The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 47. 2013    

November 25, 2013    
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This week we feature a five part series "Again Okinawa" on the troubled Japan-Okinawa-US Relationship, edited by Gavan McCormack, and a sixth major Okinawa article by Jon Mitchell. In addition, James Shields offers an insightful look into the neonationalist manga of Kobayashi Yoshinori. 


What will it take to keep the Asia-Pacific Journal free and vibrant?


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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 third 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.


Eleven readers are currently available on the following topics. For a quick look at the tables of contents and title pages of each reader, please open the files below.

1. War and Visual Culture: Table of Contents
2. Environmental History: Table of Contents
3. War in Japanese Popular Culture: Table of Contents
4. Women and Japans Political Economy: Table of Contents
5. Public Opinion on Nuclear Power in Japan after the Fukushima Disaster: Table of Contents
6. Japan's "Abandoned People" in the Wake of Fukushima: Table of Contents
7. The Politics of Memory in Japan and East Asia: Table of Contents
8. The Japanese Empire: Colonial Lives and Postcolonial Struggle: Table of Contents
9. Japan, China, and Pan-Asianism: Table of Contents
10. Religion in Modern Asia: Tradition, State and Society: Table of Contents
11. Zainichi Koreans: The Past, the Present, and the Future:

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




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..

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Gavan McCormack, Introduction: The Continued Saga of the Henoko Base and Japan-US-Okinawa Relations 

Okinawa may have temporarily receded from the headlines, but the contradictions and conflicts that have roiled it for most of the post-War era have not been resolved. Rival forces steadily mobilize for a perhaps decisive phase in the contest over whether or not US military design should continue to be the prefecture's raison d'Ítre. The standoff may not last much longer in its current form, but how it will be resolved is far from clear.     


Gavan McCormack is emeritus professor at Australian National University, a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal, and co-author, with Satoko Oka Norimatsu, of Resistant Islands - Okinawa versus Japan and the United States, Rowman and Littlefield, 2012.


Recommended citation: Gavan McCormack, "Introduction: The Continued Saga of the Henoko Base and Japan-US-Okinawa Relations," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 1, November 25, 2013.



Read More. . .  

Urashima Etsuko, A Nago Citizen's Opinion on the Henoko Marine Base Construction Project 

For 17 years, I have been opposing the construction of a base at Henoko. The citizens of Nago carried out a citizen referendum in December 1997 that plainly showed our resolve to say "No" to the Base that had suddenly descended on our quiet backwater. In 2010, residents and citizens chose a mayor who pledged "not to allow any base to be built, whether on land or on sea." We take great pride in the Inamine city government for responding to the will of citizens and consistently opposing the base project. We believe that we adults must bequeath to our children, and grandchildren, nature and peace. That is the responsibility of those who live today.   

Urashima Etsuko is a local Nago City writer and environmentalist, involved from the outset in the movements opposing the construction of a new military complex in Henoko. She is the major chronicler and historian-participant of struggles in Northern Okinawa during the past two decades. 


Recommended citation: Urashima Etsuko, "A Nago Citizen's Opinion on the Henoko Marine Base Construction Project," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 2, November 25, 2013.



Read More. . .   

Sakurai Kunitoshi, Environmental Restoration of Former US Military Bases in Okinawa 

US military bases south of Kadena are slated to be returned to Okinawa, although that is only to happen at various times up to "2028 or later." Environmental restoration of former bases is an important local issue; however, Article IV (1) of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is understood to exempt the US Government from the responsibility for environmental restoration. This paper examines the difference between Japan and Korea in the interpretation of SOFA and makes some recommendations, based on the Korean experience, for the environmental restoration of US military bases in Okinawa.



Sakurai Kunitoshi, former president and now professor of Okinawa University, is a specialist in environmental assessment law and a prominent figure in Okinawan environmental conservation circles. His most recent book is Ryukyu retto no kankyo mondai - 'fukki' 40 nen, jizoku kano na shima shakai e, Kobunken, 2012. 


Recommended citations: 

Sakurai Kunitoshi, "Environmental Restoration of Former US Military Bases in Okinawa," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 5, November 25, 2013. 



Read More. . .    



If the Law is Observed, There Can be No Reclamation: 

A Mayoral Opinion Endorsed by Citizens of Nago and Okinawans  

 The Japanese government must not be allowed to ignore or belittle the mayor of Nago's statement opposing the transfer of Futenma Air base by treating it as an "unusual" case. The principal duty of local self-governments is to assure the safety and security of citizens, and the mayoral opinion is a natural expression of the views of Nago residents. What is called for on the part of both national and prefectural governments is not observance of precedents, but measured judgment as to whether or not the current application satisfies the requirements of the law. Japan is supposed to be a country ruled by law. If political judgments ignore the law, then it is already a dictatorship. 



