The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 51. 2012   

December 17, 2012   
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Erik Esselstrom, The 1960 'Anpo' Struggle in The People's Daily /人民日報: Shaping Popular Chinese Perceptions of Japan during the Cold War



Rising China-Japan friction in 2012 has centered on territorial claims over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands and, like many such clashes since the early 1990s, it is bound up with unresolved legacies of the Asia-Pacific War. Indeed, as much valuable research on the politics of memory in contemporary East Asia has demonstrated, the politicized anger and bitterness that characterize the China-Japan relationship today have a complex archeology. For example, during the 1950s and 1960s the United States, not Japan, was by far the primary geopolitical and ideological enemy of the PRC. In that context, the CCP sought to lure Japan from its American geopolitical embrace, persuade the Chinese people to "forgive and forget" matters of the Japanese invasion, and ultimately recast the popular Chinese perception of Japanese society from that of wartime enemy to regional geopolitical ally.

This essay takes as its subject one example of this re-conceptualization of Japanese society in Chinese political ideology - editorial cartoon representations of the 1960 protests against the renewal of the U.S.-Japan Security Agreement ("anpo jōyaku" 安保条約). Widely recognized as the largest popular anti-government demonstrations in postwar Japanese history, the Anpo protests are most often analyzed strictly within the context of U.S.-Japan relations.5 Looking at these events from a Chinese perspective opens up a number of useful interpretive vantage points.



Erik Esselstrom is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of the Asian Studies Program at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Crossing Empire's Edge: Foreign Ministry Police and Japanese Expansionism in Northeast Asia (University of Hawai'i Press, 2009).


Recommended citation: Erik Esselstrom, "The 1960 'Anpo' Struggle in The People's Daily /人民日報: Shaping Popular Chinese Perceptions of Japan during the Cold War," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 51, No. 1, December 17, 2012.


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Jon Mitchell, Were U.S marines used as guinea pigs on Okinawa?

Growing evidence suggests that the U.S. military tested biochemical agents on its own forces on the island in the 1960s.

Newly discovered documents reveal that 50 years ago this month, in December 1962, the Pentagon dispatched a chemical weapons platoon to Okinawa under the auspices of its infamous Project 112. Described by the U.S. Department of Defense as "biological and chemical warfare vulnerability tests," the highly classified program subjected thousands of unwitting American service members around the globe to substances including sarin and VX nerve gases between 1962 and 1974.


According to papers obtained from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 267th Chemical Platoon was activated on Okinawa on Dec. 1, 1962, with "the mission of operation of Site 2, DOD (Department of Defense) Project 112." Before coming to Okinawa, the 36-member platoon had received training at Denver's Rocky Mountain Arsenal, one of the key U.S. chemical and biological weapons (CBW) facilities. Upon its arrival on the island, the platoon was billeted just north of Okinawa City at Chibana - the site of a poison gas leak seven years later. Between December 1962 and August 1965, the 267th platoon received three classified shipments - codenamed YBA, YBB and YBF - believed to include sarin and mustard gas.


For decades, the Pentagon denied the existence of Project 112. Only in 2000 did the department finally admit to having exposed its own service members to CBW tests, which it claimed were designed to enable the U.S. to better plan for potential attacks on its troops. In response to mounting evidence of serious health problems among a number of veterans subjected to these experiments, Congress forced the Pentagon in 2003 to create a list of service members exposed during Project 112. While the Department of Defense acknowledges it conducted the tests in Hawaii, Panama and aboard ships in the Pacific Ocean, this is the first time that Okinawa - then under U.S. jurisdiction - has been implicated in the project.



Jon Mitchell is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. In September 2012, "Defoliated Island", a TV documentary based upon his research, was awarded a commendation for excellence by Japan's National Association of Commercial Broadcasters. An English version of the program is currently in production in order to assist U.S. veterans exposed to military defoliants on Okinawa. This is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared in The Japan Times on December 4, 2012.


Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, "Were U.S marines used as guinea pigs on Okinawa?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 51, No. 2, December 17, 2012.