SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • TSUNODA Eiichi “The 62th SGRA Forum ‘ Can Renewable Energy Change the World ? – Moving Beyond ‘ An Inconvenient Truth”

    The 62nd SGRA Forum “Can Renewable Energy Change the World – Moving Beyond “An Inconvenient Truth””, a joint session with the APYLP (Asian Pacific Young Leaders Program) and SGRA, was held on February 2, 2019 at the International House of Japan (Roppongi).*APYLP is a program organized by the International House of Japan for the purpose of connecting young leaders in the Asia Pacific region.   The theme of this forum was “renewable energy,” an issue which has made rapid progress since COP21 was agreed in 2015 in Paris. The purpose of the forum was to consider the possibility of renewable energy in our societies through considering the rapid progress of the past and its prospects in the future from the viewpoints of international politics and economy, environmental innovation, energy and community.*COP:Conference of the Parties “parties”:UNFCCC(The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) (気候変動枠組条約締約国会議) Summaries of the research papers and key-note speeches can be found below. .We started our morning session with an opening address by Ms. Junko Imanishi (Representative of SGRA), introduced by the moderator, Sonja Dale (Adjunct Professor, Hitotsubashi University), who was delighted with the full house of over 120 people.Three Raccoons presented about their research in the first session.Adjunct Professor Park Joonui (George Mason University) spoke about her research titled ” Renewable Energy in Trade Wars: Solar Power in South Korea’s Energy Mix and the Impact of Protectionism”.She discussed how the environmental policies under President Moon seem to be too ambitious, how China is monopolizing the market through mass-production as a state policy, and the protectionist stance of the US. She ended her presentation with a warning about the present situation in Korea in which the business of renewable energy is becoming distorted because of the decline in the solar cell industry in Korea, and emphasized the necessity of changing Korean national policy.The second presentation was made by Professor Gao Weijun, University of Kitakyushu、and was titled “Chinese Policy on Renewable Energy and the Direction of Environmental Improvement”. He surveyed present environmental problems in China and discussed the necessity of change in renewable energy to overcome the serious environmental pollutions at present. Professor Gao introduced large-scale domestic and overseas projects which are being carried out by government initiatives. However, he emphasized that the government should establish meticulous environmental policies in order to avoid favoring big projects.The third presenter was Associate Professor, Yeh Wen-chang, Shimane University.His presentation was titled “How low can the cost of solar power go? What tasks lie ahead?” He discussed the many innovative possibilities for reducing generating costs by solar cells, and shared his method of cost calculation for PV (photovoltaics-太陽光発電). He also called for the necessity of innovation in the combined accumulation and generation of electricity.   We had a coffee break in the garden under the spring sunshine. In the second session we heard about the situation in Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture. In Iitate, they are trying to promote the generation of renewable energy for regional industries. The purpose of this attempt was to gain energy independence and restore the environment after the Fukushima nuclear power incident. Mr. Kenta Satoh, a member of the Iitate Village Assembly, looked back at the damage caused by the incident on March 11, 2011 and the experiences of people who had lived as evacuees for seven years up until last year.  He explained the meaning and vision of generating renewable energy as a core for the reinvigoration of Iitate Village and as a community development project.Mr. Kei Kondo, Iitate Power Company, discussed their efforts to generate solar energy in Iitate on a small scale and spoke about the difficulty of increasing their production capacity within regional levels under the present regulations in Japan.    In the afternoon session, we had two keynote speeches and smaller panel discussions. The first key-note speech, titled “Global Shifts in Renewable Energy,” was given by Associate Professor, Llewelyn Hughes from Australian National University,.  He gave an overview of the world-wide shift towards low carbon energy and pointed out its necessity for climate change. He explained the Japanese policy for energy which, though promoting low-carbon energy, has no clear guidelines.The second keynote speaker was Mr. Hans-Josef Fell, President of Energy Watch Group (ex-Member of German Parliament), who gave a talk titled  “German Experience of Energiewende and Community Power”.  He discussed his experience of community organization by PV business operators in 1994, the first in the world. He also played a role in the establishment of the EEG (Renewable Energy Act) bill in the German Parliament, and has been working for the promotion of renewable energy around the world under the slogan “Renewable Energy 100,” a program which aims at the actualization of renewable energy societies.    After the five presentations and two keynote speeches, we separated into three separate panel sessions - “global shifts/international economy”, “environment/innovation” and “energy and community”.    In this forum, we sought to discuss solutions for problems as well as the possibilities for actualizing renewable energy societies in a single day, and we handled topics from various fields. It was not easy to integrate and assimilate these different fields and findings. I personally thought that we could share, at least, the knowledge of not only the presenters but also all of the participants, and the awareness that there is no turning back in of the global shift towards de-carbonization and renewable energy.This shift is inevitable. From the presentations, however, it became clear that this process would not go so smoothly. It also became clear that every country and every field has their own problems to solve. We cannot say that all the questions could be solved.For example, when we think of climate change and using up natural resources which has been actualized as global warming, shifting to renewable energy (non-carbon energy) would be an urgent issue for all societies on earth. We, as a result of entering big capital enterprises, may be able to change the present global environmental problems by shifting to natural energy from fossil fuel. However, even if we change the source of our power on a large scale, we cannot change the substance of civilization itself, which is supported by mass-production and mass-consumption. In the panel sessions, the many protests and demonstrations in Japan and Europe were discussed, and the issue of gigantic mega-solar power systems which are destroying the scenery and circumstances of societies. The problems of environmental pollutants which are being discharged in the process of production of solar panels were also discussed, as were other problems such as the introduction of FIT (Feed-in Tariff:(売電の)固定価格買取制度)  and the problems it caused for late-comers in entering the market and the effects of FIT on finance in Germany. The necessity of technical innovation in technology for the storage of electricity was also discussed.  As a matter of course, I do not think that an issue related to the future of the earth such as this can be solved easily.  We should be cautious of haste in discussing issues such as this.  Surely, it is a reality that societies using renewable energy will spread and expand in the world and this trend or wave is only growing. The sub-title of the forum is “moving beyond “An Inconvenient Truth,”” which is the title of the book written by Al Gore, ex-Vice President of the United States, which was written as a cautionary tale about the problem of global warming.“An Inconvenient Truth” is one which goes against the currents and thoughts of current time, and is not liable to be talked about or hidden.In the discussion of renewable energy, it became clear that in the Fukushima nuclear power incident, a lot of “inconvenient truths” were being hidden and not talked about.  I hope that many of these “inconvenient truths” will be discussed more openly and with more frequency, and not be hidden nor neglected at the level of citizenship for the purpose of establishing our consensus for spread of renewable energy.   SGRA News in Japanse (Original) on 14th March, 2019 Photos of the Day  (TSUNODA Eiichi / Secretary General, Atsumi International Foundation)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale       
  • CHIANG Yung Po “’Academic Independence’ and Myself”

