SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Virag Viktor “How will the Young Generation study and make the most ― The 2nd Asia Future Conference:from the Fukushima Session―”

    On the second day of the 2nd Asia Future Conference, we hold displays and talk-session about the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. At the session, we set up a theme “Fukushima and its Aftermath:Lessons from a Man-made Disaster” and considered discussion which everybody can participate important rather than one-sided reporting.   As we have visited Iitate-Village, Fukushima twice, where was affected by radioactive contamination and designated as evacuation zone, it was a start of our holding the session. We liked to share our various thinking “knew, felt and thought” at ‘Study-Tours’ which SGRA sponsored in 2012 and 2013,with everybody in the world starting from Indonesia. And we planned our session.   We set up the place like exhibition hall which is opened all day long. For example, projection of short documentary films and pictures of ‘study tour’ which participants took and exhibit them. In the afternoon, we set up ‘talk session’ involving participants who visited our displays.   After our reports about every difficulties which Iitate Village, especially villagers there, are being faced and activities of our (SGRA) visit to Village, we introduced our (SGRA members) personal experience at the earthquake and counter measures against radiation in our daily life. From such reports and introduction, we have pick up such key words like “man-made disaster”, “damage by radioactivity”, “forced evacuation”, and “decontamination” and free discussion on such key-words forwarded.   Answering to the questions from floors, we asked their opinions like: -How did the image of Japan change in the countries where participants came from after the nuclear accident? -How do they think about issue of radioactivity and countermeasure of Japanese government? Some Japanese participants explained about experience and troubles of their relatives and friends. We have planned to develop our talking toward the issues like power shortage or possibilities and risks of nuclear energy, but, due to restricted time, we could not discuss them regretfully.   To our delight as the sponsor, students of Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia where the conference was held, participated positively. Some students, who are interested in our conference, brought their friends in order to show our exhibits. I had a chance to talk with two of them and made sense what they replied to question why nuclear issue is important. Those two students study electronics and urban planning at the graduate school. They are in the position that they have to study seriously about risk of radioactivity and disaster prevention/recovery. Moreover, Indonesia is young country in terms of demographic structure and economic vitality. So, the young have strong intention “We have the honor of future of our country. We build Indonesia hereafter.” It is remarkable comparing with Japan. They think strongly that they build “good country” by themselves .      According to those students of the graduate school, Indonesia, as a developing country, is expected to develop rapidly in the global economy. But, it is facing gradually with power shortage due to enlargement of industries, expanding of production and improvement of living standard and they are actually investigating building of nuclear power plant. Young intellectual class have possibilities of being involved directly in policy making for nuclear electricity generation. Then, how do they think and study the nuclear accident in Japan?   I do not think it easy to answer because this question is very important globally. But, I think we could go a long way toward continuing such discussion by offering chances to consider this question seriously introducing the case in Japan from a viewpoint “lesson from man-made disaster” as shown in the title of the session. Media by “picture” is stronger than “word” and gave the young participants stronger impact and impression. It goes without saying that the young keep thinking seriously of nuclear issue which is topical and urgent in Indonesia and keep going along with process for establishing their opinion. I hope domestic argument about this issue in Indonesia become active.   In Japan, the issue of the restart of nuclear power plant remains pending. And, on the other hand, an assertion of abandoning nuclear power station is keep continuing. I have an impression, however, that dialogue between both sides is hard to be materialized in the process of constructive arguments. Sometimes they become emotional as it is very important issue. Recently, for example, some people are labeled “anti-Japan” by stakeholders when they declare abandoning nuclear power station. Similarly, many people who oppose nuclear power station were unsuccessful to present alternative idea which is stated in figure. I cannot help feeling sense of danger about such labelling or emotional argument. I hope such confrontation would develop to cool-headed arguments which are based on facts and objective data.   I like to add the state of progress of establishing more nuclear power stations in Hungary, my home country. I reported this in the report of 2nd SGRA Fukushima Study Tour which was delivered by SGRA Kawaraban one year ago. We have decided two more nuclear power stations besides present four stations which supply 40% of national demand for electricity at present. When Mr. Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, visited Hungary, he provided sales activities for nuclear power plants although he was said to be imprudent because it was just few months after the Fukushima Disaster. After all, they contracted with Russia after evaluation of conformity between estimation and present technology. I personally have a doubt why only “Japan of Fukushima” and “Russia of Chernobyl” are the counterpart of the negotiation.   Session “Fukushima” in 2nd Asia Future Conference was planned and run by SGRA members, Park Hyun-jung (pictures and exhibition), Dale Sonja (moderator), Erik Schicketanz (speaker) and myself. We appreciated Director, Eiichi Tsunoda, very much including his persuasive opinion at the session.   SGRA will have a study tour at Iitate-Village this year. Please join us if you are interested in this kind of issue.   You can see the pictures of the day in:  http://www.aisf.or jp/spra/info/Essay424Pfotos.pdf You can read our report on our Fukushima Tour in :   (Part-time instructor at Showa Women's University / Jochi Welfare College Japanese Association of School and Social Works (International Office ))   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban  in Japanese (original)  
  • Bingyue Dong “Future of Asia from Two Places for Debating”

      The 2nd Asia Future Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia on August 22-23,2014. Atsumi International Foundation, sponsor of the conference, declared “the purpose of the conference is to give a place for discussion about the future of Asia to the scholars who have studied in Japan and are interested in Japan”.   What is the “Place” here? If you think it just as the place or the site of the conference, it would be too good. The place where the conference was held is also the “place”. According to such understanding, Bali Island is important and has another meaning in the conference. The sponsor gave two places (dual meanings) to the participants. “Asia” was discussed as an object of our study and, at the same time, the participants at could have personal experiences in Asia. I greatly appreciated it.   I, as a participant from Beijing, began to think differently when I heard about “the rise of China” from participants from the Philippines and Singapore. I understood they look at China differently from the outside or from the inside. Then, what is a “rise”? Did China really rise? We can say China is rising economically. It may be true, but, on the other hand, there are a lot of social problems which came from economic and rapid growth, such as environmental pollution, corruption of governmental officials, disparity in wealth, depravity of morality etc. etc. Given these negative aspects, I do not think China has risen yet. I like to say there are a lot of things for China to study, not only from Japan but also from Bali. I think China has to pursue its “rise” in a manner which can contribute to the general well-being of Asia.   I also learned a lot from the second “place”: “Bali”. When I checked-in the hotel in the evening of August 21, I was enchanted by a music coming from the corridor of the hotel. How lonely and romantic! I learned later that it was local music which was played from a small flute and bamboo koto. I can enjoy the music now in Beijing as I bought a CD in Bali. As I like Japanese enka (a popular song), folk songs of Okinawa and Khoomei (a ongol folk song by special vocalization), I can now enjoy more “Asian music”, with the Bali music added to my collection.   As I am a scholar of social science of humanities, I learned a lot from my observation of the life style in Bali. After the conference which ended on 23rd August, I joined a field trip on 24thAugust. To my surprise, there were many shrines of the Hindu religion everywhere I visited. Total building area of the shrines seems a quarter of the total area of the town. According to our tour guide, people visit the shrines at least twice a day. In other words, the people in Bali have their own religion, belief and life-style, distinct from those of the other inhabitants of Indonesia. How are ordinary Chinese people or intellectuals interested in Bali (and Indonesia)? I think they are not so interested as they are in America or Europe. England is called “British Empire” or “Great Britain” in China. If we call Indonesia, where the total area and population are far more than that of England, as “Great Indonesia”, we would be laughed at.   In China, where people concentrate their thoughts on their economic development, it will be difficult to understand the high “value” of life-style of the Balinese people. Modern oriental history is said to be an invasion from the West and the resistance of the East against the West. On the other hand, however, the East accepted ethics and values of the West. We have to look frankly at both these aspects. There is a word “勢利” (pronunciation “shi-li”) in China, which means “an attitude to be influenced by money and authority” .   Both, modern Japan and China today are in the “勢利” It is not only Japan but also China which have been taken ill by a sickness called “Western inclination”. Both of us pursue “development” in terms of”the wealth and military strength of the country”. Bali Island taught us that “development” and “the wealth and military strength” are not absolute but just relative values.   The Asia Future Conference was held at the beach in the southeastern part of Bali Island. There is no building except our ten-story high Hotel. After the construction of the Hotel, it was prohibited to construct buildings taller han the palm trees. This prohibition was initiated and adopted by the peoples’ movement. I have become increasingly disgusted with the high-rise buildings in Tokyo and Beijing after observing low buildings amid green flora in Bali. Ourlocal tour guide explained that the people of Bali “plant rice plants and trees as much as possible and never plant “cement”. I thought he was like a philosopher. He expressed the values of Bali beautifully. The economic development of Bali may be behind that of the Chinese coastal areas. But, we cannot say people in Bali are not always happy. Or rather, their life-style is more “reasonable” than that of ours who live in big cities.   