The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 36. 2012   

September 3, 2012   
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Gavan McCormack, Troubled Seas: Japan's Pacific and East China Sea Domains (and Claims)

In the two years since 2010, the Asia-Pacific region has been roiled by rival territorial claims and counterclaims to islands, islets, and rocks scattered across the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, the Japan Sea and the South China Sea. In 2012 alone, strong claims and counter-claims to insular territories have been made by Japan, China, and Taiwan (Senkakus/Diaoyu), Japan and South Korea (Dokdo/Takeshima), and China, the Philippines and Vietnam among others (South China Sea islets). These official claims, moreover, in many cases have been reinforced by nationalist statements and actions by citizens and groups, and by clashes on the high seas contesting territorial claims. In evoking military alliances, Japan has brought the US into the picture in relation to its claims to the Senkakus, while the US has positioned itself in a position to intervene in the South China Seas clash. In a major examination of the Senkaku controversy, Gavan McCormack locates the issues within the broader terrain of the 1982 UNCLOS transformation of the Law of the Seas which  transformed a world of open seas into one in which the major colonial powers, specifically the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan, receive huge bonanzas in terms of 200 nautical mile exclusive economic rights that flow from their colonial legacies, while China comes up short. The result is to raise fundamental questions about the fundamental premises of the UNCLOS order.

Gavan McCormack is an emeritus professor of the Australian National University and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. His most recent book, co-authored with Satoko Oka Norimatsu, is Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, Rowman and Littlefield, July 2012 (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese translations to be published early in 2013.) He is the author of Client State: Japan in the American Embrace (New York, 2007, Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing 2008) and Target North Korea: Pushing North Korea to the Brink of Nuclear Catastrophe, 2004 (Seoul 2006).  


Gavan McCormack, "Troubled Seas: Japan's Pacific and East China Sea Domains (and Claims)," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 10, Issue 36, No. 4, September 3, 2012.

Read More. . . 
Peter Dale Scott, Why Americans Must End America's Self-Generating Wars
The most urgent political challenge to the world today is how to prevent the so-called "pax Americana" from progressively degenerating, like the 19th-century so-called "pax Britannica" before it, into major global warfare. I say "so-called," because each "pax," in its final stages, became less and less peaceful, less and less orderly, more and more a naked imposition of belligerent competitive power based on inequality.

American politics, both foreign and domestic, are being increasingly deformed by a war on terrorism that is counter-productive, actually increasing the number of perpetrators and victims of terrorist attacks. It is also profoundly dishonest, in that Washington's policies actually contribute to the funding and arming of the jihadists that it nominally opposes.

Above all the War on Terror is a self-generating war, because, as many experts have warned, it produces more terrorists than it eliminates. And it has become inextricably combined with America's earlier self-generating and hopelessly unwinnable war, the so-called War on Drugs.

The two self-generating wars have in effect become one. By launching a War on Drugs in Colombia and Mexico, America has contributed to a parastate of organized terror in Colombia and an even bloodier reign of terror in Mexico (with 50,000 killed in the last six years). By launching a War on Terror in Afghanistan in 2001, America has contributed to a doubling of opium production there, making Afghanistan now the source of 90 percent of the world's heroin and most of the world's hashish.

The purpose of this paper is to argue, using the analogy of British errors in the late 19th century, for a progressive return to a more stable and just international order, by a series of concrete steps, some of them incremental. I hope to demonstrate that the solution cannot be expected from the current party political system, but must come from people outside that system.



Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of

Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Why Americans Must End America's Self-Generating Wars," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 2, September 3, 2012.

Read More. . .
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a 'New Japan'

They exist all over Japan, like tiny sparks of light, flickering and fragile, but somehow surviving against the odds: the peace museums, the reconciliation groups, the local history movements that work to address problems of historical responsibility neglected or denied by national politicians. Indeed, Japan has the highest number of peace museums of any country in the world. But the heritage created at the grassroots by ordinary Japanese people is constantly under threat from the hostility of nationalist politicians and sections of the media: and never more so than today.

Among the sparks of light is Osaka's Human Rights Museum, also known as Liberty Osaka. Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan's only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women's rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka.

Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of the museum's funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are 'limited to discrimination and human rights' and fail to present children with an image of the future full of 'hopes and dreams'.

Hashimoto's own hopes and dreams for the future have recently been on prominent display. His Ōsaka Ishin no Kai (generally known in English as 'One Osaka', though literally meaning the 'Osaka Restoration Association')  has high hopes of gaining a substantial share of the seats up for grabs in Japan's impending national election, and Hashimoto is being hailed by many as a future national leader - even as a national savior.

But as the election draws nearer, Hashimoto's true colours become increasingly visible. He is now wooing the support of leading old-style nationalist Abe Shinzō, a scion of Japan's conservative elite and one of the rather crowded field of very short-lived former Japanese prime ministers. Once again, it is denial of the role of the military in enforcing the wartime comfort women system that is at the center of controversy.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a Japan Focus associate. Her most recent books are Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War, Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era and To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey Through China and Korea.   


Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, "Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a 'New Japan,'" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 1, September 3, 2012.


Fumika Sato, A Camouflaged Military: Japan's Self-Defense Forces and Globalized Gender Mainstreaming

This paper examines the history of women in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. I focus on policy makers' reasons for introducing women into the SDF, reasons that have nothing to do with gender equality. I apply a framework of "camouflaging" in  discussing these reasons.

Camouflage is a way of hiding that allows an otherwise visible existence to remain undetected, by blending in with its surroundings. Since its creation, the SDF has sought to camouflage its military character by blending into the surrounding civil society. Women have played an important role in camouflaging the SDF in this manner.

Fumika Sato is Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University. She grew up in Tokyo, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Keio University. She was the recipient of the Award for Young Scholars in Women's Studies in 2002. For her Ph.D. thesis, she conducted sociological fieldwork at the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and published it as Gender and the Military: Women in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (in Japanese, 2004). She also contributed a chapter to Militarized Currents: Toward a Decolonized Future in Asia and the Pacific (Shigematsu Setsu and Keith L. Camacho eds., Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010). She was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute in 2011-12.


Fumika Sato, "A Camouflaged Military: Japan's Self-Defense Forces and Globalized Gender Mainstreaming," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 3, September 3, 2012.