“The Human Fallout for Japan” and “Godzilla: Symbol of Japan’s Post WWII Nuclear Anxiety”

The nuclear crisis has rallied a weary Japan, but also risks spurring discrimination against the contaminated. Read Peter Wynn Kirby, author of the recently published Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, on the test the disaster poses for Japanese society at The Daily Beast.

Professor Kirby was also recently interviewed at WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, on the changes to the Godzilla movies over the years and corresponding Japanese attitudes toward nuclear energy. Listen to the interview here.

“How Japan’s Nuclear Industry Got Here”

In today’s “Breakingviews,” hosted by Reuters, Martin Dusinberre, author of the forthcoming UH Press title Hard Times in the Hometown: A History of Community Survival in Modern Japan, addresses the question of how Japan, a country “that experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons in 1945[,] came to embrace nuclear power so expansively in the postwar decades.” The Reuters column may be viewed here; and also at a TD Waterhouse site.

Hard Times in the Hometown tells the story of Kaminoseki, a small town on Japan’s Inland Sea. Once one of the most prosperous ports in the country, Kaminoseki fell into profound economic decline following Japan’s reengagement with the West in the late nineteenth century. Using a recently discovered archive and oral histories collected during his years of research in Kaminoseki, Martin Dusinberre reconstructs the lives of households and townspeople as they tried to make sense of their changing place in the world. In challenging the familiar story of modern Japanese growth, Dusinberre provides important new insights into how ordinary people shaped the development of the modern state. His account of Kaminoseki comes to a climax when, in the 1980s, the town’s councilors agree to the construction of a nuclear power station, unleashing a storm of protests from the community.

Martin Dusinberre is lecturer in modern Japanese history at Newcastle University, UK.

Bright Triumphs a Book of the Year Finalist

Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours: Turning Adversity into Success, by David Heenan, is a finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year (self help category). Representing more than 350 publishers, the finalists were selected from 1400 entries in 56 categories.

The winners will be determined by a panel of librarians and booksellers. Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners, as well as Editor’s Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced at a special program at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans this June.

“The triumphs of each individual are more keenly felt by the reader because of Heenan’s dedication to background research and meticulous detail. . . . [His] quick forays into childhood anecdotes . . . make these incredibly successful people relatable to the average self-help reader. Overcoming adversity, after all, is a universal wish, and anyone looking for inspiration and insight will find the tenets of success this book espouses truly valuable.” —Foreword (January/February 2010)

New in Writing Past Colonialism Series

Out of Bounds Out of Bounds: Anglo-Indian Literature and the Geography of Displacement, by Alan Johnson, focuses on the crucial role that conceptions of iconic colonial Indian spaces—jungles, cantonments, cities, hill stations, bazaars, clubs—played in the literary and social production of British India. Johnson illuminates the geographical, rhetorical, and ideological underpinnings of such depictions and, from this, argues that these spaces operated as powerful motifs in the acculturation of Anglo-India. He shows that the bicultural, intrinsically ambivalent outlook of Anglo-Indian writers is acutely sensitive to spatial motifs that, insofar as these condition the idea of home and homelessness, alternately support and subvert conventional colonial perspectives.

Writing Past Colonialism
March 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3521-7 / $28.00 (PAPER)

“Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film”

Peter Wynn Kirby, author of Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan, recently contributed to the New York Times’ Opinionator blog. His March 14 post, “Japan’s Long Nuclear Disaster Film,” looks at the original 1954 Gojira (Godzilla) and other kaiju (monster) films that followed to provide some cultural background on Japan’s reaction to the ongoing crisis in Fukushima.

Kirby points out a little-known fact about the first Godzilla: The film was inspired by the events following the U.S.’ March 1954 “Bravo” nuclear test near Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific. A distant Japanese tuna trawler, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, was outside the official no-sail zone but was nevertheless showered with radioactive ash. A translation of crew member Oishi Matashichi’s memoir, The Day the Sun Rose in the West: Bikini, the Lucky Dragon, and I, will be published by UH Press in September 2011.

Nature’s Embrace Now in Paperback

Nature's Embrace
Nature’s Embrace: Japan’s Aging Urbanites and New Death Rites, by Satsuki Kawano, is now available in paperback. The work offers insightful discussion on the rise of new death rites and ideologies, older adults’ views of their death rites, and Japan’s changing society through the eyes of aging urbanites. It will engage a wide range of readers interested in death and culture, mortuary ritual, and changes in age relations in postindustrial societies.

March 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3413-5 / $27.00 (PAPER)