The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 29. 2013    

July 22, 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 are available 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 
Lawrence Repeta, Japan's Democracy at Risk - The LDP's Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change

Is it time to bring Japan's postwar experiment in liberal democracy to an end?  Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and his followers seem to think so.  In April 2012, the LDP published a clear blueprint for constitutional revision that would go a long way toward achieving this goal. The Liberal Democratic Party has advocated fundamental revision of Japan's Constitution since its founding in 1955. Nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, LDP leaders remain humiliated by the thought that the country is governed under a constitution largely drafted by a team of foreign military officers.  Abe is working hard to build a coalition with the power to rip the "imposed constitution" out by its philosophical roots. He and his followers, who dominate the LDP, envision an "autonomous constitution" (jishu kenpō) that would radically adjust the balance between government power and individual rights.

This is a critical moment in Japan's history.  In parliamentary elections held on Sunday, July 21, the LDP gained thirty seats, giving the Party a total of 115 in the 242-seat Upper House.  Following its sweeping victory in December 2012 Lower House elections, this means that together with its coalition partner Komeito, the Party holds secure majorities in both Houses of the Diet.  Although the LDP does not control the two-thirds parliamentary majorities required to pass resolutions for constitutional change, it does control Japan's political agenda.  Abe and his followers are in a good position to continue their push to revise the constitution.

Lawrence Repeta is a professor of law at Meiji University in Japan, an Asia-Pacific Journal associate, and a director of Information Access Japan Clearinghouse ( He is author of "Limiting Fundamental Rights Protection in Japan - the Role of the Supreme Court," in Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan,edited by Jeff Kingston (Routledge, forthcoming).  


Recommended Citation: "Lawrence Repeta, Japan's Democracy at Risk - The LDP's Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 29, No. 1, July 22, 2013.

 Andrew DeWit, Bloom Energy Japan Versus Abe's Road: What Energy Future for Japan?


On July 18, Japan's Softbank announced that it has formed a partnership with US Bloom Energy  
to enter the Japanese market and proceed from there through Asia. The good news comes at a time when an election victory prompts PM Abe Shinzo to embark on a bold and risky agenda of constitutional revision, military expansion and heightened conflict with China. Back in the early 2000s, Softbank CEO Son Masayoshi blazed a trail that led Japan to having the among the fastest and cheapest internet services in the world. Abe and Son appear to represent polar opposites in their approach to development, independence and power. In this short piece, I argue that while analysts have been dazzled by Abe's electoral triumph, Son's resilient and internationalist road could shape a very different and positive Japanese economic, technological and energy future than that envisaged by the PM.  




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.  



Read More. . . 


Matthew Penney, Miyazaki Hayao and the Asia-Pacific War  

Miyazaki Hayao, director of famous animated films such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001), is one of the most popular and influential media figures in Japan. The premiere of a new Miyazaki film is a major event and on July 20, Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises), his first project since the 2008 hit Ponyo (an eco-fable discussed here by Susan Napier),arrives in theatres across Japan.


Kaze Tachinu, set mostly in the 1930s and based on the life of "Zero Fighter" designer Horikoshi Jiro,is a departure for Miyazaki. Each of his films since 1984's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind has had significant fantasy (or at least "magical realist") elements. Miyazaki has consistently dealt with war and violence, however. On to Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle, a whimsical young adult novel about a wizard and his companions battling curses and searching for a missing prince, Miyazaki grafted an anti-militarist meta-theme and horrifying scenes of the bombing of civilians in wartime. Incensed by the American invasion of Iraq, Miyazaki refused to travel to the United States to attend the 2003 Oscars where he was to receive his Best Animated Film award for Spirited Away. There are ambiguities in Miyazaki's anti-war stance. He is fascinated by military technology, everything from Japanese fighter planes to German battle tanks, and has penned manga which arguably fetishize the weapons of war, but he also marched against Japanese rearmament and the Vietnam War in the 1960s and has been an outspoken critic of nationalism and violence in interviews and his own writings ever since.


Miyazaki's look at the Asia-Pacific War in 2013 with Kaze Tachinu comes at a time in which controversy over Japan's wars of the 1930s and 1940s and the memory, commemoration, and representation of those conflicts, is intensifying.

Matthew Penney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History, Concordia University, Montreal. He researches Japanese war memory and neo-nationalism and is an Asia-Pacific Journal Coordinator. He can be reacted at