    Recently, China has made remarkable economic progress. In the academic world, however, we are unable to see similar progress. Among the scholars whom I have been indebted to, there have been some who have been communicating with scholars in China. Their essays, which were scheduled to be published in China, were sometimes prohibited from publication because of censorship. However, owing to the persistent endeavors of their friends in China, these essays were published with certain parts blacked out. When I talked with a professor about this phenomenon, he pointed out that if an essay has been partially censored, we cannot say that it is the same essay. He then explained about the spirit of “academic independence” in Waseda University. As a graduate of Waseda University, and from the standpoint of “academic independence”, I do find some agreement with his uncompromising spirit. However, I did feel some conflict over it. If not for censored publication, there might be a possibility that they cannot dispatch any information at all or that they have to give up on contributing their essays under the threat of censorship. Dispatching information under any difficult circumstances would be a different form of “academic independence”.     In Taiwan, my native country, there is no such censorship. However, “academic independence” is being challenged in a different way. When we talk about Taiwan overseas, we are asked if we support independence or unification. Actually, there are considerable supporters for both independence and unification in Taiwan. If we are allowed to have our own thoughts, siding with either independence or unification would be a form of “personal freedom”. It is in a “democratic country” that we can respect each other although we may have different opinions. However, confrontation in political ideology in Taiwanese society has taken a serious turn. Some researchers “work-out” their research in order to create a logical backing to assert their thoughts. One typical example is the “Taiwanese heritage dispute” which was based on the doctrine that “85% of Taiwanese have the heritage of Taiwanese aborigines”, which was published by Professor Lim M, National Taiwan University College of Medicine. Such a doctrine was hard for me to understand given that I am a researcher of modern history. A famous jurist, Santaro Okamatu, who crafted the Taiwanese Private Law in the colonial period of Taiwan, gave a statement which said that “all people in Taiwan have Chinese ethnicity, and do not belong to the primitive race. People have their own special cultures and characteristics.” There are some discriminatory terms in this statement, but we get the impression that Taiwan, in the colonial period under Imperial Japan before the war, consisted of Chinese (Han) people who had a specific culture and characteristics. There were some who had marital relations between such Chinese race and aborigines. But, such relations were very few. Moreover, they were not hostile against each other, but rather were not interested in the other and lived in “different worlds”. We can find this account in many historical documents. Before the war, we used the term “Go-yo (御用)” to preface words which related to the Office of the Government of Formosa, like “Go-yo newspapers”, “Go-yo merchants” or “Go-yo scholars”. However, according to recent studies, even newspapers which were known as “Go-yo newspapers” carried many articles which criticize government policies.  According to my research, professors of Taiwan Imperial University, who have been labelled “Go-yo scholars” were engaged in working for the government and practiced their “academic independence” despite the harsh environment, keeping their dignity and fulfilling their responsibilities.  Another example is the “Preservation of Historical and Scenic Spots and Natural Monuments” which was initiated by the Office of the Government -General in the 1930s.  There were many “new” historical spots possessed by Taiwan under Imperial Japan which implied their political intentions. On the other hand, there are also other spots which were designated variously while under the Netherlands, the time of Koxinga or the Qing dynasty. These spots which were designated before Imperial Japan are precious and valuable for Taiwan today and are linked to Taiwanese identity. The three cases mentioned above differ in time and the place. Yet, from them we can realize the importance of “academic independence”. In recent years, historical revisionism has become an issue. I, as a researcher of history, think it is my mission to convey historical facts to people without any bias. And, as a graduate of Waseda University, I will conduct my research with “academic independence” in mind.However, I do not think that “academic independence” only belongs to graduates of Waseda.  Rather, “academic independence” should be shared with researchers of all fields and from different countries and universities. That is why I decided to write this column.      SGRA Kawaraban 597 in Japanese (Original)  (Chiang Yung_Po / 2018 Raccoon, Research Assistant, Research Institute of Law in East Asia, Waseda University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale   
  • Borjigin Husel “The 11th Ulaanbaatar International Symposium ‘Kyakhta and Khuree:A View from Eurasia’ ”

    Since the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin, the Kuril Islands dispute has been reported on and in the global spotlight often. Actually, the year 2018 was “the Japan Year in Russia” and “the Russian Year in Japan” and, at the same time, the Hundred Year Anniversary of the Siberian Intervention. Commemorating those events, we decided the title of the 11th Ulaanbaatar Symposium to be “Kyakhta and Khuree:A View from Eurasia”.   Historically, Kyakhta was not just a trading center but a political and military center as well. Important international meetings were held there often, which affected the establishment of the order of North-East Asia. After the middle of the 19th Century, a lot of Jews and Tatars came to Khakhta, a place of refuge for them. On the other hand, Japanese have been interested in Siberia including Khakhta since the Meiji era and across the Korean Peninsula and the Qing Dynasty.  Between the latter part of the 19th Century and early years of the 20th Century, many Japanese politicians, diplomats and intelligence officers such as Takeaki Enomoto, Kiyotaka Kuroda, Yasumasa Fukushima, and merchants or karayukisan (Japanese working at brothels abroad) visited Khakhta. There were many Japanese shops and hospitals. It is said as a myth that the Japanese economic growth was established after the World War II, but that the foundation of this growth was already established in the 19th Century.I think it very meaningful to study the histories of Kyakhta and Khree (the former of Ulaanbaatar) from viewpoints of area-studies and international relations which include relations between not only Russia and the Qing Dynasty but relations with Japan.     In the evening of August 30, 2018, the day before the symposium, the Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia, Masato Takaoka, invited President Tomoko Kaneko (Showa Women’s University), Honorary Professor Hiroshi Futaki, and Lecturer Akira Kamimura (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), Professor Kunio Minato (Kochi University), and myself to dinner. We had a pleasant talk about politics, the exploitation of mines, the International ‘Memory’ Olympic (Mongol has been in the top the past few years) , grand Sumo tournaments, and the relations between Japan and Mongolia.   We had “The 11th Ulaanbaatar International Symposium ‘Kyakhta and Khuree: A View from Eurasia’ ” on August 31, 2018 at the conference hall in the 2nd Building of Mongol National University, and hosted by SGRA (Sekiguchi Global Research Association) of Atsumi International Foundation, the Institute of International Culture of Showa Women’s University, and Department of Asian Studies, Mongolian National University jointly. The Japanese Embassy in Mongolia, Showa Women’s University, Institute of International Affairs of Mongolian Academy of Science, the Mitsubishi Foundation and the Association for the History and Culture of the Mongols supported us. More than eighty scholars and students from Mongolia, Japan, Russia, China and Germany participated. At the opening ceremony Ambassador Masato Takaoka (Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia), President Tomoko Kaneko (Showa Women’s University), and  G.Chuluunbaatar, (First Vice President, Mongolian Academy of Sciences) gave their congratulatory speeches. After this, we had research reports. The official languages at the symposium were Mongol and Japanese. However, many presentations were made in Mongol and we provided interpreters for presentations in Japanese. The executive committee selected fifteen reports from 22 invited researchers and applicants to improve the quality of the symposium reports. Unfortunately, one of the young researchers from Poland could not get a visa and we had 14 presentations in the end. The purpose of the symposium was to look back at recent research first and study the history, politics, economy and cultures of Kyakhta and Khuree with a view from Eurasia based on recently discovered historical records. Through exploring and discussing these issues we aimed to develop a creative and fruitful discussion for the restoration of our pride and glory. At the reception party at night, we could enjoy “Morin khuur”(馬頭琴:stringed musical instrument of Mongolian origin), Urtyn duu (Long song), and dances. To conclude, I would like to sum up our results as follows: It is noteworthy that there were many reports which utilize maps of Kyakhta and outer Mongolia which scholars could not use much in the past.Progress has been made in research about international agreements which relate to Kyakhta.New theories about the present of Kyakhta and Khuree using fresh data or materials were presented. Please refer to “Research on Mongolia and North-East Asia” No.4 and “Bulletin of the Academy of Japan and Mongol” No. 49.  You can refer to the Mongolian newspaper “Soyombo”, “Red Star” and symposium that was broadcast by Mongol TV about this symposium.  SGRA News in Japanese (Original) on 12th April ,2019 Photos of the day  (Husel Borjigin / 2003 Raccoon, Professor, International Studies, Showa Women’s University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Kim Woonghee “Report on the 18th Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum : Japan-Korea Relations -Present Position and Improvement Plan”

