The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 52. 2014       

December 29, 2014

New Articles

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This issue features a special supplement on the United States and Korea. The recent scandal over the hacking of Sony Studios over the Hollywood film depicting the assassination of Kim Jong-un, The Interview, is predicated on jingoism: the idea that puerile parody will bring down the anti-American regime that has resisted American efforts to destroy it for six decades. Christine Hong examines American strategies of delegitimation of the North Korean autocracy through the dream machine of the entertainment industry.

Peter Hayes looks in depth at the response of the US government to the hack in the Sony Interview case. The Obama administration, he argues, has in effect managed to veer away from the imperative to negotiate  with a nuclear armed North Korea, thus increasing the risk of war, including nuclear war. This can only make it harder to advance American vital security interests in relation to reducing the nuclear threat.

On December 19, 2014, South Korea's Constitutional Court delivered an unprecedented ruling to dissolve the opposition Unified Progressive Party and disqualify all five of its representatives from the National Assembly. Driven by the Park Geun-hye government, this is the first use of the Court to force the dissolution of a political party since 1988, and as Hyun Lee argues, setting a dangerous and undemocratic precedent for state repression.

The United States has hired tens of thousands of mercenaries to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which an estimated 3,500 have been killed. The wars were essentially an experiment in corporatization of the military for the sake of preempting public protest as well as cost cutting. Permanent mobilization for war without instituting a draft, argues Jeremy Kuzmarov, allows the nation to remain in the blissfully ignorant state of illusory peace in order to, in the words of George W. Bush, "go shopping."

Since the turn of the century, the Chinese company Sinohydro has become the world's dominant dam builder, claiming to control half of the world's hydropower contracts. Despite making steps towards endorsing responsible environmental policies, as reported by Peter Bosshard, they are currently at a crossroads,  considering the construction of highly destructive dams in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
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