Rising Asia Journal
Rising Asia Foundation
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

HARISH C. MEHTA

Presenting Our First Autumn Issue

We turn our attention to Japan with pathbreaking research articles by leading scholars in the field of Japanese intelligence and culture, Professor Pak Nung Wong of the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, and Professor Julie Banerjee Mehta of Loreto College in Calcutta.

Professor Wong takes an innovative approach of interrogating the “race” factor in Japan joining the Five Eyes intelligence network. His timely article formulates a new approach to better understand Japan’s intelligence culture as a non-Western intelligence culture, contextualizing the current policy discussion in the English-speaking world for Japan to join the Five Eyes. The author critiques the history of Japan’s intelligence system from before the First World War to the 2010s, identifying the interface between international dynamics and domestic politics that have entangled Japan’s intelligence system after the Second World War. Professor Wong argues that the United States has prevented the development of Japan’s subversion-oriented intelligence culture. The author makes clear that the white-Anglo Saxon countries had adopted a racialized view of Japan and had constrained Japan’s intelligence system.

Using a new approach and filling the missing pieces in the scholarly literature, Professor Julie Mehta studies the treatment of Japanese-Canadians by the Canadian State during the Second World War, when it terrorized 22,000 of their own Japanese-Canadians, detaining them in internment camps. At the same time, the author examines how Japan “othered,” shunned, and stigmatized all Japanese, including Japanese-Canadians who were victims of the nuclear bomb while they were caught between worlds in Japan during the war. In her project, Professor Mehta traces these histories through a reading of the fictional works of three Canadian authors: Joy Kogawa, Kerri Sakamoto, and Hiromi Goto. Mehta fills critical gaps in the existing scholarly literature which does not address how the three Japanese-Canadian writers have addressed the representations of the treatment of Japanese-Canadians who were caught between worlds and were victims of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The interrogation is innovative in the way it ferrets out the utter complexity of the silencing of the Japanese in three ways—by the Canadian State, by Japanese patriarchy and, more fascinatingly, by Japanese-Canadians themselves who wanted to forget the ignominy, stigma, and shame of being reduced to the abject, decimated, dispossessed body. The author explains that by examining the trauma embedded in the bodies of the narratives of these three writers, her article gives voice to the deafening silence “that would not speak.”

The graduate student at Loreto College, Raka Mukherjee interrogates three films from Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia in order to explore the question whether the characters played by Asian women, as seen in the three films under discussion, are able to gaze back, or do they remain blindfolded under the power of male hegemony. The research presented finds that in two of the films the women remain powerless, and in the third she exercises considerable agency. In her article, the author assesses whether it is possible to impose a Western theoretical approach to understand the predicament of Asian women. It recommends a different theoretical lens that should be rooted within the socio-economic milieu of the Asian countries.

In our commentaries, Senator Yuen Pau Woo, who represents the province of British Columbia in the Senate of Canada, writes that the twenty-first century world, roiled by the pandemic, is stumbling into a war that is neither hot nor cold. His essay in “future history” describes a “Soft War” that was precipitated by the geopolitical contest between an incumbent superpower and a determined challenger. 

The Harvard scholar, Craig Etcheson, explains that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT), a hybrid internationalized court established in 2006 by Cambodia and the United Nations to judge war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity, is coming to the end of its mandate. The author contends that the KRT has a mixed legacy, and several complicated tasks yet to complete.

Observing the return of Britain to Asia after an “absence” of several decades, ambassador Gurjit Singh writes that the United Kingdom has recently unveiled ambitious plans to regain the “Lost” Continent, but much of it in rhetoric and trumpeted agreements, and much remaining to be seen on the ground. The author argues that Britain must ensure that its partnership with the region is seen as among equals and not lopsided in its favor. Britain must demonstrate its commitment by providing better access to its own markets, by increasing its overseas investments, and encouraging its companies go out to Asia.

The economics’ research specialist, S.R. Long, takes a close look at the island nation of Taiwan—the focus of great power rivalry between China and the United States. The author argues that Taiwan owes much of its runaway growth to the glittering fortunes of its leading chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is at the forefront of the global tech race, even outpacing China. The author reasonably wonders whether China’s semiconductor companies, under Beijing’s control, will leapfrog their Taiwanese rival via a potential corporate acquisition of the Taiwanese chipmaker, barring a military takeover, or a longer-term reunification option. 

Rising Asia Journal will continue publishing innovative research, through the seasons. Enjoy our Autumn issue, a time when Asian foliage bursts into color, from the oak and chestnut of Kashmir and Hiroshima to Taichung and Nikko.