    On March 23, 2019, we had the 18th Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum at the Institute of Future Manpower (未来人力研究院) in Seoul, Korea.  When we had the 4th Asia Future Conference in August 2018 in Seoul, we planned to re-start planning for this event after considering the past results and problems of the forum. However, Ms. Imanishi made an urgent request and we decided to hold the forum at this time. The background of her urgent request was the unusual development of political relations between Japan and Korea, which has recently broken away from the  established norms. For this forum,we invited five specialists each from both countries. They exchanged their frank opinions on why relations between the two countries has become worse, how they judge the present situation, and what we should do to overcome the present problems.      Following the opening address by SGRA Director Junko Imanishi, two specialists from Japan and Korea each gave their key-note speeches. Professor Tadashi Kimiya, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo spoke first under the title “How to ‘scientifically’ analyze and practice Japan-Korea relations” According to his explanation, towing to the opposition and preference of policies in both countries, the confrontation between them was left alone rather than amplified. In the past, the two countries would cover each other by emphasizing the commonality of their oppositions and preferences for their policies. He said that it would be possible to form minimal consent although it may be difficult to cooperate with each other to establish closer bonds. And, there are already good relations between the citizens of both countries which can make the situation between them controllable. He ended by emphasizing the need to restrain from actions which make it difficult to ease confrontations between the two countries.   Professor Li Wong Dok, Kookmin University (国民大学), presented on “The relations between Korea and Japan: The present situation and a perspective for improvement.” He started off by explaining the strange phenomena that Korean people are still actively coming and going despite facing the worst political situation with Japan. The Japanese dislike of Korea and anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea are getting worse gradually and he judged that we can see the reverse phenomena in relations between Japan and Korea, namely the relations between offender and victims. He said that the “issue of conscripted workers” is the leading cause in the recent deteriorating political atmosphere in the relations of both countries and presented three possible solutions. The first solution is leaving it as it is. The second is establishing a foundation. The third is judicial settlement (arbitration committee or the International Judicial Court).  He opined that the third scenario is the most possible way for resolution.       After the coffee break, we had a fruitful free discussion. 黄永植, Ex-Chief Editor, Hankook Ilbo(韓国日報), criticized that freedom of speech in Korea is shrinking and intellectuals are keeping silent. He emphasized that we should not overestimate the importance of the issue of conscripted workers. Ms. Akiko Horiyama, head of the Seoul Branch of the Mainichi Shimbun, urged that now is the time when the Korean Government should answer. Professor Kan Kimura, Kobe University, said that “a collapse of governance”, which we saw in the 1990s in Japan, is seen in Korean governmental policy to Japan and it’s recovery is important now. As for the issue of conscripted workers, it would be desirable to appeal to the International Court of Justice.Professor Park Yong-Jun, National Defense University, explained the necessity of the practical use of the “Japan axis” in the process of denuclearization and peace.Jun-ichi Toyoura, the head of the Seoul Branch of the Yomiuri Shinbun, pointed out that regarding the issue of conscripted workers which has been left alone for more than five months, if the Japanese Government would appeal to the International Court of Justice, it would mean a defeat by the Japanese Government against Korea. There is no other choice than establishing a foundation.Associate Professor, Nobuo Haruna, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, suggested the necessity of relativization of the relations between the two nations which does not stick to the present framework of “Korea is victim and Japan is wrongdoer”. Professor Kimiya commented that denuclearization by North Korea is more important than the “issue of conscripted workers”. Professor Nam Ki-Jong (南基正), Japan Institute, Seoul National University, emphasized the necessity of “Declaration of History” by both counties which acknowledges the role and process specifying the compensation by the Japanese Government. He also said that appealing to the ICJ is just “rhetoric” and both counties should try to solve the issue positively. Associate Professor Kim Sung-be, Chungnam National University, said that the odds are against Korea but we should proceed with the discussion.Lastly, Li Jing-gyu, the chairman of the board of directors, the Institute of Future Manpower commented about the timely selection of the theme and ended the forum with his closing address. After the closing address at around 17;30, we had a social gathering and the atmosphere of our office changed to a wine-bar.  As expected, our wine cellar became empty and we enjoyed “a frenzied night” again like the past Japan-Korea Asia Future Forums. Usually, when we say “we exchanged frank opinions” or “we had a heart-to-heart talk”, it means we could not reach a consensus. At this forum, however, as we could have an in-depth debate, we cannot say that we did not achieve this. At international meetings with experts from various fields, the shouldering of national standings or interests is often discussed. At this forum we saw that discussions were divided by individual ideals and not by just by nationalities. We had a feeling that there was a level-headed evaluation of the policies by Moon Jae-in, the President of Korea to “bury the past pro-Japan” or “collapse of governance against Japan”.  Needless to say, the good relationship between Japan and Korea is essential for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, establishing a peaceful system, and peace and prosperity in North-East Asia. In the relationship between the two countries, if only straightforward “principles” are discussed there will be no appeal. If they discuss based on “sentiment”, which is not straightforward, a good solution cannot be attained.  Recently, “principle” or “sentiment” are not so workable. If they try to manage only by “fear” which exists behind everything, the relationship between both countries would falter. It will be important to balance the three factors of “principle”, “sentiment” and “fear” from now on. Thank you to all the people who contributed to the success of our 18th Forum, Director Imanishi, Chairman Li and Ms. Ishii who kindly sent us the Japanese sake “Haru-shika” and other necessary goods for the party.     SGRA News in Japanese (original) on 2nd May, 2019 Photos of the day  (Kim Woonghee /1996 Raccoon, Professor of  Inha University (Korea))  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Sim Choon Kiat “An Active Singaporean Struggles for Active Learning in Japanese Universities”

