SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Sim Woohyang ” SGRA Forum #61 Report : Globalization of higher education in Japan”

    We had the 61st SGRA Forum titled “Globalization of higher education in Japan!?” was held on October 13, 2018. In Japan today, the cultivation of human resources is promoted aggressively under the keywords “studying abroad” and “English education”. We started off by discussing the present situation of the globalization of human resources which was based on “studying abroad” and “English education”.  We had a constructive discussion about the future, and this was a topic that people from different fields such as the university, government and private sector were all interested in. The venue was crowded with university teachers, Japanese university students, foreign students and people from companies.The number of participants exceeded seventy people. Professor Zhang Jian, Tokyo Denki University opened the event, which was followed by the opening remarks from Ms. Junko Imanishi, Executive Director of the Atsumi International Foundation. Firstly, Sim Woohyang, a research associate at Waseda University, raised issues based on the globalization of universities through sending and receiving students and the cultivation of global human resources. She pointed out that despite vigorous encouragement and financial support from the government, the period of studying abroad is limited and too short. She raised a question about the effectiveness of such short periods of studying abroad in the cultivation of global human resources and the effective and practical use of international exchange in campus life. Her question was based on the results of a survey conducted with students at Waseda University.  Next, Professor Aya Yoshida, Waseda University, gave a presentation about “Globalization in the field of Japanese higher education and its present situation and future directions”. She explained precisely about changes in the cultivation of global human resources from companies to societies, from societies to the nation, and then to universities. She discussed how, with such changes, the image of global human resources has also changed.  After this, she explained how long term studying abroad is becoming very sluggish and short term studying abroad (or overseas training), on the contrary, is increasing. What she liked to point out is that the present employment system of Japanese companies is inconsistent with the present Japanese aim of “co-existence with foreign people” and “globalization of Japanese companies”.     In neighboring country Korea, on the other hand, studying abroad is very active.We invited Professor Sin Jung-Cheol, Seoul National University, and requested him to speak about “the present situation of Korean university students and an analysis of its causes,” which was the title of his presentation. He pointed out that the number of Korean university students studying abroad has been increasing since the nineties and this rate has remained unchanged. He explained the reasons for the increasing number of Korean students who went abroad but also pointed out that the purposes of studying abroad from Korea are diversifying every year.Korea is enjoying an excessive boom in studying abroad while Japan, on the contrary, is worried about the decrease in studying abroad. He ended his lecture by proposing how the cultivation of global human resources, which does not always rely only on studying abroad, but rather is based on present social and economic situation, ought to be. After these presentations and the questions that followed them, we had a panel discussion facilitated by Professor Sim Choon Kiat, Associate Professor of Showa Women’s University. Anecdotal reports from several Japanese universities were presented, followed by a discussion with participants. First, Professor Izumi Sekizawa, Associate Professor of Higashi Nippon International University, gave a presentation about a program for studying abroad at a small-scale local university. Professor. Sekizawa introduced a case in which the short term program led to actual studying abroad but raised a problem for the purpose of promoting studying abroad in that for students at a local university, high costs make it difficult for students to participate.     Next, Murat Cakir, Assistant Professor Kansai Gaidai University, introduced the curriculum at Kansai Gaidai University for developing global human resources and reported on its practice and outcome. He also discussed another program which, utilizing interactions between foreign students in an English language class, brought up global human resources without students having to go abroad.  He brought up the need to look into providing better career guidance for students, an issue that came up in a survey of university students. Lastly, Dr. Kim Bumsu, Specially Appointed Professor of Tokyo Gakugei University, discussed the educational consortium of his private-sector institution and their attempt to bring about international educational cooperation through the program of short-term studying abroad to Korea.  He also introduced international joint undertakings across borders and suggested some systems or methods for developing global human resources hereafter. During the free discussion, we had an active exchange of opinions between participants and speakers. One Japanese student shared her opinions about studying abroad based on her own experiences and asked some questions about the situation in Korea.  A woman working for a personnel management company raised a question about the company’s effort and attitude. Participants who have studied abroad shared their difficulties and possible solutions through exchanging thoughts with Japanese students. We had to extend the forum because there were so many questions and opinions. The heated discussion raised our awareness of these issues, and made us think about the definition of global human resources, the appropriate state of modern societies in which globalization is progressing, and the way of life in such societies. Photo of the day Report in Japanese (Original)  (Sim Woohyang / 2017 Raccoon, Doctoral Course in Educational Societies, Waseda University)  Translated by Kazuo Kawamura              English checked by Sonja Dale
  • Lindsay Ray Morrison “Fukushima Study Tour :Our old home is made of earth (soil)”

    I visited Iitate Village as a member of the SGRA Fukushima Study Tour from May 25 to 27, 2018, early in the summer.  As it was my third visit to Iitate, I felt comfortable and at ease, and came back to Tokyo feeling refreshed and healed by the nature in Iitate rather than taking it as a “serious study tour”. Whenever I go to Iitate, I feel more and more relieved by the lessening risk of danger.Especially this time, as I did not bring a dosimeter I could feel more at ease. If I had brought a dosimeter, my consciousness would be fraught by thinking about the danger around me. I recall feeling courageous upon arrival in Iitate in the past, but upon taking out the dosimeter I would start to get tense. Iitate Village has changed a lot compared with my last visit. We could see newly built buildings here and there and a new highway as well. The village was busy with construction work. Such construction seems to be done in order to use the reconstruction budget, and I do hope that they will be beneficial to the villagers. I still have doubts as to whether such construction projects are for the benefit of construction companies, and not for the benefit of villagers. If that is the case, then it is not true restoration. Only 700 villagers have returned to Iitate. However, most of them return during the day only and live elsewhere at night. Mr. Muneo Kanno (Chief of Agriculture Committee of Iitate) regrets that reconstruction countermeasures by the government were not sufficient for the villagers who wanted to return.  