The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 20. 2013    

May 20, 2013    
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue
Quick Links
Quick Links


Richard Samuelson offers a comprehensive overview of 3.11 in historical perspective from Tokugawa to the present, noting that Japan has been struck by 40 largescale earthquakes since the mid-19th century. How have the Japanese state and people responded to the 3.11 triple disaster viewed in historical and comparative perspective?


Stevan Harrell and Aga Rehamo's study of education or migrant labor in China's borderlands examines in depth the difficult choices confronting the Yi and others among the 100 million minority people.  


Asia Pacific Journal NEW Free Downloadable Course Readers!!!


The Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus announces the release of our second set of volume-length e-book compilations of essays on selected topics with explanatory introductions by scholars. The volume editors have chosen articles from the archive that lend themselves particularly well to classroom use and work well as a set.All volumes have been peer-reviewed, in addition to the initial review process before each article was originally posted, and we have permission from all verified copyright holders.

Students like the fact that the articles areavailable 24-7, are storable on-line, searchable, and cost nothing to them. The readers can also be highlighted, annotated, printed, and include convenient bookmarks to navigate to the beginning of each article.


New Course Readers:

** The Japanese Empire: Colonial Lives and Postcolonial Struggle edited by Kirsten Ziomek

** Japan's "Abandoned People" in the Wake of Fukushima edited by Brian Earl

** Public Opinion on Nuclear Power in Japan after the Fukushima Disaster edited by Brian Earl

** The Politics of Memory in Japan and East Asia edited by Sven Saaler & Justin Aukema


They join the 2012 publications:

  1. War and Visual Culture edited by Hong Kal and Jooyeon Rhee.
  2. Environmental History edited by Eiko Maruko Siniawer.
  3. War in Japanese Popular Culture edited by Matthew Penney.
  4. Women and Japan's Political Economy edited by Valerie Barske.  

The topics of other volumes currently in preparation include:  

** Japan and the American-led Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

** Ethnic Minorities and Japan.

** Globalization and Japanese Popular Culture: Mixing It Up.

** Japanese Intellectual Currents of the Twentieth Century.

** Putting Okinawa at the Center.


To Download a Volume: The volumes are downloadable from the Asia-Pacific Journal website as searchable PDFs. From the home page,please click on the button marked Course Readers at the top and center of the page, or go directly to the course reader page. Interested viewers may download a copy of any reader by clicking on the appropriate link at the course readers home page and entering their email address. In addition, viewers may directly download the table of contents of each course reader for a preview of the volume.


The Editorial Board for this project consists of Mark Caprio; Rikkyo University; Lonny Carlile, University of Hawai'i, Parks Coble, University of Nebraska; Sabine Früstück, UC-Santa Barbara; A. Tom Grunfeld, Empire State College; Laura Hein, Northwestern University; James Huffman, Wittenberg University; Jeffrey Kingston, Temple University-Japan; Susan Long, John Carroll University; Laura Miller, University of Missouri, St. Louis; Mark Ravinia, Emory University; Mark Selden, APJ-Japan Focus; Stephen Vlastos, University of Iowa.


If you are interested in creating a volume yourself, wish to participate as a reviewer and editor, have suggestions for new topics, or want to discuss another aspect of this project, please contact Laura Hein at


Although the course readers are free, we welcome donations to support the Journal and this initiative; please note the red button Sustaining APJ on the left side of the APJ home page

. Donate 




All recent articles  are now available on Kindle, as are several recent articles. If you experience any difficulty in accessing them, please let us know at



Our home page has a category Featured Articles. This will take you to the most widely read articles of recent times and over our decade of publication. Check it out to discover some of the most important work that has appeared in the journal..

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 
Richard J. Samuels, 3.11: Comparative and Historical Lessons

Like all catastrophes, 3.11 generated pain and imagination, heroes and villains. Political entrepreneurs with motivation and resources were quick to do battle for control of the event. They spun narrative explanations for the tragedy across a broad horizon of meanings and values, all conforming to their own preexisting preferences and to what they believed would be effective with the Japanese public. Existing enemies were enemies still, but newly villainous. The stakeholders, thus rearmed, used these narratives aggressively in an effort to shift the still unformed preferences of a general public struggling to make sense of otherwise unfathomable events. But 3.11 is not alone in this respect. This chapter locates the dueling narratives of 3.11 in their historical and comparative contexts to derive guidance for understanding how disasters can be used by politicians and their allies as well as by citizens.