    No one would object to me declaring that “I am very active”.In my childhood, I used to play the cornet as a member of the marching band / chamber concert band in primary school. In middle and high school, I switched to theatrical club and was an actor and concurrently scriptwriter cum director until I came to Japan to study. The reason why I switched was because of the warm climate in Singapore. It was just too tough to play an instrument in the marching band under the blazing sun.After coming to Japan to study, I returned to the theatrical field again while working as a government official. I appeared twice a year on the stage of the Singapore National Theater as a semiprofessional actor up until I went to graduate school in Japan. Due to this hidden career, once I appear on the stage or in front of people, I am still in the habit of straightening my posture and raising my voice in order to attract attention and treat leading actors and the guest of honor with due respect. When I talk about teaching in universities in Japan as my new “stage”, there was a world of difference from Singapore. Whatever you may say, the reaction from students in Japan is very subdued. Sometimes, everyone keeps silent, like putting on a “Noh” face.Since I have been studying in Japanese universities for more than ten years as an undergraduate, a Masters student and a PhD student, I can say I know well the “inactiveness” of Japanese students.There is scarcely any passionate discussion even in a class at the graduate school of the University of Tokyo, which is said to be the top educational institution in Japan. I am not sure whether these students are just trying to express Japanese “refinedness(奥ゆかしさ)”, or if they do not want what they say to be considered foolish, or if they are just not thinking anything.  Anyway, it is very, very quiet in the Japanese university classroom, so much so that the saying “silence is golden” feels sacred here. This situation is the reason why the Ministry of Education in Japan is now urging schools and universities to practice “active learning”. They strongly encourage schools to develop group discussion, debate and group-work in classes to solve problems actively. I, as an active teacher, do not let such students continue keeping on a “Noh” face, even if the Ministry of Education would not urge this. In other words, I, being so active on the stage, am too proud to leave such students alone. But, since such students have been getting a passive education sitting on hard chairs for a long time, it is not easy to get them to open their silent mouths. I asked them to write comments on reaction papers after class, which many university teachers also do. I forbid them from writing simple reactions which a lot of students in primary schools are apt to use, such as “I was surprised when I know XXX”, “I learned a lot from XXX”, “I am interested in XXX”, and “I enjoyed a lot from XXX “.  I told them I would subtract points for using such simple phrases, and asked them to write their doubts, questions or counterarguments.  I presented several good comments on Power-point as the basis for further discussion in the following class. I can say now that it proved to be effective because many students  tried after that to write meaningful comments that would be taken up in the next class.I also decided to pass students the microphone because I realized that students have a lot to say and thought I would let them discuss further. I did this because writing reaction papers is a form of “reactive learning”, not active learning. As a matter of course, when many students are given a microphone, they turn their faces away, or could not say anything, or opined irrelevantly.It was like an improvised play for me in that I could not try to lead any response or opinion and , had to create an environment in which any response or utterance would be acceptable.. This is why active learning is far more difficult than one-way teaching in which teachers just keep speaking. What I like to emphasize here is that it is not OK to just keep discussing nor for students to just speak any opinion. If fruitful discussions, which are based on academic theories or knowledge, cannot be developed, then it is just a brainstorming session in which they just exchange their opinions.Then, what should we do?  It is not easy to explain fully in this paper.  I will just say that I want to make use of my experience on the stage on this new stage that is the university classroom.  I have had many questions in my mind over the past several years: even if there is fruitful discussion, is it alright that only teachers provide topics or subject of discussion?  Is it necessary for teachers to prepare their teaching materials by themselves? We are now in a time when students can find out any information they want if they check Google.  So, in several of my classes, I, as a teacher, decided to ask students to decide on a concrete theme by themselves although I suggest a rough idea in the syllabus.For example, in an “Introduction to Social Problems” course, I asked students to decide the subjects and questions by themselves. In a lecture of “Theories of Modern Society”, they decided by themselves how to present their opinions or which country and subject to take up. When students present their opinions, I asked them to stop reading in the same monotone manner that Japanese politicians or public officials use when they are afraid of reading mistakenly. If they do so, points would be subtracted. Do not think that it got easier for me by leaving students to be independent or to direct themselves. On the contrary, it became more important for me to prepare myself further to face a situation in which students may choose any subject. As such, I became an “ultra-active” teacher. I have never specified textbooks and have decided to stop distributing lecture materials when I have classes in a computer room. In other words, I have stopped lecturing itself. The reason for this is that I have determined that it is alright once students gather reliable information from searching on the internet and make the most suitable textbook by themselves after I instruct them on the main subject. I allowed students to do this alone or put their thoughts together with group members. Walking around the class, I sometimes spoke highly of a student who put her ideas together using her own words and good materials. Or, I gave questions to the students who just “copy and pasted” wrong or false information. Needless to say, you may be able to imagine that such teachers become busier in class. I cannot write much about my “battle” because of the space limitations of this essay.Fortunately, the classroom environment mentioned above is being evaluated highly and students themselves are also gradually changing.  I do not think that the “inactiveness” of Japanese students comes from the national character of Japan. Rather, it is because students have become too accustomed to the Japanese educational system. It is quite natural that students are more interested in education achieved through cooperation or interactive and two-way education. School lessons are established by teachers and students together. The Japanese campus of Temple University, an American college based in Pennsylvania USA, will move to the campus where I am working now in September this year. It is the first time in Japan that a Japanese and American colleges will share a campus. There will not only be an increase in the number of foreign students but also the presence of male students in classes.I am already excited thinking about how my “battle” will be become more challenging! SGRA Kawaraban 592 in Japanese (Original) (Sim ChoonKiat / Associate Professor, Showa Women’s University )  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Khin Maung Htwe ”From Physicist to Hotel Proprietor”

    Everybody has a dream. Some people can make their dreams come true and some have to walk away from their dreams. A lot of children dream of becoming doctors, engineers, artists, businessmen, and so on, devoting themselves to improve their skills to become famous in the world in their own fields.In my childhood, I dreamt of becoming an airplane pilot. However, now I am the proprietor of “Hotel AKIMOMI” which I established in Pyin Oo Lwin in Myanmar,  a highland sightseeing resort similar to Karuizawa in Japan. I studied abroad in Japan in October, 1988. I grew up in a family of optometrists, but had no interest in medical science and wanted to become a pilot. However, my parents opposed this. As a result, I majored in physical science at Mandalay Technological University and, after graduation, studied abroad in Japan. I visited many places in Japan as a tourist and for conferences, and boarded together with seminar students.  