Sakurai Kunitoshi, former president and now professor of Okinawa University, is a specialist in environmental assessment law and a prominent figure in Okinawan environmental conservation circles. His most recent book is Ryukyu retto no kankyo mondai - 'fukki' 40 nen, jizoku kano na shima shakai e, Kobunken, 2012.   

"If the Law is Observed, There Can be No Reclamation: A Mayoral Opinion Endorsed by Citizens of Nago and Okinawans," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 3, November 25, 2013.   




Yara Tomohiro, Withdrawal of US Marines Blocked by Japan in the 1970s 

After the Vietnam War, the US Department of Defence considered withdrawing the Marine Corps from Okinawa to the mainland US. However, the Japanese government, unable to stand alone in terms of defence policy, intervened to stop it. Observing this, the US State Department thought that it could use the Marine Corps as a lever in its policy towards Japan.   


The Obama administration is now taking a scalpel to defense spending because of its fiscal difficulties. It is possible that the Marines will be cut from around 200,000 to 150,000 at minimum and presumably the Marines themselves are watching the progress of these reductions with deep anxiety. The Marines, who occupy 70 per cent of bases in Okinawa, are the very kernel of the Okinawa base problem that now destabilizes the Japan-US relationship. The 1970s argument over the retention of the Marines offers a fine vantage point for analysing the Japan-US alliance.  



Yara Tomohiro is a free-lance journalist based in Naha, Okinawa, a former editorial writer for the Okinawa taimusu, a specialist in the Japan-US security relationship, and author, inter alia, of Sajo no domei - Beikoku saihen ga akasu uso, Okinawa taimusu, 2008, and Gokai darake no Okinawa Beigun kichi, Junposha, 2012. 


Recommended citation: Yara Tomohiro, "Withdrawal of US Marines Blocked by Japan in the 1970s," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 4, November 25, 2013.   

Read More. . . 

Jon Mitchell, Okinawa - The Pentagon's Toxic Junk Heap of the Pacific 

In June 2013, construction workers unearthed more than 20 rusty barrels from beneath a soccer pitch in Okinawa City. The land had once been part of Kadena Air Base - the Pentagon's largest installation in the Pacific region - but was returned to civilian usage in 1987. Tests revealed that the barrels contained two ingredients of military defoliants used in the Vietnam War - the herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin. 


The Pentagon has repeatedly denied the storage of defoliants - including Agent Orange - on Okinawa. Following the discovery, it distanced itself from the barrels, stating it was investigating whether they had been buried after the land's return in 1987. The conclusions of the Japanese and international scientific community were unequivocal: Not only did the barrels disprove Pentagon denials of the presence of military defoliants in Japan, the polluted land posed a threat to the health of local residents and required immediate remediation.


Jon Mitchell is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate and visiting researcher at the International Peace Research Institute of Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo. In 2012, "Defoliated Island: Agent Orange, Okinawa and the Vietnam War" - a Japanese TV documentary based upon his research - was winner of an award for excellence from Japan's Association of Commercial Broadcasters. 


Recommended citation: Jon Mitchell, "Okinawa - The Pentagon's Toxic Junk Heap of the Pacific," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 6, November 25, 2013.  



Read More. . . 

James Shields, Revisioning a Japanese Spiritual Recovery through Manga: Yasukuni and the Aesthetics and Ideology of Kobayashi Yoshinori's "Gomanism"

In 1992, just as Japan's economic bubble was in process of bursting, a series of manga began to appear in the weekly Japanese tabloid SPA! under the title Gomanism sengen (Haughtiness or Insolence Manifesto). Authored by Kobayashi Yoshinori (b. 1953), this series blurred the line between manga and graphic novel to engage in forthright social and political commentary with an unabashedly nationalistic slant. Kobayashi and his works have since become a publishing phenomenon that has caused controversy and even international criticism for their revisionist portrayal of modern Japanese history. Gomanism's success warrants closer treatment, particularly regarding the perceived rise in nationalistic feeling associated with the new Liberal Democratic Party administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō.   

James Mark Shields is Associate Professor of Comparative Humanities and Asian Thought at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), and Japan Foundation Visiting Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kyoto, Japan, 2013-14). He conducts research on modern Buddhist thought, Japanese philosophy, and comparative ethics. In addition to various articles and translations, he is author of Critical Buddhism: Engaging with Modern Japanese Buddhist Thought (Ashgate, 2011). 


Recommended citation: James Mark Shields, "Revisioning a Japanese Spiritual Recovery through Manga: Yasukuni and the Aesthetics and Ideology of Kobayashi Yoshinori's "Gomanism"," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 47, No. 7, November 25, 2013.


Read More. . .