The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 38. 2012   

September 17, 2012   
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Thanks to the many who responded so generously to our request for financial support for the Journal . We need to hear from many more. This will be the last week of the current drive. No, it's not too late.  As we approach our first decade of publication, we need to place the journal on a sustainable foundation. This will require hiring of a part-time managing editor. As you know, we have no institutional backing and no angel. But we do have 6,000 loyal regular readers and many more who consult our work periodically. In the weeks ahead we will outline more of our plans. Here I will mention only one. Under the editorship of Laura Hein, we will shortly launch the first of ten course readers drawing on the most important APJ articles on themes ranging from war and historical memory to women and Japan's political economy, to environmental history, popular culture, Okinawa, and cross-cultural globalization. With this we hope to extend our reach more fully into the classroom.
We ask those who value our work to click on the red sustainer button on our home page and contribute generously. While we hope that many will become sustainers or renew their membership at our basic rate of $25, we need the help of those who are able to support the journal at higher levels. Thanks in advance.

Another way in which you can help APJ is by clicking on the link to any book on our home page or in the left hand column of any article when buying books at Amazon. A portion of all purchases made (whether to one of our books or any other) then goes to the journal. There is, of course, no cost to you, nor is this limited to purchases of the books on our site: you simply need to begin your excursion at Amazon by clicking on a book here before making whatever purchase you wish..

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Our subscribers via this Newsletter, as well as through Facebook and Twitter now number 6,000. We invite you  help us expand these numbers by informing colleagues, associates, students and friends who might find our work useful. The best way to do so is to send along a recent article of interest and invite them to subscribe via our homepage either to receive the Newsletter or to receive notification via Facebook or Twitter. Another good way is to include APJ in your syllabus.

Our home page has two important features. One is a regularly updated guide to the more than 100 articles we have published on the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power meltdown which is transforming Japanese politics and society, and is reshaping issues of nuclear power and energy policy in that nation and globally. Articles are arranged topically. In addition, we have added a guide to some of the most important, and liveliest, online and print sources on 3.11 including blogs and websites.  Second, the list of articles now indicates all those available in Japanese translation or original, as well as other languages.

Many widely read articles appear in What's hot and they bring a diversity of sources and reports from Ground Zero in Tohoku and Tokyo. "What's hot" offers breaking stories and provides information beyond the headlines, to cast them in broader perspective. What's hot is regularly updated and we invite you to consult it and contribute to it. Find it at the top of the homepage.


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  Andrew DeWit, Japan's Energy Policy at a Crossroads: A Renewable Energy Future?

After months of sturm und drang, on September 14 the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) announced a new energy policy. As the Asahi correctly argues, the policy is chock full of contradictions and escape clauses. Even so, the policy will almost certainly - perhaps in the course of this month - be adopted as is by the cabinet and frame the new "energy basic plan" put out by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The energy policy's main components, so far as much of the domestic and international debate are concerned, are a commitment to withdraw from nuclear energy by the 2030s and emphasize renewable energy. An example of international reaction is the September 14 Financial Times' declaration that Japan's "decision to phase out nuclear power has sent shockwaves through the energy industry, and could affect everything from global gas prices to the business of making and selling solar panels." This article examines the logic and limits of the new policy, and the continuing political battles over Japan's energy future.  



Andrew DeWit is Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Iida Tetsunari and Kaneko Masaru, he is coauthor of "Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan," in Jeff Kingston (ed.)  Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan.


Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, "Japan's Energy Policy at a Crossroads: A Renewable Energy Future?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 38 No. 4, September 17, 2012.


Read More. . . 
David T. Johnson, Killing Asahara: What Japan Can Learn about Victims and Capital Punishment from the Execution of an American Terrorist  


The murders committed by AUM Shinrikyo guru Asahara Shoko and his henchmen may be the most malevolent crimes in Japanese history. March 20, 1995 was Japan's 9/11, and but for a little dumb luck-including the failure to puncture all the bags of sarin that were planted in the subway trains-the death toll could have been much higher than 13 and the number of persons injured might have reached five digits instead of the true total of 6300. Asahara and his followers killed at least 16 people in the six years leading up to that awful Monday morning, and because of their proficiency at disposing of dead bodies the real figure could be two or three times higher. This was murder on a scale Japan has seldom seen, and for every person killed or injured by AUM, dozens more were adversely affected, often in life-wrecking ways.

