The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 24. 2013    

June 17, 2013    
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 Check out the most widely read articles at APJ . . . in the last month, last year, last five years and all time: at Top Ten Articles on our home page.



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 
Jon Mitchell, 281_Anti Nuke: The Japanese street artist taking on Tokyo, TEPCO and the nation's right-wing extremists

More than two years after the triple disasters that included the meltdowns at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, between 160,000 and 300,000 Tohoku residents remain displaced, the power station teeters on the brink of further disaster, and large swathes of northern Japan are so irradiated they may be uninhabitable for generations to come. But today in Tokyo, it is as though March 11, 2011 never happened. The streets are packed with tourists and banners herald the city's 2020 Olympic bid; the neon lights are back on and all memories of post-meltdown power savings seem long forgotten.   

Given this mood of collective amnesia, the large poster on a wall near Shibuya Station comes as a surprise. It shows a little girl wearing a long red dress stenciled with the words "3.11 is not over" - nearby another poster depicts a Rising Sun flag seeping blood and the message "Japan kills Japanese." These posters - and dozens of others pasted around Tokyo - are the work of Japanese artist, 281_Anti Nuke. While the origins of his chosen name are murky, the way in which his subversively simple images force passersby to stop - and think - has led to comparisons with street artist, Banksy.   


Jon Mitchell is a Welsh-born writer based in Japan and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. In November 2012, "Defoliated Island", a TV documentary based upon his research into the U.S. military's usage of Agent Orange on Okinawa was awarded a commendation for excellence by Japan's National Association of Commercial Broadcasters. The English version can be watched here. This is an expanded version of an article that first appeared in The Japan Times on 28 May, 2013.  


Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, "281_Anti Nuke: The Japanese street artist taking on Tokyo, TEPCO and the nation's right-wing extremists," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 24, No. 5, June 17, 2013.



Peter Dale Scott, Washington's Battle Over Syrian Foreign Policy: Will Hawks Or Doves Prevail?

Like Putin's policy in Russia, Obama's Syrian policy is being tugged strenuously in Washington, both by hawks and by doves. On June 13, Obama handed two limited but ominous victories to the hawks: a finding of fact that the troops of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad "have used chemical weapons [i.e. sarin] against rebel forces," and a consequent decision "to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition."  


Both announcements sound very strange, if not dishonest, to anyone who has been following the Syrian crisis. Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes, one of Obama's top foreign policy advisers, was quoted by the New York Times as saying that "there was no reason to think that the resistance has access to chemical weapons." Thus, like most of the mainstream U.S. media, Rhodes simply ignored the reports last May in the British media that "U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin." Three weeks later there were additional disputed reports that a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas had been seized from Syrian rebel forces in Turkey. We thus see another U.S. case, as a decade ago in Iraq, of policy steering intelligence, rather than vice versa.  


The second announcement, that the U.S. would "begin supplying the rebels," is also hard to reconcile with reality. As the Times itself revealed three months ago, the CIA since early 2012 has helped facilitate an airlift of 3500 tons or more of arms to the rebels from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. 



Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here. Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Washington's Battle Over Syrian Foreign Policy: Will Hawks Or Doves Prevail?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 24, No. 1, June 17, 2013. 


Read more . . . 

Dong WANG, U.S.-China Trade, 1971-2012: Insights into the U.S.-China Relationship

In the twenty-first century, American-Chinese relations offers both a challenge and an opportunity for the United States, China, and the entire world. Since both countries re-opened their doors to each other in 1971, their economic and financial ties have been widely viewed as the "ballast" of an uneasy relationship. A comparison between their embedded commercial relations now and pre-rapprochement affirms the U.S.-centered interdependency between the two giants. Their trading volume in 2012 reached an all-time high of $536.2 billion on U.S. books and $484.7 billion in Chinese calculation.


