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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
In-depth critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific...and the world.
Japan's Nuclear Crisis: Status of Spent Fuel at Exploded Reactor Buildings Unclear  日本の核危機
Mar. 14, 2011:
The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) is asking an important question about Japan's nuclear crisis that seems to have been ignored by the media and in announcements from the Japanese government and Japan's nuclear power industry: What is happening with the spent fuel pools located at the top of the buildings housing the Unit 1 and Unit 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant facility? Both reactor buildings have lost their upper structures due to explosions possibly caused by a hydrogen gas build-up (Unit 1 on March 12, Unit 3 on March 14).
David McNeill, After the Quake: Journey to Fukushima
Mar. 13, 2011:
Tokyo is crawling unsteadily back on its feet. Its buildings are intact, its vast transport network is creaking back to life, cellphones work again, patchily. Planes land in the main international airports but traffic crawls through the streets. But the world outside, along Japan's Pacific coast to the northeast has been knocked flat on its back. Battered by tsunamis, rocked by a steady, terrifying string of aftershocks, thousands of people bed down for the second night in makeshift refugee centers in schools, sports centers and gymnasiums.   The world's media has begun descending on the capital, looking to tell this story. And three hundred kilometers north of Tokyo comes the biggest story of all: a fire at a nuclear plant that could potentially rival the twin nuclear disasters of Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986).
Ghost of Manzanar Hangs Over US Congressional Hearing on Muslim "Radicalization"
Mar. 10, 2011:
 Worried by a US political climate that in some respects bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the fear mongering that 70 years ago led to the forced relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese American citizens from the west coast and southwest to internment camps located in the American interior, some Japanese Americans are speaking out against the US Congressional hearing planned for March 10 by New York Representative Peter King to examine the alleged "radicalization of the American Muslim community."   In a December 2010 op-ed, King cited as evidence of this radicalization a failure by Muslim leaders to cooperate with US law enforcement officials investigating terrorist threats, which he claims provides an opening for al-Qaida to recruit "homegrown
Tokyo Governor: Japan Should Build Nukes to Counter China
Mar. 09, 2011:
Tokyo's outspoken governor Ishihara Shintaro says his country, which suffered history's only nuclear attack, should build nuclear weapons to counter the threat from fast-rising China.   In an interview with The Irish Times, Ishihara said Japan could develop nukes within a year and send a strong message to the world. "All our enemies: China, North Korea and Russia - all close neighbors - have nuclear weapons. Is there another country in the world in a similar situation?"
Tokyo Police Crackdown on Okinawa Protestors
Feb. 26, 2011:
We’ve recently covered here the accelerated construction of six new US heliports in the village of Takae, and a new fence on Henoko beach on Okinawa. This, despite the apparently more conciliatory tone on base issues in Japan’s southernmost prefecture struck last month by US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates:
Birds & Bombs: US Live-Fire Air Force/Navy Training in the Pacific Centers on No'os Island in the Northern Marianas
Feb. 25, 2011:
On February 25 the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and units from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) were scheduled to wrap up Cope North, an annual military exercise run in Guam that is designed to improve US-Japan joint air operations in the Pacific.   According to a US military news release, the 2011 Cope North, which began February 13, was the largest "ever executed by Pacific Air Forces, with nearly 50 percent more sorties than last year's exercise."   The U.S. has around 600 participants and the JASDF 300 participants involved in the exercise (700 personnel from both countries participated in the 2010 exercise). A key element of the exercise is five days of live-fire bombing of the island of No'os from morning to night. This live-fire training comes on the heels of 3-4 days of US Air Force bombing of the island at the end of January. When trainings are scheduled, authorities issue strong warnings in advance to fishermen, commercial pilots, marine tour operators and anyone else to steer well clear of the island.  