It is indeed fortunate that the sponsor of the conference selected Bali Island as venue, but I think the appreciation and understanding of general theme “Diversity and Harmony” was greatly enhanced by holding the conference at Bali Island. Hundreds of participants from several counties enjoyed the “Shi-shi-mai” (Japanese Lion Dance) and Indonesian Barong Dance in Bali Island, where people adhere to Hinduism, with Indian and Chinese cultural influences.   I thought this is just wonderful manifestation of “Diversity and Harmony”. What I thought to be more important is the realization by the participants that the idea of “Diversity and Harmony” is highly desirable. I thought the objective of the sponsor who gave “two places” dual meaning, (though I think it may be more than two) to the participants from several countries was fully accomplished. The Asian Future Conference has established a community of values. Though the participants came from various countries and were engaged in various fields, they had or began to have “common values”. Common values include concern and sympathy about Asia and respect for the others. I believe the future of Asia will be certainly bright if such a community which have common values become bigger. There are many wealthy people in China now. I hope they contribute to cultural exchange across borders, modeled after the Atsumi International Foundations.   (Professor, Institute of Literature , Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 423 in Japanese (original)
  • Hajime Takahashi “Re-consideration of Diversity”

    The 2nd Asia Future Conference, sponsored by Atsumi International Foundation, was held on August 22~24, at Bali, Indonesia and 380 participants from 17 countries, including researchers, having studied in Japan, had hot discussions. Theme of conference this time was “Diversity and Harmony”. As the conference should be based on academic approach, a lot of sessions and lively discussion on extensive range, such as globalization, peace, sustainability, environment and communication, were held. I, myself, attended 3 sessions regarding main theme “Diversity and Harmony”. And as I co-chaired at the final session, I like to re-study about “Diversity” based on research publication and discussion at the conference.   When we think of the meaning of ‘diversity’ from daily context, we can say “to exist in diversely and differently”. Originally, this word have been used in the field of biology. But, we use this word very often in the field of sociology, politics and international relations now. Actually, in multiracial nations, a slogan “integration in diversity” is being used as racial integration. Indonesia, where the conference was held, consists of about 17,000 islands and around 228 million of people are living in those 9,000 islands. Around 490 groups of race are succeeding their own ethnic and diversified culture. (Official website of the Ministry of Sightseeing Creative Economy, Indonesia)   There were two publications this time regarding ‘BATIK’, Indonesian traditional clothes. It is said Batik, as a symbol of the integration of various races, played an important role when Indonesia became independent as a republic. They created special Batik of their own as a tool for integration of different races, which does not impartial to any races who had their own Batik and were adopted as uniforms of students of junior/middle/high schools and public officials. Indonesian Batik is now acknowledged as the World’s intangible cultural heritages and contributes to an establishment of identity of Indonesia in the world community. It is good example that variety of Indonesia, which have been said to be difficult to overcome, has been overcome by Batik which were the great common factors among variety of races, or by adoption of patterns which impartial to any races. I was impressed by the pointing out of Masakatu Tozu (honorary professor of Kokushikan University), saying “clothes are identities of races” in his speech titled “Trial of Establishment of National Culture in a Multiethnic Indonesia”. Needless to say, there is an existence of suzerain state as an external factor behind their foundation of country, which urge their standing together of Indonesian ethnics and overcame difficulties of establishing national consent.   The word “Diversity” began to be used, as globalization progress, in the context of regional cooperation and integration among nations. Actually, when we think of the future of Asia in the conference, “Diversity and Harmony” were discussed from various aspects and “Unity in Diversification” became an unavoidable theme on regional cooperation and integration. “Unity and Diversity” is the motto of EU which have accomplished unprecedented deepening of regional integration. EU explained on their official website that European people live and cooperate together for the purpose of our peace and prosperity in the form of EU and become rich by our diversified and different cultures, traditions and languages.   