The list of natural disasters along the Japanese archipelago is sadly long. It is so long, in fact, that as Peter Duus has noted, over the course of two millennia there has always been a disaster that older residents can remember.Indeed, they have been so frequent that the Japanese tell themselves the four most frightening things in life are (in order): earthquakes, thunderstorms, fires, and fathers.

Recommended Citation: Richard J. Samuels, "3.11: Comparative and Historical Lessons," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 20, No. 2, May 20, 2013.

Read more . . .

Stevan Harrell and Aga Rehamo, Education or Migrant Labor: A New Dilemma in China's Borderlands


Early 21st-cenutry China is undergoing several radical transformations that are profoundly affecting its physical, social, and cultural fabric. Not as dramatic, perhaps, as the earlier series of Land Reform, collectivization, Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, and decollectivization that framed the era of Mao Zedong's state socialism, the current processes of urbanization, labor migration, universalization of education, transport network modernization, reconstruction of villages, and social class formation, nevertheless seem destined to have an even more permanent and profound effect on the physical landscape, social structure, and culture of the world's largest nation. Physically, China's cities already contain about half of its citizens, while freeways, high-speed trains, and ordinary paved highways radically reduce transport distances, and hundreds of millions of rural residents migrate yearly to cities to work in factory, construction, and service jobs, while increasingly modern urban social services remain unavailable to them because of the caste-like restrictions of the household registration, or hukou户口 system. Almost all urbanites and most rural children in the wealthier coastal provinces receive at least a high-school education, while even in remote rural areas middle-school has become the legal and in most cases the factual minimum.


In many ways, these rapid social changes have their greatest effect on China's 110 million ethnic minority residents. Because of the physical remoteness of their home areas, even into the 1990s many members of China's ethnic minorities were relatively little affected by the trends of infrastructural construction, expanded rural education, and rural-urban migration that transformed rural areas in China's majority-Han regions. But in the past decade this has changed, as migration, education, and media now reach just about everywhere in China. Yi migrants from Liangshan in Sichuan were found enslaved in factories in Dongguan, Guangdong, in 2008; the government recruits migrant workers from places as remote as the Dulong river valley in the far northwestern corner of Yunnan, which before 1999 required three days walking just to get to the local county seat, and the ethnic riots in Ürümqi in 2009 were started when Han migrants in Guangdong spread an untrue rumor that Uyhgur workers had raped a Han woman, inciting Han to kill two Uyghur workers and, when the news spread to Xinjiang, setting off what can only be described as race riots.


Recent changes have also had their cultural effects in minority regions. Education, mobility and media reach have brought dramatically higher rates of literacy to minority regions, but partially because of the increasing economic importance of migration to Han-dominated cities, most of the increased literacy has been in the Chinese language, threatening many of the gains in minority-language literacy made by the regime's otherwise praiseworthy policies of promoting minority languages and cultures. But there is also mobility in the opposite direction, as mostly-Han urban tourists visit minority regions by the hundreds of millions, seeking clean air, natural vistas, and the nostalgic experience of a less complex and harried life. This, in turn, causes governments and local people in minority regions to re-fashion their traditional cultures to appeal to tourist tastes, at the same time they become more and more fluent in the mainstream culture that combines Chinese tradition and globalizing trends.



Stevan Harrell is Professor of Anthropology and Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington, where he has taught since 1974. He has worked with Nuosu Yi scholars and others on projects relating to ethnicity, education, and environment in Liangshan since 1991.  He is author of Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China (Washington 2001), co-author (with Bamo Qubumo and Ma Lunzy) of Mountain Patterns: The Survival of Nuosu Culture in China (Washington 2000) and (with Bamo Ayi and Ma Lunzy) of Fieldwork Connections (Washington 2007).   His most recent volume, co-edited with Denise M. Glover, Charles F. McKhann, and Margaret B. Swain, is Explorers and Scientists in China's Borderlands, 1880-1950 (Washington 2011).   


Aga Rehamo is a native of Ganluo County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.  After graduating from normal high school in 2000, she became a teacher in a rural elementary school in Ganluo.  In 2004 she entered a master's program at Sichuan Normal University, and after obtaining her degree returned to elementary teaching in Liangshan, until she was accepted as a doctoral student at Beijing Normal University in 2010. She has published articles on  "How to recognize real bilingual education," "Considering Liangshan Yi Bilingual Education in the Light of  Global Modernity," and "Ethnic Culture and Minority Education." She was a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego, in 2012-13.  She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation on "The Predicament of Modernization in Yi Education."  


Recommended Citation: Stevan Harrell and Aga Rehamo, "Education or Migrant Labor: A New Dilemma in China's Borderlands," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 20, No. 1. May 20, 2013.

Read more . . .