In 1972, it stood at a mere US$4.7 million. At present, with a population five times larger than America's, China boasts an economy that is less than half the size of the U.S. economy. But forty years ago China's Gross National Product was only about 7 percent of that of the United States. In 2012 China exceeded the United States as the largest trading nation in the world, and the United States became China's largest export market. Is China's economic ascendancy a fundamental threat to American power and influence? Evolving trade patterns and institutions in the bilateral economic sphere during the last four decades suggest that China has neither the interest nor the wherewithal to remake or unmake the entire world economic system that the United States designed and dominated since World War II.    



Dong WANG is the author of China's Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History (2005), and The United States and China: A History from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (January 2013). She is director and professor of contemporary Chinese history at the University of Turku in Finland, and is affiliated with Harvard University and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.


Recommended citation: Dong WANG,  "U.S.-China Trade, 1971-2012: Insights into the U.S.-China Relationship," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 24, No. 5, June 17, 2013.


Joanna Elfving-Hwang, Cosmetic Surgery and Embodying the Moral Self in South Korean Popular Makeover Culture



You only have to spend a day in Seoul to realize that appearances do matter in contemporary South Korean society. Advertisements for various cosmetic surgeries are conspicuous everywhere-from taxis to public transport and underground stations, all evidence that the industry is booming.  


In their worldwide survey of cosmetic procedures performed in 2011 by board certified cosmetic surgeons, the International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) placed Korea in seventh place in terms of numbers of surgical procedures. That said, Korea's 250,000 recorded surgeries were easily outstripped by US and Brazil which topped the list with numbers close to the 1 million mark. Nevertheless, Korea tops the list in the number of procedures per capita.  


Jo Elfving-Hwang (PhD, Sheffield University) is an Associate Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Western Australia. Her current research and teaching interests include cultural representations of cosmetic cultures in South Korea, masculinities in South Korean popular culture, and  South Korean cultural diplomacy and models of overseas development in Africa. Recent publications include a monograph titled Representations of Femininity in Contemporary South Korean Women's Literature; 'Gender, Globalization and Aesthetic Surgery in South Korea' (with Ruth Holliday), Body and Society 18(2) (2012): 58-81; and a book chapter 'Cross-border representations in North and South Korean Cold War Literatures', in Global Cold War Literatures: Western, Eastern and Postcolonial Perspectives,ed. Andrew Hammond (London and New York: Routledge, 2011), 44-57. 


Recommended Citation: Joanna Elfcing-Hwang, "Cosmetic Surgery and Embodying the Moral Self in South Korean Popular Makeover Culture," The Asia-Pacific Journal,  

Vol 11, Issue 24, No. 2, June 17, 2013.


Peter Lee,
India Places Its Asian Bet on Japan

In a dismaying week for the PRC, India turned away from China...and gave further signals that it is ready to move beyond the narrative of Japanese World War II aggression that has informed China's Asian diplomacy and anchored the US presence in Asia for over half a century in favor of a view of Japan as a leading and laudable security actor in East Asia. I don't know if there is a term in the diplomatic lexicon for "deep tongue kiss accompanied by groans of mutual fulfillment", but if there is, it seems it would be illustrated by the encounter between Indian President Manmohan Singh and Japanese PM Abe Shinzo in Tokyo on May 27-29, 2013.

Speaking to an assembly of Japanese government and corporate worthies in Tokyo, Singh said: Asia's resurgence began over a century ago on this island of the Rising Sun. Ever since, Japan has shown us the way forward. India and Japan have a shared vision of a rising Asia. Over the past decade, therefore, our two countries have established a new relationship based on shared values and shared interests. ... Our relationship with Japan has been at the heart of our Look East Policy. Japan inspired Asia's surge to prosperity and it remains integral to Asia's future. The world has a huge stake in Japan's success in restoring the momentum of its growth.

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US global policy. He is the moving force behind the Asian affairs website China Matters which provides continuing critical updates on China and Asia-Pacific policies. His work frequently appears at Asia Times. 

Recommended citation: Peter Lee, "India Places Its Asian Bet on Japan," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 24, No. 3, June 17, 2013.

Read more . . .