The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 52. 2012   

December 24, 2012   
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Many thanks to all who contributed to our annual fund-raiser. Having successfully met our first challenge grant, we are well on the way to our goal of $10,000 to assure the viability of APJ in 2013 and its continued availability free to readers. This is the final week of in the campaign. So if you'd like to join our sustainers, please go to the red sustainer button on our home page to contribute via Paypal or credit card. A number of our supporters prefer the old fashioned system of checks; if you are among them, we can accept checks on US banks: write to us at

This is our most ambitious issue of the last half year. We invite you to forward it to your colleagues and associates. It contains four articles by Martin Dusinberre, Gavan McCormack, Roger Pulvers and Jinbo Taro assessing the significance of the election and the imminent second Abe Shinzo cabinet. John Mathews and Hao Tan assess the conundrum of China as world leader of renewable energy and its position as the greatest consumer of fossil fuels while projecting possible future outcomes. Shim and Yecies introduce Korea's golden age of cinema under the Park dictatorship in the 1960s. And David Fedman casts a bright light into the nature of Japanese  mapmaking in colonial Korea.

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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.

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Martin Dusinberre , Mr. Abe's Local Legacy and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan

In the summer of 2007 I went to Hagi, northern Yamaguchi prefecture, to take part in a revolution. Well, not a revolution per se-but a revolutionary summer school.
We were gathered, some forty Japanese and I, to celebrate the Shoka Sonjuku (School under the Pines), founded 150 years earlier by the inspirational Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859). For an institution that lasted less than two years-Yoshida was executed in 1859 for plotting against the Tokugawa shogunate-the School under the Pines had a disproportionately large influence on Japanese history.

Many of its graduates played leading roles, for example, in the military campaigns by which the Choshu domain (later Yamaguchi prefecture) defeated the shogunate, leading to the Meiji restoration of January 1868. "Modern Japan Started Here," was the title of the Hagi mayor's lecture at the opening ceremony of our week-long course.

The author traces the origins of the Abe family dynasty, including former Prime Minister's Kishi and Sato, to the area . . . and reflects on the implications for nuclear restarts under the Abe cabinet.


Martin Dusinberre is Lecturer in Modern Japanese History at Newcastle University, UK. In addition to his book on Kaminoseki, Hard Times in the Hometown: A History of Community Survival in Modern Japan, he has published articles in The Journal of Asian Studies (on nuclear power and civil society, co-authored with Daniel P. Aldrich), Japan Forum (on the prewar Japanese diaspora), and most recently he has a chapter on historical memory in Christopher Gerteis and Timothy S. George (eds), Japan since 1945: From Postwar to Post-Bubble (2012).  


December 23, 2012. 



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  Gavan McCormack, Abe Days Are Here Again: Japan in the World

On 26 December 26, 2012 Abe Shinzo is to resume the position of Prime Minister of Japan, following the resounding victory of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) under his presidency in the elections two weeks earlier. He came to power with an explicit agenda: seeing the US alliance as central to Japan and therefore attaching priority to carrying out Japan's obligations under it, revising the constitution so as to convert the current Self Defense Forces into a Kokubogun or National Army and adopting a stance of authorizing participation of Japan's forces in "collective security" operations (i.e., fighting wars shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces), establishing a national "Takeshima Day," (to reinforce the Japanese claim to the island that South Korea knows as Tokdo and refuses to consider yielding), and adopting a hardline stance towards China, insisting there was "no room for negotiation" on the matter of conflicting claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. "What is called for in and around the Senkaku Islands," he wrote, "is not negotiation but physical force incapable of being misunderstood."

Abe politics has long been stamped by the contradiction between his fidelity to the US on the one hand and his commitment to a particular, and incompatible, view of Japanese history and identity on the other. This short essay addresses exclusively questions of history, identity, and international relations, setting aside questions about Abe's social, economic, and energy/nuclear power policies.

Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at Australian National University, a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal, and co-author, with Satoko Oka Norimatsu, of Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012).


Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack, 'Abe Days Are Here Again: Japan in the World,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 52, No. 1, December 24, 2012.



