SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • 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
  • Li Yanming “One Belt One Road” – Search for Chinese Strategies and Implication

    We had the 58th SGRA Forum at the Tokyo International Forum, Glass Tower, in the afternoon, on November 18 (Sat.) 2017, under the title “Geopolitics of ’One Belt, One Road’, Does it tie together Asia ?”Participants in the Forum were well-balanced. Two members each were from Japan, China and Korea. The key-note speaker was Prof. Jianrong ZHU/Toyo Gakuen University. Reporters were Dr. Yanming LI/The University of Tokyo; Prof. Young June PARK/ Korean National Defense University; Dr. June PARK/Seoul University, Asian Research Center; and Prof. Kei KOGA/Singapore Nanyang Technological University.  The panelist/debater was Gouta NISHIMURA/The Chief Editor of “Toyo Keizai” (weekly magazine).  The panelists were mainly researchers in international politics or international politics/economy. We can say that the viewpoints of economics and journalists/practitioners were well-integrated with the involvement of Chairman or moderator Prof. Hitoshi Hirakawa (Kokushikan University) and panelists. At the 19th Chinese Communist Party Convention (October 18 – 24) which was held just before the Forum, “One Belt One Road” became the key-words that China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized repeatedly.  Moreover, these words were written in the Agreement of the Communist party as an explanation of their foreign policy. Accordingly, the forum became very timely and got the interest of a lot of people.At the end of the year 2017, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe also expressed his intention that Japan’s foreign policy would have a close connection with the “One Belt One Road” policy and it is said that political relations between Japan and China would be improved in 2018.  Economic cooperation between Japan and China based on “One Belt One Road” idea would attract people’s attention hereafter. In the key-note address of Prof. ZHU, he analyzed the “One Belt One Road” policy in terms of its concrete idea, background, process, main means, and strategic purpose. At the latter part of the reports, the reaction or response of each country participant were introduced. I think it would be supported by developing countries in Central Asia by reason that “One Belt One Road” would meet with their demand for improving their infrastructure. On the other hand, however, the United States, European countries, Japan. Russia and India may have an anxiety or caution based on geopolitical concerns.  Against such anxiety, the Chinese Government shows their counter measures. They are emphasizing their connections with developing strategies or ideas of developing countries. They put their priority on “land” instead of “sea” in promoting the economies of developing countries. On this point, we discussed that there would be plenty of room for cooperation between Japan and China. At an individual session, a plant (including infrastructure) export strategy, which Japan once promoted in the 1970s, was introduced. Then, the “New Aid Plan” was introduced. It has been promoted by Japan at the latter part of 1980s. It was called “Trinity”, which included direct investment toward Asia from Japan, transferring of technologies and enlargement of trade toward Japan.  Dr. Li (myself) proposed that this plan has a similarity with “One Belt One Road” in the sense that, as an external economic policy, both aim for economic development. Prof. PARK (Young June) reported, from the standpoint of foreign strategies and naval power of China. “One Belt One Road” is one of the strategies on land (not sea) by China to avoid direct confrontation with the United States of America (America) on the sea. Dr. PARK (June) reported about the Middle East, referring to the policy, aid and construction of harbors by China in this area. In this area, however, very complicated relations (domestic or international - especially between America and Russia) are developing. So, China has to increase their political and military presence in the area in order to keep their economic position in the power vacuum. The last reporter, Prof. KOGA discussed about attitude, standpoint and role of Asian countries which are not big countries or we can say “outer” countries. Even in small countries, they have to balance themselves between big powers like America and China in order to keep their interests. On this point, Prof. PARK (Korea) explained that Korea also takes a similar strategy. At the open forum, there were various questions from the floor. However, we can say, as a whole, precaution or fear of “One Belt One Road” is still strong.  