The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 29. 2014    

July 21, 2014    
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We have ambitious plans for the Journal in the coming year, including a series of special issues in progress at a time when tensions are rising across the Asia-Pacific. To meet the needs of the time, we are expanding our translation service, and carrying out technical upgrades to accommodate Facebook, Twitter and smart phone users. We need your financial support to elevate our work and to keep the journal free to readers around the world. If you would like to help sustain the Journal financially, please go to our homepage where you can contribute using credit card or Paypal. The Asia-Pacific Journal is a 501 (C) organization. Thank you in advance. This week will end our summer fundraiser.

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John Price and Satwinder Bains         
The Extraordinary Story of the Komagata Maru: Commemorating the One Hundred Year Challenge to Canada's Immigration Colour Bar        

One hundred years ago, Gurdit Singh Sirhali chartered the Japanese steamship Komagata Maru and brought 376 Indian passengers to Canada in a direct challenge to Canada's immigration colour bar. The ship's forced departure from Vancouver Harbour on July 23, 1914 ended an extraordinary two-month standoff between passengers determined to enter Canada and a Canadian government determined to enforce its anti-Asian exclusion policies. The ship's return voyage brought unimaginable hardships by the iron fist of British authorities upon passengers' arrival in India.


This article reconsiders how the Komagata Maru story has been inscribed in national narratives, both Canadian and Indian: the authors argue that the 1914 confrontation was a historical moment in which a heterogenous, diasporic movement for social justice became a wellspring for a transborder, anti-colonial upsurge. Entangled in the maw of virulent settler racism and the emerging British-American alliance for global white supremacy, the Komagata Maru saga has had profound repercussions that continue to this day. The Komagata Maru story offers important insights not only into Canadian but also into American immigration racism.  

John Price is professor of history at the University of Victoria, Canada and author of Orienting Canada: Race, Empire and the Transpacific (UBC Press, 2011).


Satwinder Bains is the director of the Centre for Indo Canadian Studies, University of the Fraser Valley and is completing her PhD at Simon Fraser University.

So Happy to See Cherry Blossoms: Haiku from the Year of the Great Earthquake and Tsunami
Edited by Mayuzumi Madoka 
Translated by Hiroaki and Nancy Sato

Many Japanese resorted to the haiku to express their reactions to the events and aftermath of the great earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

This piece presents in translation powerful excerpts from poet Mayuzumi Madoka's anthology of haiku. Mayuzumi's encouragement of haiku as a "cheering tool" available to survivors has generated new words such as "kigo" (to seasonally mark the crippling of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Generation Plant), and a term for 3.11 consequences: genpatsu-ki (原発忌), the day to abhor nuclear power generation.


Hiroaki Sato has published three dozen books of translations into English including Japanese women poets: an anthology, Miyazawa Kenji: selections, and One Hundred frogs: from renga to haiku. He is the winner of the PEN American Translation prize and is a former president of the Haiku Society of America.


Nancy Rossiter Sato, a passionate lover of art, is the primary reader of Hiroaki's writings in English and has helped him judge haiku in English.


Andrew Gordon     
Social Protest in Imperial Japan: The Hibiya Riot of 1905

On September 5, 1905, a massive three-day riot erupted in Tokyo protesting the disappointing terms of the peace treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War. Because the Japanese public had been bombarded with reports of victory after victory, expectations of a profitable peace settlement were high and the outrage when this did not materialize was enormous.   


This article is a reprint of a unit developed by MIT Visualizing Cultures, a project focused on image-driven scholarship. In the coming months the Asia-Pacific Journal will present a number of articles on the theme of social protest in Japan originally posted at MIT's Visualizing Cultures, together with a series introduction by John W. Dower. These are the first in a continuing series of collaborations between APJ and VC designed to highlight the visual possibilities of the historical and contemporary Asia-Pacific, particularly for classroom applications.


Andrew Gordon teaches modern Japanese history at Harvard University with a primary research interest in labor, class, and the social and political history of modern Japan. His most recent book is Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan. He is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate.