The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 47. 2012   

November 19, 2012   
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Today is the 10th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Journal and we're celebrating it with a conference at Sophia University with a focus on geopolitical conflicts in the Asia-Pacific and the post-3.11 political economy and energy policies of Japan as well as a review of how far we've come and where the next decade should take us.

This is also the time to take our fund-raiser, which has moved ahead so well, to the next level. We hope that you will consider joining the many who have already shown support. We have our first challenge grant: An anonymous donor has pledged to match all donations of $50 and more up to a total of $2,500 with a deadline of December 15.. So your donation will have a double barreled effect.

The Journal needs your financial support to take the next step in expanding our work and placing it on a firm long-term trajectory. We draw your attention to our work on 3.11, and our new course readers, an initiative that has just been launched with the first four readers. Our campaign has had stong support from readers in the range of $100-500. Among our goals are the hiring of a part-time managing editor that will permit us to place the journalon a long-term basis. Please go to the red sustainer button on our home page to contribute.

Our offerings this week well illustrate the range of work that are unique to Focus: Andrew DeWit's Galapagos of Power provides an extraordinary overview of current directions in post-3.11 energy policy . . . and what needs to be done in a post-nuclear age. Jeremy Kuzmarov's Bomb After Bomb surveys the long history of US airpower and questions of international law and ethics. Margaret Mehl's report on volunteering in Iwate poses difficult questions for the future of volunteer work one and a half years after 3.11 at a time when many issues remain unresolved. Broderick and Jacobs examine the atomic bombing of the Marshall Islands and its continuing legacy tday. Finally, see the latest hot on Defoliated Island . . . Okinawa, continuing our series of articles.

We invite you to help increase activity level on our facebook page - by commenting on  articles, hitting  "like" buttons, or posting relevant articles/news reports on our page. This helps increase the exposure of our page to a broader audience  And if you haven't "liked" our facebook page yet, please do so now -

Our subscribers via this Newsletter, as well as through Facebook and Twitter now number 6,000. We invite you to  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.

More than 6,000 people now subscribe to APJ, either through our Newsletter or the more than 2,700 who follow us  through Twitter or Facebook, whose numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on our home page.       


We invite authors, publishers and directors to bring their books, films and events on East Asia and the Pacific to the attention of our readers. See the home page for information about presenting relevant books and films at our site and for examples of authors, publishers and filmmakers who are presenting their work at the Journal.

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Andrew DeWit, Japan: Building a Galapagos of Power?

This article assesses the political economy risk of the return of Japan's nuclear village. The December 16 general election campaign and its aftermath may see the nuclear village and its allies seize even greater momentum in key central-government agencies. With a welter of parties and their confusing positions on energy policy, an election seems hardly likely to lead to coherence. The general political and policymaking chaos of the present indeed invites comparison with Japan's early postwar years. The upshot could lead to a gradual return to the concentration on nuclear power that was written into the June 2010 basic energy policy and remains the de jure energy policy, notwithstanding the March 11, 2011 Fukushima Shock and all that has happened since.

If this "back to the future" scenario eventuates, I argue that Japan risks building a "clean" Galapagos in its power economy, one relatively sterile in business potential, at a time when power is becoming perhaps the world's most dynamic sector. This risk also encompasses Japan's energy policy in general, since the innovative dynamism of the power economy is spreading to efficiency, fuels and other energy sources outside of the electricity sector per se.


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: Building a Galapagos of Power?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 47, No. 3, November 19, 2012.

 Robert Jacobs & Mick Broderick, United Nations Report Reveals the Ongoing Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism in the Marshall Islands


In September of 2012, Dr. Calin Georgescu, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste, submitted his report on the legacy of the nuclear weapon testing program of the United States in the Marshall Islands to the Human Rights Council of the UN.1 This long overdue report offers a harsh assessment of the history of American nuclear testing in the Pacific and the subsequent underplaying of both the health and welfare of the Marshallese, and the radiological contamination wrought by the 67 nuclear weapon tests (atmospheric and underwater) conducted there between 1946 and 1958.  

This report offers an important step forward in addressing the devastation to both community and environment that six decades of neglect have left in their wake. Our own, ongoing research on the social and cultural consequences of nuclear weapon testing around the world, conducted as part of the Japanese-government funded Global Hibakusha Project, largely supports the findings of the UN Rapporteur, while casting them in a global context.   

