The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 41. 2012   

October 8, 2012   
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In This Issue
Partha Chatterjee, Ayça Çubukçu  
Empire as a practice of power: introduction  

Asia-Pacific Journal Feature
Okinawa Protests Explode

Iwata Wataru, Nadine Ribault and Thierry Ribault
Thyroid Cancer in Fukushima: Science Subverted in the Service of the State
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The anthropologist, historian and Subaltern Studies founding member Partha Chatterjee, in conversation with Ayça Çubukçu, ranges widely across the nature of imperialism in modern political theory, focusing on Britain's Indian empire but extending his gaze to the Asia-Pacific including the Japanese empire and the contemporary rise of China.

This week again Okinawa is aflame over the US-Japan decision to impose the controversial and dangerous tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey aircraft on Okinawa in the face of virtually universal opposition. The result has been confrontation with scores of Okinawan demonstrators hauled off by police and a seething population.
while thousands of demonstrators protest and the police move in to make arrests following the largest demonstrations in Okinawan history. We review the events of citizen actions at Futenma.

Does the Fukushima power plant meltdown pose a significant risk of thyroid cancer to the children of the region? Iwata Wataru, Nadine Ribault and Thierry Ribault examine the largescale surveys undertaken under Prof. Yamashita Shunichi and explain why the goal appears to be  reassurance that the risks are minimal rather than comprehensive investigation of the data and treatment of victims.

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Partha Chatterjee and Ayça Çubukçu, Empire as a Practice of Power: Introduction 


When Siraj, the ruler of Bengal, overran the British settlement of Calcutta in 1756, he allegedly jailed 146 European prisoners overnight in a cramped prison. Of the group, 123 died of suffocation. While this episode was never independently confirmed, the story of "the black hole of Calcutta" was widely circulated and seen by the British public as an atrocity committed by savage colonial subjects. Partha Chatterjee's The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power (Princeton, 2012) follows the ever-changing representations of this historical event and founding myth of the British Empire in India, from the eighteenth century to the present. Chatterjee explores how a supposed tragedy paved the ideological foundations for the "civilizing" force of British imperial rule and territorial control in India.

Chatterjee takes a close look at the justifications of modern empire by liberal thinkers, international lawyers, and conservative traditionalists, examining the intellectual and political responses of the colonized, including those of Bengali nationalists. The two sides of empire's entwined history are brought together in the story of the Black Hole memorial: set up in Calcutta in 1760, demolished in 1821, restored by Lord Curzon in 1902, and removed in 1940 to a neglected churchyard. Challenging conventional truisms of imperial history, nationalist scholarship, and liberal visions of globalization, Chatterjee argues that empire is a necessary and continuing part of the history of the modern state.  

The issues are explored in Ayça Çubukçu's interview with the author, and in an extension of the frame of reference to the Japanese empire and contemporary Asia.   

Partha Chatterjee is Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at Columbia University. A founding member of the Subaltern Studies Group, his recent books include The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power, and Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy.


Ayça Çubukçu is a Lecturer in Human Rights at the Department of Sociology and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is the author of "On Cosmopolitan Occupations: the Case of the World Tribunal on Iraq," Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies.


Recommended citation: Partha Chatterjee and Ayça Çubukçu, "Empire as a practice of power: introduction," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 41,
No 1, October 8, 2012.


Read More. . .  

Asia Pacific Journal, Okinawa Protests Explode

The Ospreys have arrived. On October 1- 2, 9 of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing aircraft were deployed to Futenma. Locals argue that the aircraft, which has a dubious safety record that has earned it the ominous nickname "The Widow Maker", is an unacceptable crash risk that threatens the civilian population and natural environment.  This Hot presents the recent flow of the movement and the police crackdown in the face of unified Okinawan resistance.

Recommended citation: The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 41, October 8, 2012.


 Read More. . .    

Iwata Wataru, Nadine Ribault and Thierry Ribault, Thyroid Cancer in Fukushima: Science Subverted in the Service of the State
On 11 September 2012, in a conference room in a hotel in Fukushima city, Professor Yamashita Shunichi presented the latest results of the Fukushima Prefectural People's Health Management Survey, launched in June 2011. Twenty-seven people were in the audience, mainly journalists. The CRMS (Citizen's Radiation Measuring Station network) was one of two citizen groups present on that day.

Last year Yamashita had recommended that the people of Fukushima smile in order to better face radiation, and he stated that 100 mSv per year is an acceptable radiation exposure limit. Today he sits before the "exploratory committee" of the survey, which he presides over.

The final objectives of the Fukushima health survey were set by Yamashita and Prof. Suzuki Shinichi even before obtaining the first results. They were: "to calm the anxiety of the population" and to convince doubters that "the health impact of the nuclear accident of Fukushima can be assumed to be very minor."

What is needed to determine the risk of radiation and to protect the children of Fukushima?

Recommended citation:  Iwata Wataru, Nadine Ribault and Thierry Ribault, "Thyroid Cancer in Fukushima: Science Subverted in the Service of the State,"  The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 41, No 2, October 8, 2012.


Read More. . .