The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 43. 2012   

October 29, 2012   
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In an important article on September 12 Jeff Kingston analyzed the structure and power of Japan's nuclear village. How has Japan's power structure responded to the combination of overwhelming popular opposition to nuclear power and the largest mass demonstrations in half a century? Kingston shows why TEPCO and the giant power companies have been shaken by the 3.11 meltdown and the attack on nuclear power, but their ability to shape policy in the bureaucracy and at the peak of the ruling Democratic Party remains largely intact. This article ranges widely over the public review of nuclear power and energy alternatives and finds the government backtracking on its pledge to end nuclear power in the 2030s. Mark Selden assess economic nationalism and regionalism in East Asia at a time of rising territorial conflict among the nations of the region.

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Jeff Kingston, Power Politics: Japan's Resilient Nuclear Village    


The Fukushima nuclear accident spurred expectations in the Japanese public and around the world that Japan would pull the plug on nuclear energy. Indeed, in July 2011 Prime Minister Kan Naoto announced that he no longer believed that nuclear reactors could be operated safely in Japan because it is so prone to devastating earthquakes and tsunami; by May 2012 all of Japan's 50 viable reactors were shut down for safety inspections. Plans to boost nuclear energy to 50% of Japan's electricity generating capacity were scrapped and in 2012 the government introduced subsidies to boost renewable energy. Incredibly, an aroused public took to the streets in the largest display of activism since the turbulent 1960s as the summer of discontent featured numerous demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of anti-nuclear protestors. Moreover, public opinion polls indicate that more than 70% of Japanese want to phase out nuclear energy by 2030.

The government went through the motions of consulting public opinion, but found that 81% of those it surveyed came up with the 'wrong' answer, favoring the zero nuclear option by 2030. Ironically, the government then held seminars to educate selected citizens about the pros and cons of nuclear energy, hoping that this would produce a better result but the before and after surveys reveal that the more people know about nuclear energy the less likely they are to support it. However, the public was never going to have the final say on something as important as national energy strategy and the nuclear village has intervened to 'save' the people from their 'misguided' views on the dangers of nuclear energy.  


Jeff Kingston is Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. He is the editor of Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan: Response and Recovery after Japan's 3/11 and author of Contemporary Japan. (2nd edition).


Recommended Citation: Jeff Kingston, 'Power Politics: Japan's Resilient Nuclear Village,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 43, October 29, 2012.

Read More. . .


Mark Selden, Economic Nationalism and Regionalism in Contemporary East Asia

East Asia as a region is notable because of its recent resurgence to a position at the center of the global economy following a protracted decline from the heights achieved during a previous period of regional peace and prosperity under the China-centered tributary trade system of the eighteenth century. Following a brief survey of East Asia in the era framed by the Sinocentric tributary trade system (sixteenth-eighteenth century), I show how the stage was set for the decline and subsequent resurgence of East Asia and how the character of regional geopolitics and political economy changed in the current epoch of economic nationalism, region formation, and globalization.


The interaction and tension between economic nationalism and regional and global forces that are integral to the resurgence of the region have deepened linkages among the nations that comprise the region and fostered growing bonds with neighboring regions including Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, South Asia and the global economy. However, such links do not imply the demise, or even a reduction of economic nationalism. Rather they point to the changing character of economic nationalism, which may be pursued through policies that are statist, collective, and autarchic, but can also be directed in ways compatible with an expansive market and wide scope for domestic and international capital. China, as we will see, well illustrates the range of possibilities.  

Mark Selden is a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University and a coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Journal. His recent books include China, East Asia and the Global Economy: Regional and historical perspectives (with Takeshi Hamashita and Linda Grove), The Resurgence of East Asia: 500, 150 and 50 Year Perspectives (edited by Giovanni Arrighi, Takeshi Hamashita and Mark Selden). 


Recommended Citation: Mark Selden, "Economic Nationalism and Regionalism in Contemporary East Asia," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 43, No. 2, October 29, 2012.

 Read More. . .