He is concerned about taxpayers’ precious money which will be wasted and not used for reconstruction.. I wonder whether the young villagers really want to return. There are not few who do not want to return after having settled down in evacuation destinations or other villages. According to Mr. Eitoku Kanno, “when a road is completed, the area becomes weaker”.  What he meant was that when an exit is completed, the young will move out in search of a more convenient life. He could not understand the difference of such values between generations. He understands people who get out of villages have to live an uneasy life bound by money, because people can live in towns with enough money. In the case of farmers, they can live if they have water, air and soil (land). He said “I cannot understand why the young want to live a life in towns, a life which clings to money”. And he, feeling responsible, regretted that the young had left the village because he could not succeed in maintaining the culture of the village or passing down the importance of their history. After we listened to Mr. Kanno’s thoughts, we, as SGRA members, discussed how to restore Iitate and proposed cultural events which might lead to the restoration of the village. Mr. Kanno taught us many things. “In the past, there was a festival which gathered more than 30 thousand people at Yamatumi Shrine. This shrine was built 970 years ago and became a central symbol of Iitate.  According to the historical records of the shrine, a white fox appeared in a dream of Yoriyosi Minamoto (a samurai, 988-1075) and Yamatumi Shrine became a symbol of the cult of the fox. Before the Meiji era, there were a lot of such shrines alongside the Pacific coast. But, after the Meiji era, the number of the shrines in which the fox is enshrined decreased. During festivals at Yamatumi Shrine, “Shishimai”  (Japanese lion dance) used to be performed. However, after a crop failure once the Shishimai performance was stopped.” We had a party on Saturday night, and there we met Mr. Kenta Sato, an assemblyman of Iitate, He said he wants to revive ”Kagura” sacred music and dance. He thought that if festivals or cultural activities such as “ Kagura” were revived and brought back, Iitate would be restored. As his idea was similar to ours, we, Mr. Kato and SGRA members agreed that it would be good if festivals or dances with a connection to folklore or history could be established. A shrine is not only the center of annual events, but it shows relations through blood and local community. As a shrine is, at the same time, the symbol of regionalism, it would be best if we could start a new Iitate event centered around Yamatumi Shrine. The experience of rice-planting this time left a deep impression on me. Eleven years have already passed since I came to Japan, but this was my first experience of rice-planting. The rice-field was muddier than I expected and it was very hard for me to walk in such a muddy field. However, when I touched the soft and rich nourishing soil, a feeling of pleasantness and comfort came over me. Though I have atopy, the soil did not seem to affect my hand and in fact I thought it made it better.  Exercising and breathing outside, touching the soil – these experiences made me once again realize the healing power of nature After rice-planting, we had “SANABURI”, a kind of naorai (feast). Naorai is an event in which people share their offerings after a festival and SANABURI is also a feast after rice-planting in which people pray for a good harvest and give offerings to the God of rice fields and enjoy dinner while exchanging “sake”. When I lied down in my room after coming back to Tokyo on Sunday evening, I had a strange feeling. I still had the feeling of rice-planting in my legs, the feeling of walking in the soft and muddy field after standing on hard pebbled ground. This feeling of rice-planting remains in my body. It is like the feeling I get when I swim during the day – at night I still feel that I was swimming. It made me consider how the way a person moves and works could permeate into their body. I could not easily remove the soil which stuck to my skin or the reverse side of my nails, not even by washing with soap. I thought it strange how I usually do not touch the soil  and recalled what a real estate agent had told me. When I shared a room in Tokyo a few years ago, he told me that the small front yard of our house would be covered with concrete soon, using the word “clean” to describe this. I felt strong antipathy toward the word “clean” for “concrete”. Is it truly clean up to cover soil with concrete?This may be usual for people who live in cities now.   Nowadays, people are departing from touching soil. It may be true that it is unnecessary for people to touch soil. But, is this the only experience that we have lost?Is there anything else besides soil what we have forgotten? As I have lived in the city for a long time, my body has become accustomed to city life. The smell of city life has sunk into our bodies. As Mr. Kanno said, I also feel guilty of my life which I live for money and consumption. I hope the young rice seedlings which I planted will grow without problem. I am filled with both worry and anticipation. I look forward to visiting Iitate again.  SGRA Kawaraban 582 in Japanese (Original)  (Lindsay Ray Morrison /  Assistant Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Musashi University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Mailisha ”Fukushima Study Tour : Collaboration Circle”

     I joined the SGRA Fukushima Study Tour for the first time on May 25,2018.Every year, since 2012, SGRA (Atsumi International Foundation) has been continuing to organize study tours to Iitate Village in Fukushima, which is an area affected by the nuclear power station accident. Before I left Tokyo, I had read opinion pieces and impressions written by other SGRA members who had visited Iitate, and I thought that Iitate would still be in harsh conditions.  We visited Iitate under the guidance of Mr. Yoichi Tao, President of the “Resurrection of Fukushima”. One year has already passed since Iitate inhabitants began to return to the village.Frankly speaking, I had a feeling that this beautiful “SATOYAMA “ (village-vicinity mountains) are on the verge of extinction.  And, it was my strong impression on the first day that the “Resurrection of Fukushima” is trying to solve some very difficult problems.  Generally speaking, in rural areas in Japan, people are worrying about depopulation and aging.  In areas affect by the nuclear power accident, such fears are escalated.   During the tour, I was surprised by how many people were going in and out of the area frequently. I saw a lot of people who came from other areas. On Saturday, a miracle occurred in a depopulated area in which most of the inhabitants were senior citizens. Many people of different ages and from different fields visited the activity base of “Resurrection of Fukushima” located in the area called Sasu for rice-planting the next day.  