It will be almost the same with Japanese society where people have been considering “One Belt One Road” with precaution or fear.In the panel, some people pointed out that “One Belt One Road” is just one of the results or an extension of the Chinese “Go Global” strategy which has already started at the latter part of 1990s. Some people said that “One Belt One Road” is just bundling of strategies which China has encouraged individually between two countries. However, once “One Belt One Road” is shown on a world map, it will be quite natural that geopolitical anxiety would increase. On the other hand, since China declared “One Belt One Road” officially in 2013, China did not fully explain to the world its contents, and we can say that the process of forming this policy is still opaque. But Mr. Nishimura pointed out, in such an opaque situation, we can say that China has been keeping their open attitude, judging from the operation circumstances of AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) which has been supporting “One Belt One Road”. He said also that if Japan fears that China would lead in the establishment of global standard by themselves, Japan should join positively and take initiative, neither taking a wait-and-see attitude nor keeping at a distance. Many panelists agreed with him. When we look this issue from a long viewpoint like global history of economy or anthropology, various points in dispute like a shift of the center of the world would be brought up. It will be necessary to realize another big meaning of “One Belt One Road”, not only power balance of geopolitics. Due to the limited space of this paper, I cannot fully write about individual points in dispute. But, I believe that that the main purpose of this forum has been achieved. We could give a place where we learn and think of “One Belt One Road” from various train of thought.All the report about the forum will be issued as the SGRA Report by autumn, 2018.So, I appreciate you would read it then..When we planned this forum, “One Belt One Road” was not yet talked about in Japan.Of course, there have been study or lecture meeting for limited audiences like specialists or in economic fields. But, I think there have been few occasions for ordinary people or scholars who keep their distance from the government authorities. .    I, as a planner of this forum, have an impression that we are given another research assignment. We have to find out a process of forming “One Belt One Road”.  Namely, who did work out an idea and how?  How did he get to such results through power relationship of each of the actors? Lastly, I like to express my thanks to all the SGRA staff members who supported us in every detail approving our program and all panelists who agreed to present and discuss their reports. I thank all audiences also who kindly came and participated in the forum and gave us many questions and the people who showed their interests individually in subject of the forum. Photos SGRA NEWS ( Report of  the 58th SGRA Forum) in Japanese (original)  (Special Lecturer, The University of Tokyo, College of Arts and Sciences)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by 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 
  • M. Jakfar Idrus ”Revival of Iitate-mura:the status quo and its problem”

    A weird warning siren, which announced that the ICBM by North Korea has overflown Hokkaido (the most northern part of Japan), blared out in the archipelago in the early morning on September 15 (Fri.) 2017.Listening to this news, we, sixteen SGRA Fukushima Study Tour members left Tokyo Station by Shinkansen for Iitate-village in Fukushima Prefecture. The SGRA Fukushima Tour, sponsored by the Atsumi International Foundation, started in the year 2012 for the purpose of inspection and studying the situation of the revival there after the disaster. Recall that on March 11, 2011, a big “Tsunami” hit Tohoku (North-Eastern)-area in Japan and radioactive contamination by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Accident caused by Tsunami became an extraordinary accident in world history. Our tour has been focusing on Iitate village where people were forced to take refuge and we have made site inspections  every year for these six years. It was the third time for me. Tour members this time came not only Japan but also from Indonesia, South Korea, China, Ghana, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Nepal and the United States. In Iitate, a provision for the evacuation zone was lifted this April and people were returning to build a new village. We, tour members, wanted  to understand how these people are tackling the difficult problem of building a new village. We have been watching the actual change of Iitate through communication with villagers. This was the most important purpose of our tour. I vividly remember a scene of Iitate when I visited last time in 2015.  At that time, the provision for evacuation was not lifted yet and we saw only decontamination workers. It was very miserable to see houses which were left as vacant houses and exposed to the wind and rain. Many houses were still vacant and we saw only a lot of flexible container bags of decontamination soil around houses and on fields. When I entered the village this time, I could see different sceneries. Some crumbling houses which belong to the people who are allowed to return are being newly built and I could see vinyl farming houses here and there. We could see also field of rice (for making Japanese “sake”. Such changes of sceneries made me feel strongly that the people have already started to build their new village. A gloomy image of the disaster-stricken area has already changed. We met Mr. Muneo Kanno, a villager of Iitate and Vice-President of the “Association of Resurrection of Fukushima”, and came to know that building a new village is not simple.He said “though the village was removed from the evacuation area category and the villagers have been allowed to return, we are faced with a lot of difficulties. I like you to see with your own eyes and feel by yourself what problems or difficulties we have. ”It was really our purpose of the SGRA Fukushima Tour. According to the Manager, General Affairs Section, Iitate, “there were about 6,000 villagers before the disaster.  