The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 6. 2013    

February 11, 2013    
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Andrew DeWit, Abenomics and Energy Efficiency in Japan  


A signal flaw in Japan's much-debated "Abenomics" package of economic policies is the failure to include ambitious goals and fiscal support for energy efficiency. Many question whether Japanese PM Abe Shinzo's YEN 10.3 trillion fiscal stimulus and other measures will lift Japan from recession and deflation. But as this article will show, only a program that combines aggressive energy efficiency with a renewable energy drive can put Japan's economy on a sound, sustainable footing that maximizes job creation, domestic demand, and the nation's competitive prowess in advanced technology.

Japan is of course widely believed to be the global leader in energy efficiency. So emphasizing ramped-up energy efficiency might seem low on the list of priorities for reviving the country's economy and enhancing its competitiveness. Yet Japan is not the global leader in energy efficiency, and it faces a range of problems for which energy efficiency could prove critical. Japan certainly should be in the first rank in efficiency, especially after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima shock; but it ranks fourth in the most recent comprehensive ranking of major industrialized countries, and risks slipping further down the list. That Japan lags in energy efficiency is perhaps counter-intuitive, given the reigning conventional wisdom together with such incentives as Japan's near-absence of conventional energy resources, its technical wizardry, and the spur from economic damage wrought by post-Fukushima power outages. 


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, "Abenomics and Energy Efficiency in Japan," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 6, No. 2, February 11, 2013.

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David McNeil, Warning: Genius at Work - The Art of Aida Makoto


Is Makoto Aida a misogynist?  It seems a fair question.  Among his cheerfully scattershot collection at the Mori Art Museum is a series of manga-style paintings called 'Dog,' showing naked young women with severed and bandaged limbs being led around on a leash. A 62-minute video depicts the artist tediously masturbating in front of the kanji characters "beautiful young girl."  In "Blender," he uses more naked girls to make a bloody milkshake. What was the thinking there?   

"Well," he says smiling, "If I made a shake with men it wouldn't taste very good."
That reply: glib, irreverent and a bit irritating is vintage Aida.  As Mori curator David Elliot says in his introduction to the largest-ever exhibition of Aida's work, covering quarter of a century: "Nothing seems to add up - on purpose."  Aida often resembles a very clever but alienated schoolboy, scrawling caricatures of the teachers and tossing peppery one-liners from the back from the class. And like the schoolboy he becomes squirmy and inarticulate when asked to discuss the "meaning" of his art, though he's happier describing its origins.   "I can't really explain this stuff," he concedes.  "That's why I draw, I suppose."  


Dr David McNeill is the Japan correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education and writes for The Independent and Irish Times newspapers. He covered the nuclear disaster for all three publications, has been to Fukushima ten times since 11 March 2011, and has written the book Strong in the Rain (with Lucy Birmingham) about the disasters. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator.


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Benny Widyono, The Sihanouk Era: The King and I


Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk was cremated on the fourth of February at the Meru field next to the royal palace in the capital, Phnom Penh. His embalmed body had been lying in state since he died of a heart attack in Beijing on 15 October 2012 at the age of 89. Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians, most of whom have not known life without the charismatic monarch in one capacity or another flocked to Phnom Penh, to pay their last respects as Sihanouk was given elaborate funeral rites on a scale not seen since the death of his father King Suramarit 53 years ago. With the passing of Sihanouk and decline in the significance of monarchy we will probably never see such elaborate funeral rites again in Cambodia.

On 4 February the people witnessed the elaborate cremation in an outpouring of national mourning for the "King-Father". After sundown, in religious ceremonies led by chanting monks, Sihanouk's tearful widow Queen Monineath  and son King Norodom Sihamoni both clad in white entered the inner chamber of the elabor $5 million 47 meter high fifteen story pagoda built specifically for the occasion and illuminated with thousands of tiny lights. King Sihamoni symbolically lit hhis father's sandalwood oil-soaked body and smoke was seen rising into the sky from the crematory. It will be dismantled later in keeping with Cambodian tradition.  A 101-gun salute echoed through the night and fireworks burst over the city.

Benny Widyono is a retired United Nations civil servant from Indonesia. His last position was the UN secretary-general's representative in Cambodia, 1994-97. He is the author of Dancing in Shadows: Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge and the United Nations in Cambodia.  (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).


Recommended Citation: Benny Widyono, "The Sihanouk Era: The King and I," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 6, No. 1, February 11, 2013.

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