I got the strong impression that the power to change the future is born in places where many people get together. In the Sasu area, collaboration for development of decontamination works and growing tests of farm products by villagers, specialists and volunteers started three months after the accident. Together with other participants, villagers have been growing rice throughout the year, starting from planting seeds, rice-planting and harvesting. A circle of collaboration has formed through connecting people, and is growing ever wider. People get together every Saturday and Sunday at the activity base of “Resurrection of Fukushima” . We met volunteers from the Saitama Prefectural Konosu-High School and university students of circles from the University of Tokyo. Creative activities which collaborate with universities are being developed. I thought the resurrection of farmland  or activation of rural community from a villager’s perspective would be possible through collaborations with the University of Tokyo or Meiji University.     These “circles” which create connections or links with people are now creating new possibilities for the succession of histories and cultures, and are not limited to environmental preservation. There are a few examples of this. Cooperation in the restoration project of the painting of a wolf on the ceiling of the hall of worship in Yamatumi-shrine in Iitate village, the preservation and practical usage of schoolhouses which have been built in the Meiji era, and a project for the succession of Miso--paste etc.. I had a feeling that such sustained exchanges and collaborations would contribute to establish a system of “Resurrection (of homeland)”.I, as a foreigner, was encouraged very much by this development of social activities and the establishment of social value by various bodies. Iitate is known as one of the most beautiful villages in Japan. I have encountered an unbelievably beautiful scene in Iitate - “collaboration circles” which are encouraged and promoted by creating connections.I was deeply impressed by the links of people here.I would like to come to this beautiful village again.  SGRA Kawaraban 580 in Japanese (Original)  (Mailisha / Professor, Faculty of International Studies, Showa Women’s’ University)   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Xie Zhihai “Encouraging Fixed Point Observation”

    The internet and smartphones are now the norm and we can access a large volume of information instantly anywhere we go. On the other hand, however, we are asked to check the quality or correctness of such information and it has become imperative for us to gather genuine and high-quality information. For such purposes, we have to take action on our own to gather information using our own eyes and ears. This means that I, as a specialist in international relations, have to run around the globe. This is not easy for me to achieve personally, but there is a person who is in fact doing just so. This person is Mr. Jituro Terasima, President of Tama University. I come across his phrase “fixed point observation” very often when listening to his interviews or reading articles written by him.  Since I see him often on TV, I did not think that he is actually running around the world. However, he has actually been visiting countries and cities in America, England and the Middle East by himself every year. He is listening to the opinions of his friends or key individuals in these areas. What he saw, heard and felt on site is “genuine,” useful information. Regretfully, I have a feeling that getting information from smartphones in Tokyo then trying to verify its reliability and source is not as useful. This spring, I returned to Beijing after being away for six years. I was too amazed by its complete change to say anything. In programs discussing “recent China” on TV in Japan, we can see people who pay for everything using smartphones, share-economy like car ride-sharing or rental-cycles, and electric cars. You may possibly believe that Chinese people are enjoying their life based on more advanced technology than Japan.However, in reality it was chaotic in the city. The subway has been extended since the last time I lived there. However, upon exiting the subway at street level you will be greeted by “share-cycle” bicycles piled disorderly and occupying the pavement. Despite the ride-share system (which is not popular in Japan), roads are congested throughout the day. According to a taxi-driver, they can allocate taxis anywhere using smartphones. However, passengers and drivers sometimes miss each other and cause traffic congestion instead. Under economic development in China, the share-economy is developing, but the number of cars increasing even more. It is a symbol of fortune to possess a vehicle, especially a foreign one. Traffic congestion in Beijing is very famous in Japan. I have a feeling that public order in Beijing cannot catch up with the convenience doing everything using smartphone apps. I visit Shanghai for business once a year, but was surprised by Beijing this time. I acutely realized that I overlook many things in China only by “fixed point observation” once a year, and it is not enough to visit just one place. When, living in Gunma Prefecture, I would visit Tokyo once a week for lectures or participating in academic conferences. I can keenly realize Tokyo is changing every minute for the Olympics in 2020. Taxis are changing. The bus service in the center of Tokyo is also changing, displaying the Olympic mascot characters on the side of the bus body. When I see English, Chinese (not only by simplified but traditional Chinese characters also) and Korean language in Tokyo, I have a feeling that Tokyo is progressing towards becoming an international city. If I had continued living in Tokyo, I would not have been aware of such changes. As much as possible I like to visit places which are related to my field of research or interests and try not to miss the change of history or turning of the tide. Speaking of the phrase “fixed point observation”, I recall a famous speech which has been referred to as many times as there are stars in the sky. It is from the commencement address by Mr. Steve Jobs at Stanford University in 2005.  “…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. …” (quoted from the original speech, available in full here: https://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/)   Going to the spots I believe in, increasing the spots. I want to make the most of them in my research and classes from here on out.  SGRA Kawaraban 578 in Japanese (Original)  (Xie Zhihai / Associate Professor of Kyoai Gakuen University )  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Li Yanming “SGRA Café #11 Report” (The Complex Triangular Relationship of Japan, China and Taiwan)

    The 11th “SGRA Café” was held at Kajima Hall on July 28 (Sat.), titled “the Complex Triangular Relationship of Japan, China and Taiwan”.  In the middle of the café, unfortunately, we were visited by heavy rain and had to give up on holding the BBQ party at the inner court.  Instead, we had more time for questions after the lecture and had a very fruitful discussion with the close to 30 participants. The lecturer was Professor Lim Chuan Tiong (Assistant Researcher of Central Research Academy, Taiwan) who came up with the concept of the “East Asian frontier”. He was a former scholarship recipient of the Atsumi International Foundation.  Representative Ms. Junko Imanishi first explained that the SGRA Café was started for scholarship students who have been active in their own fields after graduation in order for them to share their thoughts and opinions frankly.       