In Japan, I could experience and enjoy various sceneries and cultures and also enjoyed various Japanese food cultures. When I travelled across Myanmar in my childhood during in the 1970s, there were no hotels nor ‘min-shuku’ (private guesthouse) and I had to stay at the houses or cottages of our relatives. I could stay at national guesthouses sometimes because my father had some connections. At that time, hotels in Myanmar were almost only occupied by foreign tourists. When I visited Kalaw, a highland tourist spot, I stayed at the Kalaw Hotel which was built in the British era. It was my first opportunity to stay at a hotel. Kalaw is a town where many summer resort houses were built during the English colonial era and is known as “pine hill”. There are a lot of foreign visitors, especially from Europe and America, and even now it is very famous for trekking on Trip Advisor.Everything about the experience became an unforgettable memory, much like the first encounter with a lover, the feeling of staying at a hotel for the first time, the preparation of the rooms, the taste of breakfast, the comfortable air and atmosphere of the English colonial style. I visited Kalaw many times after that and thought about staying at this hotel. However, even so I never imagined that I would run my own hotel. In 1997, I obtained a doctor’s degree from the Faculty of Engineering at Waseda University. I returned to Myanmar after serving as an assistant for the School of Applied Physics. There were no positions for “physicists” in Myanmar and I devoted myself to working towards the development of Myanmar through using my experiences in Japan as a proprietor. As I was a researcher while studying abroad, after returning to Myanmar I tried my hand at being “a shrimper with a PhD in engineering”, “a scientific farmer” and “a hotel proprietor who thinks about different cultures and environmental conservation.” It is the image of old Japan, rather than new Japan, that remains in my mind. For example, I am interested most in buildings which make full use of traditional Japanese wood craftsmanship. When I was building “Hotel AKIMOMI”, I asked a Japanese architect in his 70s who had profound knowledge of traditional Japanese wooden houses to help me realize my dream image of Japan. It took about two years to complete. I could reproduce the image of Japan through a restaurant for Japanese food, a large public bath and food stands made using materials available in Myanmar. I aimed to achieve the best service and the best engineering which I had experienced in Japan in Myanmar.As a result of this, many hotel guests appraised my hotel as “a little Japanese village”.With regard to international appraisal of hotels, we received 4~4.5 out of 5 on “Trip-advisor”. On “Booking.com”, we got 8.3~8.7 out of 10 and 8.0 out of 10 on “Agoda”.In January, 2018, we received the “ASEAN Green Hotel Standard Award”. For this Award, five hotels out of all the hotels in Myanmar were selected, and “Hotel AKIMOMI” was ranked the top. The confidence to try new things, persevering until one succeeds, caring about the responses of guests, and looking into issues pertaining to work. Shifting from “physicist to hotel proprietor” is my proudest achievement in life.     SGRA Kawaraban 590 in Japanese (Original) (Khim Maung Htwe /Proprietor of Hotel AKIMOMI)   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Song Han “My Thoughts on “GENGOH” “

    The hot topic right now (as of March, 2019) is the title of the new imperial era (“GENGOH” 元号). With the change in the name of the imperial era, there will be a huge impact on Japanese society. I, as a specialist of Chinese literature, am interested in the news which reports that Japanese classical literature is being studied as a source for the name.  In the past, it was a usual practice to select the name from Chinese classical literature. According to sources, however, “Kojiki (古事記)” and “Nihon Shoki(日本書紀)” (both about the birth of Japan) have been taken up vigorously for discussion this time.Some people say that this is nonsense because both “Kojiki” and “Nihon Shoki” are based on Chinese classics. As such, people may say that no matter what the name of the new era will come from Chinese classics. Others say that such arguments are nonsense and that it is important to take the name from Japanese classics. It seems that the point in this dispute is the uniqueness of Japanese culture. I, as a foreigner, am not in a position to join this controversy. However, I would like to share my thoughts because the culture of the imperial era system came from China. The era name is a numbering system (calendar era) which takes one year as a unit, just like AD (Anno Domini) or the Christian Era, which we are using commonly now.  According to research by Zhao Yi (趙翼), a historian of the Qing Dynasty (19th century), “建元”, which was enacted by Emperor Wu of Han (漢の武帝) in BC 140 and which was the first era named in East Asia. Emperor Wu of Han was one of the most prominent absolute monarchs in Chinese history, and it is said that the resolute ruling system established in the Han dynasty unified the kingdom. You may think I am digressing from the topic of the name of the imperial era in Japan, but this actually has a lot to do with it.  In the year BC45, Julius Caesar established the Julius calendar. This naming meant that the ancient nation dominated not only land (space) but also time. It was essential for farmers to follow the calendar for farming. In ancient times, a nation itself could calculate and declare the calendar every year. As such, the era name was a symbolic system to dominate time in a country. It is easy to understand the importance of the calendar in the Three Kingdoms Period (Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), Wu (呉) )in ancient Chinese society (3rd century).   ― details of the history of the Three Kingdoms are omitted ―The oldest era name in Japan is “Taika”, established during the rule of Emperor Koutoku.  It is well-known because of the Taika Reform (大化の改新) (AD 645).  Because top-level people at the time understood well the meaning of naming an era, through this Japan expressed itself to the world as an independent nation for the first time. After Taika, era names have continued though there have been discontinuations for short periods. When I think of the new era name against this background and history, I am deeply interested in what it will be. In ancient Japan, it was as an expression of being an independent nation that the era name was adopted from Chinese classics. However, it is now considered as undignified by some intellectuals to have an era name taken from Chinese classics. Individuality, which has been considered as unchanging despite the passing of time, may change in meaning depending on the values of the time. The era name is not limited to Japan and we can say the same of the cultures of other nations. There is no human that does not desire themselves, their communities, their society, or their country to be essentially unique and original. Anybody can try to argue against this, but people (including myself) may unintentionally show their nationalistic attitude in doing so. When we analyze the individuality of cultures, we may be able to say that Iraq, Syria and Egypt - countries which were the cradle of culture - are particularly original . Or, perhaps it is Africa, as the birthplace of all human beings, that has originality. I will stop this dreary discussion here. But, being given this opportunity, I would like to add one more dreary saying by Ryunosuke Akutagawa: “Culture is a match-box. It is ridiculous to handle a match-box seriously. But, if you handle it carelessly, it will be dangerous.”  SGRA Kawaraban 591 in Japanese (Original)  (Song Han / Associate Professor (Japanese Literature), Ferris University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • KABA Melek “The New Turkish Word for “Syrian People”

     My home country is Turkey.  It is very rare in our daily conversation to say things like “It is a very beautiful day, today!” Instead of such conversation, the three big issues of  politics, economy and religion are our most popular topics which are talked about and discussed tirelessly. Recently, the word “Suriyelilier (Syrian people)” started appearing in our conversation.This new word “Suriyelilier” is not a simple nor innocent word which just means “Syrian refugees” or “Syrian” as a race or home country.  We hear about this word very often and on many occasions - when we walk in the streets, when we take the bus, when we attend class and so on. I would like to carefully consider this word. Refugees from Syria began to come to Turkey on March 15, 2011. According to the Turkish Immigration Bureau, 3.57 million Syrians are living in Turkey as of February 2019.  Syrian refugees are also living in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and European countries. In the case of Turkey, they can easily cross the border by walking across as both countries are close geographically.      Is it possible, however, to talk about actual daily life through figures? It is not easy for the refugees of war to blend in with Turkish society which differs in culture and language despite our religious affinity. We have learned that Turkey is a country in which different races can live together since the era of the Ottoman Empire. I have doubts, however, as to whether we are really tolerant of people from other countries. The Turkish government is trying to support Syrian refugees in various aspects. Special schools are prepared for children and the young, of whom there are many. The government has also prepared special classes for school teachers who teach the children of Syrian refugees. For adults, they have established Turkish language classes and support for finding jobs.  However, despite this I feel uneasy because of the suspicious looks I’ve noticed ordinary Turkish people give Syrian people in their daily lives. A university student said “Syrian people can enter universities in Turkey without exams. It’s unfair’ We have been studying for entrance exams.”  