There is a picture card named “a perfect European” which I bought in Brussels as a souvenir in 1980s and have thought a great deal of it even now. This card explain diversity in Europe humorously making fun of characters of EU 15 members of country(at that time) saying paradoxically and ironically “driving a car like French, excel in technics like Portuguese, controlling themselves like Italian, carefully like Danish, humorous like German, being organized like Austrian, talkative like Finnish, famous like Luxemburg people, generous like Dutch, being good at cooking like English, few off duty like Belgian, flexible like Swedish, sober like Irish, and modest like Spanish. Number of member countries of EU is 28 now. They have a customs union, common international trade policy, market integration, introduction of common currency and common foreign policy. They verified toward international societies that it is possible to make an international connection by transferring sovereignties depending on the field of policies.    In Asia too, market integration, in the frame of ASEAN, is going to be accomplished. At Jakarta airport, immigration controls for ASEAN people are separated from non-ASEAN people like EU. It clearly shows harmony in diversity is being realized in Asia. At the sessions which I co-chaired, there were questions about concrete meanings in ‘unity in diversity’ in the context of Asia. Against such questions, presenters explained that each country shall recognize the difference mutually and produce new values which are more than their own. It is common with the motto of EU. Proposition which I encountered at the 2nd Asia Future Conference was “we cannot cooperate because of our differences” or “we should cooperate each other because of our differences”. Actually, in the case of North-East Asia or East Asia where cooperation or connection on regional revel fell behind most the world stream, people often say that it is impossible to make a framework for systematic connections. Dr. Maria Elena Tisi, University of Bologna, who introduced a trial to produce harmony from a comparison between children’s book of Italy and Japan, said “a word ‘difference’ does not limit to big difference, such as culture, language and religion, and small difference also can be a reason for big reasons, - - - It is important to make the most of such differences not trying to overcome.” It is very suggestive when we think of ‘diversity”. It is also pointed out at the conference that colors composed of multi-colors bring about complex tone in depth than single color. I talked to one of my friend who is musician about such context in the conference after I returned to Japan. He said promptly and flatly “in the field of music, harmony in diversification is the most basic of basics.” He said also “an orchestra is compilation of harmony of variety of musical instruments” and never forget to add pointing out “for this purpose, existence of conductor as a great leader of an orchestra is absolute condition”. It weighs on my mind when I re-consider ‘diversity’ in international context. Can I say the word ‘diversity’ has different meaning such as 多用性(multi-usable) or 他用性 (used in different way) ?   I dare to emphasize that it is important to consider geographical neighborhood when we discuss about ‘diversity’ in the context of Asian region. It is an undeniable fact that there are unavoidable relations among neighboring countries. When we discuss about ‘diversity’, it is also important to have viewpoints whether we understand the relations with neighboring countries positively or negatively.   The 2nd Asia Future Conference was a good chance for me to recognize that domestic political factors in the context of North East Asia and struggles for leadership among nations in East Asia are hazards for forming systematic frameworks for regional connections.   (SGRA Counselor)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 421 in Japanese (original)  
  • Max Maquito “Manila Report 2013 Winter: Bringing the Fight Beyond Japan’s Borders”

      Right after 3.11, I had the chance to write down my thoughts in a SGRA Kawaraban (weekly online newsletter). Amidst an unprecedented disaster, I was moved at the fighting spirit of the Japanese citizens, and the global citizens that came to help, prompting me to write that this crisis is also an opportunity to review the philosophies that was Japan's very own, and to this day she has presented to the world. This "review" that I propose is not the "drastic reform" which, as shown in the lost decades of Japan, was extremely critical even of the good points of the country. What actually inspired me was the review of Japan's aspects that should be protected, in a way that further activates these aspects. The aspects that should be preserved are: the peace constitution, the three non-nuclear principles, and shared growth, which actually is the subject of my research. These could be further activated through: a Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) that could swiftly and effectively respond to natural disasters; a non-nuclear principle that includes zero nuclear power generation; and a shared growth that extends outside of Japan.   Japan is now embroiled in a domestic struggle about these three review points. This fight is now spilling beyond her borders, and inevitably has reached Philippine shores.   