Jinbo Taro, Translated by Rumi Sakamoto and Matt Allen, 'The Second Time as Farce?' Abe Shinzo's New Challenge  


I'd like to start with a big question: "can the media overcome nationalism?" I ask this because the words "national interest" have been used both casually and often in communicating everyday information. The Japanese media seemingly lack awareness that these words are used contiguously with the words "conservative swing". What I'd like to know is the proportion of Japanese who felt angry versus those who remained calm when Korean president Lee Myung-bak visited Takeshima (Dokdo), and how that number changed when people learned that the reason for his visit was to pressure the Japanese government to take responsibility for the comfort women of the former Japanese military.
But the Japanese media are uninterested in such things. As I write this, what is on my mind is the capacity (or lack thereof) of Abe Shinzo, who has been re-elected as LDP leader, to make political judgements. In the LDP's draft election pledges, the party proposed to create an official "Takeshima Day" and to continue to object to "unreasonable viewpoints" regarding comfort women issues. Abe is also calling for a revision of the Constitution and proposing the establishment of "national defense forces." Can such a person provide an answer to such complex territorial issues and historical awareness? The editorial of Chosun Ilbo on 22nd November asked: "How can Abe meet with leaders of South Korea and China as Prime Minister, based on this election pledge?"    


Jinbo Taro writes for Sekai (World). This article appeared in the January, 2013 issue of Sekai.


Rumi Sakamoto and Matt Allen, who translated this article, are Asia-Pacific Journal Associates. They are coeditors of Popular Culture, Globalization and Japan.


December 2,4 2012. 

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John Mathews and Hao Tan, China's Industrial Energy Revolution: Renewable targets just became even more demanding

China is undergoing the most astonishing energy transformation underpinning the industrial revolution that is making it the workshop of the world. It is building its 'black' energy system at a prodigious rate - building the equivalent of a 1-GW thermal power station every 10 days, and burning vast amounts of coal in doing so. But at the same time it is building a 'green' energy system based on non-fossil sources (renewables and nuclear) faster than any other country on earth. China's green revolution is reflected in its targets for building renewable energy systems, which are being expanded as fast as is humanly and technically possible - in the name of energy security and nation-building infrastructure as much as for decarbonizing the economy. Which wins in this close race between black and green development is a matter of the highest importance, for China and for the world.


In October China's State Council released its Energy Policy white paper, locking in some stringent goals prior to the leadership transition that moved ahead in November, and updating previous targets that had been spelt out in the 12th Five Year Plan, covering the years 2011 to 2015. In the White paper, China committed itself to achieving by 2015 no less than 30% of its electric power generation coming from non-fossil fuel sources. China's electric power system, already the world's largest and operating at just over 1 TW in 2011, is expected to grow to 1.5 TW by 2015. Of this, 450 GW (30%) is to be accounted for by non-fossil sources. The remarkable growth in non-fossil and renewable power sources-if achieved-will start to match that of thermal (coal-burning) sources. This is a truly historic milestone. It means that China's carbon emissions - 50% of which come from power generation - are coming under control.   

John Mathews, Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia and Eni Chair in Competitive Dynamics and Global Strategy, LUISS Guido Carli University, Viale Romania, 32 00197 Roma, Italy;

Hao Tan, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Australia. Their article "The Transformation of the Electric Power Industry in China" appears in Energy Policy, Vol. 52, January 2013.


Recommended citation: John Mathews and Hao Tan, "China's Industrial Energy Revolution: Renewable targets just became even more demanding," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 52, No. 2, December 24, 2012.

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Roger Pulvers, The Lessons of the 3.11 Meltdown for Japanese Nuclear Power: Citizenship Vs. A Corporate Culture of Collusion

This article brings together three Counterpoint columns published in The Japan Times on December 2, 9 and 23 and slightly edited here. Novelist, playwright, film director and translator Roger Pulvers provides a personal tour of Japan's disastrous experiment with nuclear power, compares the consequences of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters, and charts the uncertain future of Japan's nuclear industry. While the first two articles appeared prior to Japan's election, the victorious LDP leader Abe Shinzo has made plain his administration's determination to restart many of Japan's closed power plants in the face of public opinion polls revealing widespread opposition to the restarts, and scientific evidence of the high risk of restarts in earthquake-sensitive regions. Abe said on TV Asahi on December 23, "It is not yet clear what caused the Fukushima Daiichi accident." He added, "We will go ahead [with the reactor restarts] with the people [regulators and scientists] that we already have." His "people" appear to omit the strong Japanese majority that public opinion polls reveal are opposed to restarts. Abe appears poised to push forward with the status quo of ineffective regulation, business cronyism, and hand-picked subservient experts described below.     


