Atsumi Foundation Get-Together 2007

The Atsumi Get-together for fiscal year 2007 was held on November 2nd (Fri.) from 6 PM at the Atsumi Foundation Hall. One noteworthy feature this year was the participation of guests from Kajima Corporation and relatives of the Kajima family. This is understandable given that the quest speaker, Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa of Nagoya University, who is also a member of the screening committee of the Atsumi Foundation, presented the preliminary findings of his research on the theme "Morinosuke Kajime and Pan-Asianism". After his presentation, there was an active question and answer session from the Atsumi scholarship recipients, which continued up to the reception. It was a very meaningful and pleasant get-together for all the participants.

The father of Directress Itsuko Atsumi, Dr. Morinosuke Kajima was known as an outstanding businessman of the Showa period who developed Kajima Corporation as a world-class company after the war. At the same time, he was also a diplomat and a politician as well as a scholar, who has left behind many publications. He perhaps is not too well known as a person, however, who devoted his life, as a unique believer of Asianism, to the vision of an "Asian Federation" or "Asian Community" after his encounter in the later part of the 1920s with Dr. Coudenhove-Kalergi, who espoused the idea of Pan-Europe. It may come as a surprise to many even among those who knew Morinosuke that he erected in 1972 a memorial with the following words inscribed; "My greatest hope is to see one day the realization of Pan-Asia."

Based on his research of vast publications about Morinosuke's international politics and diplomatic activities, Professor Hirakawa, using PowerPoint slides was able to explain in easy to understand terms among others: what was his (Morinosuke's) idea of Asianism, what drove him to such an idea; how his idea was related to the ordeal of the" East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere" that then symbolized the of Japan's invasion of Asia; how was he able to pass through such an ordeal; and why his initiative was not reflected upon after the war. In conclusion, Professor Hirakawa suggested that a correct reconsideration of Morinosuke Kajima's theory of Pan-Asia is in order, especially in the light of the fast-growing interest in an East Asian community upon entering the 21st century.

Professor took the following questions from the floor, to which he extensively responded: "Was it really necessary to treat Russia then as a threat?" "Was it not a big issue to know how Japan's intellectuals overcame and later responded to the war?" "Didn't [he] have an interest in the independence revolution in the former colonies, including India, although there was no assistance made?" "Do you think that the return to Pan-Asia from Asia Pacific community that Mr. Kajima made in his last years is reflected in today's thinking?"

The participants enjoyed a reception of delicious Chinese cuisine, which ended at around 10 PM, a little late than usual.

by Junko Imanishi

The photos can be found in the following URL.