conducting historical-sociological research into the shifting meanings of 'youth' and 'young people' in Japan.  


 Recommended Citation: Noritoshi FURUICHI(古市憲寿), Tuukka TOIVONEN(トイボネン・トゥーッカ), Mikito TERACHI(寺地幹人) and Tomu OGAWA(小川豊武), "Japanese Youth: An Interactive Dialogue: Towards Comparative Youth Research," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 35, No. 3, August 27, 2012. 

Read More. . . 
Bill Mihalopoulos, Women and Overseas Sex Work and Globalization in Meiji Japan

Sex in Japan's Globalization, 1870-1930, from which the following discussion is adapted and developed, deals with poor rural women who migrated overseas to work as sex labourers. The women who worked in overseas brothels, I argue, must be first understood as peasants liberated from the land by Meiji land and tax policies, who became "free labour" searching for work in the colonial cities of Asia. Prostitution was one form of labour in the integration of Japanese women into the global work force. However, sex work as "labour" clashed with the simultaneous modernization goals of the Meiji state and social reformers who sought to embed cultural standards of ideal womanhood throughout Japanese society and to project the image of Japanese modernity internationally.

Bill Mihalopoulos is an assistant professor of Global Studies at Dong-A University and the author of Sex in Japan's Globalization, 1870-1930. Prostitutes, Emigration and Nation Building. This article draws on and adapts material from chapter one of the book.


Recommended citation: Bill Mihaloulos, "Women and Overseas Sex Work and Globalization in Meiji Japan," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 35, No. 1, August 27, 2012.

Read More. . .
Matthew Penney, Neo-nationalists Target Barefoot Gen 

Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Nakazawa Keiji's manga Barefoot Gen (1973-1985) is widely regarded as one of the most powerful Japanese works about the Asia-Pacific War. In the decades since it was published, the series has sold millions of copies, been adapted into animated and live action films, and has been used as a part of peace education initiatives in Japanese schools and at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is currently holding an exhibition of Nakazawa's original artwork.

When Barefoot Gen and other Nakazawa manga, which are even more graphic in their depiction of the Japanese military's atrocities such as the Nanking Massacre and Unit 731 human experimentation, were first serialized, the author reports that he experienced none of the harassment and threats that targeted contemporaries such as Honda Katsuichi whose Chugoku no tabi (A Journey to China) broke open debate about the Nanking Massacre in the early 1970s. While Nakazawa himself is not being targeted, there is now an effort afoot to block Barefoot Gen from being used as an educational resource in Hiroshima's schools.

Matthew Penney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Concordia University in Montreal. His research interests include neo-nationalism and images of war in popular culture.     


 Tom Gill, The Incident at Nishibeta Village: A Classic Manga by Tsuge Yoshiharu from the Garo Years

Can there be any other manga artist who has been so lavishly praised in the English language and yet been so little read or understood? He is typically accorded a few paragraphs in general surveys of postwar manga, but there is only a single short paper devoted specifically to his work published in English (Marechal 2005).

In Japan he is revered by anyone who takes manga seriously. Five films have been made out of his comics and nine have been adapted for TV. He remains a towering figure, frequently referenced and occasionally parodied. I am now engaged in making tentative first steps towards the close reading of word and image in Tsuge that has not hitherto been attempted in English. This article presents his classic Incident at Nishibeta Village.

Tom Gill is a professor at Meiji Gakuin University. He is the author of Men of Uncertain: the Social Organization of Day Laborers in Contemporary Japan and co-editor of Globalization and Social Change in Contemporary Japan.

Recommended Citation: Tom Gill, "The Incident at Nishibeta Village: A Classic Manga by Tsuge Yoshiharu from the Garo Years," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 35, No 2, August 27, 2012.

Andre Vltchek, Can the Miracle of Music Transform Africa's Poverty? China's Great Pianist Yuan Sheng Performs in Kenyan Slum

In recent years controversy has centered on China's advance, both geopolitically and economically, in the South China Sea, East China sea, and in Africa. Here is a look at another Chinese "export" as virtuoso pianist Yuan Sheng brings his music to the slums of Kenya and poses this question: can Africa follow in the footsteps of Venezuela and Brazil in using music as a way out of poverty for some of its youth?

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific, Oceania, is available here. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is Indonesia - The Archipelago of Fear. Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa.


Read More. . .