The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 32. 2013    

August 12, 2013    
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Neither hurricane nor drought keeps the Newsletter from delivery. Yesterday, my computer died while traveling between the Cape and Boston. So this week's Newsletter comes to you courtesy of John and Yasuko Dower, who we thank for many things, not least this. Running slightly late, I think that you'll find it worth a look. Articles range from the suicide of a Chinese worker and the politics of Apple, Foxconn and the new generation of rural migrant workers, to the ongoing US-Korean War and the politics of China-North Korean friendship, to a profile of the origins of the first US military base at Guantanamo, the politics of water and power in the wake of Japan's 3.11, and a profile of Japanese language education for foreign students.

Twice a year we invite our readers to help us to continue to publish The Asia-Pacific Journal. The first responses have been gratifying and we look forward to hearing from more of you.


The Journal is and will continue to be provided free to readers. But if you value the work of our authors and would like to assure continued publication, we hope that you will subscribe at the rate of $25 or $50 ($10 for students and residents of low income countries). You can contribute via Paypal or credit card at our home page on the upper left side.  


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 
Jenny Chan, A Suicide Survivor: the life of a Chinese migrant worker at Foxconn

In 2010, 18 employees working for Foxconn in China attempted suicide. These shocking events focused world attention on the manufacturing supply chains of China's export industry and the experience of working within them. What had driven these young migrant assembly line workers to commit such a desperate act? This article provides a first-hand account of the experiences of one of those who survived a suicide attempt, 17-year-old Tian Yu. Her personal narrative is embedded within the broader context of labour process, work organisation and managerial practice at Foxconn, the Taiwanese-owned multinational whose 1.4 million Chinese workers provide products and components for Apple and others. Factory conditions are further shaped by the company trade union and Chinese government policies. The paper concludes with additional contextualisation indicating the emergence of an alliance of workers, students, scholars and transnational labour movement activists who are campaigning for Chinese workers' rights. 


Jenny Chan is a Ph.D. candidate, Great Britain-China Educational Trust Awardee and Reid Research Scholar in the Faculty of History and Social Sciences at the University of London, Royal Holloway. She serves as an advisor to Hong Kong-based labour rights group SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior).


The authors have  written a book entitled Separate Dreams: Apple, Foxconn and a New Generation of Chinese Workers (Ngai Pun, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden, forthcoming).  


Recommended citation: Jenny Chan, "A Suicide Survivor: the life of a Chinese migrant worker at Foxconn," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 31, No. 1. August 12, 2013.




Heonik Kwon, The Korean War and Sino-North Korean Friendship


The relationship between China and North Korea is a subject that attracts much discussion and speculation in today's policy circles and media. The history of Sino-North Korean friendship is typically traced to the time of the Korean War (1950-1953), although in North Korea it tends to go further back, to the colonial period. The texture of this international friendship has been changing recently. Some Chinese leaders state that China's friendship with North Korea is no longer a special one and that the two countries have, or should have, a "normal" interstate relationship-respecting mutual interests as well as certain international norms-rather than one that is historically determined and unchanging. In North Korea, by contrast, there has been renewed interest in reinventing its relationship with China as a historically constituted and durable friendship. This essay explores North Korea's recent efforts to present its relationship with China as a special, extraordinary, revolutionary friendship. It will focus on how the making of this special friendship draws upon a set of powerful ideas and metaphors of kinship and consanguinity.   

Heonik Kwon is professorial Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and an APJ associate. The author of The Other Cold War, he co-authored North Korea: Beyond Charismatic Politics (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012) and is completing a book on intimate histories of the Korean War. 


Recommended citation: Heonik Kwon, "The Korean War and Sino-North Korean Friendship," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 31, No. 4, August 12, 2013.   

Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun and Mark Selden, The politics of global production: Apple, Foxconn and China's new working class

Apple's commercial triumph rests in part on the outsourcing of its consumer electronics production to Asia. Drawing on extensive fieldwork at China's leading exporter-the Taiwanese-owned Foxconn-the power dynamics of the buyer-driven supply chain are analysed in the context of the national terrains that mediate or even accentuate global pressures. Power asymmetries assure the dominance of Apple in price setting and the timing of product delivery, resulting in intense pressures and illegal overtime for workers. Responding to the high-pressure production regime, the young generation of Chinese rural migrant workers engages in a crescendo of individual and collective struggles to define their rights and defend their dignity in the face of combined corporate and state power.     


Jenny Chan ( is a Ph.D. candidate, Great Britain-China Educational Trust Awardee and Reid Research Scholar in the Faculty of History and Social Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London. She was Chief Coordinator (2006-2009) of Hong Kong-based labour rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM).     


Ngai Pun ( is Professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Deputy Director in the China Social Work Research Center at Peking University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.    


Mark Selden ( is Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University and a Coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal.     


The authors have  written a book entitled Separate Dreams: Apple, Foxconn and a New Generation of Chinese Workers (Ngai Pun, Jenny Chan and Mark Selden, forthcoming).

 Recommended citation: Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun and Mark Selden, "The politics of global production: Apple, Foxconn and China's new working class," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 32, No. 2, August 12, 2013.