Tokyo High Court Rejects Teachers' Claims to Freedom of Thought
Feb. 12, 2011:
On January 28, a panel of the Tokyo High Court rejected the demands of approximately 400 Tokyo public school teachers for a court declaration that they not be forced to stand before the Hinomaru, Japan's national flag, and sing Kimi ga Yo, Japan's national anthem, at school ceremonies. The High Court ruling overturned a historic Tokyo District Court decision of September 2006 that favored the teachers based on constitutional language which declares "Freedom of thought and conscience shall not be violated."
Another Okinawa Battle
Feb. 11, 2011:
In June 2009, Okinawa became the unexpected political graveyard of Hatoyama Yukio, who quit after months struggling to bear the weight of, then reversing, a pledge he made to its citizens. He had come to power the previous September in an election that ended half a century of LDP rule, promising to tackle one of the great Cold War anomalies. For over half a century Japan, constitutionally pacifist and neutral had sheltered beneath the US military umbrella as a loyal and in recent years increasingly proactive ally. "We're still in Cold War mode," he lamented to this journalist before he took power.
Matthew Penney, The NHK Comfort Women Documentary -- 10 Years Later
Feb. 11, 2011:
To mark the 10th anniversary of the broadcast of the NHK documentary on Comfort Women, Senso wo do sabaku ka: Towareru senji seiboryoku (How to Put War on Trial: Wartime Sexual Violence Considered) broadcast on January 30, 2001, the Mainichi Shimbun recently presented a feature on the program and the controversy over its showing that ensued in Japan.   "Comfort Women" (the translation for 慰安婦 or ianfu in Japanese) were women recruited during the war years, many forcibly or via acts of deception, and held in so-called "comfort stations" in areas of China, Korea and other Asian lands occupied by Japan's military, where they were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual abuse at the hands of Japanese soldiers (and some non-Japanese soldiers serving Japan).  
Japan's Neonationalists on China
Jan. 31, 2011:
Criticism of China in Japan's public space has intensified since the Senkaku collision incident of September 2010. Despite the resulting strain in bilateral relations, however, the Kan Naoto government seems to be laying down plans for détente as described here and here.   The political rift takes place against a background of ever increasing economic ties between the two countries. Even a conservative publication such as the Sankei Shimbun refers to renewal of stable relations as a "business chance" for Japan. Japan's neo-nationalists, however, continue to flirt with the idea that the only way of dealing with China is to sever relations across the board - economic, political, and cultural.   In a piece titled "China Phobia Saps Japan's Strength" published in the January 12
New Stage in US Use of Financial Sanctions as Strategic Weapon? Levey Departs
Jan. 31, 2011:
Stuart Levey, who helped put the US Treasury at the center of US national security strategy and policy-making during a career that spanned the Bush and Obama administrations, has announced his retirement.   The policy-making legacy he leaves behind, central to the enhanced unilateral use of financial and economic sanctions against "rogue" states by the Bush and Obama administrations, underscores the need for a broader understanding of the ways in which US global policy functions. Specifically, at a time when the US faces costly failures on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan, and growing social unrest across the Middle East and Africa, its hidden financial weapons retain their near mystical power to coerce recalcitrant nations.   "Near mystical" is appropriate, because the combination of a lack of detailed public information about the damage sanctions are inflicting on countries like Iran and North Korea and the overwhelming yet unquestioning bipartisan support in Washington for sanctions makes these instruments of coercion poorly understood.   Since become Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in 2004, Levey has directed Treasury's enforcement, regulatory and intelligence functions to disrupt financial support to those alleged to engage in international terrorism or financial criminality. In this capacity he has travelled across Asia, the Middle East and Europe to press foreign governments and global financial institutions to cut their financial ties with entities in Iran, North Korea and other countries that the Treasury claims are involved in WMD proliferation, terrorism or such financial crimes as money laundering.
