The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 36. 2013    

September 9, 2013    
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The Asia-Pacific Journal now has Non-Profit Organization status. Your contribution to the Journal is tax deductible.  


Twice a year we invite our readers to help us to continue to publish The Asia-Pacific Journal. Thank you.  


Some readers have experienced difficulty in subscribing to our weekly newsletter. If this includes you, please let us know about this or any technical problems.  


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 
Sachie Mizohata, The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Its Critics: An introduction and a petition

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is a proposed trade pact that Japan is currently negotiating with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam (as of September 2013).  The TPP aims to increase the liberalization of economies in the Pacific region through abolition of tariffs on trade as well as reregulation.  In 2008, the United States joined the talks "and has espoused a hard core complete free trade policy," which has vastly expanded the scope of the negotiations.  With both the US and Japan as participants, the pact would cover nearly 40% of the world's economy.  Japan officially joined one of final rounds of the negotiations in July 2013 in Malaysia, as the participating countries intend to finalize the TPP negotiations (at least partially) by the end of 2013.


The TPP agreement affects not only trade issues, but also nontrade matters that immensely impact lives of citizens in all participating countries.


The petition by the Association of University Faculties is available in English and Japanese. 


Recommended Citation: Sachie Mizohata, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Its Critics: An introduction and a petition," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 36, No. 3.  

Andrew DeWit, The End of Japan's Nuclear Power Mirage? Tokyo's Green Olympics in 2020 


The September 7 decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the 2020 games to Tokyo is potentially of monumental importance. That significance is not merely due to the fraught geopolitics of the so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific or the collective angst of all those analysts waiting for Abenomics arrows. 


Rather, the big deal is energy. And energy is the biggest deal there is, composing roughly 10% of the USD 70 trillion global economy. This short article aims to assess the IOC decision from the perspective of its impact on the contest between centralized versus distributed energy. The unsustainable, centralized energy paradigm illustrated by the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, was the very audible elephant in the room during IOC decision-making. The upstart alternative, distributed power generation, is the route that many are now aiming at. Hence, the 2020 games could usher in a "new Japan," a very different country from the one PM Abe Shinzo described in his book "Towards a New Country" and has sought to realize via pressing for reactor restarts and overseas sales. Tokyo is on course to offer by 2020 a rapidly urbanizing and increasingly desperate world multiple models of sustainable, smart city technology.  


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. He is the author of an ongoing series on Japan's political and energy alternatives at the Asia-Pacific Journal.

Sonia Ryang, Reading Volcano Island: In the Sixty-fifth Year of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising

I was eight or nine when M samchon ("Uncle M") arrived at our house in Japan on one of his regular late-night visits.  In fact, it seemed as if he chose to visit at this hour, as if he was hiding from something or someone. Although he was not really related to us, he came from the same part of Korea, Jeju Island, and we referred to him using the term samchon, a Jeju term used when addressing uncles and aunts. He spoke in the Jeju tongue, which was unlike any of the other versions of Korean that I had heard at that time. Although my father was born in Jeju, even he had a hard time communicating with our samchon. This was because my father had grown up in Japan, his parents having taken him back to Osaka, where they ran a small business, soon after he was born. The visitor's Japanese was quite poor, but it was slightly easier for me to understand than Jeju-style Korean. Using the few words that I was able to understand, I could figure out that his childhood friend, Beomdori (Mr. Beomdol to us kids), was in the process of slowly recovering his speech. Given that Uncle M was in his late twenties or early thirties, my childishly inquisitive mind found it odd that a grown-up, such as Uncle M's friend, was learning how to speak. Not to speak a foreign language, like Japanese, but to speak, period.  


Boemdori was nine and Uncle M ten when they were smuggled out of Jeju Island in the aftermath of the April 3 Uprising of 1948 (known among Koreans by the abbreviation "4.3" or sasam). By the end of 1948, most of Uncle M's male relatives and many of his female relatives had been killed, either by the army or by Seocheong (an abbreviation of Seobuk cheongnyeondan or North West Youth Militia), an extreme-right wing militia gang originating from amongst anti-Communist settlers from northern Korea that the South Korean government actively deployed in its efforts to eradicate leftist forces. Beomdori and his mother were dragged along to witness the execution of fellow villagers, including that of his own father. In the face of such unspeakable brutality, his mother had lost her sanity and Beomdori his power of speech. In fact, he had remained mute since that time. The story was often heard that the army and the gangs wanted to kill all of the male offspring in order to finish off the "red" lineage for good. It was in this environment that Beomdori's grandmother and Uncle M's mother decided to send the youngest male survivors of their respective families away from the island. -  


This article interweaves the personal experiences of the author growing up in Japan with analysis of 4.3 and its portrayal in the South Korean film, Volcano Island. 


Sonia Ryang is a Professor of Anthropology and international Studies and C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley Family and Korea Foundation Chair of Korean Studies in University of Iowa. Her most recent book is Reading North Korea: An Ethnological Inquiry (2012, Harvard) and her forthcoming book is Eating Korean: A Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity (Hawaii). Her most recent contribution to the Asia-Pacific Journal is "North Koreans in South Korea: In Search of Their Humanity"


Recommended citation: Sonia Ryang, "Reading Volcano Island: In The Sixty-Fifth Year of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 36, No. 2, September 9, 2013.


Read More. . . 

David McNeill, Cover-Up: Toyota and Quality Control

Toyota is back on top after one of the worst crises in its history. But has it solved its problems, or just buried them?

In 2008, Toyota faced an embarrassing problem: The Imperial Family's luxury Century Royal, used to carry Crown Prince Naruhito around Japan, was a dud. Memos flew back and forth between managers and senior engineers trying to find the cause of what appeared to be a speed-control fault. "This is a very difficult situation," fretted one engineer. "The Imperial Household Agency feels there is risk if it should recur." The unspoken concern was clear: What if a crash hurt or even killed Japan's heir to the Imperial throne?

The problem seemed rooted in electronics - but its solution was elusive, even to all those trained minds. Toyota replaced the gas pedal, the throttle system and the engine computer at its own expense. The crisis passed; the engineers heaved a collective sigh of relief.

For Betsy Benjaminson, however, that incident was a turning point. A professional translator, she had been privy to internal memos at Toyota and other large Japanese corporations since living and working in Japan in the 1970s. From 2000, she was exceptionally busy, thanks to the huge upsurge in legal translation among these companies. As they expanded abroad, the companies became ensnared in legal battles over price-fixing, bad deals, financial fraud and unreliable suppliers. Demand for experts able to bridge the linguistic and legal gaps was intense.  

David McNeill writes for The Independent and other publications, including The Irish Times, The Economist and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator and coauthor of Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). This is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared in The Japan Times newspaper on June 9, 2013.

Recommended citation: David McNeill, "Cover-Up: Toyota and Quality Control," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 36, No. 1, September 9, 2013.
Read More. . .