Paul A. Kramer, Guantanamo: A Useful Corner of the World

The story told here will be familiar to students of Asia: an American military base established overseas in the aftermath of war and occupation; contractual terms reflecting vast asymmetries of power; local society transformed by the facility's demands for raw materials, goods and labor, including sexual labor; recurring tensions with "host" governments over questions of jurisdiction and sovereignty.
What may be more surprising is that the story unfolds in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that it begins as far back as 1898, the year the United States embarked on a career of overseas colonial empire involving territorial possessions in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Before the bases at Okinawa, Diego Garcia and Subic Bay, there was the installation at Guantánamo, the United States' first overseas military base, built in the aftermath of the Spanish-Cuban-American War, when the U. S. made Cuba's willingness to lease it land for bases and coaling stations a precondition for the withdrawal of its occupying army from the rest of Cuba.

Raising the American flag at Guantánamo, June 12, 1898.Hart, Edward H., photographer. "Hoisting the flag at Guantanamo, June 12, 1898," ca. 1898-1901. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction, Number LC-D4-21495
As this essay shows, over the course of the century that followed, the Guantánamo base proved to be a versatile instrument of American regional and global power, even as the United States' hold was challenged by harsh terrain, Cuban opposition, and shifting American priorities. With the triumph and consolidation of the Cuban Revolution, "Gitmo" emerged as an anomaly within the United States' growing network of bases, the only such American-governed space in "enemy" territory.

Paul A. Kramer is an Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University, with research and teaching interests centering on the United States' transnational, imperial and global histories since the mid-19th century. He is the author of The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). 


Recommended citation: Paul A. Kramer, "Guantánamo: A Useful Corner of the World," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 32, No. 5, August 12, 2013.

Andrew DeWit, Water, Water Everywhere: Incentives and Options at Fukushima Daiichi and Beyond

Japan's ruined and radioactive reactor plant at Fukushima Daiichi has been an abiding source of concern among knowledgeable observers. But over the past week, it suddenly returned as an intense focus of concern in the Japanese1 and quality overseas press.2 There are a host of good reasons for this reemergence. As numerous articles and expert statements reveals, it is now clear that several hundred tons of radiation-contaminated water is entering the ocean.

The usual suspects, including Tepco as well as various talking heads, have been assuring anxious observers that nothing untoward is going on, that health risks are minimal, and so on. But at the same time, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) was steadily ramping up its warnings to Tepco to be more pro-active and forthcoming on the crisis. And on top of that, Shinkawa Tatsuya, Director, Nuclear Accident Response Office at the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry's (METI) Agency for Natural Resources and Energy is on record warning that the leaks may have been going on for two years and that there is a risk of the reactor buildings toppling. Along with many other shocked observers, Neils Bohmer, nuclear physicist and general manager of the international environmental group Bellona, points out that what is happening at Fukushima Daiichi shows the efforts underway are still largely improvised. He adds that the "setbacks that have troubled Tepco in its efforts to bring the plant to heel would be nearly comical were it not for the gravity of the situation".

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.

Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, Water, Water Everywhere: Incentives and Options at Fukushima Daiichi and Beyond," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 32, No. 6, August 12, 2013. 
Read More. . .


Robert Moorehead, Separate and Unequal: The Remedial Japanese Language Classroom as an Ethnic Project

The economic downturn of the Great Recession has largely brought an end to the wave of ethnic return migration of Japanese South Americans to Japan, a wave that began in the late 1980s. By 2012, the number of South American residents in Japan had dropped by more than a third, contributing to the shrinking of the foreign resident population in Japan to the lowest level since 2005. This emigration wave from Japan has been encouraged by growth in the Brazilian economy and by financial incentives from the Japanese government for Japanese South Americans and their family members to leave the country. However, despite these changes, the number of non-Japanese children in Japanese public schools who require remedial help in Japanese remains high. While the number of Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking children in Japanese-as-a-second-language (JSL) classes has dropped, the number of Chinese- and Tagalog-speaking children receiving these classes has increased.

Thus, Japanese public schools, like their counterparts in other countries, continue to face the responsibility of preparing immigrant children for their futures in Japan. This project of citizen-building is occuring in a Japanese classroom setting that emphasizes the equality of all students, and a strong sense of collectivity and mutual interdependence. Professional norms in Japanese education further dictate that schools must provide all students with similar education until they enter high school, at which time students are sorted into academic and vocational schools with differing curricular emphases and degrees of prestige. However, the presence of immigrant children is challenging this Japanese educational model of equality and inclusion.

To meet the needs of immigrant children, Japanese public schools have created separate JSL classrooms for students who require remedial language training. These classrooms break with Japanese educational practices by pulling students out of their homeroom classes for remedial lessons, instead of having all students complete the same lessons together. Teachers contend that the JSL classrooms provide more than remedial instruction-they also serve as sites of refuge for immigrant children, providing them places to relax from the challenges of adapting to the Japanese language and culture.

I examine the JSL classroom at Shiroyama Elementary School,1 a public school in central Japan that has more than 50 immigrant students. The great majority of the school's immigrant families come from Peru, with smaller numbers from Bolivia, Brazil, China, and the Philippines.

Robert Moorehead is Associate Professor in the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University. In addition to the chapter in Language and Citizenship in Japan, he is also the author of "Ethnic Boundary Enforcers: Conceptualizing Japanese Teachers' Treatment of Migrant Latino Parents" (Shakai Fukushi Kenkyu 9:77-87, and "Teaching and Learning Across an Ethnic Divide: Peruvian Parents and a Japanese School" (Imin Kenkyu 3:89-104). With his students, he also manages the blog JAPANsociology.

Recommended citation: Robert Moorehead, "Separate and Unequal: The Remedial Japanese Language Classroom as an Ethnic Project," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 32, No. 3, August 12, 2013.