The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 42. 2013    

October 21, 2013    
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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.


Some of us are on the road this week . . . Gavan and Satoko in Okinawa, Osaka, Tokyo, and Mark en route to Turkey. We'll see if we can't keep the home fires burning, however. 


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 

Lawrence Repeta, A New State Secrecy Law for Japan?


The last major change to Japan's secrecy law was made in 2001 when the Diet revised the Self-Defense Forces Law (jietai-ho) to include a new provision protecting information designated as a "defense secret" (boei himitsu). During the extraordinary Diet session that opens on October 15, the Abe administration plans to submit a "Designated Secrets Protection" bill (tokutei himitsu hogo hoan) to the Diet with the goal of strengthening Japan's secrecy regime.2 Compared to the 2001 law, the proposed rules would dramatically extend the range of state secrets in two ways.


First, the categories of information subject to secrecy designation would be expanded. The 2001 Law empowers the Minister of Defense to designate information he determines to be "especially necessary to be made secret for Japan's defense." It covers no other information. The proposed bill would apply to four categories of information, including defense, diplomacy, "designated dangerous activities," and prevention of terrorism. Second, the list of government offices empowered to designate information secret would be expanded beyond the Defense Ministry to include every Cabinet Ministry and major agency of the government. Moreover, in order to better enforce the new regime, the maximum penalty for violation of the law would be increased from five years imprisonment under the 2001 Law to ten years under the proposed law.

In democratic societies, any law or regulation that would grant the government power to conceal information from the people must be carefully examined. Government claims of a need for secrecy must be balanced against the people's right to know about the actions of their government agents. Japan's bar associations and other advocates of constitutional democracy have expressed deep concern that the proposed law would disrupt this balance by foreclosing the people's right to know about a broad range of government actions.

Lawrence Repeta is a professor on the law faculty of Meiji University in Tokyo. He has served as a lawyer, business executive, and law professor in Japan and the United States. He is best known in Japan as the plaintiff in a landmark suit decided by the Supreme Court of Japan in 1989 that opened Japan`s courts to note-taking by courtroom spectators. He serves on the board of directors of Information Clearinghouse Japan (情報公開クリアリングハウス), an NGO devoted to promoting open government in Japan and is affiliated with other organizations that promote individual rights. His guide to Japan's information disclosure movement is available here. His article "Reserved Seats on Japan's Supreme Court" was published in the Washington University Law Journal and is available here.  


Recommended citation: Lawrence Repeta, "A New State Secrecy Law for Japan?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 42, No. 1, October 21, 2013.


Noriko Manabe, The Evolution of Musical Style in Antinuclear Sound Demonstrations
Since the early days of the Fukushima crisis, music has been one way by which citizens have given voice to their antinuclear views, with songs like Saito Kazuyoshi's "Zutto uso dattandaze" (It Was Always a Lie) and "Toden ni hairo" (Let's Join TEPCO) spilling from cyberspace onto street-protest sing-alongs as early as April 2011. However, the majority of musicians-particularly artists on major record labels- have been hesitant to make their views known (Manabe 2012). The electric power companies, associated agencies, and nuclear-industry suppliers combined were not only among the top advertisers in Japan but were particularly important sponsors of television programming (Nikkei Advertising Research Institute); as television was still the most important venue for introducing recording artists, most entertainers and industry staff considered it unwise to speak out against nuclear power (Sakamoto Ryuichi, interview with the author, September 2012). Entertainers who have spoken out have suffered consequences: in 2011, Yamamoto Taro was fired from his drama series and found himself unable to find acting jobs after he participated in demonstrations and made a video for Operation Kodomotachi, encouraging parents to evacuate children from the 30-kilometer zone (Yamamoto 2012); only recently was he vindicated through winning a seat in the Upper House.

Despite these deterrents, musicians have been an integral part of marching demonstrations: through music, they help not only to inform, but also to build solidarity among antinuclear citizens. Protesters often credit the performance of a musician with establishing the mood of a demonstration. Music has long been a part of demonstrations in Japan: percussive instruments and the rhythmic eejanaika (why not) call-and-response pattern were featured in demonstrations since the end of the Edo Period. Particularly popular among antinuclear demonstrations are "sound demonstrations"-a demonstration featuring "sound trucks," piled with sound equipment, upon which rappers, singers, DJs, and bands perform, and which often include drum corps, brass bands, chindon bands, and other ambulatory musicians. Sound trucks with musical equipment also have a long history: having been popularized in Europe through events like the Notting Hill Carnival in London and the Berlin Love Parade, they appeared in LGBT parades in Tokyo in the mid-1990s and early 2000s; they also appeared in antiwar demonstrations organized by Chance! Peace Walk and World Peace Now from 2001 onwards. Nonetheless, the first sound-truck demonstrations named "sound demos" were organized in 2003 by the collective Against Street Control (ASC) as a series of reclaim-the-streets protests against the war in Iraq. The format caught on and was replicated in Kyoto, Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and other cities.

Noriko Manabe is Assistant Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology/Music Theory) and Associated Faculty in East Asian Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of a book on antinuclear protest music, tentatively titled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Music, Media, and the Antinuclear Movement in Post-Fukushima Japan (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). She has published articles on Japanese rap, hip-hop, new media, children's songs, and Cuban music in Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, Asian Music, Latin American Music Review, and several edited volumes.

Recommended Citation: Noriko Manabe, "The Evolution of Musical Style in Antinuclear Sound Demonstrations," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 42, No. 3, October 21, 2013.  


Tom Gill, Those Restless Little Boats: On the Uneasiness of Japanese Power-Boat Gambling

Gambling fascinates, because it is a dramatized model of life. As people make their way through life, they have to make countless decisions, big and small, life-changing and trivial. In gambling, those decisions are reduced to a single type - an attempt to predict the outcome of an event. Real-life decisions often have no clear outcome; few that can clearly be called right or wrong, many that fall in the grey zone where the outcome is unclear, unimportant, or unknown. Gambling decisions have a clear outcome in success or failure: it is a black and white world where the grey of everyday life is left behind. As a simplified and dramatized model of life, gambling fascinates the social scientist as well as the gambler himself. Can the decisions made by the gambler offer a short-cut to understanding the character of the individual, and perhaps even the collective? Or are people different when they gamble? Gambling by its nature generates concrete, quantitative data. What can we learn from that data? In this paper I will consider these issues in relation to powerboat race (kyotei1) gambling in Japan: an industry with sales of 920 billion in financial year 2011.

Kyotei is just one branch of the mighty Japanese empire of gambling. It is the second most popular form of race gambling after horse-racing with sales of 2,625 billion in 2011. Another 620 billion was spent on bicycle racing, and 84 billion on motorbike racing. The total spent on race gambling in 2011 was 4.25 trillion.2 The spend on race gambling has been declining steadily and is now at about half its peak level of 8.5 trillion yen recorded in 1990, the year the bubble economy collapsed. Nonetheless, by international standards Japan is still a big gambling center.

Tom Gill is a professor at Meiji Gakuin University. He is the author of Men of Uncertain: the Social Organization of Day Laborers in Contemporary Japan and co-editor of Globalization and Social Change in Contemporary Japan. 
Recommended citation: Tom Gill, "Those Restless Little Boats: On the Uneasiness of Japanese Power-Boat Gambling," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 42, No. 2, October 21, 2013.