The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 9. 2013    

March 4, 2013    
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue
Quick Links
Quick Links
This issue addresses some of the most troubling and challenging problems confronting contemporary and imperial Japan and the Asia-Pacific. China specialist Yabuki Susumu dissects the China-Japan conflict over Diaoyutai/Senkakus that has brought the two nations to the brink of war. Andrew DeWit looks deeply into the role of the Pentagon in spearheading America's-and perhaps the world's-drive for renewable energy and assesses its multiple implications for Japan, the US and the Asia-Pacific. Arudou Debito takes a hard look at the rights of non-Japanese at a time of rising neonationalism in Japan. Sakurai Kunitoshi provides an impassioned assessment of the sacrifice of Okinawan interests at the hands of a Japanese government that appears intent on breaking the seventeen year struggle against a new military base on Okinawa. And Richard Minear sheds new light on the Emperor-Organ incident of 1935-36 that cut to the heart of controversy over the relation between Emperor and Constitution in imperial Japan.

What have been the most widely read articles at APJ? To find out, click on "Top Ten Articles" at the top of the home page, for the top articles of the last month, last year, last five years and last decade.

Our home page has a number of important features. There is a powerful search engine that permits search by author, title, and keyword, found in top left of the home page. For most purposes, author's surname or a keyword entered in Title is most useful. Another 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.

Many thanks to all who contributed to our annual fund-raiser. APJ will continue to be available free to all in 2013. If you missed the opportunity to join our sustainers, you can still do so by going to the red sustainer button on our home page to contribute via Paypal or credit card. Or, if you prefer, we can accept checks on US banks: write to us at  Thank you for your support. 

Our subscribers via this Newsletter, as well as through Facebook and Twitter now number 6,000. We invite you to  help us expand these numbers by informing colleagues, associates, students and friends who might find our work useful. The best way to do so is to send along a recent article of interest and invite them to subscribe via our homepage either to receive the Newsletter or to receive notification via Facebook or Twitter. Another good way is to include APJ in your syllabus.

More than 6,000 people now subscribe to APJ, either through our Newsletter or the more than 2,700 who follow us  through Twitter or Facebook, whose numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on our home page.       


We invite authors, publishers and directors to bring their books, films and events on East Asia and the Pacific to the attention of our readers. See the home page for information about presenting relevant books and films at our site and for examples of authors, publishers and filmmakers who are presenting their work at the Journal.

Contact Japan Focus by email at

To access our full archive with more than 2,000 articles, and to view the most widely read articles through their titles or via our index, go here. 
Subscription information
The Asia-Pacific Journal is freely available to all. We invite those who wish to support our work by allowing us to make technical upgrades, defray technical, mailing and maintenance fees, and to enable us to expand our output since the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami. Recommended support level: $25 ($10 for students and residents of developing countries); $40 for institutions including libraries, research centers, government offices. If you experience difficulty in subscribing, write to us with the error message at 
Yabuki Susumu interviewed by Mark Selden, China-Japan Territorial Conflicts and the US-Japan-China Relations in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

The issues of the Senkaku Islands and the Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands are symbolic of the fact that imperial Japan's postwar settlement is not yet completed. I think this is due to the limitations of Japanese and American political leadership.

First, concerning the origin of the Senkaku territorial issues, my view is that:
Originally the Senkaku Islands were part of the three northern island groups near Keelung port in Taiwan along with the Huapin and Pangjia islands where Taiwan fishermen and merchants were active. Although Japan claimed sovereignty of the uninhabited islands in January 1895 when Qing China was defeated in the Sino-Japanese War, given that the Treaty of Shimonoseki makes no mention of these islands, Japan considers they have nothing to do with the Sino-Japanese War and the Shimonoseki Treaty. But from the Chinese perspective, the Senkaku Islands were nothing but part of the transfer of Taiwan to Japan in 1895. This is where the understanding of the two parties differs.

