The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 43. 2013    

October 28, 2013    
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What will it take to keep the Asia-Pacific Journal free and vibrant?


We begin our annual fund-raising campaign today with greater strength than at any previous time. 12,000 regular readers now receive our work via the Newsletter or Facebook and Twitter, and we are investigating making content available through other electronic channels. More than 100,000 articles are accessed monthly by readers in 180 countries, and many more are being read through circulation at sites such as History News Network, Nautilus and Truthout that reprint them. We have created a major archive on Japan's 3.11 triple disaster, the flawed responses, and the creative search for new green energy approaches beyond nuclear power. And our work on US-Japan-Okinawa relations, on territorial conflicts in the Asia-Pacific, and on war and historical memory is now supplemented by a wide range of contributions in the realm of culture . . . film, music, anime, manga and the like in Asia-Pacific perspective. We are reaching out to schools and teachers through our course readers, with ten more to be published shortly. And, for the first time we have NPO status, meaning that U.S. contributions are tax deductible. If you wish to support our campaign in the form of a subscription ($25 or $50; $10 for students and developing countries) please go to the red Sustainer Button on our home page and use Paypal or a credit card. 

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.  


Coming soon . . . ten new readers. 


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 

Justin McCurry and David McNeill, Japan's Cut-Price Nuclear Cleanup  


Tepco woes continue amid human error, plummeting morale and worker exodus.

During a visit to Fukushima Daiichi in September, Abe Shinzo  told workers: "the future of Japan rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you."

The prime minister's exhortation was directed at almost 6,000 technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world's most hazardous industrial cleanup. Yet as the challenges facing Fukushima Daiichi become clearer with every new radiation leak and mishap, the men responsible for cleaning up the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and deep anxiety about the future.

Even now, at the start of a decommissioning operation that is expected to last four decades, the plant faces a shortage of workers qualified to manage the dangerous work that lies ahead, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the situation inside the facility. The dangers faced by the nearly 900 employees of Tepco and some 5,000 workers hired by a network of contractors and sub-contractors were underlined in October when six men were doused with contaminated water at a desalination facility.  Their brush with danger was a sign that the cleanup is entering its most precarious stage since the March 2011 meltdown.

Justin McCurry is Japan and Korea correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer. He contributes to the Christian Science Monitor and the Lancet medical journal, and reports on Japan and Korea for France 24 TV.

David McNeill writes for The Independent, The Irish Times, The Economist and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He is the co-author of the 2012 book Strong in the Rain: Surviving Japan's Tsunami, Earthquake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

Recommended citation: Justin McCurry and David McNeill, "Japan's Cut-Price Nuclear Cleanup: TEPCO woes continue amid human error, plummeting morale and worker exodus," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 43, No. 2, October 28, 2013. 


Andrew DeWit, Can Abenomics Cope With Environmental Disaster?
An important and little noted component of Abenomics, Japan's information and communications technology (ICT) growth strategy propounded on June 14 2013, ostensibly aims at the evolution of a new model of efficient, resilient and green urban and rural infrastructures. General Electric's leadership in applying ICT, or the "Industrial Internet," to its power systems shows that what you can monitor, you can manage, and that it is possible to realize significant efficiencies as well as innovate other capacities such as predictivity.

Together with domestic businesses, Japan's central agencies, big local governments, and the Abe regime's regulatory and fiscal initiatives have been working to deploy cutting-edge innovation in a swath of smart city initiatives as well as special zones. Although some observers deride these initiatives as comparable to failed technopolis policies of the 1980s, Japan's initiatives may help us address the very real 21st century challenges of expensive energy, climate change, and the sobering "death" of stationarity (wherein past hydrologic and other data can no longer be used to predict the future). This latter is of deep concern to planners of water, power and other crucial infrastructures, which represent trillions of dollars of investment annually. The issues take on added urgency in light of climate denial whose effect has been to conceal the scale of the crisis from the academic community and attentive public.

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 (forthcoming). 
Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, "Can Abenomics Cope With Environmental Disaster?" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 43, No. 1, October 28, 2013. 


James F. Warren, A Tale of Two Decades: Typhoons and Floods, Manila and the Provinces, and the Marcos Years

In the second half of the twentieth century, typhoon-triggered floods affected all sectors of society in the Philippines, but none more so than the urban poor, particularly the esteros-dwellers or shanty-town inhabitants, residing in the low-lying locales of Manila and a number of other cities on Luzon and the Visayas. The growing number of post-war urban poor in Manila, Cebu City and elsewhere, was largely due to the policy repercussions of rapid economic growth and impoverishment under the military-led Marcos regime. At this time in the early 1970s, rural poverty and environmental devastation increased rapidly, and on a hitherto unknown scale in the Philippines. Widespread corruption, crony capitalism and deforesting the archipelago caused large-scale forced migration, homelessness and a radically skewed distribution of income and assets that continued to favour elite interests.