The super typhoon, said to be the world's largest typhoon, that hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013, dealt a heavy blow from which even now the country is still reeling. We are filled with gratitude for the support of many countries. From Japan, we saw the largest deployment for relief efforts in the history of the Japanese SDF to the most severely hit island, Leyte. As is well known in the Philippines, Leyte was actually the island on which Gen. MacArthur led the landing of Allied Forces to fulfill his promise to the Filipinos "I shall return" during the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces. No one would have imagined then that a huge contingent of Japanese forces, aimed at protecting the Japanese citizenry, would be landing on the island to help embattled Philippine nationals. In order to ensure the transparency of overseas assistance, the Philippine government on this occasion created a website (Foreign Aid Transparency Hub), which reported (accessed on December 20, 2013) that Japan was one of the top three countries that have committed assistance for this typhoon disaster. The UK was first at US$96 million, Japan was second at US$74 million, and the US was third at US$ 62 million. This generous assistance is very much appreciated considering that Japan is still recovering from 3.11. It seems that his assistance includes "repayment" for the assistance that the Philippines extended to Japan after their big disaster. In the Philippines, there is a nuclear power plant the construction of which was suspended about 30 years ago by a civil resistance movement. Given that it was suspended, I was imagining that the buildings are now dilapidated, equipment has been sold or rusting, and the grounds have been overgrown with grass. After the SGRA study tour to Fukushima on October last year, I took a look at the recent discussion about nuclear power plants in the Philippines. I was surprised to know that the nuclear power plant is practically new since it enjoyed a maintenance budget all these decades from the Philippine government. On the last day of the Fukushima study tour, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask the Group for Resurrecting Fukushima, one of the co- organizers of the study tour, to lend me their support as SGRA Philippines strives to keep the Philippines a zero nuclear country. Looking further into the matter, I found out that a group of high school students from Fukushima visited the Bataan nuclear power plant. In a newspaper interview, they remarked that the beautiful landscape of the Philippines should not be put at risk by operating the nuclear power plant. Despite the difficulties that the young of Japan have gone through because of the lost decades and the prospect of being burdened with the nuclear program legacy of their country, it is truly praiseworthy to hear such a mature opinion. Even with regards to my research subject of shared growth, thanks in part to the entry of Japanese firms, the DNA of shared grow is being transmitted to the Philippines. As SGRA Kawaraban readers would know, Japan was able to achieve the "East Asian Miracle" wherein the rapid growth of GDP was accompanied by a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, the Philippines was not able to experience the East Asian Miracle, but through my research, I was able to confirm the existence of the Shared Growth DNA at the level of economic zones, of a group of firms, and of a firm. My research on Shared Growth, which has been shown by Japan as possible, has continued and received much support since the establishment of SGRA. In the early years, I was doing this research through the “Japan’s Identity Amidst Globalization” Team. It was and still is my belief that Shared Growth is supported by Japan’s identity. In order to transmit what I have learned from Japan, I have been holding the SGRA Manila Seminar on an average of twice a year since 2004. The 17th Philippine-Japan Shared Growth Seminar will be held on February 11th (Tues). Those interested, please consult the following link for more details:   But, to think that the fight in these three areas I mentioned is over would be a big mistake.   Due to global warming, climate change will continue to be a problem as it causes various damages that we might not be able to fully predict. An organization like the Self-Defense Force, which could respond systematically while putting the lives of their members on the line, will continue to be indispensable. However, the geo-political situation in East Asia is deteriorating, and even the revision of Japan’s Peace Constitution, which constitutes the basic philosophy for the establishment of the Self-Defense Force, has now become a possibility.   Even after the occurrence of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the construction of nuclear power plants in the world has not stopped. In the Philippines, there are powerful parties that seek to push the nuclear power option, despite the huge debt that has been repaid, and the power outages cost incurred by the Philippine citizens.   In the Philippines, shared growth continues to be a La Manchan dream. Income distribution remains to be highly inequitable. The country is mired in a “middle income trap”. Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, the country is not as popular from the point of view of Japanese investors. Whether within or without the country, growth is not shared with the citizenry.   These three struggles are interconnected. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth incurs a more severe damage from natural disasters and is only able to recover slowly. In such a country, the majority of the citizenry would live in fragile residences, and the social infrastructure would be weak. The machinery and savings needed to recover would be very scarce. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth would be weak against a sweetly packaged nuclear option. There has been a lot of cases where even with a citizenry that has said “NO”, nuclear power plants are constructed where there are decision makers that would benefit from it. These are issues that would be discussed in the February 11th Manila Seminar. Hopefully, this would lead to action that has been thought out.   SGRA Kawaraban 396 in Japanese