| Apr 12, 2014

Weapons for peace and proactive pacifism

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has relaxed curbs on arms exports and sees great market potential in Asia. In the Pacific Century, Asia’s impressive economic growth is funding expanding defense budgets, making the region the most lucrative global arms market. Alas, it is also a ...

| Apr 5, 2014

Lessons of Fukushima: Reactor restarts are unwise

Kyle Cleveland, my colleague at Temple University Japan, recently published a report in the online Asia-Pacific Journal, “Mobilizing Nuclear Bias: The Fukushima Nuclear Crisis and the Politics of Uncertainty” that has drawn widespread media attention. Based on numerous interviews with government officials, military officers ...

| Mar 29, 2014

Unpersuasive logic for death penalty in Japan

The death penalty in Japan is imposed in cases of murder, and robbery and/or rape leading to death. In such cases, capital punishment is not mandatory and is usually only imposed in cases of multiple killings, though since 2006 this criteria has not been ...

| Mar 22, 2014

Okinawa redux: Democracy and an alliance at risk

U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy made a meet-and-greet trip to Okinawa last month, an opportunity to gauge the lay of the land and listen to some of the stakeholders in the longstanding controversies over plans to reduce America’s military footprint in the prefecture. Local newspapers ...

| Mar 15, 2014

The Fukushima tragedy justifies nuclear skepticism

The findings of a Kyodo survey conducted in February this year reveal a stunning level of reluctance to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors in the host cities, towns and prefectures that stand to gain from revving them back up. The nation’s 48 viable reactors are ...

| Mar 1, 2014

Japan's reactionaries waging culture war

The contemporary culture wars that have erupted over Japanese identity and history are undermining the country’s national interests and damaging its reputation. However, as rightwing extremists again try to mount a takeover by seeking to rehabilitate Japan’s history of aggression and colonial rule in ...

| Feb 22, 2014

Abe's culture wars boomerang against Japan

Japan’s culture wars are heating up to the detriment of the nation. The Financial Times is right to warn that the jingoism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and attempts to stifle public debate, are grave threats to Japan’s open society. Most Japanese don’t want ...

| Feb 15, 2014

Tokyo firebombing and unfinished U.S. business

Last week in this column, I suggested that Caroline Kennedy, the American ambassador to Japan, would be well advised to get the ball rolling on U.S. apologies for past misdeeds. The anniversary of the Tokyo firebombing provides an opportunity to do so. On the ...

| Feb 8, 2014

Blast from the past: Lucky Dragon 60 years on

Sixty years ago, on March 1, 1954, a Japanese fishing boat named Lucky Dragon No. 5 was doused by radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen-bomb test, codenamed Castle Bravo, on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Although the bomb was over 1,000 times more ...