The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 8. 2014    

February 24, 2014    
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In This Issue

Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo


This is among the most important issues that we have published. In two magisterial overviews of post-war Japan, John W. Dower and Christopher Gerteis*Timothy S. George reassess Japan's postwar era. Dower does so by reexamining the framework of the San Francisco Treaty System that established the US-Japan framework of power and core power relations throughout the Asia-Pacific and whose profound influence continues down to the present. Gerteis*George rethink core premises of Japanese democracy and development with particular reference to the nature of the postwar, and by taking 3.11 as a critical moment for reassessment. Legacies of the past, specifically the US-Japan framework of power on Okinawa, and the contested Japanese historical memory of the Nanjing Massacre, cast further light on these themes through examination of new citizen movements in articles by Jon Mitchell and Joseph Essertier*Ono Masami.

The issues reverberate with questions posed in our previous issue: a five-article special issue on Japan's triple 3.11 disaster and the responses to it. edited by Paul Jobin and David McNeill. We invite you to revisit it.

This week we introduce an important new feature: a PDF is provided for all articles, accessible by a click on the PDF symbol located at the top right of each article. Readers printing out articles may find the new feature convenient. Let us know of any problems or suggest improvements in this feature as we fine tune it.

Interested in seeing what our most widely read articles have been . . . in the last month, year, or ten years? Find out here.

Thanks to  the generous support of our readers, we succeeded in raising more than $12,000 to fund the Journal for 2014. The Journal will remain free. You can still support the journal at our home page with your 501 (C) tax-deductible gift.

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John W. Dower
The San Francisco System: Past, Present, Future in U.S.-Japan-China Relations
Legacies of the past are never far from the surface when it comes to present-day controversies and tensions involving Japan, China, and the United States. China's emergence as a major economic power has been followed by intense nationalistic pride coupled with resolute commitment to military modernization. This may have been predictable, but it nonetheless came as a shock to those who took the overwhelming military supremacy of the Pax Americana for granted.

The San Francisco System and this militarized Pax Americana go hand in hand. They have defined the strategic status quo in the Asia-Pacific area since the early 1950s. They have shaped (and distorted) the nature of the post-war Japanese state in ways beyond measure. They have involved both peace-keeping and war-making. As the events of 2012 made much clearer, this system and these structures now stand at a turning point. This essay calls attention to the interwoven nature of contentious current issues between these three countries by examining their historical genesis in the early years of the cold war, and in some cases earlier.

John W. Dower is emeritus professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (1999);Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq (2010); and two collections of essays: Japan in War and Peace: Selected Essays (1994), and Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World (2012). He is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.
Christopher Gerteis and Timothy S. George
Beyond the Bubble, Beyond Fukushima:
Reconsidering the Postwar History of Japan 
Japan's spectacular economic growth after 1945 made it an exemplar of modern capitalism for business leaders in the Americas, Europe, and especially Pacific Asia, particularly at the height of its economic power in the 1980s. Japan was frequently held up as a model for the development of East and Southeast Asia. However, the collapse of mammoth real estate and stock market bubbles by 1991 launched the nation on two decades of economic stagnation punctuated by episodes of fitful growth, deflation and soul searching. 
Gerteis and George make a case for revisiting Japan's postwar history in the second decade of the twenty-first century. They argue that Japan's problematic responses to the triple disasters of March 2011 warrant re-evaluating the persistent myths of failure and success associated with Japan's "postwar" and "post-bubble" eras, including not only issues of economic development but also the nature of postwar democracy.

Christopher Gerteis is Senior Lecturer in the History of Contemporary Japan at SOAS, University of London. He is author of Gender Struggles: Wage-earning Women and Male-Dominated Unions in Postwar Japan, (2009) and co-editor of Japan since 1945: from Postwar to Post-Bubble, (2013).


Timothy S. George is Professor and Chair of History at the University of Rhode Island. He recently published an essay in Japan at Nature's Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power (edited by Ian Miller, Julia Thomas, and Brett Walker, 2013). He is the author of Minamata: Pollution and the Struggle for Democracy in Postwar Japan (2001).  
Jon Mitchell
U.S. Military Parents on Okinawa Demand Truth About Toxic Contamination Near Base Schools 

On Okinawa, U.S. military service members and their families are demanding answers from the Pentagon about a chemical dumpsite located adjacent to two Department of Defense schools. Last summer, dangerous levels of dioxin were discovered near Kadena Air Base, but only recently did many Americans stationed on the island learn of the contamination. Parents whose children attend the potentially-poisoned facilities claim that base officials failed to inform them of the risks and, for almost six months, they did not investigate whether the pollution extended onto their schools' land. In rare YouTube footage, Kadena Base commander Gen. James B. Hecker apologies to the families for withholding information about dioxin discoveries made in summer 2013 and provides detailed information about the nature of the contamination and its risks. 


Many families are accusing the military authorities of endangering their children's health. A growing number of base parents believe their children's serious illnesses may have been caused by dioxin exposure. This article provides up to date information on the growing controversy over these chemicals and their alleged government cover-up. 

Jon Mitchell is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate and visiting researcher at the International Peace Research Institute of Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo. A Japanese-language book based upon his research into Agent Orange on Okinawa will be published in Tokyo in 2014.
Joseph Essertier and Ono Masami
David vs. Goliath:
Resisting the Denial of the Nanking Massacre 
Under ultraconservative Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, the process of Japan's remilitarization has recently gained momentum. Japan's rightward shift is embodied in a military buildup, Abe's pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine, and historical revisionism. This article reexamines two crucial areas of historical revisionism: the government-sponsored enslavement and raping of women euphemistically termed "comfort women," and the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Reclaiming the initiative on history is key to reminding Chinese and other Asians that relatively few Japanese support the revisionists, even if they are over-represented in the corridors of power. The authors show why Japan must take the measure of its shared past with Asia to regain the trust it has forfeited.  

Joseph Essertier is an associate professor at the Nagoya Institute of Technology and Ono Masami is a retired elementary school teacher of Aichi Prefecture.   

Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo
Distorting Democracy: Politics by Public Security in   
Contemporary South Korea [UPDATE]  


Sincethis  article was  published by the Asia-Pacific Journal in December 2013, there have been several important new developments. The scale of government electoral interference was found to have been more extensive than was originally reported. Last December, prosecutors investigating the case disclosed that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) had produced, over a period of two years leading up to the election, some 1900 online posts and approximately 22 million Tweets with political or election-related content--roughly 30% of all election-related content that was generated on Twitter. This was circulated by agents of the NIS's psychological warfare team and hired contractors.

NIS reform is just one piece of a wider puzzle. This update provides new information and context regarding what has proven a dangerous moment for South Korean democratisation.
Jamie Doucette is Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Manchester. Se-Woong Koo is Rice Family Foundation Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University.