The keywords of this café were “complex triangular relationship”. In order to grasp “how complex” or understand the “China factors” which have come to be a cause for concern in Japan-Taiwan relations, Professor Lim started his lecture from the history of the colonialization of Taiwan as the result of the Sino-Japan War. He emphasized that Taiwan, which has been separated from China since after the war, could instead experience a “modern nation state” which came to be the basis of a  different identity from China.He referred also to the fact that there are still different perceptions by China and Taiwan of the Japan-China War after the defeat of the Kuomimtang (Taiwanese Nationalist Party) and coming into Taiwan as the result of the war, and discussed how the image of the Communist Party was constructed in mainland China as well as the split in Taiwan (between the people from mainland China and the immigrants from China to Taiwan). Following this, he summarized the main factors which the Chinese Government had to pay attention to in the Japan-Taiwan relationship, explaining the formation of a new “Japan–China relationship“ after the war, namely the relationship between Japan-PRC (People’s Republic of China) and Japan-ROC (Republic of China-Taiwan) and “the 1972 System” which was established after “the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China” . In other words, Taiwan as an un-unified land of the Chinese Government was an essential part for establishing their modern state. It is the core of legitimacy of the PRC Government. Prof. Lim then presented a future prospect of the triangular relationship between Japan, China and Taiwan by explaining the main tendencies of Japan-Taiwan relations in recent years and the “China factors” which would affect Japan-Taiwan relations. After 2013 in particular, he observed an ossification of Japan-China relations and strengthening of Japan-Taiwan relations happening at the same time.  The Chinese Government, along with the strengthening of their own power, showed a tolerant attitude toward Taiwan. However, at the same time they also exerted pressure on the government of Ts’ai Ing-wen by showing strong precaution.  As a result of these moves by China, Taiwan is compelled to approach Japan and America more closely instead.It is not easy for China to break their promises with Japan and America. Prof. Lim reached his conclusion that this state of complex relations and complicated diplomacy with China would continue. During the question and answer session, many people mainly asked about current problems. However, some people also asked un-academic general questions related to everyday life, such as wanting to know for how long Taiwan would be ill-treated by China.  I think the basis of such questions demonstrates that China does not understand Taiwanese society well, although this understanding should be the basis of Chinese government policy. The audience included ex-diplomats as well as businessmen working in economic exchange, and they discussed their own experiences as well as personal perspectives. These opinions nicely complemented the content of the lecture. The lecture was followed by a BBQ, during which the discussion and pleasant banter between lecturer and participants continued. The number of participants in the SGRA Café has increased recently, and I think our motto of sharing knowledge from a variety of perspectives with honesty and candor has been sufficiently realized. (photo of the day) Report in Japanese (original) (Li Yanming / Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts, The University of Tokyo)       Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Hourieh_Akbari “Japan taught me what is important”

    When I was three years old, my father came to Japan to study abroad, bringing the whole family with him. When I was a third grader at primary school, I had an unforgettable memory. I wore a scarf for the first time. I had been wearing similar clothes as my friends until then. According to Iranian customs, girls join adulthood when they become nine years old. We have to keep in mind various points and follow a lot of rules in daily life. When we go out, we have to hide our hair and skin and have to pray at certain hours.  At nine years old, I was uneasy and worried about whether I could follow the same customs in Japan, as my family had faced a lot of difficulties in Japan because of differences in customs and religion. My father consulted with his Japanese friends each time and had been helped. Without such kind Japanese friends, he could not have overcome such difficulties. My father had been thinking a great deal about his faith and asked me also to do the same. My parents had been worried about how I might be hurt or ill-treated and asked for advice from my homeroom teacher. My homeroom teacher kindly arranged a school meeting just for me, inviting my parents and brother. My homeroom teacher and another teacher stood in front of all the students wearing scarfs and said “We (two teachers) are now wearing scarfs. But, we are unchanged and the same as usual.  Hourieh-chan (Ms. Akbari) will wear a scarf from tomorrow, but she is the same as usual.”  He called me to the teachers to wear my scarf and said “Hourieh-chan will join adulthood tomorrow. But, she is always a friend of yours. Unchanged!  Are you friends of Hourieh-chan as before?” All of the students raised their hands. I was worried about being ill-treated at first, but on the contrary I became a popular person in our school. Japanese friends taught me to “Be myself !” and “Speak my way of thinking with confidence!”  This memory is my life treasure.  It is no exaggeration to say that I owe it to the teachers and all the students that I can be myself and behave stately.   Two years later, my family came back to Iran with wonderful memories of our time in Japan. My love toward Japan was unchanged.  I made up my mind to study abroad in Japan, and  I got the chance to come back to Japan at the age of twenty-nine as a scholarship student of the Ministry of Education to pursue a doctoral degree. Twenty years have already passed since my memorable days in that primary school and I could now enter Chiba University, which was where my father first studied abroad. One day, in the second year of the doctorate course, I happened to see a gentleman who I recognized in front of the main gate of the university when I was on my way home. I recognized him as the schoolmaster of our primary school and I ventured to call out to him. When I talked about the old days, he could remember me although there was no way of knowing who I was after twenty years. Thanks to this schoolmaster, I could get in touch with my homeroom teacher who gave me a lot of emotion and courage and we were able to meet again. If my father did not ask for advice from the homeroom teacher and if my teachers did not arrange the school meeting at that time, I would have experienced life very differently.  Thanks to these events, I realized how important it is to convey and understand my beliefs and emotion accurately and with confidence. I also realized that we could bring peace and prosperity through such thinking.     I learned a lot of important things this time through my meeting with the wonderful Japanese and foreign students in Japan. We could all understand each other as human beings regardless of nationalities, languages and religions. If I could add one more important thing, it is my husband, from Costa Rica.  I have learned that there is a man who has a similar way of thinking and similar values as me.   Japan taught me and gave me many important things. I can’t thank Japan enough.   SGRA Kawaraban 576 in Japanese (Original)  ( Special Researcher of Graduate School of Humanities and Studies of Public Affairs, Chiba University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • Emanuele Davide Giglio “My Nichiren:Background of my study of Nichiren “

