Atsumi Foundation Get-Together for Fiscal Year 2010

The "Get-together of Atsumi Scholarship Recipients" for 2010 was held on November 5th (Fri) at the Atsumi Foundation Hall. This year's "Get-together of Atsumi scholarship recipients" had Professor Wang Min of Hosei University give an invaluable talk on "Japan and China: Mutual Misunderstanding and Structure".

It was a very interesting talk that used a lot of PPT materials. Wang-sensei first of all emphasized the "Kanji Culture (Zone): China, Japan, Korea are linked through their common use of "Kanji" and the "Kanji culture" that arises there from. Examples cited were "itoku irin" (roughly, dealing virtuously with your neighbor) and "yuuai" (fraternity), which were terms that appear in the diplomatic relationship between Japan and China, and are both based on the kanji classics. (in the early modern era, Korea used the seal "isei itoku" (roughly, ruling virtuously leads to order) in diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea.) However, Wang-sensei did not stop at such general commonalities, but also pointed out the importance of differences. A culture that is always on the move is accompanied by change as it moves. A culture changes as it is transmitted from China to Japan. Reversely, culture from Japan brings about change as it flows into China. The word "yuuai" in some cases will be used and written with the same kanji in China and Japan, but it was also pointed out that in diplomatic situations the meaning thought by each party would slightly differ. There were many more interesting examples such as the difference in each country's image of a fox (nine-tailed fox), and the image of "ishin denshin" (heart-to-heart communication).

I think that Wang-sensei's point about "the smaller probability of having collisions due to cultural differences in Europe and the US, where the differences are high, than in the mutual relationships among Japan, China, and Korea" is important. In order to overcome twisted relationships, it is important to validate and confirm culture, which has been taken from the perspective of cross cultures. For this to happen, it is important to have a communication the objectively admits to such mutual differences, without fear of being different.

Moreover, looking at the cultural angle, separated from the conventional tendency to focus on political and economic perspectives, needless to say, more mutual understanding and communication are necessary. We should not look lightly at the cultural influence that hegemonic methods and expressions have had on Japan, Korea, and China. With regards to "Kanji cultural zone", we can recognize the East Asian bond of culture, including the history of influencing each other.

And finally, the active efforts of Japan to spread her culture (as represented by anime) and her international role were also raised. It was unfortunate that time was limited, but the talk was rich in content.

After the talk, 1997 Raccoon Li Enmin, Professor at Obirin University commented that "both Japan and China could be faulted for the Senkaku issue, but it is important to have a broader perspective on the matter." Atsumi International Scholarship Foundation Councilor Yasushi Akashi commented that "It has been indicated that a hotline in a political meeting, given the unfortunate incidents between Japan and China recently. From a private dimension, China's culture is naturally deep and rich, but it is important to have a lot more Chinese directly come to, experience, and interact with Japan." As a specialist in history who does research on East Asia's historical relations, I found the talk very much important.

We had an invaluable time conversing while enjoying the delicious Chinese cuisine during the social gathering that started from 7:30 after the talk.

(Written by Kim Kyongtae, translated by Max Maquito)

Photos by Mathias

Photos by Tanihara