According to my investigation, Syrian refugees can enter universities through the same procedures as other overseas students as long as they get equal marks in Turkish language tests.  There are some universities which accept Syrian refugees without exams, but this is a small number. One day, a middle-aged neighboring lady, who is a pensioner, complained to me: “Syrian people seem to be paid a higher salary every month than us. I don’t like it.” I investigated again and found that Syrian refugees, who cannot find any jobs, are paid salaries for which they can afford to go to ordinary restaurants five times a month. I found the headline of a big newspaper claiming “1300 Turkish Rilla Salary for Syrian refugees”. According to the story, 1300 Rilla is the minimum wage for the Syrian refugees who can get jobs. There is a slightly different meaning in the headlines and in the story.     It is very trying for me to talk about women and the children of Syrian refugees. There are many cases of violence against women. Cases of second wives who are Syrian widows. Cases of prostitution. Some children do not go to school because of their work. On the other hand, when I went to the waterworks bureau to handle some paperwork for my move, I saw a middle-aged lady in the traditional national costume of Cappadocia. She was helping arrange the water procedures for a refugee who came to Turkey who could not understand the Turkish language. Her neighbors had prepared a room complete with furniture for the refugees to live in. That was very heartwarming.  We can easily see that Syrian refugees who were well-to-do in Syria are rich in Turkey too. But, problems about poverty cannot be solved so easily. Recently we can find many academic papers on refugees from Syria as a new theme.A paper examined the words for Syrian refugees which have been used in the media.The words which were used most were: ‘slave trade’, ‘illegal’, ‘cases of infectious diseases’, ‘betrayers of countries’, ‘beggars’, ‘families which have many children’. When I see such discourses in the media, I recall words such as ‘discrimination’ and ‘prejudice’ which non-European refugees or workers have experienced in European countries. For example, Turkey sent a lot of migrant workers to Germany in the 1950s, and Korean workers have also moved Germany.As time passed by Turkish people created new words to describe ‘Syrian people’ while labeling them as ‘the others’. From the viewpoint of Turkish people, “we can ill-treat them and feel a sense of superiority over ‘the others’”.  The word “Suriyelilier” means ‘the others’ for Turkish people, and represents what Indian people were for the English, or African people for the French.  We are ”good”, because it is the “Suriyelilier” before us who are “bad.”       Somehow, I cannot get used to this new word “Suriyelilier”. Somehow, I am concerned with the meaning of the word. We are neighboring countries and have similar cultures.We are all Muslim. I am sure that the teachings of Islam which loves all things is being forgotten in the Middle East now. SGRA Kawaraban 589 in Japanese (original)  (KABA Melek / Associate Professor, Oriental Culture, Nevsehir Hace Bektas Veli University (Turkey) )  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • John Chuan Tiong Lim ”One Country, Two Systems”- Four Primary Factors For Non-Support by Taiwanese society –

     On January 2, 2019, Xi Jinping made his significant announcement about the “five principles” directed at the unification of Taiwan and China. It was a guideline for Taiwan by Beijing authorities in the “new era” of Xi Jinping.  In the wake of this announcement, Taiwanese media became a daily frenzy of debates and the issue was analyzed and commented on from various perspectives. The Taiwan issue, an old yet new issue, was heating up. However, what many people in Taiwan could not understand was why Beijing authorities adhered to “one country, two systems”, as the only system for the unification of cross-strait relations despite it never have been accepted in Taiwanese society for over forty years. ・Negative reactions in Taiwan against “one country, two systems”  The two major political parties (ruling and opposition) in Taiwan, expressed their different reactions against the unification outlined in Xi’s five principles(習五条). In the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Tsai Ing-wen herself stated that Taiwan absolutely would not accept the “one country, two systems” ideology, and said “we adhere to an opposition to “one country, two systems” as a will of the Taiwanese people, an absolute majority. This is the “Taiwanese Consensus.”” Her comments were not unexpected. What Beijing authorities focused their attention on was the attitude of the Nationalist Party headed by Wu Den-yih. On the day after the announcement of “Xi’s five principles”, they reacted by releasing a statement consisting of six clauses from the cultural diffusion committee in the Central Committee of the Party. According to their statement, they emphasized strongly that they support the “consensus of the year 1992 (92年コンセンサス)”. This means that both China and Taiwan recognize “one China,” but different interpretations of the expression “one China” are permitted. Mr. Wu, however, avoided direct reference to Xi’s definition of the “new content” of the “1992 consensus,” saying that “both sides endeavor toward the unification of China”. However, he indirectly rejected Xi’s proposal by saying that “at this stage, it would be difficult to get full support for “one country, two systems” from the majority of Taiwanese. Following this, public opinion surveys about “Xi’s Five Articles” and “peaceful unification, one country, two systems” were announced one after another. One survey, which was conducted and released by the Committee of Cross-Strait Policy think tank on January 9, showed 80.9% of Taiwanese were against “one country, two systems”. Only 13.7% were for the system. Shortly after, the Mainland Affairs Council held a press conference on January 17 to release the results of a public opinion survey. According to the Council, 75.4% of Taiwanese were against “one country, two systems” and only 10.2% were for the system. Moreover, 74.3% do not accept the content of the “1992 Consensus”, namely that “cross-strait areas belong to “One China” and both sides make efforts for unification”. Only 10% of citizens in Taiwan accepted the contents of the “1992 Consensus”. ・The impact of democratization and localization in Taiwan Since the 1990s, the Mainland Affairs Council as well as media outlets have conducted numerous opinion surveys of how Taiwanese people feel about “one country, two systems”. The number of respondents choosing “agree” has never exceeded 30%. We can examine the following four factors for “non-support” in Taiwan to “one country, two systems” from the results gathered over these forty years. Since the 1990s when Taiwanese society went through “localization (本土化)”, the majority of the public opinion has never supported unification. Before the 1990s, the Taiwanese Nationalist Party, as a surviving government of the Republic of China in 1949, set the “unification of China” as a national policy. This was followed by the “counter-attack (大陸反抗)” by Chiang Kai-shek and “Three Principles of the People(三民主義)” by Chiang Ching-kuo.  Up until the early period of Lee Teng-hui in the 1990s, there was a “National Unification Council” which set a “National Unification Party Platform”. However, after 1994, the recognition of Taiwanese people as “Chinese” underwent a change owing to the flourishing of the localization movement in Taiwan and promotion of constitutional reform. Under such political and social change, the ideology of cross-strait unification lost its mass appeal in Taiwan. Even when the Taiwanese Nationalist Party headed by Ma Ying-jeon returned to political power in 2008, neither the “National Unification Council” nor the “National Unification Party Platform” were revived, and the government adopted a policy to “not unify” in cross-strait policy. Taiwanese society understands that “one country, two systems” would lead inevitably to the disappearance of the “Republic of China”. This is not accepted by the Taiwanese Nationalist Party. There is still a clause in the charter of the Party which states that “there is no change in the consistent pursuit of our goal, prosperity and unification of our country”. This is consistent with the idea of the unification of the nation printed in the “National Unification Party Platform”. As it refers to national identity in terms of the national polity of the “Republic of China” as a country and for the pursuit of unification of China under the flag of the “Republic of China,” unification does not mean relinquishing the ideal of the “Republic of China”.The framework for unification outlined by the Beijing authority for “one country, two systems” is a logic of unification based on the disappearance of the Republic of China. It is hardly acceptable by “real” supporters of the Taiwan Nationalist Party.Accordingly, as far as the framework for “one country, two systems” does not include the possibility of returning to a “Republic of China”, the Nationalist Party would never change their attitude. It goes without saying that people in Taiwan who support the Nationalist Party, having been strongly affected by localization in Taiwan, would also never change their minds . ・Key Point:The Taiwan version of “One Country, Two Systems” and cross-strait positionality  Relations between the mainland and Taiwan in the framework of “one country, two systems” outlined by Xi Jinping are understood by many as a relation of “central government and local government”. After the political democratization of the 1990s, this proposition is hardly acceptable by Taiwanese society. The “one country, two systems” proposal for Taiwan submitted by Xi Jinping was an unfinished manuscript and not clear about relations between the mainland and Taiwan. 