    When I started my study of Nichiren, I was a student of Japanese language at University of Turin (Italy).   (Nichiren:Japanese Buddhist priest(1222-1283))When I asked myself where linguistic difference between Italian and Japanese language come from, I was conscious about “something deeper”: the “background of languages”.  “Language” is not only “words”.  Behind “language”, there is a factor of thought which has been formed by human psychology and its peculiarity.  No matter how much I cram up vocabularies, I cannot be a good Japanese speaker without understanding Japanese thoughts.  At that time, at the latter part of the 20th century, there was a scenario of crisis of Western culture.  There is Christian ethics which do not allow at will to manipulate the world on earth which God has created.  And, on the other hand, there was a philosophical thought which became staying inside only university life after a sterile crash with science which have manipulated the world.  Christian ethics and Philosophical Thought became unable to cope with our daily ethical issues toward what Technology has revealed as possible one, and the debate reached to a deadlock. My philosophy master, Doctor Umberto Garinberti, ex-Professor of the University of Venice, told us that Western culture has experienced three systems of ethics. System of ethics by Christianity:Western legislation has been accomplished by Christianity ethics. We call it the “Ethic of the Intention”. Decision or judgement is made inside our “individual interiority”. People are judged by “intentions” which have resulted in some behaviors. Crime is judged and decided by an intension which is intentionally or un-intentionally. However, if we will search for only “intention”, it would become meaningless in “the time of technology”. Dr. Enrico Fermi invented atomic bomb, but it is not so important what kind of intention he had when he invented. What is important is how his invention resulted in history. “Kant ethic (secular ethic)”:(Immanuel Kant:German philosopher(1724-1804)It is summarized to a proposition that human beings should be handled as a purpose, nor as means”.  Kant ethics might function when the earth looks bigger, they have ample natural resources and population is small. However, how is the situation now?  Population became bigger, the earth became smaller and natural resources became poorer. Is it correct to handle human beings as a purpose and handle everything, others than human beings, as means?  Are air and water now just means?  Are air and water purposes to be preserved?   Ethic by Max Wever (German political scientist and economist(1864-1920))It is an ethic about responsibility and results. He said “Human behavior should be judged only by results, not by intention behind their behavior.” And he continued that it is limited to results which are possible to forecast. Science and technology are not proceeded on the assumption that they like to “find out”. What scientific technology discover is a coincidental result in various working process. Such results cannot be forecasted from the beginning.  For example, “clone” is not a result which was forecasted from the beginning.  It was discovered accidentally in various working process. Basically, result of research is not possible to be forecasted. As mentioned above, at “the period of technology”, ethics which were known in the Western world are quite incompetent now. It will be necessary to revise new ethics. However, if we try to revise old ethics basing on old “unchanging” principle, I think it meaningless to try to find new ethics. “Unchanging principle” might function in the period when nature is thought to be unable to manipulate. I think it was the time when human being could not do anything toward nature. Nature is now manipulated by scientific technology, not unchanging nature which Greek or Christian have thought. In short, nature is not “background” anymore. Not a “measure” (as we say "man as the measure of all things") and not a “standard”. As German philosopher, Martin Heidigger (1898-1976) said, our eyes toward nature changed into an utilitarianistic eye. When we see rivers, we think of electrical power. When we see a forest, we think of wood. And when we see ground, we think of mining resources. Nature, at present, has already changed to be usable and can be manipulated.  We can say that it became impossible to revive new ethics on the “background” or “measure”.       Doctor Umberto Garinberti pointed out our (men of today or Westerners) standard is no more necessary and useful as far as we correspond to new the background: “the period of technology”.  It was the time when I started to change my interests toward other thoughts than the Western.  If we do not have different nor new eyes adopting new thoughts, present Western culture, which have contributed to the world, would reach  in a deadlock. I thought Japanese and oriental cultures might have made our Western world fresh and given different eyes fundamentally.  Existence of Buddhism, which is a religion and, at the same time, a system which has gigantic system of ideology, seems to me the most prominent. First of all, however, if I cannot make my research through the original text, I would be confined in the Western linguistic family and present ideology.  And I attended a seminar “Religions of East Asia and their Ideology” of University of Turin.I began to wish my study in Japan thinking of access to many historical materials. When we study “holy books”, we have to read materials in the original text. By doing so, we have to overcome “our time”(now) and “ourselves”, both of which are linguistic and cultural identities. In other words, we have to enter into the world being retrospective to the original background of the people and their world view. At the seminar, I chose “Buddhism in Japan” naturally as a student of Japanese language. It was not so easy to read original materials (the Buddhist scriptures and its annotated editions) of Nara period (710-794) and Heian period (794-1185). It is said that original materials of Kamakura period (1185-1333) are easy to read and the Buddhism in Kamakura is said to be most authentically “Japanese”. Among many Buddhist priests, three priests, Shinran, Dogen and Nichiren were prominent. I had a feeling that Jodo Buddhism by Shinran (1173-1263) was acceptable to me because it was close to Christianity in its spiritual foundation. But, because of this, on the contrary, I could not have any interest.About Dogen (1200-1253), I had a feeling of argumentativeness. It was similar to the Western philosophy.  And I know studies about “Zen Buddhism” by Dogen were already popular in overseas.The last priest “Nichiren” was not so popular in overseas. His versatile or multilateral thoughts in his writings were difficult to be brought into a coherent composition.And his ideas were very unique for European. So, I thought I can overcome my European identity which I have succeeded from my cultural environment. Since then, I had an impression that Nichiren have guided me, as an European, to a different world view basically.  I choose to study him freely beyond religious bodies, established by Nichiren as a progenitor and their conventional interpretations. I thought he could offer a lot of new point of view and could affect to the Western world which, I think, has been in a deadlock.  This is my individual approach to “Study of Nichiren”. I hope my approach would become useful for further researches in the same field. SGRA Kawaraban 561 in Japanese (Original) (Researcher in Oriental Culture Research Center, Minobusan University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mr. E. D. Giglio
  • Sun_Junyue “Don’t’ you think our leaders shall be changed?”

