The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 22. 2013    

June 3, 2013    
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Two years after the 3.11 triple disaster, David McNeill discusses the fierce debate between Fukushima parents concerned about radiation risk to their children and the Japanese state's insistence that all is well, introducing the scientific evidence as interpreted by both sides.
In recent months the controversy over the "Comfort Women" and Japanese contrition has repeatedly surfaced with an eye to Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru's defense of Japan's wartime sexual slavery. One result has been to give the ruling Abe administration a free pass. Matthew Penney shifts the spotlight to Abe and his views on war and nationalism by introducing a wide-ranging 2010 interview with neonationalist cartoonist Kobayashi Yoshinori. Far more than in the recent Foreign Affairs interview and statements in Washington, Abe here speaks his mind . . . in ways that may suggest the direction of the LDP following the summer election when the Party, if victorious, can be expected to turn to its Constitutional revision agenda and other contentious issues. The visit to Tokyo of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has placed on the agenda not only the possibility of  a Japan-India alliance directed against China but Japanese sale of nuclear power technology to India, with important implications for stoking the arms race in South Asia. P K Sundaram reports.


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.




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. 

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 
David McNeill, Life and Death Choices: Radiation, children, and Japan's future

Two years after the start of Japan's nuclear disaster, parents fear for their children's future as scientists and the Japanese state debate the findings on radiation.


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.


Recommended citation: David McNeill, "Life and Death Choices: Radiation, children and Japan's future," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 22, No. 2, June 2, 2013.


Read More... 

P K Sundaram, The Emerging Japan-India Relationship: Nuclear Anachronism, Militarism and Growth Fetish   



The emerging India-Japan relationship has been met with extreme reactions - from enthusiasm and protests in India and Japan, to concern in China. This new "strategic partnership," and particularly the nuclear cooperation under negotiation, does not portend well for Asia.  


Strong ties between India and Japan can be seen as a pre-requisite for the emergence of Asia and could, in the context of a broader Asian regionalism, provide a way out of the morass created by a 20th century dominated by the West: militarism and wars, ecological crises and growth-obsessed economies. However, the current architecture of the bilateral relationship is centered on increased joint military initiatives and negotiations of civil nuclear cooperation and partnership for corporate-centric economic growth in India that is unleashing horror on its rural poor and ruining its fragile ecosystems. In particular, absent a change in course, it will fuel an anachronistic drive for nuclear energy in India, which is being imposed by the government through brutal repression amid massive peaceful protests by its farmers, fishermen and citizens.



P K Sundaram is Research Consultant with the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, India. He can be contacted at


Recommended citation: P K Sundaram, "The Emerging Japan-India Relationship: Nuclear Anachronism, Militarism and Growth Fetish," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 22, No. 1, June 2, 2013.



Read more . . . 

Matthew Penney, Abe and History-The Kobayashi Yoshinori Interview

The recent controversy over Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru's statement that the wartime comfort women system was "necessary to maintain discipline" and "needed to provide rest to ... brave soldiers" shows that historical revisionism in Japan's public sphere is by no means limited to Abe Shinzo's Liberal Democratic Party. Abe is known to hold revisionist views and a firm belief that the current approach to history in Japanese education is "masochistic", but since the December 2012 election, he and other LDP elites have tried (not always successfully) to maintain voter support by skirting controversy and focusing on the "economy first" approach of "Abenomics" which has spurred a stock market boom and proven popular with the public.

Abe's historical views received a great deal of critical scrutiny during his first term in power between 2006 and 2007. In the years since, he has flip-flopped through a series of vague and often contradictory statements on Japan's wars of the 1930s and 1940s and imperial practice more broadly. His views on the past are difficult to pin down and there has been no sustained effort by scholars or journalists to keep tabs on what he has said about history in Japanese-language books or interviews in the years between his 2007 resignation and his return to the political center in 2012.  Abe's 2010 interview with cartoonist Kobayashi Yoshinori provides valuable insight into Abe's views.

Posted June 3, 2013.

Matthew Penney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Concordia University, Montreal. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal Coordinator. His research interests include pacifism, war memory, popular culture, and neo-nationalism in Japan.


Read more . . .