b. The transfer of Taiwan to Japan was accomplished as a result of the Sino-Japanese War, but in accepting the Potsdam terms in September 1945, the situation was restored to the original situation in which Taiwan, the Penghu islands, Manchuria and the Korean peninsula were returned to their pre-Japanese status. However, the Senkaku Islands, which were to be returned at this point, were not returned, and they have not yet been returned 


Yabuki Susumu, Professor emeritus at Yokohama University, is one of Japan's leading specialists on Mao Zedong, on China-Japan Relations, and on Chinese economic development and geopolitics. His two most recent books are チャイメリカ--米中結託と日本の進路 (Chimerica: US-China Co-dependence and Japan's Way Forward) and尖閣問題の核心. 日中関係はどうなる(The Core of the Senkaku Problem: What is to Become of Japan-China Relations.)


Mark Selden is an Asia-Pacific Journal Coordinator.


Recommended citation: Yabuki Susumu interviewed by Mark Selden, "China-Japan Territorial Conflicts and the US-Japan-China Relations in Historical and Contemporary Perspective," The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 9, No. 2, March 4, 2013.


 Read More. . . 

Andrew DeWit, The US Military, Green Energy, and the SPIDERS at Pearl Harbor

During the Pearl Harbor raid that opened the Pacific War - perhaps the world's first energy war - Hickam Army Air Force base was among the initial targets attacked by Japanese fighters and dive-bombers.

In late January 2013, in an energy war of a very different sort, the same air base saw the world's first-ever test of a circuit-level microgrid handling an input of 90% renewable energy. This test of the "Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security," or SPIDERS, is a milestone for America's military-centred energy industrial policy nexus. SPIDERS is also just one element of a rapidly unfolding green energy regime. This article describes the institutional nexus of which the American military is an essential part. I shall argue that this nexus appears to be evolving a creative and very robust strategy for the rapid development and deployment of advanced renewable energy, cutting-edge efficiency practices and technologies, advanced transmission and storage infrastructure, hybrid electric drive ships, and next-generation vehicles as well as the infrastructure they require.

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, "The US Military, Green Energy, and the SPIDERS at Pearl Harbor," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 9, No. 5, March 4, 2013.



Read More. . .
Sakurai Kunitoshi with an introduction by Gavan McCormack, Okinawans Facing a Year of Trial: the Okinawa-Japan-US Relationship and the East China Sea

With the Chinese warship radar reportedly locking-on to a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force vessel (31 January 2013, in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands), the worsening of Japan-China relations occasioned by the statement of former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro about buying the Senkaku islands reached the brink of explosion. By the concerted action by all Okinawa's leaders in the joint mission of demand to Tokyo at the end of January, the prefecture showed with unprecedented clarity the opinion of its people calling for an end to the deployment of the Osprey and for abandonment of the plan to construct a replacement Futenma Marine Base within Okinawa. But the Abe government turned a deaf ear to Okinawan opinion, just as it had to Japanese opinion in the case of the nuclear reactor issue.

Not only that but, as the East China Sea waves rose higher, a worst case scenario for Okinawa was gradually taking shape in which an avalanche of militarization threatened the South-West Islands. As was the case in regard to nuclear power, the Abe government pays no attention. And, with the North Korean nuclear test further reinforcing the Japan-US alliance, 2013 becomes a year of trial for Okinawa.

Sakurai Kunitoshi is professor and former president of Okinawa University. This is his monthly column in the Okinawan daily, Ryukyu shimpo, published 25 February 2013, under the title "Higashi Shina kai isshoku kihatsu - Okinawa shiren no toshi."

Sakurai is a well-known specialist on environmental assessment law, an environmentalist, and a prominent figure in court challenges to the legality of the environmental impact study on the Henoko projected site for marine base construction. The Asia-Pacific Journal has published several of his essays in the past and acknowledges with gratitude his permission to translate and post this one.