    Recently, we may be occupied with many matters, such as job hunting, nursery hunting, actively looking for a life partner, and actively trying for a baby or preparation for the end of life. And we could not care about our surroundings. One day, when I brought my one-year-old son to the nursery school, I saw a public servant making a speech in front of the station.   During the two or three minutes it took me to exit the gate, wait for traffic lights and cross the street, this politician was just talking about weather on and on.  My son was eagerly listening to his speech .“My son!  It is just about weather. Not about your future.” I went to a coffee shop after the nursery school.  When I opened a book entitled “The True Story of Ah Q” written by Lu Xun, an old lady, next to me, spoke to me. “What are you doing?  Studying?  I am proud of you. We have to study hard in this day and age. My daughter, forty years old and living in Tokyo, told me that, as I can’t speak English, I was not promoted.  The other day, she went to a hospital for a treatment of the pain of her finger.  And a doctor gave her medicine though he could not diagnose a reason for her pain.  She went home and fell down unconsciously.  Strange isn't it ?  I advised her to go to a big hospital. But my daughter told me she had no time to go to a big hospital because she was so busy with work.  The other day, she smelled something burning when she was warming herself in a “kotatsu”(Japanese foot warmer with a quilt over it) and I advised her to buy new one.  I am afraid there is no “home-center (DIY store)” near her house.  I do not go to her house though I worry about her. I do not like to disturb her life. Are you married? Ah, you have a child. How about your parents? Ah, you came from China! I do not have any prejudice. I remember there were several Chinese kids in the place where I have been working. Everybody was a good boy or good girl!  China seems very tough now. I have heard of “atariya”(an automobile accident faker).  I think it is sad that a person would purposely hit a car. Your national leader shall do something. Am I wrong?  In Japan, there are no such pitiful things.” I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t.  I made just an insincere smile. What the old lady said was correct. Lu Xun wrote, in a preface of “The True Story of Ah Q” in Russian language, as follows.  Due to the high barriers among human beings, we are forced to be unable to feel not only physical pains of the others but also mental pains.  After publishing, he said “there were some who thought my novel be morbid, some thought to be comical and some thought to be satirical.  Even myself, I doubted I have had “an awful ice block” in my mind.”  Lu Xun did not write toward a soul of the silent people just for a satire nor sardonic smile, who “live silently, become drooped and dying” even though he has been stubborn and obstinate. A crazy man who slams against a car which is not moving, and an old woman who told a lie to receive compensation money, which made an innocent young boy commit suicide.  Both of them are souls of the people in the present China. I do not feel at all any sympathy for it and I regret the decadence of our country. I was looking for any apologetic words for our country in my mind , and not thinking about any responsibility of leaders of our country.  Like Lu Xun, I am afraid I had an awful ice block in my mind. Dear old lady, don’ t you think your national leader should do something?  Your daughter was faint in the “kotatsu” having been kept working busily and had no time to go hospital.  Any people in every country, who has been enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable, are now cannot afford to consider the physical and mental pains of others beyond the high barrier “a nation state”, even though such pains of the others are the  reflection of our own pains. Once they feel a sensation, they would be excited regardless of the color, red or green. Would there be a situation as critical as this reality? I entered a “Matsuya” restaurant (very popular for bowl of rice with toppings). A lady waiting staff of South Asian ancestry, who has big eyes like a movie star of Indian cinema, served me a cup of water. One boy explained to her that he made a mistake for buying a ticket. But, she could not understand what he said and went to kitchen. After five minutes, a gray haired guy appeared from kitchen and listened to boy’s saying and returned to kitchen again. After five minutes again, he handed a small change to a boy asking him to buy a ticket. Oh, by the way, at “Hidakaya”(popular ramen restaurant) recently, I scarcely see a waiting staff from Japan or China. Most of the cooks who handle a Chinese frying pan are Southeast Asian. Here in “Hidakaya”, nationality, race, distinction of sex and age has no relation at all and it is the world of low-paying workers for low-income consumers. In labor and consumer markets in this era of globalization, stupid fantasy where Japanese eat poisoned dumplings cooked by Chinese, or Chinese boycott any products made by Japanese., simply does not make sense. If I am a producer of a TV program, I like to ask people to speak through microphone like “Hey you!  What brought you to Japan ?” “What is the reason why you kept living in Japan ?” “Why do you keep working in Japan, not enjoying your comfortable life after retirement?” When I ate up “Kimchi stew” which a lady waiting staff with big eyes has prepared for me, the boy was still kept waiting patiently sipping a cup of tea. After “Matsuya”, I dropped by a convenient store where a young man named “Ryu” on his name card was displaying goods.  His hourly wage is 820 yen (one yen higher than 819 yen:the minimum legal wage) . If you go to “SESAMI-TEI” (ramen shop in front of “Akamon” of The University of Tokyo”, a bowl of “ramen” would cost you 800 yen (before Tax) . It means that he cannot afford a bowl of ramen, full of sesame, even if he works hard unloading goods, operating cash register and tending customers. Tax which this young man has paid would be used for the deployment of Osprey in Okinawa which Okinawa people are opposing or used for handling the Nuclear Power Plant Accident in Fukushima by Tokyo Electric Power Company, regardless of uneasiness by inhabitants in Fukushima.  1.600 billion yen for the Tokyo Olympic Games is out of understanding of the people who walk the distance of one station to save 160yen.    I like Miss Christel Takigawa to appeal again to the public “O-Mo-Te-Na-Si”(traditional Japanese way of hospitality) or “Mo-tta-i-nai”(unnecessary use of money, time, ability etc.).  A chilling north wind at the end of the year pierced to my bones. It looks like rain tonight. Does the Congressman speak about weather again to the public next morning at the station square?  I like him to say one word “Our leaders in this country ! No, leaders in this world !  Don’t you think you have to do something?” SGRA Kawaraban 565 in Japanese (original) (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Chinese Literature, Graduate School of the University of Tokyo) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Max Maquito
  • Husel Borjigin “Ulaanbaatar Report , 2017 Fall”

