The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 41. 2013    

October 14, 2013    
New Articles Posted
Quick Links
In This Issue
Quick Links
Quick Links


The Asia-Pacific Journal now has Non-Profit Organization status. Your contribution to the Journal is tax deductible. Our thanks to those who have taken notice of this opportunity to support the journal.


More than 11,000 people now subscribe to APJ, either through our Newsletter or through
Twitter or Facebook, whose numbers are growing steadily. Please consider joining them by clicking at the appropriate link on the left banner of our home page.       


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.


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 earlier 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 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.


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




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..

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. 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.  
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 

Steve Rabson, The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan at War


When the Japanese government abolished the Ryukyu Kingdom, absorbing it into Japan as Okinawa Prefecture in 1879, most Okinawans on the mainland were merchants of locally grown and handcrafted goods. Large-scale migration began around 1900 with the development of Japan's modern textile industry, centered in Greater Osaka. Thousands came from the nation's poorest prefecture, mostly young women and teenage girls from farming villages, to work under contract in factories.  


Okinawan migration to the mainland increased rapidly with the outbreak of World War I which boosted demand for Japanese products, enormously benefiting the economy. What was known as the "World War I boom" shook the nation's industries out of their recession doldrums. With Japan on their side in that war, the Allies deluged Japanese manufacturers with orders for munitions and supplies. Furthermore, with industries in America and Europe on wartime production regimens, Japanese manufacturers were able to displace them in large sectors of the consumer market in Japan and in other Asian countries. Wartime demand for Okinawan sugar, the most important product in the local economy, brought temporary improvement, and the market expanded all of a sudden in wartime for locally woven Panama hats, the prefecture's one "manufactured" export. But the United States and European countries imposed a ban on their importation in 1919 that sent the market tumbling. Two years later, the collapse of world sugar prices in 1921 devastated the poorest prefecture's economy, compelling more Okinawans to leave for South America, Hawaii, and the Philippines, but the largest number, a recorded 10,300, went to mainland Japan, 7,419 of them to Greater Osaka, By 1925, approximately 20,000 lived there, about half in Greater Osaka. Responding to discrimination and the need for networks of mutual support, they had begun forming residential communities in the industrial sections of Osaka and other manufacturing cities.  


The largest migration of Okinawans to the mainland occurred during another labor shortage after Japan's military incursions in China escalated to full-scale war in 1937. The war brought thousands to the mainland for military-related jobs. In its final years, however, it wrought death and devastation on their communities that were mostly located in urban industrial areas. By 1940, a recorded 88,319 Okinawans-about 15 percent of the total population of Okinawa Prefecture-lived on the mainland. The number of Okinawans residing in greater Osaka more than tripled between 1935 and 1940, from 18,774 to 56,828, after having declined by 4,565 over the previous five years. During the second half of Japan's turbulent 1930s, more Okinawans than ever left home for work on the mainland, where war-related production, planned and subsidized by the Japanese government, was fueling rapid industrial expansion. Meanwhile, the construction of new factories in Osaka's environs accelerated a "secondary migration" to other cities in Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. 



Steve Rabson is Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University, and a Japan Focus Associate. His other books are Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1989, reprinted 1996), Righteous Cause or Tragic Folly: Changing Views of War in Modern Japanese Poetry (Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 1998), and Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, co-edited with Michael Molasky (University of Hawaii Press, 2000). Islands of Resistance: Japanese Literature from Okinawa, co-edited with Davinder Bhowmik, is forthcoming from University of Hawaii Press.


Recommended Citation: Steve Rabson, "The Okinawan Diaspora in Japan at War," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 41, No. 1, October 13, 2013.



Andrew DeWit, "Data Will Change ICT," But Will it Change the Abe Regime?

This article focuses on the content and implications of a fascinating and inspiring October 1 presentation by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) at Aizukawamatsu City, a smart city project involving just over 130,000 residents in Fukushima Prefecture, the area battered by the 3.11 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The presentation was titled "Data Will Change ICT." ICT is an acronym for "Information and Communications," a core area of innovation evident in the everyday ubiquity of smart phones and other mobile devices. The MIC presentation offers a summary of the Japanese political economy's performance in this strategic area as well as its impressive further potential. The presentation also reveals that Japan's ITC-centred growth strategy was officially launched by the Abe cabinet on June 14, 2013. After reviewing the presentation's content, I inquire why the Abe cabinet is not stressing this potential in the discourse it aims at overseas and domestic investors. The ICT initiative has immediate and obvious application to the Fukushima Daiichi crisis. It thus seems imperative that the Abe cabinet grasp this opportunity to move beyond the problems associated with the continuing unfolding of the Fukushima disaster. Properly managed, Japan's ICT strategy could maximize the national interest while at the same time making a signal contribution to global sustainability.

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, "'Data Will Change ICT,' But Will it Change the Abe Regime?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 41, No. 4, October 14, 2013. 


