The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 50. 2013    

December 16, 2013    
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What will it take to keep the Asia-Pacific Journal free and vibrant?


Our annual fund-raising campaign is now in its fifth week, with over $7,700 raised with your generous support. Our short-term goal is $10,000, our long-term goal, to place the journal on a firm foundation: $50,000.

We have now had a challenge grant, to match gifts of $50 or more up to $1,000. We hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity to maximize your tax-deductible gift.

If we succeed, the journal will remain available at no charge to readers. 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. Last month, readers in 205 countries accessed more than 120,000 articles. 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. For the first time, The Asia-Pacific Journal is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions are tax deductible. If you wish to support our campaign in the form of a subscription (we recommend $25 or $50; $10 for students and developing countries and hope that those in a position to provide more will do so) please go to the red Sustainer Button on our home page and use Paypal or a credit card. 
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 
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 
 Rüdiger Frank, The Arirang Mass Games of North Korea

"Arirang" is a visual and acoustic artistic and gymnastics performance that takes place in a large stadium. It is said to involve 100,000 participants who either perform on stage or as "pixels" in a large "living" screen, a human canvas on which various images and slogans are shown. I look at Arirang as part of my attempts at understanding the North Korean system through the lens of its own public statements, often referred to as propaganda. In this article, I go through the 2012 Arirang performance piece by piece, presenting a complete version of the storyline and representative visual images. My main intention is to analyze the structure of the performance. But where appropriate, I decode the meaning of the involved images, songs and slogans. What is the message the creators of the mass games wanted to send? And more importantly, what is the unintended message they are sending? 

Rüdiger Frank is Chair and Professor of East Asian Economy and Society at the University of Vienna and Head of its Department of East Asian Studies. He is also an adjunct professor at Korea University and the University of North Korean Studies (Kyungnam University) in Seoul. He holds an M.A. in Korean Studies, Economics and International Relations and a Ph.D. in Economics. In 1991/1992, he spent one semester as a language student at Kim Il-sung University in P'yongyang and has been researching North Korea ever since. Visiting positions have included Columbia University New York and Korea University, Seoul. He is Vice President of the Association for Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE) and acting President of the U.S. and Hong Kong-based Asian Politics and History Association (APHA). He is also Deputy Chief Editor of the "European Journal of East Asian Studies" and an Associate of "The Asia Pacific Journal". He is the founding editor of a new book series at Brill titled "Security and International Relations in East Asia". His major research fields are socialist transformation in East Asia and Europe (with a focus on North Korea), state-business relations in East Asia, and regional integration in East Asia. His most recent books are: (with S. Burghart, eds., 2010): Driving Forces of Socialist Transformation: North Korea and the Experience of Europe and East Asia, Vienna: Praesens, (ed., 2011): Exploring North Korean Arts, Nuremberg: Verlag fuer Moderne Kunst, (with Heung Chong Kim and Sung-Hoon Park, eds., 2012): Korea and East Asia in a Changing Regional and Global Environment, Seoul: KIEP and (with John Swenson-Wright, eds., 2013): Korea and East Asia: The Stony Road to Collective Security, Leiden and Boston: Brill. 
David McNeill, Back to the Future: Shinto, Ise and Japan's New Moral Education

Japan's education minister, Shimomura Hakubun, is worried about the moral and spiritual decline of the nation's youth. Shimomura's remedy for this corrosive moral decay is far-reaching: Children will be taught an expanded curriculum of moral and patriotic education and respect for Japan's national symbols, its 'unique' culture and history. Textbooks will remove "self-deprecating" views of history and references to 'disputed' war crimes. Education reforms represent only one layer of Shimomura and his government's ambitions. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo wants to revise three of the country's basic modern charters: the 1946 constitution, the education law, and the nation's security treaty with the US. The Emperor would also be returned to a more prominent place in Japanese society. The project amounts to overturning much of the existing order in Japan - a return to the past with one eye on the future.
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). Recommended citation: David McNeill, "Back to the Future: Shinto, Ise and Japan's New Moral Education," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 50, No. 1, December 16, 2013.
Andrew DeWit, Just Gas? Smart Power and Koizumi's Anti-Nuclear Challenge

Japan's former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro has repeatedly called for current Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to make an explicit decision to get out of nuclear power. Koizumi's full-scale press conference on this matter, held on November 12 in front of 350 journalists, shook up the Abe cabinet. Koizumi forced the cabinet to address an item they clearly wanted to finesse for the time being. This article puts Koizumi's talk in context, showing that his position is shared by all the former Japanese prime ministers, including Nakasone Yasuhiro. Most important, contrary to the claim that Japan's choice is either gas or nuclear, Koizumi highlighted the ongoing deployment of radical efficiency and renewable energy as the proper path forward. The accelerating rollout of smart cities across Japan suggests that Koizumi and his colleagues are standing on the right side of history.  
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).