    As a commemorative undertaking of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia, we had the 10th Ulaanbaatar  International Symposium “Japan and Mongolia in Eurasia” on August 26/27, 2017 at the Conference Hall of National University of Mongolia. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute of International Culture, Showa Women’s University and Department of Asian Studies, National University of Mongolia and supported by the Japanese Embassy, Showa Women’s University, Association for the History and Culture of the Mongols, and the Graduate University of Mongolia.  More than ninety researchers from Mongolia, Japan, China, Russia, Canada and Taiwan participated. Ulaanbaatar International Symposium which is co-sponsored by academic societies of Japan and Mongolia was established in 2008 and had nine symposiums already.  Sponsors of those symposiums have changed each time and the theme has also been different. It means that each symposium had its own distinction. Needless to say, at some of those symposiums, histories, politics, economy and culture of Japan and Mongolia became central issues. The former Soviet Union, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan and China played a big role in the reorganization of public order in the Eurasia. And, Mongolia has been standing always in a strategic position. Mongolian basic foreign policy is: “After the Cold War, we establish balanced relationship, not inclined toward one side like to our neighboring countries China or Russia. And, we promote plural foreign policies by strengthening relationship with third countries, like Japan, America and European countries. We never join any military alliance or coalition.”  However, in November, 2012, Mongolia joined OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe).We set up the theme “Japan and Mongolia in Eurasia” for the 10th Ulaanbaatar International Symposium aiming at approaching a new relationship between Japan and Mongolia.  It will be a suitable theme to commemorate the 45th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and Mongolia.  I write here especially that we got a lot of support for our preparation of this symposium. In Japan, Mr. Hiromitsu Suzuki, Showa Women’s University, a staff member of International Cultural Institute, supported us. Prof. V. Batmaa, Chair of Department of Asian Studies, National University of Mongolia and Mr. L. Bayar, Researcher of Institute for Defense Studies of National Defense University gave us their support in Ulaanbaatar.  The Battles of Khalkhyn Gol and Nomonhan were discussed twice, out of the nine times we've had this symposium.  I, myself, am acquainted with many researchers in the field of Mongolian history of military through the two wars, the ending of World War II and the detention of Japanese in Mongolia. I could get their support.  . We could also get support from the Research Center of National Defense Science of National Defense University. The Japanese government sent a Military attache to Mongolia this time for the first time.  On October 13, after the symposium, the Japanese government had a reception at the Japanese Embassy in Mongolia for Japanese Self-Defense Forces. It shows Mongolia has a geopolitical importance. His Excellency, Masato Takaoka, Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia, invited us in the evening of August 25. Mr. Sakutaro Tanino, Visiting Prof. of Showa Women’s University, ex-Director-General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, ex-Ambassador to China and India and Mr. Marohito Hanada, Adviser to the NEANET (NPO Northeast Asia Transportation Corridor Promotion Network), ex- Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia were also invited.We had a pleasant talk over dinner about relationship between Japan and Mongolia, and the influence of China, Russia and America.Actually, I had met His Excellency Takaoka at the early part of December, last year when I was invited, together with Prof. Katsuhiko Tanaka, a professor emeritus, Hitotsubashi University, by Mr. Keiji Ide, Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary for international anti-terrorism policy, ex-Japanese ambassador to Russia, Croatia. It was my pleasure to have been invited at Ulaanbaatar. Prof. Tanaka made an opening speech in the morning, August 26.  Following his speech, President Ya. Tumurbaatar, National University of Mongolia gave us greeting and His Excellency Takaoka gave us congratulatory address. After those speeches, research reports followed for one day and a half.We received twenty-one reports this time:. twelve invited reports and nine reports which were selected from eighteen reports of public advertisement Main reporters are as follows: Mr. Tanino, Mr. Hanada, and Mr. Tanaka, Mr. S. Khurelbaatar (ex-Mongolian Ambassador to Japan), Emeritus-Professor Hiroshi Futaki, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, President of The Japanese Association for Mongolian Studies, Prof. D Tsedev, Ulaanbaatar University, Prof. Choiraljav, Inner Mongolian University, Prof. O. Batsaikhan, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and an Associate Professor, Mei-hua Lan the National Chengchi University (Taiwan) reported. Other reporters : From National University of Mongolia, Mr. V. Batmaa, Chair of Department of Asian Studies, Assistant Professor, B. Otgonsuren, B. Khishigsukh. Ms. Katasonova Elena, Head of Japan Studies Sector, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Federation’s Science Academy,  Mr. L. Bayar, a Researcher of the Institute for Defense Studies for National Defense in Mongolia, Mr. Samuel G. Gildart, a lecturer of Ferris University (Japan). From Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Prof. Kazuyuki Okada, Visiting Prof. G. Galbayar, and Akira Kamimura, a part-time lecturer.  Assistant Prof. Kunio Minato from Kochi University, Prof. Ts. Purevsuren, the Graduate University of Mongolia, Akina Kobayashi, a part-time lecturer, Hosei University, Kozue Takahashi, Special attache, Embassy of Japan in Mongolia. They reported on historical and current events, and their viewpoints of history, politics, military affairs, international relations and culture. And discussions on their reports were very distinctive. They discussed how the relations between Japan and Mongolia would be and how the order in the Eurasian area should be.Details of their report will be provided separately. In the afternoon, 27th August, Prof. Futaki delivered a closing speech putting his idea on the symposium in order and pointed out problems to be solved. After the closing ceremony, the reporters went to the Naiman-Sharga Mongolian Camp in the suburbs of Ulaanbaatar, after visiting the Zhukov Museum. We could see the River Tuul flowing twistedly in grass-land in emerald green color and white “ger” (round tent) scattered on its bank.Horses and cows were grazing peacefully. It was a familiar scenery in Mongolia, but I could have a feeling of freshness because we were in the Army Camp.After eating local delicacy and drinking “kumis” (Mongolian fermented dairy drinks), we rode on horsebacks. Prof. Tanaka, aged 83 years old, showed his vigor by  making his  horse run.  After the Naiman-Sharga Mongolian Camp, we visited a theme park for the Ghenghis Khan Statue and returned to Ulaanbaatar as scheduled. We took dinner at “Nagomi” Japanese Restaurant.A symposium participant gave us their words of thanks : “we had discussion with a lot of wisdom in the morning, made a big dreamlike excursion in the afternoon and had delicious Japanese foods in grass-land town in the evening. How luxurious it is !” This symposium was authorized as an undertaking of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia. And this symposium was published in Mongolian newspapers like “Ödriin Sonin(Daily News)”, “Open Door”, “Soyombo” and “Ulaan Odkhon(Red Star)” and broadcasted in “Mongolian Government Broadcasting” or “TV5”. Photos  SGRA Kawaraban 555 in Japanese (Original)  (Proffessor, Showa Women’s University)     Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac and Max Maquito
  • MITANI, Hiroshi “Re-opening of the Dialogue of Histories in East Asia ― The Mongol Invasions Conference in Kita-Kyushu”

