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

December 24, 2012   
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Ivy Lee & Fang Ming, Deconstructing Japan's Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

In this recent flare-up of the island dispute after Japan "purchased" three of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Japan reiterates its position that "the Senkaku Islands are an inherent part of the territory of Japan, in light of historical facts and based upon international law."  This article evaluates Japan's claims as expressed in the "Basic View on the Sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands" published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.  These claims are:  the Senkaku/Diaoyu island group was terra nullius which Japan occupied by Cabinet Decision in 1895;  China did not, per China's contention, cede the islands in the Shimonoseki Treaty; Japan was not required to renounce them as war booty by the San Francisco Peace Treaty; and accordingly Japan's sovereignty over these islands is affirmed under said Treaty.  Yet a careful dissection of Japan's claims shows them to have dubious legal standing.  Pertinent cases of adjudicated international territorial disputes are examined next to determine whether Japan's claims have stronger support from case law.  Although the International Court of Justice has shown effective control to be determinative in a number of its rulings, a close scrutiny of Japan's effective possession/control reveals it to have little resemblance to the effective possession/control in other adjudicated cases.  As international law on territorial disputes, in theory and in practice, does not provide a sound basis for its claim of sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Japan will hopefully set aside its putative legal rights and, for the sake of peace and security in the region, start working with China toward a negotiated and mutually acceptable settlement.

Ivy Lee is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Sacramento. Since her retirement, she has worked toward and written on redressing Japanese atrocities committed in the Asia-Pacific War.

Fang Ming is a retired engineering professor who participated in the 1970 Baodiao Movement (Defend Diaoyutai Movement) in North America. Formerly affiliated with the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, his research was in aerosol science and environmental catalysis.

Recommended citation: Ivy Lee & Fang Ming, "Deconstructing Japan's Claim of Sovereignty over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 53, No. 1, December 31, 2012. 

 Read More . . . 

  Martin J. Frid , Getting to Zero: Doing the Nuclear Math about Japan's Ageing Reactors

By the beginning of 2013, Japan is relying on just two nuclear reactors to fulfill the nation's enormous demand for electricity. There is a strong push to re-start the remaining reactors from Keidanren, the leading business association, and from the electric power companies, while the New Abe administration has already signaled its intention to review the nuclear power program. It is not so much the revelations about earthquake faults and other dangers; there is something wrong with the entire chain of reasoning driving the new energy agenda. This raises an important question. Are the plants really safe? Is even one of them safe? This article reviews the safety situation of every one of Japan's 54 reactors and assesses the logic of restart.

Massive demonstrations in Tokyo and elsewhere have continued to demand "Genpatsu Zero" (Zero Nuclear Power) and a group of nine legislators from seven parties formed the Genpatsu Zero no Kai (Group for Zero Nuclear Power. There was a promise from the DPJ government that the country would cease to rely on nuclear power "by the 2030s". Citing doubts and concerns, activists both locally and globally are demanding that Japan permanently shut down its many aging nuclear power plants. Concerned scientists are taking a close look at the very ground they stand on, looking for active seismic faults.

The group of politicians has published a list of Japan's most dangerous nuclear reactors which we may use to start our discussion.

Martin J. Frid was born in Sweden and works for Consumers Union of Japan. He is the author of the food guide book Nippon no Shoku no Anzen 555 (Kodansha) published in 2009. He has participated in food safety meetings on the local, national, and international levels, including as an expert at FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission meetings. He currently resides in Saitama, Japan.

Recommended citation: Martin Frid, "Getting to Zero: Doing the Nuclear Math about Japan's Ageing Reactors," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 53, No. 2, December 31, 2012. 
 Read More . . .


Uradyn E. Bulag, Independence as Restoration: Chinese and Mongolian Declarations of Independence and the 1911 Revolutions


The Mongolian declaration of independence on 29 December 1911 was a monumental event in the modern history not only of Inner Asia, but also of East Asia; it not only contributed to the fall of the Qing Empire, but more importantly it led to the formation of two separate national states on the debris of the Empire: China and Mongolia. In 2011 both China and Mongolia commemorated the centennial, but the moods were more contemplative than celebratory, for neither thought that their nation has been consummated: China lost Outer Mongolia and (Outer) Mongolia lost Inner Mongolia.

This article examines the intertwined declarations of independence and their consequences in the politics and geopolitics of the region then and since.

Uradyn E. Bulag is reader in social anthropology, University of Cambridge. His interests broadly span East Asia and Inner Asia, especially China and Mongolia, nationalism and ethnic conflict, diplomacy, and statecraft. He is the author of Nationalism and Hybridity in Mongolia (1998), Oxford: Clarendon Press, The Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity (2002), Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, and Collaborative Nationalism: the Politics of Friendship on China's Mongolian Frontier (2010), Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, which received the International Convention of Asian Scholars 2011 book prize in social sciences.
Recommended Citation: Uradyn E. Bulag, "Independence as Restoration: Chinese and Mongolian Declarations of Independence and the 1911 Revolutions," The Asia-Pacific Journal,Vol. 10, Issue 52, No. 3, December 31, 2012.

 Read More . . . 

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.

Read More. . .