Truth and Reconciliation in the Republic of Korea
Jan. 22, 2011:
This is the title of a special thematic issue of the Critical Asian Studies journal for December 2010. The following excerpt from an abstract for an introductory essay by Jae-Jung Suh, who has also written for the Asia-Pacific Journal, provides an overview:   The Korean War is multiple wars. Not only is it a war that began on 25 June 1950, it is also a conflict that is rooted in Korea's colonial experiences, postcolonial desires and frustrations, and interventions and partitions imposed by outside forces. In South Korea, the war is a site of contestation: Which war should be remembered and how should it be remembered? The site has been overwhelmed by Manichean official discourse that pits evil communists against innocent Koreans and that seeks to silence other memories that do not conform. But the hegemonic project remains unfinished in the face of the resiliency embodied in the survivors who have withstood "triple killings" by the state. The historical significance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea (TRCK), lies in its success in bringing back to life the voices of the silenced that complicate the hegemonic memory of the war as yugio, the "June 25th war." At the same time, the Commission embodies the structural dilemma that the effort to give voice to the silenced has turned to the state to redress the state's wrongdoings. The TRCK as such stands on the problematic boundary between violence and post-violence,
Unit 731 and Preserving the History of Wartime Medical Atrocities
Jan. 18, 2011:
On January 11, Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reported that groups in the northern Chinese city of Harbin have announced a six-year plan to preserve historical sites associated with the Japanese Army Unit 731 medical and germ warfare atrocities. According to Unit 731 Exhibition Hall curator Jin Chengmin, local groups will repair the sites, which were converted into factories and schools in the postwar decades, in preparation for a bid to have them registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site alongside Auschwitz and Hiroshima's Peace Memorial, both preserved as examples of human destructiveness and continued appeals for world peace. Elements of the Harbin plan stress both the importance of preserving and disseminating testimony in the face of denial by some Japanese neo-nationalists and the neo-nationalist attempt to avoid linking stories of past victimization with contemporary nationalism or thoughts of vengeance. The site will include both a "Monument of Testimony" inscribed with the confessions of Japanese war criminals and a "Forest of Peace and Friendship" which will stress positive future Sino-Japanese ties.
Forum Addresses Okinawa's Future
Jan. 05, 2011 - Jan. 10, 2011:
At the Asia-Pacific Journal (APJ)/Okinawa University co-sponsored forum in Naha on December 19, 2010, the main theme was "Where is Okinawa going?" Speakers at three sessions - environmental, geopolitical, and economic - mixed discussion with nearly 200 participants on goals and ideals while addressing serious contemporary challenges. Kawamura Masami and Yoshikawa Hideki, leaders of Okinawa BD (Citizens' Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa), an NGO that fielded the largest representation at the international biodiversity conference in Nagoya (COP10) in October, emphasized civil society engagement to empower Okinawans to resist violations of the environment and human rights as represented by US military base-
China and Its Neighbors
Jan. 02, 2011 - Jan. 09, 2011:
In 2011, as in 2010 and previous years, much will continue to be written about the ways in which China and its Northeast and Southeast Asian neighbors are grappling with overlapping claims for islands and coastal/continental shelf zones in waters that run from the Sea of Japan down to the South China Sea. At stake is access to or control of various economic riches (fisheries and oil & gas fields), security for commercial shipping and in the case of some countries the right to maintain or establish defensive maritime positions.
Forum Addresses Okinawa’s Future
Jan. 02, 2011 - Jan. 09, 2011:
  At the Asia-Pacific Journal (APJ)/Okinawa University co-sponsored forum in Naha on December 19, 2010, the main theme was "Where is Okinawa going?" Speakers at three sessions – environmental, geopolitical, and economic – mixed discussion with nearly 200 participants on goals and ideals while addressing serious contemporary challenges.   Kawamura Masami and Yoshikawa Hideki, leaders of Okinawa BD (Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa), an NGO that fielded the largest representation at the international biodiversity conference in Nagoya (COP10) in October, emphasized civil society
Recollections of the World War II Battlefield
Jan. 02, 2011 - Jan. 09, 2011:
The Asahi Shimbun English edition is running a 10-part series titled "Relaying recollections of the battlefield" that originally ran in the vernacular Asahi. The first installment, appearing on January 1, was entitled "Unable to die until hell of war can be told." Here's an excerpt:
The North-South Korean West Sea Border Dispute and US Responsibility
Dec. 19, 2010 - Dec. 26, 2010:
A recent Bloomberg article and New York Times op-ed provide important and rarely reported historical perspectives on the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a maritime border drawn in the West (Yellow) Sea that has been disputed for decades by North and South Korea after it was imposed by the US following the end of the Korean War. As is now well known, on Nov. 23 North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong, one of five islands near the NLL controlled by South Korea. The shelling was in response to an artillery drill the South's military garrison on the island conducted earlier in the day, which saw shells land in waters claimed by North Korea under the 1953 Armistice Agreement and the UN law of the sea.
