The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 10. 2014    

March 10, 2014    
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In This Issue


Three articles by Lawrence Repeta, Peter Dale Scott and Richard Tanter interrogate the changing nature of the state in Japan, the United States, Australia and globally in ways that suggest the legacy of 9.11 and the US-led response to terrorist attack. Jordan Sand offers new light on the Japanese empire through an examination of the imperial tours to Tokyo by Taiwan's aboriginal peoples. Adam Stott assesses the forces shaping Indonesian democracy through the lens of upcoming elections.

On this the third anniversary of Japan's 3.11 triple disaster, we invite readers to look at our recent series of articles on the events and the responses to them in recent weeks.

We recently introduced 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 particularly convenient. The PDF offers features that permit commenting on and underlining the text for those who work online. Let us know of any problems or suggest improvements in this feature as we fine tune it.

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

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Lawrence Repeta
Japan's 2013 State Secrecy Act --
The Abe Administration's Threat to News Reporting 

The "Specially Designated Secrets Protection Law"  poses a severe threat to news reporting and press freedom in Japan. Government officials have not shied away from intimidating reporters in the past. The new law will grant them greater power to do so. Passage of the law fulfills a longstanding government objective to gain additional leverage over the news media. The new law could have a withering effect on news reporting and thus on the people's knowledge of the actions of their government.


Under the Specially Designated Secrets Protection Law, reporters and publishers will have to tread lightly whenever they address issues related to national defense, diplomacy, anti-terrorism, and anti-espionage matters in particular. And the potential scope of all of these areas and the information labeled secret will be determined by government bureaucrats. Reporters may have a hard time discerning the invisible lines drawn by bureaucrats. When warned, they will be advised to pull back. This article explores the range of consequences for protection of a free press and its constitutional role in serving the Japanese people's "right to know".     


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. 

Peter Dale Scott
The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld  

In the last decade it has become more and more obvious that we have in America today what the journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin have called

two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible to only a carefully vetted cadre - and its entirety...visible only to God.

The author explores the workings of the US deep state in recent and contemporary wars in East Asia and the Middle East by examining the intersection of Wall Street and the CIA from the 1940s to the present.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan.  
Richard Tanter
Indonesia, Australia and the Edward Snowden Legacy: Shifting asymmetries of power
A near perfect storm has descended on Australian relations with its nominal strategic partner and largest neighbour, Indonesia, to the point where the Indonesian foreign minister, standing beside John Kerry in Jakarta, said it was "very simple." "Australia must decide if Indonesia is a friend or an enemy."

Courtesy of Edward Snowden, the Australian government is discovering that an asymmetry in electronic surveillance capacity does not trump the fundamental asymmetry of power between Australia and Indonesia, which geography, population size and importance in world affairs tilts in Indonesia's favour. NSA documents that the premier Australian intelligence agency monitored and intercepted phone calls by the Indonesian president, his wife, and inner circle of advisors has generated a rapid collapse in relations between the two governments, possibly with long-term effects.  

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute and teaches in the School of Politics and Social Science at the University of Melbourne. A Japan Focus associate, he has written widely on Japanese, Indonesian and global security policy. He co-edited with Gerry Van Klinken and Desmond Ball, Masters of Terror: Indonesia's Military and Violence in East Timor.
Jordan Sand
Imperial Tokyo as a Contact Zone:the Metropolitan Tours of Taiwanese Aborigines, 1897-1941

Overlooked by most scholars of Taiwanese history and almost entirely forgotten in the history of Tokyo, sightseeing tours organized by the Japanese colonial government brought groups of Taiwanese aborigines to the imperial capital twenty-one times between 1897 and 1941. The aim of these tours was to show the aborigines the "light of civilization" and impress upon them Japanese superiority. The aboriginal tourists, however, did not always learn the intended lessons of their visit. The tours made Tokyo the stage for complex cultural encounters that undermined the simple imperial narrative of civilization and savagery.

A number of studies in recent years have explored the relationship between Japanese colonizers in Taiwan and the island's aboriginal minorities. From their first encounter with the Japanese military in 1874 until the early 1930s, many resisted Japanese encroachment with violence, and Japanese colonial administrators resolved to bring them under the yoke of civilization by whatever means necessary. They were also objects of anthropological study and popular fascination. Among the diverse Asian populations that came under Japanese colonial rule, Taiwan's aborigines were the only people to be referred to in official documents as "savages" (banjin 蕃人). This term derived from Chinese usage, a reminder that the Japanese were inheriting a colonial relationship whose terms were to some extent already established. Taiwanese aborigines were thus a minority oppressed twice over: first under Chinese then under Japanese dominance. As the empire's first and only designated "savages," they were also a test of Japanese claims to be the bearers of a civilizing mission.  

Jordan Sand is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His publications include House and Home in Modern Japan (Harvard, 2004) and Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects (University of California Press, 2013. 

David Adam Stott
Indonesia's Elections of 2014: Democratic Consolidation or Reversal?

Compared to its Asian neighbours, Indonesia was late to join the so-called third wave of democratisation that began in southern Europe in the 1970s. After the fall of the authoritarian Suharto regime (1967-98) it successfully conducted free and fair elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009, becoming arguably the most politically free country in Southeast Asia.1 A burgeoning civil society and a relatively open media have helped consolidate democracy but tensions remain between Suharto's legacy and the direction of Indonesia's democratic transition. In particular, Suharto-era oligarchs remain dominant and the armed forces retain significant influence even though their power appears to have declined and is less absolute than in much of Southeast Asia. The pluralism of Indonesia's national motto, Unity in Diversity, is also being jeopardised by the failure to safeguard religious minorities against attacks from hardline Islamists. Against this backdrop Indonesia will administer its fourth round of post-Suharto elections in 2014, with legislative polls in April, followed by direct presidential elections in July. This year's elections are a litmus test for Indonesia's own democratic transition, which could signal either a generational change in government reinforcing democracy or the return of dictatorial or repressive forces to office.

David Adam Stott is an associate professor at the University of Kitakyushu, Japan and an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. His work centers on the political economy of conflict in Southeast Asia, Japan's relations with the region, and natural resource issues in the Asia-Pacific.