The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 4. 2015        

January 26, 2015

New Articles

The writer Hōjō Tamio died at the age of 23 in 1937 in quarantine at a hospital outside of Tokyo. Taken as a pupil by Kawabata Yasunari, Hōjō became known for his fictionalized accounts of the experience of stigmatization of victims of Hansen's Disease in 1930s Japan. Along with an introductory essay, Kathryn M. Tanaka translates his novella, "Life's First Night," which was awarded the Bunshun Bungakkai Prize in 1936.

In late 1979, the South American state of Guyana, under the leadership of Forbes Burnham, received assistance from Pyongyang in importing the tradition of "mass games," the practice of performing dance or gymnastics in massive numbers. This established North Korea as a major influence in Guyana's cultural and political life into the early 1990s. Moe Taylor explains the ideological foundations of this experiment by the Burnham regime in a time of austerity and crisis and the shaping of the practice of mass games by the Guyanese political context.

On January 10, South Korea deported U.S. citizen  Shin Eun-mi and barred her from returning for five years, after detaining her for questioning on charges of violating the National Security Law. Hyun Lee interviews Shin, who has been the subject of controversy in South Korea over her speaking tour on her travels to North Korea. This  made her the target of right-wing attacks, including a bomb detonation. Shin talks about her travel to the North, her experiences speaking about it in the South and the need to bridge the gap between the two Koreas.

The people of Okinawa are not the only victims of the new US military base in Henoko. The diverse ecosystem of Oura Bay supporting thousands of species of marine life, the last of its kind in Japan, is threatened to be wiped out by concrete building the proposed base. Katherine Muzik writes of her recent visit to the bay's coral reefs, calling for an end to this violence against nature.

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