Christopher K. Green and Stephen J. Epstein, Now On My Way to Meet Who? South Korean Television, North Korean Refugees, and the Dilemmas of Representation 


In 2011, the recently established South Korean broadcasting network Channel-A launched Ije mannareo gamnida (Now on My Way to Meet You), a program whose format brings together a group of a dozen or more female talbukja (North Korean refugees) on a weekly basis. These women interact with host Nam Hui-seok, an additional female co-host (or, in the earlier episodes, two), and a panel composed of four male South Korean entertainers. Episodes typically open in a lighthearted manner, with conversation about daily life in North Korea alongside mild flirtation between the Southern male and Northern female participants, often involving song and dance, but climax with a talbuk seuteori, an emotionally harrowing narrative from one of the border-crossers detailing her exodus from North Korea. Via this framework Ije mannareo gamnida attempts to nurture the integration of North Korean refugees into South Korean society; personalization of their plight occurs in conjunction with reminders of a shared Korean identity maintained despite the regime they have fled, which is depicted as cruel, repressive and backward. The show has proven a minor hit within South Korea and received coverage from local and global media. The unusual subject matter of Ije mannareo gamnida itself renders the show worthy of analysis; equally significantly, it offers a useful window into attempts to address South Korea's increasingly diverse society, which now includes a large number of North Koreans, as well as media practice in the face of this demographic shift. Nevertheless, other than journalistic treatment, only a limited number of South Korean scholars and Western academic bloggers have thus far investigated the show and its larger social ramifications. In this paper, we ask how Now on My Way to Meet You is to be understood within the contexts of South Korean society, its evolving media culture, and developments in South Korean popular representations of North Koreans. We offer close readings of segments from Ije mannareo gamnida in order to elicit motifs that recur as it pursues its stated goal of humanizing North Korea for a South Korean audience and giving defectors a voice amidst the general populace. Given that the show's very title intimates that a genuine encounter is about to take place, one might reasonably ask how successfully Ije mannareo gamnida establishes a meeting point for South Koreans with these recent arrivals from North Korea: in other words, does the show fulfill its stated aim of breaking down prejudices against North Korean refugees and supplying them with a vehicle that allows self-expression? Or, alternatively, does it reinforce, even if unintentionally, pre-existing regimes of knowledge and actually impede understanding of North Korea and its people? As we will argue, given the broader sociopolitical context, the show's desire to reinforce elements of commonality between North and South while illuminating life in North Korea leads to a double bind: viewers are encouraged to recognize homogeneity with the newcomers based on a shared ethnic and cultural identity, even as the conversations and editing techniques applied to the material often represent the Northern panelists as Others.    


Stephen J. Epstein is the Director of the Asian Studies Programme at the Victoria University of Wellington and the current president of the New Zealand Asian Studies Society. He has published widely on contemporary Korean society, popular media and literature. Recent full-length publications include Complicated Currents: Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia, a volume co-edited with Alison Tokita and Daniel Black, which appeared on Monash University Publications in 2010, and novel translations The Long Road by Kim In-suk (MerwinAsia, 2010) and Telegram by Putu Wijaya (Lontar Foundation, 2011).    


Christopher K. Green is a Ph.D candidate studying North Korean society and economics at the University of Cambridge. He is also the Manager of International Affairs for Daily NK, a prominent provider of news about North Korea to the international community. He has  translated and edited NK People Speak, 2011, a translation of in-depth interviews with North Korean citizens (Zeitgeist, 2011).


Recommended citation: Christopher Green and Stephen Epstein, "Now On My Way To Meet Who? South Korean Television, North Korean Refugees, and the Dilemmas of Representation," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 41, No. 2, October 14, 2013.


Adam Broinowski, Fukushima: Life and the Transnationality of Radioactive Contamination 
When Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was torn apart by several explosions, whether due to earthquake, tsunami or a combination of both, it not only dispersed radioactive contaminant but also exposed the bonds connecting people's lives with nuclear power. Over the two and a half years since then, the corruption, inadequacies and mendacities at the centre of the sovereign power structure that has prevailed in Japan since 1945 have become ever more visible. This essay first introduces the foundations of this structure, exploring how the long-standing relationship between Government and major private electric utilities in Japan informs the present crisis, noting in particular the ramifications of decisions being made within this structure at the individual level in present and projected effects to human health. Following consideration of the effects of radiation on human health, the discussion then turns to visual and local testimonies of the effects of other radiological events - Hanford, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl and Iraq - so as to offer a comparative assessment of the Fukushima disaster. While mindful of the difficulty in arriving at an absolutely conclusive position on these conditions, enough evidence has now accumulated to make a realistic assessment of the human health impact, and to discern how public understanding has been, and continues to be, confused. Finally, given that the Fukushima disaster is distinguishable from other radiological events in scale and type of contamination, this essay argues that far-reaching change is called-for in the current legal standards and institutional responses which have been governed thus far by mid twentieth century power relations.

Adam Broinowski is an Australian Research Council post-doctoral research fellow at Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University. His book Cultural Responses to Occupation in Japan: The Performing Body during and after the Cold War is forthcoming in 2014. His current research is concerned with understandings of radioactive contamination since 1945.

Recommended citation: Adam Broinowski, "Fukushima: Life and the Transnationality of Radioactive Contamination," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 41, No. 3, October 14, 2013.