The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 5. 2013    

February 4, 2013    
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Warning: Noriko Manabe introduces Japanese rap, making its first tumultuous, even shocking, appearance at APJ. The Pandora's Box is Lionel Fatton's framing of the China-Japan-Taiwan island conflict, while Satoko Oka Norimatsu offers a different angle on it through the commemoration (or not) of the 75th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre.

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Noriko Manabe, Straight Outta Ichimiya: The Appeal of a Rural Japanese Rapper


Dengaryu (Tamura Takashi, b. 1982) is one of the breakout Japanese rappers of 2012. Several music journals, including Japan's longest-running popular music magazine, Music Magazine, as well as the web journal Ototoy, have anointed his second album, B kyu eiga no yōni 2, the best hip-hop album of the year. As the music critic Futatsugi Shin wrote in his year-end assessment in Music Magazine, "[Dengaryu] throws himself full-force, dealing with politics, society, the individual, music, hell-raising, and love-all with the same strong attitude and language. An impressive, moving work"; Urata Takeshi added, "Never wavering from his real-life stance, even with political messages, he speaks of the strength and the universal from the point of view of the have-nots, sublimated into highly entertaining hip-hop." 


What has attracted Dengaryu and other musicians from rural areas to hip-hop, a genre that originally emerged from American cities and African-American life? What aspects of his songs have captured the attention of other, mainly urban, Japanese? Having recently caught up with Dengaryu and Young-G, his trackmaker  and childhood friend, in an interview, I explain some of the factors behind Dengaryu's appeal-his realness, engagement with current politics, and musicality-as illustrated through his lyrics, music, and videos.


Noriko Manabe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Associated Faculty in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, where she teaches courses in popular music and ethnomusicology. She has published articles on Japanese rap, mobile music, and Cuban music, and has articles in press on Japanese hip-hop DJs, wartime children's songs, and online radio. She is currently preparing monographs on musical subcultures in Japan (rock, hip-hop, reggae, dance music), the history of Japanese children's songs, and music and the Japanese antinuclear movement. 

Recommended citation: Noriko Manabe, "Straight Outta Ichimiya: The Appeal of a Rural Japanese Rapper," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 5, No. 1, February 4, 2013.

Read More. . .

Lionel Fatton, The Pandora's Box of Sovereignty Conflicts: Far-reaching regional consequences of Japan's nationalization of the Senkakus



The nationalization of the Senkakus opened a Pandora's box of conflicting sovereignty claims that Japan will not be able to close without either conceding on key issues regarding the administration of the islands and surrounding waters or risking a sustained escalation of the dispute. By analyzing Japan's political landscape, the strategic objectives of the People's Republic of China, the goals of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and the nationalism-driven militarization of the region, this article explains why the current dispute over the Senkakus is likely to be a protracted one.


Lionel Fatton is a correspondent for Kyodo News and Ph.D. candidate in International Relations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po).


Recommended citation: Lionel Fatton, "The Pandora's Box of Sovereignty Conflicts: Far-reaching regional consequences of Japan's nationalization of the Senkakus," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 5, No. 2, February 4, 2013. 

Read More. . .
Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Nanjing  Massacre 75th Anniversary and the China-Japan Island Dispute

What war memorial date does December call to mind? To many in Japan, it is probably December 8, the day the Asia-Pacific War began. But there is another date not to be forgotten, particularly this winter. December 13, 2012 was the 75th anniversary of the capture of Nanjing by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1937. It was a day when the Japanese nation was carried away with a sense of victory, with lantern parades being held across the nation. Meanwhile, in Nanjing, one of the cruelest series of atrocities in history was taking place - the Nanjing Massacre. The gruesome series of crimes - mass executions of Chinese POWs; murders of ordinary citizens who were alleged to be disarmed soldiers or soldiers wearing civilian clothing; murders of local residents, men and women, young and old, within the city and neighbouring villages; rape and murder of women, young and old; looting and arson - continued beyond mid-February of 1938 when the battle of Nanjing ended, and only came to an end around the time when the Reformed Government of the Republic of China under Japanese hegemony was established at the end of March, 1938.
Although most people in Japan then were not informed of the Nanjing Massacre, perhaps many who happily paraded had something in common with the Japanese soldiers and officers who took part in the Massacre: they were discriminatory and hostile toward the Chinese people, and had lost the common sense of humanity, which was to respect their neighbours. What is chilling is that 75 years later, a similar atmosphere and mindset appear to prevail in Japan, with nationalism and fear fanned by the territorial dispute over the islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
In Canada, events were held across the country to remember the 75th anniversary. The Toronto City Council unanimously passed a resolution, and Mayor Rob Ford proclaimed Nanking Recognition Day on December 13. In Vancouver, citizens of various backgrounds, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and European, came together to hold a roundtable discussion and a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the massacre. The meeting was called by Joy Kogawa, a Japanese-Canadian author known for her novel OBASAN (Japanese translation is Ushinawareta Sokoku, Chuo Koron Sha, 1998).

Feb 3, 2013. This is an English version of the author's article that will appear in the March 2013 edition of Keizai Kagaku Tsushin (No. 131).
Satoko Oka Norimatsu is Director of Peace Philosophy Centre, based in Vancouver, Canada. She is a Japan Focus Coordinator, and co-author with Gavan McCormack of Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012).
Jon Mitchell, Okinawan Leaders Carry Osprey Protest to Tokyo

These are dark days for Okinawa.
Last autumn, the Japanese government ignored a 100,000-person protest on the island and allowed the Pentagon to station a dozen Osprey aircraft at MCAS Futenma.
In December, the recently-reelected Liberal Democrat Party pushed again its plans to construct a new military base over the pristine waters of Henoko Bay.
To top it off last week, the Japanese Defense Minister threatened to fire live (albeit tracer) rounds on Chinese aircraft which continue to buzz the disputed Senkaku islands - 400 km west of Naha, the Okinawan capital.
It was against this drumbeat of resurgent Japanese militarism that more than 140 Okinawan civic representatives made a historic trip to Tokyo on Sunday. This was the first time since Okinawa reverted to Japanese control in 1972 that leaders from each of Okinawa's 41 municipalities have visited the nation's capital - and despite the bitter cold, they were met with a warm reception by 4000 Tokyoites at a rally in Hibiya Park.

Feb 4, 2013.

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