王英津, a mainland scholar, is seeking to understand the relation between the straits as a special and conditional relation of “central government and semi-government”. Such theories are based on the principle of “securing general sovereignty by the central government” which was proposed by a scholar in the Institute of Taiwanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science. In other words, it would be very hard for major political parties and society in Taiwan to accept the idea of unification under “one country, two systems” if they are unable to show the possibility of a “central government and local government” relationship. Twenty years have already passed since “one country, two systems” took effect in Hong Kong. However, this case does not provide any successful examples for Taiwan. As you may know, “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong and Macao was a plan toward unification with Taiwan. The Beijing government understands “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong as a success, as Xi Jinping has commented at the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong in 2017 as well as in the announcement of the five principles earlier this year. There is a gap, however, between such official governmental opinion and the actual feelings of people in Taiwan and Hong Kong. One can guess that even in Hong Kong people are losing their trust in “one country, two systems”.According to a survey by the Public Opinion Survey Project in Hong Kong University, in the year 1997, when Hong Kong was returned to China, 63.9% of Hong Kong citizens “trusted” “one country, two systems”. Only 18.5% did not trust the policy.However, according to a recent survey, 21 years after the enforcement of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, only 45.5% of Hong Kong citizens responded that they “trust” the system. This figure of 45.5% is lower than the 46.9% who expressed “distrust.”  Moreover, the popular elections were unable to bring about a “soft landing,” and the “Occupy Central / Umbrella Revolution” which broke out in 2014 in Hong Kong made people in Taiwan distrust “one country, two system”. Nobody knows how “one country, two systems” in Taiwan will be presented in the future. As to factors which affect Taiwanese society negatively, as mentioned above, if the Beijing side is unable to change their stance and enact a bill which would be acceptable various groups in Taiwanese society including the Nationalist Party. If Beijing just one-sidedly wants the Taiwanese side to change their minds towards “one country, two systems” and the unification of both sides of the strait, it will remain wishful thinking.  SGRA Kawaraban 585 in Japanese (original)  (John Chuan-Tiong Lim / Researcher in Japan Research Institute in Taiwan, Chief of Japan Research Center, Wuhan University )    Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Chang Kuei-E “The 3rd East Asia Consortium of Japanese Studies” Report on “Building a Research Network for Japanese Studies”

     The 3rd East Asia Consortium of Japanese Studies was held on October 27, 2018 in Kyoto.  As one of the panels in the conference, we had a panel discussion titled “Building a research network for Japanese studies: An Attempt by SGRA (Sekiguchi Global Research Association /Atsumi International Foundation).” This panel consisted of four presenters, two discussants and a chairperson.   We had an extensive discussion about how SGRA has attempted to build a network for Asian researchers of Japanese studies with the audience which consisted of people from all over the world. . Through looking back at the activities of SGRA since the year 2000 when we first started to establish a network of researchers of Japanese studies, this panel aimed to search for new approaches to pursue. We focused on activities run by SGRA such as the “Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum” (2001~), “Japan-Philippines Shared Growth Seminar “(2004~), “SGRA China Forum”(2006~), and “Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum”(2011~).  Through various opinions in such forums or seminars, we could share different views or viewpoints for establishing an “intellectual shared space (知の共同空間)” which can be shared and could also share problems and solutions as well as a vision for the future. During the Q and A session, we had a lively discussion together with the panel participants. I realized anew the keen interests of researchers and personally benefitted greatly from the session.  To start the panel, Prof. Liu Jie (Faculty of Social Sciences, Waseda University), the chair person, explained first the background and aims of this session and introduced the members. After the four presentations, the two discussants commented and we made time for their discussion.Prof. Liu raised questions such as “how can ‘Japanese studies’ be shared in Asia or in the world?” “how can we build a scheme of Japanese studies in East Asia?”. These opinions had also been raised at the 49th SGRA Forum in 2015 titled “Searching for the new paradigm of Japanese studies”. Prof. Liu himself foresaw and proposed building a network of Asian studies in order to encourage “Japanese studies” as “shared wisdom” in Asia, which can then be shared as an urgent issue. At the same time, he is an adviser for the Raccoon network and gives us comments on our course of actions. He, as a speaker, facilitated the session cheerfully and in an organized manner.     I summarize hereunder the points by the four presenters and the comments by the discussants. The first presenter was Prof. Kim Woong-Hee (Inha University/ Korea). He has been involved with establishing the “Japan Korea Asia Future Forum (JKAFF)” since 2001 and explained the activities of the JKAFF such as the formalities, contents and the extras throughout the past seventeen years. According to his explanation, JKAFF was established as a joint project by the (Korean) Center for Future Human Resource Study (未来人力研究院) / The 21st Century Japan Studies Group and SGRA / Atsumi International Foundation. At present, JKAFF offers opportunities for researchers of Japanese studies and specialists who are involved in actual fields to exchange their opinions about the future of Asia. He dynamically visualized this by using a graph of social statistics which he termed a “network of wisdom” built by Raccoons in Korea and the audiences of JKAFF.  The scientific and empirical basis for the data on the screen gave a strong impact on the audience, including the presenters. Prof. Kim was proud to discuss the successes that JKAFF had managed to achieve despite the unstable relationship between Japan and Korea.  At the same time, he had some misgivings about the present situation regarding how the theme of JKAFF is chosen as well as fostering young researchers to lead the next generation. These points need to be further considered. He stated that he would like to build a dynamic and practical “network for wisdom” which can correspond to cooperation between researchers in East Asia multi-laterally taking into consideration pluralistic and dynamic promotion systems. Korean Raccoon members, who are a treasure trove of Japanese studies experts, are working towards JKAFF. I strongly felt that Prof. Kim has a vivid image of the future of JKAFF in their diversity of themes, plural identities of operation, stable way of raising funds for operation, keeping budget for simultaneous interpreters and de-centralization of the network etc. The second presenter was Ferdinand C. Maquito, Associate Professor, University of the Philippines, Los Banos. He talked about the history, present and themes of the “Japan-Philippine Shared Growth Seminar” which was established in 2004 and fully supported by SGRA. Originally, the seminar was based on just the theme “shared growth,” in which economic growth and distribution proceeded simultaneously. After the year 2010, in cooperation with Prof. Gao Weijun (the University of Kitakyushu), an academic (including environmental issues) joint platform by Japan and the Philippines took shape. Afterwards, such environmental issues were taken up by researchers who had experience visiting Japan. In the past few years, these seminars have developed into “Durable Progressing Seminar by Japan and the Philippines” which aims at three goals: 1)environmental (durable) conservation,  2) fairness (jointly owned), and 3) efficiency (growth).  