Robert Jacobs is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University. He is the author of The Dragon's Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (2010), the editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb (2010), and co-editor of Images of Rupture in Civilization Between East and West: The Iconography of Auschwitz and Hiroshima in Eastern European Arts and Media (2012-forthcoming). His book, The Dragon's Tail, was recently released in a Japanese language edition by Gaifu. He is the principal investigator of the Global Hibakusha Project.


Recommended citation: Calin Georgescu with an introduction by Mick Broderick and Robert Jacobs, "United Nations Report Reveals the Ongoing Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism in the Marshall Islands," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 47, No. 1, November 19, 2012.

Read More... 

Jeremy Kuzmarov, Bomb After Bomb: US Air Power and Crimes of War From World War II to the Present

In October 1966, in the wake of Operation Rolling Thunder, peace activist David Dellinger visited North Vietnam despite a US imposed ban on travel. He was horrified by what he saw. He met kids who had lost their arms and lost loved ones, and visited villages and towns reduced to virtual rubble, including Phy Ly, a city with a population of over 10,000 that resembled a "Vietnamese Guernica." One woman who had lost her parents and six siblings, told Dellinger to "ask your president Johnson if our straw huts were made of steel and concrete" (as LBJ had claimed in justifying the attacks) and to ask him if "our catholic church that was destroyed was a military target....Tell him that we will continue our life and struggle no matter what future bombings there will be because we know that without independence and freedom, nothing is worthwhile."

At the end of his article, Dellinger stated that "something, perhaps my own type of Americanism, rose up inside of me and I tried to deny that Americans would knowingly bomb and strafe civilians, at least as part of deliberate government policy. But later, when I made two extensive trips outside Hanoi, I reluctantly agreed with the Vietnamese that the US had consciously and deliberately attacked the civilian population in a brutal attempt to destroy civilian morale."

The American War in Vietnam has been the subject of countless books, films and television programs, and it continues to play a role in presidential politics. The devastating impact on the Vietnamese population, however, receives short shrift and has been largely suppressed in popular consciousness at the same time that new investigations have exposed an ever wider scale of atrocities.2 In a memorial day speech, president Barrack Obama characterized the war as a national shame, not because of its destructive effects on Vietnamese society, but rather because "returning US troops were not always "welcomed home" as they were often "blamed for the misdeeds of a few," and were "sometimes denigrated - despite the fact that they had made enormous sacrifices in a war that they didn't start."3 Repeating the trope of the spat upon veteran that has been discredited in scholarship, Obama's historical revisionism invites comparison with that of Japanese neonationalists who belittle the atrocities carried out by their military in China during the Second World War.4

Recommended Citation: Jeremy Kuzmarov, "Bomb After Bomb: US Air Power and Crimes of War From World War II to the Present," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 47, No. 3, November 19, 2012.


Read More. . . 

Margaret Mehl, A Personal View of Volunteering in Iwate After 3. 11: In Whose Service?

Margaret Mehl poses some penetrating questions about the changing role of relief work over time as she introduces her experience of volunteering in a relatively remote section of Iwate eight months after the 3.11 disasters. She provides an unusual glimpse of the on-going relief effort and the challenges that both volunteers and relief groups face in the redefinition of their priorities and practices as local needs on the ground move away from immediate survival relief and beyond the digging out of mud and debris. Through reflexive questioning of her own volunteer activities, she forces us to rethink the role and motivations of NPOs and of volunteers where the line between relief work and "disaster tourism" begins to blur. Mehl asks if some sort of volunteering, including some of what she herself was doing, are in fact little more than "just amateuring in another guise," a part of a "lifestyle feature" focused more on the self-fulfillment of volunteers than on making a difference to the local areas. If indeed that is the case, what are we to make of it, both positive and negative, in terms of efficacy and ethics? For many people who have spent days, months and even years volunteering in Tohoku and other places, some of these questions may be unsettling-perhaps one reason that they have rarely been asked in the 3.11 aftermath. But we believe that they are important questions and their exploration through first hand accounts of actual volunteers may be the best way to address them. The Asia-Pacific Journal has published numerous accounts of volunteer efforts in the wake of 3.11, and these are referenced at the end of the article.

Margaret Mehl is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Her books include History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan and Private Academies of Chinese Learning in Meiji Japan. She has just completed a manuscript on the social history of violin playing in Japan.


Recommended Citation: Margaret Mehl, "A Personal View of Volunteering in Iwate After 3. 11: In Whose Service?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 47, No. 2, November 18, 2012.

Read More. . . 

Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Defoliated Island - Agent Orange, Okinawa and the Vietnam War

A new TV documentary reveals the toxic legacy of military defoliants on America's "Keystone of the Pacific."