The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 34. 2014    

August 25, 2014    
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In This Issue
Yamamoto Yuzo

Andrew DeWit assesses the important role of the US Pacific Command in addressing climate crisis in the Pacific at a time when the US political system is stymied by political crisis. Decades after the Minamata mercury poisoning crisis ignited Japan's environmental movement, we present Tsurumi Kazuko's assessment, and Tom Gill's introduction providing an overview of the movement's historical and contemporary significance. Zeljko Cipris translates and introduces Yamamoto Yuzo's 1920 play "Infanticide", a classic that spoke then and speaks now to problems of poverty and labor.
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Yamamoto Yuzo 
Yamamoto Yuzo (1887 - 1974) was a playwright and novelist from Tochigi Prefecture who graduated from Tokyo University. He made his debut as a dramatist with Seimei no kanmuri (1920; tr. The Crown of Life, 1935). Yamamoto's literary work comprises a critical examination of the human condition based on the author's humanistic philosophy and revolutionary sympathies. Infanticide constitutes a poignant cri de coeur, yet leaves the solution to the underlying problem up to its audience.  

Recommended citation: Yamamoto Yuzo, "Infanticide", translated and introduced by Zeljko Cipris, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 34, No. 3, August 25, 2014.           

Tsurumi Kazuko with an introduction by Tom Gill

New Lives: Some Case Studies of Minamata

Earlier in 2014, folklore scholar Ron Morse succeeded in publishing on-line The Adventure of Ideas: A Collection of papers on Patterns of Creativity and a Theory of Endogenous Development, a collection of English-language papers by Tsurumi Kazuko* (1918-2006), an innovative sociologist who was a professor at Sophia University for twenty years (1969-89). The book is available for free download.
Tsurumi Kazuko was a member of one of Japan's premier intellectual dynasties. The granddaughter of Meiji/Taisho bureaucrat Goto Shinpei, and daughter of prewar liberal politician Tsurumi Yusuke, she was the sister of postwar philosopher-historian Tsurumi Shunsuke, and aunt of Tsurumi Taro, a professor of folklore at Waseda University.

"New Lives: Some Case Studies of Minamata," dating from 1987,  draws on fieldwork conducted in Minamata, Kumamoto prefecture, between 1976 and 1983. The paper introduces three of the heroes of the movement to gain redress for the victims of Minamata Disease - mercury poisoning caused by contamination of the Shiranui Sea by the town's main employer, Chisso Corporation, a major chemical maker still very much in business today. The paper contains valuable source material on the Minamata redress movement, dramatized through three extraordinary personalities.    


Recommended citation: Tsurumi Kazuko with an introduction by Tom Gill, "New Lives: Some Case Studies of Minamata", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 34, No. 2, August 25, 2014.  

Andrew DeWit        
US Pacific Command, Climate Change and Collaborative Security

While organizers mobilize across the globe for history's biggest climate march in New York on September 21, strikingly large numbers of Americans - and an even bigger share of their political representatives - remain quiet, doubtful or even in denial about climate change. But the US military, especially in the Pacific, is neither uncertain nor passive. The  US Pacific Command (PACOM) is  "not waiting on politics" in responding to climate change. Brigadier General Mark McLeod, former head of PACOM's Logistics, Engineering and Security Cooperation directorate describes why. He points out that 70 percent of global storms are in the Pacific and that climate change's impacts are already having military consequences.

The US military is already a leader on climate-change mitigation through renewable energy and energy efficiency. The military's adaptation efforts are also instructive for civil society and may help curb climate-related geopolitical instability. Across the Pacific,  PACOM is focused on building resilience against climate change and creative networks of cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, or HADR.

Recommended Citation: Andrew DeWit, "US Pacific Climate Change and Collaborative Security", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 34, No. 1, August 25, 2014.