As the first letters of those three goals in the old Philippines language were “KA, KA, KA”, this seminar was nicknamed the “three “KA” seminar”.    After Prof. Maquito returned to the Philippines in 2017, he has promoted activities such as the “Shared Growth Seminar by Japan and the Philippines” in the Philippines in English. He appreciated having the opportunity to present about his activities in Japan in Japanese at the conference.  He gave his explanation, though hesitant and a little tense, simply and straightforwardly in his clear Japanese.  I thought it very successful.    Prof. Maquito was appointed as one of the people in charge at the 5th Asian Future Conference which will be held in January, 2020. He expressed his resolution for the comprehensive survey of the SGRA Philippines, holding onto the theme “Lasting shared growth:spiritual hometown for everybody and happiness for everybody”. He summed up his words by vigorously stating that he would like to do his best to contribute to the topic of “lasting shared growth” which is not only relevant to the Philippines but also the rest of the world.   The third presenter was Prof. Sun Jianjun (Associate Professor, School of Foreign Languages, Peking University).  As he has been managing the SGRA China Forum since 2006, he presented on the history, present, and problems of the Forum from the viewpoint of “searching for possibilities of reconstruction of the cultural history of the East Asia from cross-jurisdictional view point”. In the early period  (2006-2013), his activities were based at the universities in which Raccoons were based in China, which were a little less than twenty in number and based in Peking, Shanghai, Hohhot, Urumqi, Yan’an). He held meetings for the young (mainly university students) and introduced the transaction of public interest in Japan such as environmental issues and cultivation of human resources. The main purpose in these meetings was the sharing of intellectual information, cultivation of international viewpoints and harmonious personality.  The last presenter was Assistant Prof. Chang Kuei-e (Department of Japanese Language and Literature, Soochow University (Taiwan)). She introduced activities by Taiwan Raccoon members, looking back at the course of history (details, the present and topics) of JTAFF (Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum) which was established around 2010.She explained also that JTFFA developed a unique and flexible form of intellectual and cultural exchange that suits their needs.  JTFFA forums have looked at issues such as language, culture, literature, education, history, society and regional exchange. Through such discussions, JTFFA aims at the development of scientific exchange between Japan and Taiwan and to deepen Japanese studies in Taiwan through fostering young researchers. At the same time, they aim to envision a future for Asia where the young can hold dreams and hopes. JTFFA was established just after the Tohoku earthquake in 2011 and was supported also by the friendly atmosphere of Japan and Taiwan. They are also financially well off because they are supported not only by universities and the public sector in Taiwan but also by Japanese companies in Taiwan.  The seven Taiwan Raccoons who are responsible for the JTFFA, specialize in different fields and based on their pluralistic and scholarly fields had to work creatively together. On a long-term basis, if we cannot establish any concrete targets which can be approached easily, in other words, if we cannot establish a sustainable vision of an “intellectual common space(知の共同空間)“, we are forced to fall into a sense of impending crisis which dries up our inspiration and ideas our activities.  What we strongly expect from each Taiwan Raccoon is positive participation in an international scientific exchange. They have to develop our forum from a long-term perspective and tackle difficult themes from an integral viewpoint. They have to have interest in historical, political and social issues between Japan and Taiwan and also have to have a high-level of knowledge and the ability to look into such issues deeply.   Following the four presentations, we received feedback from specialists in the field.As the first discussant, Prof. Shigemi Inaga (International Research Center for Japanese Studies and the Graduate University for Advanced Study), commented as follows:He referred to the International Research Center for Japanese Studies which he belongs to, and how their impact on international exchange is far from that of SGRA, which,  though a non-governmental body, manages to remain largely “international.”  He stated that the International Research Center could learn from the strategies used by SGRA.Given the anxiety that scholars have about linguistic problems in submitting papers for international conferences, he showed his agreement in how SGRA adopted the forums in China, Korea and Taiwan. These forums are supported by simultaneous interpretation (the three “KA” seminars were an exception because English is an official language in the Philippines). Finally, he ended his comments by saying that:・It is urgent to consider what Japanese Studies is and what value it should have.・How to build platforms of results, knowledge and interpretation of Japanese studies in East Asian countries (non-Japanese speaking counties) which were discussed throughout the four presentations in this Forum?・How to situate the field of “Japanese Studies”? The next discussant was President ,  Prof. Shyu Shing Ching(Chinese Culture University Foreign Language, Japanese Literature)who summed up the four presentations mentioned above and gave us his impressions and comments as follows:・In the “three KA” Seminars, in the Philippines, they successively took up environmental or natural issues, or fair redistribution of economic profit withstanding against the power of the time.・In the Chinese Forum, they experimented with innovative ideas which focused on rebuilding cultural exchange in the arts and cultures of Japan and China.Both countries have had strong connections in their cultural history.・In the JKAFF, they could realize a sense of solidarity by having the forum mutually between Japan and Korea.・At the first JTAFF, President, Prof. Shyu himself, as a promotor, made use of his own individual style. He could show the potential power of Taiwan as a pluralistic cultural society which has the ability to respond flexibly to social issues.He gave comments encouraging us and pointed out that Raccoons in their own countrieshave succeeded in developing their own activities catered to their own situations and needs.  Prof. Liu Jie, as the chairperson, gave brief comments for each presentation and receivedmany questions from the audience. We exchanged opinions on a wide range of issues. Questions started with enquiries aboutthe activities of the Atsumi International Foundation, Other questions include questionsabout how to apply for funds for projects which would be held in countries other than the four countries presented about and know-how about setting up a common place for Raccoon members to exchange their opinion’. In response to those questions, our Director Ms. Imanishi as well as other Raccoons in the hall explained or advised.From the buzzing atmosphere in the conference room alone, we could experience theimportance of conferences such as this about Japanese studies which can establish intellectual exchange by encouraging academic and cross-cultural dialogue.  All the Raccoon members who have returned to their home countries - Korea, thePhilippines, China and Taiwan - after graduation are so-called “Japan experts”.They have accumulated their know-how for intellectual exchange through theiractivities in their own organizations. I am convinced that such know-how can be broughtinto an international exchange of intellectual information and give birth to new energy.  I hope that this energy can be taken in by international facilitators and extended to international networks and create a renewable cycle of intellectual exchange. I participated in this conference as a panelist and a presenter and gained many newfruitful experiences and precious memories.  Through exchanging opinions with otherRaccoon members and understanding their situations and efforts in their own countries,I hope to develop an innovative approach and convey my understanding of developingour networks of researchers of Japanese studies to my friends in Taiwan.At this conference, I came to realize the meaning and necessity of forming consensusthrough conversation.   Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to participate, and thank you to all the discussants, presenters and to the chair person. Photos of the Day Resume of Prof. Kim Woong-HeeResume of Prof. Ferdinand C. MaquitoResume of Prof. Sun JianjunResume of Chang Kuei-e Refer to SGRA News (2019, January 24 ) in Japanese (Chang_Kuei-E/Associate Professor, Department of Japanese Language and Literature, Soochow University(Taiwan)) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
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