The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 31. 2014    

August 4, 2014    
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In This Issue
As the world's attention turns to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Robert Jacobs examines the plight of the global hibakusha, including victims of radiation from atomic testing from the Pacific Islands to the United States, and victims of nuclear accidents including Chernobyl and Fukushima. As Narusawa Muneo shows, the debate over Japan's expansive new security policies misses the crucial fact of decades of the overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces in the service of US wars. Yi Wu introduces the concept of bounded collectivism as the basis for understanding important continuities in land ownership from historical China through the collective era to the present.

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Robert Jacobs         
The Radiation That Makes People Invisible: A Global Hibakusha Perspective         

Radiation makes people invisible. We know that exposure to radiation can be deleterious to one's health; can cause sickness and even death when received in high doses. But it does more. People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, including those who never experience radiation-related illnesses, may find that their lives are forever changed - that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship. Many spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal.   

This article outlines some continuities in the experiences of radiation-affected people throughout the world. Most of the following also holds true for people who merely suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, even if they never suffer any health effects. Many have already become a part of the experiences of those affected by the Fukushima triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. While there are many differences and specificities to each community, there is also profound continuity.


Robert Jacobs is an associate professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University in Japan, author of The Dragon's Tail: Americans Face the Atomic Age (2010), and editor of Filling the Hole in the Nuclear Future: Art and Popular Culture Respond to the Bomb (2010)


Narusawa Muneo 
The Overseas Dispatch of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and U.S. War Preparations 
Translated by Richard H. Minear


Regardless of Prime Minister Abe's attempt to make the case that collective self-defense is constitutional, for some time the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been working to achieve for Japan the status of a "state that can wage war overseas." Behind this movement wriggles U.S. intent. "Solely defensive" has been rescinded and the ground prepared for the coming right of collective self-defense.    


The author shows that Japan's SDF has repeatedly served as a "foreign expeditionary force" over much of the last two decades. Narusawa emphasizes Japan's participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He finds that the U.S. is pushing Japan to prepare for a more expansive role.   


Narusawa Muneo is an editorial writer for Shuukan Kinyoubi, where this article appeared on June 13, 2014.


Richard H. Minear is the author of Victors' Justice: The Tokyo War Crimes Trial (1971) and Dr. Seuss Goes to War (1999) and the editor of Through Japanese Eyes (4th edition 2007). He is translator of many works, including Requiem for Battleship Yamato (1985).

Yi Wu      
Bounded Collectivism: Approaching Rural Land Rights and Labor Through "Natural Villages" in Southwest China

By shedding light on the enduring social identities of rural settlement communities, often referred to by the Chinese government as "natural villages" (自然村), this article provides a new approach to the formation of China's rural collective land ownership system from the 1950s to the present. It reveals how a unique landholding arrangement, which the author terms "bounded collectivism," was initially formed in southwest China as a result of the contestation and negotiation between the socialist state aiming to establish collective land ownership and rural settlement communities seeking exclusive control over land resources within their borders. Significant elements of that collective land ownership system would be perpetuated while accommodating "natural villages" in the three decades since the abolition of the communes and the creation of a system of household contracts. 

Yi Wu received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University in 2010. Her forthcoming book is Negotiating Rural Land Ownership in Southwest China: State Domination, Bounded Communities, and Family Farm Predicament (University of Hawaii Press).