Seventeen years have passed since Asahara was pulled from a cubbyhole in Kamikuishiki where he hid from police while clutching $100,000 in cash, yet many important matters remain poorly understood. NHK television recently broadcast several hours of interesting speculation, but in the end could not answer why the Tokyo gas attack occurred and why Asahara wanted to precipitate Armageddon. Against this background, and in light of the terrorism of the Oklahoma bombings,  the author assesses the ethics and law of the death penalty in Japan and the Unite States. 



David T. Johnson is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawaii. This article is a revised and expanded version of "Asahara o Korosu to iu Koto: Amerikajin Terorisuto no Jiken kara Higaisha to Shikei ni tsuite Kangaeru", Sekai (October 2012), pp.214-226. Johnson is co-author (with Franklin E. Zimring) of The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia (Oxford University Press, 2009), and co-editor of Law & Society Review. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.


Recommended citation:David T. Johnson, "Killing Asahara: What Japan Can Learn About Victims and Capital Punishment from the Execution of an American Terrorist," The Asia-Pacific Journal,Vol 10, Issue 38, No. 5, September 17, 2012.


Read More. . .
John Gittings, History of Peace Thought East and West: Its Lessons For Today

Generals preparing to go to war are, we are often told, fond of reading military classics on the Art of War. Some of the stories may be apocryphal - did Norman Schwarzkopf really have a copy of the ancient Chinese strategist Sunzi on the subject in his back pocket when he launched the Gulf War, or did Napoleon have it at his bedside? -  but  it is certainly studied widely, along with Machiavelli's essay of the same title, and Clausewitz's On War, at West Point, Sandhurst and Saint Cyr.  So are the strategies and manoeuvres of classical military engagements from the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BC through to the Crimean and Franco-Prussian Wars of the 19th century and on into the world conflicts of the 20th century. The curriculum of the PLA National Defence Academy in Beijing, which claims to be China's equivalent of West Point, no doubt has a similar historical and geographical breadth.  The academic study of war, while recognising the shift to what is generally called modern warfare' brought about by the Napoleonic wars (or, in some views, rather earlier) also takes a longer and wider view of the subject. As the British war studies professor Lawrence Freedman has observed,  The [strategic] debates of today can be traced back to those of classical times, so that Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian wars from 400 BC can still serve as a starting point for analyses of the causes of war while Machiavelli can still be read with profit by aspiring strategists.' Contemporary thought on war and peace viewed against classical Western and Chinese peace thought over the ages.


John Gittings was chief foreign leader-writer and East Asia Editor at The Guardian, and is now on the editorial board of the Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace and a research associate of the Centre of Chinese Studies at the School of Oriental & African Studies. After working at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, he began reporting on China during the Cultural Revolution, and later covered major events such as the Beijing massacre and the Hong Kong handover. He is the author of The Changing Face of China: From Mao to Market (2005) and, most recently, The Glorious Art of Peace: From the Iliad to Iraq

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).


Recommended citation: John Gittings, "History of Peace Thought East and West: its Lessons for Today," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 38, No. 2, September 17, 2012.


Gavan McCormack and Satoko Norimatsu, Ryukyu/Okinawa, From Disposal to Resistance 


This is a slightly modified version of Chapter One of Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, Lanham, Boulder, Rowman and Littlefield, 2012. 



Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at the Australian National University and author of a number of studies of modern and contemporary East Asia. His most recent book, Client State: Japan in the American Embrace (2007), was translated and published in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.


Satoko Oka Norimatsu is director of the Peace Philosophy Centre (, based in Vancouver, Canada. She writes, speaks, and teaches on issues such as the US military bases in Okinawa and the WWII history and memory, and coordinates peace study tours, including an annual North American and Japanese students' trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Twitter: @PeacePhilosophy; Facebook: Peace Philosophy Centre)



Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu,"Ryukyu/Okinawa, From Disposal to Resistance," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 38, No. 1, September 17, 2012.


Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Anti-Osprey Rally in Okinawa

Since the Fukushima Daiichi crisis, Tokyo and other major cities have been the sites of anti-nuclear demonstrations on a scale beyond any mass protests seen in mainland Japan since the "season of politics" of the 1960s and 1970s. Specifying "mainland Japan" is necessary, however, as Okinawa Prefecture, the southern islands occupied by the United States as a military colony between 1945 and 1972, and host to 25% of the total US military facilities in Japan despite making up only 0.6% of the country's land area in the decades since, has repeatedly seen huge rallies against this unjust burden. The largest protest movement to date was sparked by the rape and brutalization of a 14 year old girl by three American servicemen in 1995. Today, protests against the deployment of the V-22 Osprey aircraft to Okinawa are beginning to rival the earlier movement in scope.  


On September 9 2012, rallies demanding the removal of the aircraft, which critics have decried as unsafe and a crash risk that could start forest fires in ecologically sensitive areas or hit populated areas, were held at several sites in Okinawa and accompanied by a demonstration in Tokyo. According to the organizers, over 100,000 gathered to protest in Okinawa. Other media placed the number in the tens of thousands.


Read More. . .  

Davinder L. Bhowmik, Fractious Memories in Medoruma Shun's Tales of War

Medoruma Shun (1960-), a fiery critic and one of Japan's most imaginative fiction writers, joined tens of thousands who participated in the September 9, 2012 protest against the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Futenma, Okinawa. In his blog he mentions Okinawa Governer Nakaima Hirokazu's decision not to join the protest. This he follows up with the speculation that politicians in Tokyo will use Nakaima's absence to point to divisions in the island prefecture, a common ploy to dismiss unity among large numbers of Okinawans. Several of Medoruma's fictional works, ranging from early stories such as "Taiwan Woman: Record of a Shoal of Fish" and "Prizecock" to mature works such as "Hope" and Rainbow Bird make reference to the ongoing protests in Okinawa. The 9/9/12 protest, the largest in Okinawa's history, will surely make its way into a future story. One critic says the spontaneous formation of a crowd in "Droplets," analyzed below, smacks of Okinawa (Okinawa teki).



Davinder Bhowmik is associate professor of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington and a specialist in modern Japanese and Okinawan literature. She is the author of Writing Okinawa: Narrative Acts of Identity and Resistance and is the coeditor of a forthcoming anthology of Japanese fiction, on and poetry, and drama from Okinawa.


Recommended citation: Davinder Bhowmik, "Fractious Memories in Medoruma Shun's Tales of War," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 38, No. 3, September 17, 2012.


Read More. . . 

Brigitte Steger, "We were all in this together ..." - Challenges to and practices of cleanliness in tsunami evacuation shelters in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, 2011


Based on ethnographic research in tsunami evacuation shelters in the coastal town of Yamada, this article explores how people have employed hygiene practices to regain control over their lives after the tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011. By considering toilets and baths, shoes and food, face masks and cleaning routines, it discusses issues of health and wellbeing, and shame and solidarity, and shows how people have resorted to han (group) structures and gender division of labor to create a temporary home. Co-operating in cleaning practices has helped them to regain stability and to re-create social order. 



Brigitte Steger is Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge. She is author of (Keine) Zeit zum Schlafen? and editor of Night-time and Sleep in Asia and the West among others. Currently she is co-editing a book Coping with Disaster: Ethnographies from a Tsunami and Nuclear Devastated Japan (forthcoming at Peter Lang with Tom Gill and David Slater).


Recommended citation: Brigitte Steger, "We were all in this together ..." - Challenges to and practices of cleanliness in tsunami evacuation shelters in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, 2011," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 10, Issue 38, No. 6, September 17, 2012.


Read More. . .