Gavan McCormack is an emeritus professor at Australian National University, a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, and a co-author, with Satoko Oka Norimatsu, of Resistant Islands - Okinawa Versus Japan and the United States (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012, with Japanese edition forthcoming from Horitsu Bunkasha on 13 March 2013).


Recommended citation: Sakurai Kunitoshi with an introduction by Gavan McCormack, "Okinawans Facing a Year of Trial: the Okinawa-Japan-US Relationship and the East China Sea," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 9, No. 4, March 4, 2013.


Read More. . .


Arudou Debito, Japan's Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance

Japan's swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

This article traces the arc of that xenophobic trajectory by focusing on three significant events: The defeat in the mid-2000s of a national "Protection of Human Rights" bill (jinken yōgo hōan); Tottori Prefecture's Human Rights Ordinance of 2005 that was passed on a local level and then rescinded; and the resounding defeat of proponents of local suffrage for non-citizens (gaikokujin sanseiken) between 2009-11. The article concludes that these developments have perpetuated the unconstitutional status quo of a nation with no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.

Arudou Debito is a writer, activist, blogger (, and columnist for the Japan Times. He is the author of Japanese Only, the Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (Akashi Shoten, English and Japanese), and coauthor, with Higuchi Akira, an administrative solicitor in Sapporo who also is qualified as an immigration lawyer by Sapporo Immigration, of the bilingual Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan (2nd edition). 



Recommended Citation: Arudou Debito, "Japan's Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.

Read More. . . 

Tachibana Takashi introduced by Richard H. Minear, The Aftermath of the Emperor-Organ Incident: the Tōdai Faculty of Law

The Emperor-Organ Incident, 1935-36.

Minobe Tatsukichi (1873-1948), professor of constitutional law on the Tōdai Faculty of Law, was one of prewar Japan's foremost legal scholars. The emperor-organ theory is the doctrine with which his name is associated; it held that the emperor was an organ of the state; the repository of sovereignty, he was still a constituent part of the larger entity, the state. Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912) and Uesugi Shinkichi (1878-1929), both also professors on the Faculty of Law, provided the theoretical underpinning for an alternate doctrine. Citing conservative European legal theorists (and paraphrasing France's Louis XIV), they argued that the emperor was the state. The two positions framed the legal debate under the Meiji Constitution.

For most of the years before 1935, Minobe's theory held sway, virtually unquestioned: on law faculties, on the civil service examination, in public debate. But in 1935 and 1936, right-wing politicians and publicists rose to attack both the emperor-organ theory and Minobe himself. The key figure in the attack was the editor of the journal Genri Nihon, Minoda Muneki (1894-1946). In his attacks on Minobe (and on virtually every non-conservative professor on the Tōdai Faculty of Law), Minoda quoted copiously from his targets, then piled on the invective and questioned their patriotism. Think the early William F. Buckley rallying the forces against mainstream constitutional wisdom-and winning; think Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News (except that Minoda was himself a graduate of the Tōdai Faculty of Law). In 1946, shortly after the end of the war, Minoda committed suicide.

The attack on Minobe's constitutional theory was part of the larger anti-intellectual and xenophobic trend of the 1930s

Recommended citation: Tachibana Takashi: The Aftermath of the Emperor-Organ Incident: the Todai Faculty of Law, translated and introduced by Richard H. Minear. The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 11, Issue 9, No. 1, March 4, 2013.

Richard H. Minear is the author of Victors' Justice: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial (1971) and Dr. Seuss Goes to War (1999) and the editor of Through Japanese Eyes (4th edition 2007). He is translator of Requiem for Battleship Yamato (1985), Hiroshima: Three Witnesses (1990), Black Eggs (1994), the autobiographies of Ienaga Saburo (2001), Nakazawa Keiji (2010), and Ōishi Matashichi (2011), and writings of Takeyama Michio (2007) and Nambara Shigeru (2010). He is a Japan Focus associate.


 Read More. . .