The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 6. 2015        

February 9, 2015

New Articles

Over 46 years after being sentenced to death, Hakamada Iwao was released from prison last March, when a court granted a retrial admitting the possibility that evidence against him had been fabricated. Now 78 years of age, having served much of his sentence in solitary confinement, he was the world's longest-held death row inmate, and has fallen to severe mental illness. David T. Johnson presents a three-part special supplement on the death penalty in Japan. First, a video by Matthew Carney interviewing three victims of wrongful conviction: Hakamada, Ishikawa Kazuo and Sugaya Toshikazu. Second, an overview of Hakamada's case from arrest to the campaign for the retrial. Lastly, an examination of the systematic problems that lead to such catastrophic wrongful convictions. Johnson probes systemic features of Japan's criminal justice system that produces convictions based on forced confessions.

Disaster is an ever-present issue both in Japan and around the world. The triple disaster of 2011 and its extensive media coverage are a vivid reminder of disaster's critical role in history, but the dynamic agency of images in mediating our experiences of such events is not new. The 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake was one of the world's worst natural disasters of the early twentieth century. Gennifer Weisenfeld adapts an excerpt from her book, Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan's Great Earthquake of 1923, showing how the disaster was depicted in contemporary media, along with a postscript on the collection of such images at the time.

Australian PM Tony Abbott has promised to be an "Asia-first prime minister," while for instance trying to stop the flow of asylum seekers from Indonesia.  
Fran Martin, Chris Healy, Koichi Iwabuchi, Olivia Khoo, Claire Maree, Keren Yi and Audrey Yue examine how its relationship with Asia is discussed within Australia. Despite having close ties to Asia, conceiving the continent nation as part of Asia is problematic, they argue, as it fails to understand the complexity of the cultures of Asia. 

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