Roger Pulvers is an American-born Australian author, playwright, theatre director and translator living in Japan. An Asia-Pacific Journal associate, he has published 40 books in Japanese and English and, in 2008, was the recipient of the Miyazawa Kenji Prize. In 2009 he was awarded Best Script Prize at the Teheran International Film Festival for "Ashita e no Yuigon." He is the translator of Kenji Miyazawa, Strong in the Rain: Selected Poems. The Dream of Lafcadio Hearn is his most recent book.


December 23, 2012 

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Ae-Gyung Shim and Brian Yecies, Power of the Korean Film Producer: Dictator Park Chung Hee's Forgotten Film Cartel of the 1960s Golden Decade and its Legacy

After censorship was eliminated in 1996, a new breed of writer-directors created a canon of internationally provocative and visually stunning genre-bending hit films, and new and established producers infused unprecedented venture capital into the local industry. Today, a bevy of key producers, including vertically integrated Korean conglomerates, maintain dominance over the film industry while engaging in a variety of relatively near-transparent domestic and international expansion strategies. Backing hits at home as well as collaborating with filmmakers in China and Hollywood have become priorities. In stark contrast to the way in which the film business is conducted today is Korean cinema's Golden Age of the 1960s - an important but little-known period of rapid industrialization, high productivity and clandestine practices. To develop a fuller understanding of the development of Korean cinema, this article investigates the complex interplay between film policy and production during the 1960s under authoritarian President Park Chung Hee, whose government's unfolding censorship regime forced film producers to develop a range of survival strategies. A small but powerful cartel of producers formed alliances with a larger cohort of quasi-illegal independent producers, thus - against all the odds - enabling Korean cinema to achieve a golden age of productivity. An analysis of the tactics adopted by the industry reveals the ways in which producers negotiated policy demands and contributed to an industry "boom" - the likes of which were not seen again until the late 1990s.

Ae-Gyung Shim has contributed to several Korean and Australian film industry writing projects, and has held research assistant and part-time teaching positions at the University of Wollongong. Her Routledge book Korea's Occupied Cinemas, 1893-1948 (with Brian Yecies) was published in 2011. Dr Shim is a past Korea Foundation Post-Doctoral fellow hosted by the Centre for Asia Pacific Social Transformation Studies (CAPSTRANS) at the University of Wollongong. Contact details: Institute for Social Transformation Research (ISTR), University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.


Brian Yecies is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong, and an associate member of the Institute for Social Transformation Research (ISTR). He teaches transnational film and digital media subjects that emphasize culture, policy and convergence in Asia. Dr Yecies is a past Korea Foundation Research Fellow and a recipient of prestigious grants from the Academy of Korean Studies, Asia Research Fund and Australia-Korea Foundation. His Routledge book Korea's Occupied Cinemas, 1893-1948

(with Ae-Gyung Shim) was published in mid-2011. Contact details: Faculty of Arts, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.


Recommended citation: Ae-Gyung Shim an Brian Yecies, 'Power of the Korean Film Producer: Dictator Park Chung Hee's Forgotten Film Cartel of the 1960s Golden Decade and its Legacy,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 52, No. 3, December 24, 2012.

Read More. . . 

David Fedman, Japanese Colonial Cartography: Maps, Mapmaking, and the Land Survey in Colonial Korea

Mapmaking was everywhere at the heart of the colonial enterprise. Japan early on prioritized mastery of the highest international standards of cartography in the colonies and dependencies from Hokkaido and Okinawa to Taiwan, Korea and Manchukuo. Not only did precise maps provide a means for heightening Japanese control, but the very process of map making established the Japanese colonial presence throughout the land. Cartography also provided the basis for establishing land ownership rights, a process that frequently resulted in the dispossession of lands from Korean cultivators and the concentration of ownership rights in Japanese hands.

David Fedman is a Ph.D. Candidate in Japanese and Korean history at Stanford University. He is the author of "Mounting Modernization: Itakura Katsunobu, the Hokkaido University Alpine Club and Mountaineering in Pre-War Hokkaido," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 42-1-09, October 19, 2009.


Recommended citation: David Fedman, 'Japanese Colonial Cartography: Maps, Mapmaking, and the Land Survey in Colonial Korea,' The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 52, No. 4, December 24, 2012.

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