The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 18. 2014    

May 5, 2014    
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In This Issue

Announcing the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society

The Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University is pleased to announce a prize honoring the life and work of their colleague Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden's translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, Japanese art, and early education (the Suzuki method). In the same spirit, the prize will recognize the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary.

The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Deadline application: May 31, 2014. For more information see here.

In this issue, Vivian Blaxell examines the history of leprosy and hepatitis C in Japan to explain the origins of that nation's extraordinarily high levels of hepatitis C . . . tracing the story to the practice of blood transfusions in early modern Japan. A US-Japan green alliance, Andrew DeWit argues, could transform the fossil-fuel and nuclear power dependent economies of both to great good effect. He locates the obstacles to such an opening above all in Japan's nuclear village, noting the dynamic role of the US military in charting a green energy future. Ranging widely across the data and claims pertaining to the North Korean economy, Henri Feron punctures politically-motivated claims pointing to the imminent collapse of the DPRK and finds dynamic possibilities in that nation's economy in the face of continued heavy sanctions.

Have you used the APJ search engine? The best results may be obtained by going to the left home page and typing in key words such as Okinawa, 3.11, energy, or Vietnam War under Title.

Please try the new pdf feature at the top of each article, particularly if you wish to print it. It can also be copied and pasted into a Word file to adjust type size and font. Let us know if you encounter problems.

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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Vivan Blaxell
Yellow Blood: 
Hepatitis C and the Modernist Settlement in Japan

Japan has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C virus infection in the industrialized world. This endemic and the challenges it poses for the future of Japan's healthcare system stem, ironically, from the formation of a modernist settlement beginning in the late 19th century. This article, beginning with the 1964 attempted assassination by stabbing of US Ambassador Edwin Reischauer, unravels the pathways by which modern techno-scientific solutions to political problems inadvertently provided millions of opportunities for hepatitis C to spread in rural communities, among leprosy communities, the traumatized postwar community, and into the national blood supply.


Vivan Blaxell is an Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus associate. She has taught Japanese history and politics, Asian history and politics, and political theory at universities in the United States, Japan, China, Turkey and Australia. 


Andrew DeWit
Could a US-Japan "Green Alliance" Transform the 
Climate-Energy Equation?

US President Barack Obama's visit to Japan produced a bland   US-Japan Joint Statement emphasizing collaboration, including military coordination. On energy, howevere, Team Abe and the nuclear village won out and the official depiction of collaboration was limited. This article questions why green collaboration was not at the centre of the Abe-Obama negotiating table at this historic time, when an embryonic green alliance already exists. The author explains why expanding and escalating US-Japan green collaboration would do more to foster both countries' energy and security than any other move. 


Andrew DeWit is Professor in Rikkyo University's School of Policy Studies and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. His most recent publication is "Climate Change and the Military Role in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response," in Paul Bacon and Christopher Hobson (eds) Human Security and Japan's Triple Disaster (Routledge, 2014).


Henri Feron

Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? 

The Myth of the "North Korean Collapse"


The DPRK is said to be an economist's nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. Yet the few useable figures that we have fly in the face of the media's curious insistence on a looming collapse. The best available food production and trade volume data indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang's reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul's pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that the DPRK is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia's next economic tiger? This article examines a wide range of contradictory data and analysis to shed new light on the past, present, and future of North Korea's little understood economy.

Henri Feron is a Ph.D candidate in international law at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He holds an LL.B. in French and English law from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and King's College London, and an LL.M. in Chinese law from Tsinghua University.