Missile Defense: Deploy First, Ask Questions Later
Dec. 19, 2010 - Dec. 26, 2010:
Missile defense (MD) hasn't been much discussed in the Asia-Pacific Journal, but growing US-Japan and US-South Korea cooperation on installing or networking into MD systems, along with US (and NATO) moves to ring much of Eurasia with land and sea-based MD is a subject of growing diplomatic, political and military analytical importance.
Where is Okinawa Going? Forum at Okinawa University on December 19 フォーラム「沖縄はどこへ向かうのか?」12月19日 於 沖縄大学
Dec. 12, 2010 - Dec. 19, 2010:
The "Where is Okinawa Going?" forum will present and discuss Okinawan perspectives on the current situation surrounding the southernmost islands of Japan, amid the ongoing controversy over the "Futenma relocation" issue, from three viewpoints: 1) environment and biodiversity in the context of the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya; 2) Northeast Asian regional geopolitics in the wake of the Japan-China conflict over the ship collision near the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands; and 3) the Okinawa-Japan-US relationship and the issue of US military bases in light of the November 2010 Okinawa gubernatorial election.
McCormack, Takesada & Wada, Analysis on Korean Tension
Dec. 12, 2010 - Dec. 19, 2010:
A luncheon event hosted by The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ). Description: Last month the two sides of the Korean Peninsula came closer to full-scale conflict than at any time since the 1953 armistice that ended the war between them. Although both sides have pulled back from the brink, they remain in a state of hair-trigger tension amid florid saber rattling by Pyongyang and warnings from Seoul that it has reached the end of its patience.
The Delicate Matter of Peace and the Nobel Peace Prize
Dec. 05, 2010 - Dec. 12, 2010:
Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and in 2008 appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, comments at his new blog on the "delicate matter" of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to those who have done little to promote the kind of peace envisioned by Sir Alfred Nobel back in 1895 (the first peace prize was awarded in 1901).
WikiLeaks & US Embassy Cables Relevant to Asia
Nov. 28, 2010 - Dec. 05, 2010:
The Guardian, a UK newspaper and one of the recipient publications of the US embassy cable traffic leaked by WikiLeaks, has provided a helpful listing of the cables separated by country and other subject names.
Stanford University Professor's Report on the Implications of North Korea's Uranium Enrichment Program
Nov. 21, 2010 - Nov. 28, 2010:
Somewhat lost in the current heightened military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, following a quick succession of events that started with a South Korean live-fire drill on an island held by South Korea in the contested sea area near North Korea's coast. This prompted an artillery response by the North that killed four South Koreans (two soldiers and two civilians), and now a major 4-day US-South Korean maritime exercise (including maneuvers by a US aircraft carrier) in waters west of the Korean peninsula that has drawn strong complaints from China and North Korea.
Sinking of the South Korean Ship Cheonan
Nov. 14, 2010 - Nov. 21, 2010:
The South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh has issued a video with new information on the sinking of the Cheonan, and the South Korean government's charge that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo to sink it. [via Peace Philosophy Centre] Find English, Korean and Japanese translations of the narrative at the Peace Philosophy Centre.
C. Douglas Lummis, The Proposal to Build a Nuclear Power Plant in Tokyo and to Move the Futenma Base from Okinawa to Mainland Japan
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