    “The Dialogue of National Histories of East Asia” started. This was the second time, but we had met for preparations last year, this conference was the first real dialogue. Each country in East Asia has its own “National History” and there is a gap which cannot be overcome among the countries. Can we build a bridge to have something in common? This is a meaning of “Dialogue of National Histories” which Ms. Junko Imanishi, SGRA Representative, has named.Hereafter four times, we will have discussions on historical issues relating to international relations in East Asia, inviting historians from each country. The theme, this year, was so-called “The Mongol Invasions of East Asia (in the 13th century)” and we will take up other issues of more recent centuries in the next conferences. When we take up subjects, which should relate to all the concerned countries in East Asia, i.e. Japan, China and Korea, participants are mainly historians who are specialized in international relations. Specialists of domestic histories from Japan and Korea were also invited this time and we set up important points such as:How do they, who usually show no interest in histories of international relations nor political meaning behind, respond?  Do they recognize the aim of the conference?To solve these points, we had simultaneous interpretation between Japanese-Chinese, Japanese-Korean and Chinese-Korean. Interpreters were awfully busy because there were a lot of technical terms about the remote past, but I believe they did their work very well. I deeply appreciated their work. Our theme “The Mongol Invasions and the Globalization of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century” was set up purposely to let people who come from East Asian countries sit down at the same table. At the beginning of the 21st century, many people in East Asia tried to have joint studies on histories of East Asia. But, if they take up issues of the modern period, Japan had to sit at the defendant’s seat. It was impossible to have dialogue on an equal footing. As territorial issues became radicalized, there was no Japanese who would like to participate in such conversations. Whereas, “The Mongol Invasions in East Asia” was easy to deal with psychologically as the events happened in the remote past. Also, all the people from those three East Asian countries were victims of the Mongolian Empire. The Goryeo Dynasty (of Korea) was set under the severe rule of Mongolia. In China, the Mongol Dynasty was established. Japan had to offer a lot of sacrifices for defenses against Mongolia, though Japan escaped from Mongolian invasion.The parties could have calm dialogue on an equal footing because all of them were victims. Although we invited three Mongol historians, we did not treat them as the descendants of wrongdoers. Japan has already accepted many Mongolian “Yokozuna” champions of Japanese Sumo wrestling and never associate Yokozuna with the Mongol Invasions. Korean researchers also never used accusatory words this time. Nevertheless, I do not say that our historical dialogues were made without touching on political backgrounds. There were hot discussions among historians who came from three different origins: one from the Mongolian People’s Republic, and the other from Inner Mongolia in China. They argued whether the Yuan Dynasty is a part of the Mongol Ulus or one of the Chinese Dynasties. I could not catch clearly what they discussed, but it seems, as Dr. Ge Zhaoguang pointed out, there are a few specialists who think of both of the interpretations are simultaneously possible. In the historians’ societies around the world, anachronism (understand the past based on the present national political framework) is criticized. But, governments or public opinions in East Asia sometimes conduct themselves in the way of anachronism. Is it clever for ourselves to be ridiculed by the world? A few presentations were impressive for me. One was by Mr. Yasuhiro Yokkaichi. According to him, Kublai Khan has prepared the third invasion to Japan, but he could not execute his plan because of his death. Vietnam and Java sent tributary envoys toward Yuan dynasty immediately after having succeeded in repelling Kubilai’s invasion. This diplomatic turn is very interesting because Japan made no efforts to prevent another invasion after having repelled the Mongols, although it reopened trade with them. I think Japan has been unaccustomed to international relations and there had been an isolationism background. On the other hand, the Kogryo Dynasty under Mongolian occupation was also interesting. If Japan had surrendered to the Mongol like Kogryo, what would have happened? The Emperor system of Japan might have become extinct. Or, as Dr. Lee Myung-Mihas narrated about the Kogryo Dynasty, a part of the Emperor family of Japan might have been subordinated to the Yuan Dynasty and might have engaged a princess of the Yuan Dynasty as an empress. Such a “thought experiment” was useful for me when we try to understand the Japanese Emperor System, which is one of the most difficult questions in the Japanese history. I was interested in a change of food cultures, which Dr. Cho Won took up. In the Kogryo Dynasty, meat eating had been prohibited by Buddhism, but under the Mongol rule, meat eating was practiced and maintained after the end of invasion. This means that life styles can be changed into durable culture beyond political changes. When we look at histories on a long-term basis, the history of a life style would become more important than a political history. Would structure of families or relations between male and female, both are one of the pillars of social structures, be changed by conquests? In the case of the Korean history, children were brought up in the mothers’ house until the beginning of the 19th century. If so, where were the children of the Mongol royal families brought up? In the Imperial court, or out of the court? Where were children of Mongolian empress in Kogryo brought up, in the house of wife or of husband? Such questions came into my mind one after another. When we notice such changes of the whole Asia, the reports at the conference showed us a key to understand not only international relations but also nations or societies themselves. How did the historians of national histories from Japan and South Korea feel? I am sure they have listened carefully, but if they had questioned without reserve, the conference would have become more exciting. I urged them to speak up, quoting a saying of certain doctor: “it will be a penalty, if you do not ask any question when attending international conferences”.I should have told them of the above saying at the beginning of this conference. I regret that I forgot to tell them. But once they spoke, their indications were meaningful and interesting. I hope they will speak up from the beginning at the next conferences. The conference continued for three days. On the second day, presentations continued very tightly from morning to evening. I was exhausted in the following morning when discussions for the summaries started. I appreciate Professor Liu Jie, a chairman of the wrapping up discussions, who showed a framework for putting various opinions in order. My thanks also go to Professor Cho Kwan, a representative of Korean delegation, who showed us a starting point of our discussion by summing up each presentation precisely and simply. He kindly came over to the conference from his busy schedules of official duties. I believe the next conference in Seoul would be more enjoyable and stimulating.  SGRA Kawaraban 547 in Japanese  (Original)  (Emeritus Professor, Doctor of Literature, The University of Tokyo)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Max Maquito 
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