The typhoons and floods that occurred in the Marcos years were labelled 'natural disasters' by the authorities in Manila. But in fact, it would have been more appropriate to label them un-natural, or man-made disasters because of the nature of politics in those unsettling years. The typhoons and floods of the 1970s and 1980s, which took a huge toll in lives and left behind an enormous trail of physical destruction and other impacts after the waters receded, were caused as much by the interactive nature of politics with the environment, as by geography and the typhoons per se, as the principal cause of natural calamity.


James Warren is Professor of Southeast Asian Modern History at Murdoch University, Western Australia. He gained his PhD in Southeast Asian History from the Australian National University, and is an internationally renowned scholar of Southeast Asian studies. Warren, who speaks or reads, Spanish, Dutch, Malay-Indonesian, Samal Bajau Laut and Japanese, is a member of the Australian Academy of Humanities.  In 2003, he received the Centenary Medal of Australia for 'Service to Australian Society and the Humanities in the Study of Ethnohistory,' and in 2013, he was awarded the Grant Goodman Prize in Historical Studies from the Philippine Studies Group, Association for Asian Studies.

Recommended citation: James F. Warren, "A Tale of Two Decades: Typhoons and Floods, Manila and the Provinces, and the Marcos Years," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 43, No. 3, October 28, 2013.
Brian Victoria, D.T. Suzuki, Zen and the Nazis

The always contentious, sometimes highly emotional, debate over D.T. Suzuki's relationship to Japanese fascism continues unabated. Among other things this is shown by reader reactions to a recent article in Japan Focus entitled "Zen as a Cult of Death in the Wartime Writings of D.T. Suzuki". This debate can only intensify by the further assertion of a wartime relationship between D.T. Suzuki and the Nazis or, more precisely, a positive or sympathetic relationship between Suzuki and the Nazis. This article, in two parts, will explore that possibility though conclusive proof of such a relationship will not be included until the second part.

Satō Gemmyo Taira, a Buddhist priest in the Shin (True Pure Land) sect, who identifies himself as a disciple of Suzuki in the postwar years, adamantly rejects the possibility of a positive relationship between Suzuki and the Nazis. On the contrary, he insists that at least as far back as the fall of 1936 Suzuki clearly and publicly expressed his opposition to both Hitler and Nazi policies. Satō writes: Although Suzuki recognized that the Nazis had, in 1936, brought stability to Germany and although he was impressed by their youth activities (though not by the militaristic tone of these activities), he clearly had little regard for the Nazi leader, disapproved of their violent attitudes, and opposed the policies espoused by the party. His distaste for totalitarianism of any kind is unmistakable.

I myself had long wondered about the possibility of some kind of relationship between Suzuki and the Nazis. After all, for much of the Asia-Pacific War the two countries were allied militarily. At the time I published the first edition of Zen at War in 1997, I was puzzled and intrigued by the following cryptic comment in The Essence of Bushido (Bushido no Shinzui), a book strongly backed by the Japanese military and published in November 1941, i.e., only one month before Pearl Harbor. Suzuki's contribution consisted of a chapter entitled "Zen and Bushido" (Zen to Bushido). In his introduction, Suzuki's editor, Handa Shin, wrote: "Dr. Suzuki's writings are said to have strongly influenced the military spirit of Nazi Germany."

Brian Victoria, Visiting Research Fellow, International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto. Brian Daizen Victoria holds an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Soto Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University. In addition to a 2nd, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield), major writings include Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon); an autobiographical work in Japanese entitled Gaijin de ari, Zen bozu de ari (As a Foreigner, As a Zen Priest); Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Prof. Yokoi Yuhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill). He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto.

Recommended citation: Brian Victoria, "D.T. Suzuki, Zen and the Nazis," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 43, No. 4, October 28, 2013.



Asia-Pacific Journal Feature,"Something is Very Wrong":Osaka Police Target Anti-Nuclear Protesters

On October 17, 2013, Osaka Hannan University Professor Shimoji Masaki spoke at Berkeley on the efforts of anti-nuclear activists in Osaka to fight against government plans to burn radioactive waste from Fukushima. He also detailed his arrest and detention by Osaka police. Shimoji was arrested in December 2012 and held without charge for 20 days for speaking publically and handing out educational material on the dangers of radiation. He sees the arrest as a sign of the increased use of the police and arbitrary arrest to bully and intimidate anti-nuclear activists into silence. No criminal charges were brought against Shimoji, but this incident and other examples of harassment of activists by the police and other agents of the state are having a chilling effect on public discussion of the health effects of radiation and the state of Japan's nuclear infrastructure.    Shimoji offers an account of his experience in Japanese here. He was arrested at home, in front of his wife, by a gang of seven police officers. Shimoji was told that while speaking in public in front of Osaka Station two months earlier, he had refused to leave when ordered to do so by security and engaged in "forcible obstruction of business". He describes this as a "naked lie", highlighting the ability of police in Japan to fabricate stories in order to justify what are essentially arbitrary detentions - no formal charges or presentation of evidence is necessary to hold a "suspect" for up to three weeks.

Read more . . .