The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 25. 2013    

June 24, 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 
Arakawa Akira, Confronting Home-Grown Contradictions: Reflections on Okinawa's 'Forty Years Since Reversion,' Translated by Scott Aalgaard

Conspicuous of late, in light of this historical moment that marks forty years since the 'restitution' of the rights to administrative control over Okinawa from the United States to Japan, have been media special reports which, be they designed for publication in print or for broadcast over the airwaves, have featured in their titles the phrase 'Fukki 40 Nen [40 Years Since Reversion]'. There are, however, no few individuals in Okinawa who harbor a certain hostility to the fact that, in the vast majority of cases, this word 'reversion' is deployed without being bracketed in quotation marks, as if it represented a simple matter of fact.   


Since the original meaning of the word fukki [reversion] is, according to the Kōjien, "to restore to an originary place, location, or condition, ' ~ to one's native country'", the transfer of administrative control over what was originally an independent Ryukyu Kingdom - a region annexed in the shadow of threatened military force in 1879 (the Disposition of the Ryukyus) and under Japanese control for only a few decades before Japan's defeat in 1945 - was nothing but an arbitrary act carried out to suit the purposes of the United States and Japan in 1972; thus, it cannot properly be called a 'reversion' in the correct sense of the term. It is therefore not difficult to appreciate why so many harbor senses of hostility and discomfort toward this term.   


In the context of postwar Okinawan history, however, the word 'fukki' itself was adopted and popularized by none other than Okinawans - the very Okinawans who, for example, founded the Okinawan Reversion Council, and who, via the 'reversionist movement', sought to bring about their own absorption into Japan. Thus, another reality of these past forty years has been that Okinawans have had to come face to face with a contradiction of our own making.   


Arakawa Akira. Born in Okinawa in 1931. Dropped out of the Japanese National Literature Department of the School of Literature and Science at the University of the Ryukyus in 1955, and took up a position with the Okinawa Times newspaper. After serving as chief of the publication's Yaeyama branch, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Shin Okinawa Bungaku, and Executive Director for Publication for the Okinawa Daihyakka Jiten (Okinawa Encyclopedia), Arakawa would go on to serve as the paper's Director and Editor in Chief, President, and Chairman (retiring in 1999).    


Scott W. Aalgaard is a PhD student at the University of Chicago, where his research focuses upon the manner(s) in which geographically- and historically-specific individuals conceive of 'Japan' and formulate desires for 'sovereignty', approaching these questions through the lens of individual interpretations and deployments of certain popular musics. His Masters thesis, titled "Gimme Shelter: Enka, Self and Society in Contemporary Japan", was completed at the University of Victoria in 2011. 


Recommended citation: Arakawa Akira, "Confronting Home-Grown Contradictions: Reflections on Okinawa's 'Forty Years Since Reversion'," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 25, No. 1. June 24, 2013." 


Asia-Pacific Journal Feature, Local Governments Vs. The Nuclear Village 地方自治体 vs 原子力ムラ
In the last several months, the Abe Shinzo government has favored a rhetoric of economic revival by using nuclear power at home and selling nuclear technology abroad. It appears, however, that only a minority of the Japanese public supports these plans. As the Asahi has reported, polls show that 58% of voters are opposed to Abe's nuclear plans with only 28% responding that the government should go ahead with restarts. Similarly, a poll carried out by Jiji News Service revealed that 58% "do not support" nuclear exports with only 24% in favor. With news of a new leak or system failure at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup coming every few weeks, it is little wonder that the population is skeptical about the safety and utility of nuclear power.  

Despite resistance by the numbers, however, there is a certain ambivalence evident in Japanese popular views of nuclear power. Despite resistance to the idea of restarts and exports, voters turned the Democratic Party out of power, rejected diverse options on the left, and handed the Liberal Democrats, the most pro-nuclear among major political parties, a landslide election victory in December 2012. As Abe talks of unpopular plant restarts and a strong nuclear export push, he has maintained a very high approval rating. Poll results reported by broadcaster NTV in mid-June have Abe's overall approval rating at 60.1% with support for the LDP at 47.7%, far ahead of the second place Democrats who garnered a mere 8.6%. These numbers seem to point to a landslide LDP victory in the upcoming July House of Councillors elections. While opposition to nuclear power is clearly there, it has not had a significant impact on LDP support. 

One sector of the Japanese public sphere that has maintained anti-nuclear momentum, however, is that of local government. On June 11, the Asahi Shimbun published a piece, included below, detailing the continuing resistance to nuclear restarts at the local level.

Published June 18, 2013. 
Gavan McCormack, Japan's Client State (Zokkoku) Problem

As Japan moved to conduct House of Representatives elections in December 2012, attention in Western media and academic circles turned, as it does from time to time, to the question of whether the country was in decline, or even in some sort of crisis. Already five years have passed since the Minister for Economic Policy declared to the National Diet that "in economic terms Japan is no longer a first-class country," by which she meant that its GDP had shrunk below 10 per cent as a proportion of the world's for the first time in 24 years. It has continued to fall since then. As a proportion of global GDP, Japan was 15 per cent in 1990, fell below 10 per cent in 2008, is expected to fall to 6 per cent in 2030 and 3.2 per cent in 2060, while China's rises steadily, from 2 per cent in 1990 to a predicted 25 per cent in 2030 and 27.8 per cent in 2060. It is that shift in relative weight, perhaps more than anything (national debt, aging, shrinking population) that disturbs Japan.

In meta-historical terms, Japan has preserved a wary distance from China for well over a millennium, ever since the "Battle of Baekgang" (or Hakusukinoe) in the year 663, when the combined forces of Tang-Silla (states then dominating China and the Korean peninsula) defeated the combined forces of Baekje and Yamato (rival states on the Korean peninsula and the Japanese islands).

Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at Australian National University, a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal - Japan Focus, and author of many works on Modern East Asia including Resistant Islands - Okinawa versus Japan and the United States, (co-authored with Satoko Oka Norimatsu), Rowman and Littlefield, 2012, of which the Japanese edition was published early in 2013 by Horitsu Bunkasha. 
Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack, "Japan's Client State (Zokkoku) Problem," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 25, No. 2, June 24, 2013.