And only 400, out of those 6,000, came back now but almost all are the aged. Many people come on village daytime every day from outside of Iitate. We have to overcome a lot of difficulties to restore to original condition and we have to improve the  present environments for the return of villagers.”We visited many facilities and got the opinions of people who endeavor to build a new village.  I like to report here some of these opinions.. Nursing home for the agedThey can use, even now, a nursing home for the aged which was built before the disaster and was not damaged. However, there are not enough nurses or care workers to maintain or operate such a home. Mega-solar panel:In the western area of Iitate, we saw large-sized mega-solar panels which are manufactured by a big company in Tokyo. The fields were not for farm use. The solar panels may be a trial for building a new village, but I had a feeling that something is out of place and not in harmony with nature. I hope the solar panels would not become another trouble for the life of the people in Iitate. Flower gardening:We visited Mr. Takahashi’s vinyl house. He is a farmer and growing flowers there and got his powerful opinion.  I got a strong feeling that the efforts for their future by the people who returned to the village are the basis for their development. Takahashi-san’s energy or power which try to overcome such difficulties impressed me a lot. Roadside station:”House of MADAY LIFE”:House (station) of “MADAY” Life was built as an overriding policy by the government as a symbol of the revival of Iitate.  As there is no shop in Iitate yet, such shops, convenient shops, direct sales of farm products from farmers and light meal corners in “House of MADAY”, are being completed for the improvement of villagers’ life and interchange of villagers themselves.  I hope people from other area also come to House of MADAY.*Maday :Dialect of Iitate area in Fukushima Flower Garden in Meadow:We visited the flower garden of Mr. Kin-ichi Okubo (aged 76 years) who is called as a “wizard of flower”. It is not the same as Takahashi-san’s flower garden mentioned above. Mr. Okubo has a dream and is trying to build a large scale flower garden for narcissuses or cherry trees utilizing the mountainside or paddy field, both of which are polluted by radioactivity. Young fellows are also working together as volunteers. I was surprised at his energy which does not look his age of 76.I am sure this flower garden would become a famous spot in Iitate  in the near future. Religious facilities:We visited “Yamatumi-shrine”. We met the village chief by chance and we were able to get his opinion about the present situation of the village. I think religion plays a big role in the revival of the village. Especially in Japan, traditional habits or festivals are deeply connected with the local shrines or temples. I am an Indonesian and a Muslim. In Indonesia, religion also plays an important role for the revival from disasters. We could make a heart-warming interchange with the people in Iitate in this SGRA Fukushima tour and learned a lot. We appreciate people who cooperated with us this time. I believe the lifting of the evacuation area would be a starting point for their restoration.And I like to keep my strong interest in Iitate hereafter believing in a brilliant future of Iitate. Photos SGRA Report of The 6th Fukushima Study Tour in Japanese (Original)  (Visiting Researcher of Kokusikan University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Max Maquito 
  • Letizia Guarini ‟Compassion and Literature after 3.11: Why did Yū Miri move to Minami-Soma City (Fukushima Pref.)? "

          …. Another reason why I moved to Minami-Soma City was the “compassion”. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the words “kizuna” (bonds), “ganbarou” (let’s struggle together!), or “yorisou” (to get close) were everywhere. Such words were based on pity and goodwill, but those feelings come from the outside. The pain that people who are suffering feel is their own; for the others, like me, it is impossible to feel the same pain. However, I can open myself toward that pain.(Yū Miri, There are Unnecessary Things in our Lives) We can say that after the Great East Japan Earthquake Japanese literature has changed in various ways. After March 21st, 2011 the category “post 3.11” appeared, with many literary works focusing on issues such as the nuclear power plants, the criticism toward the government, the effects of radiation on living creatures, as well as the problems of restoration and reconstruction. A lot of books have analyzed “post 3.11 literature”, and have been translated in many languages. Thus, it is no exaggeration to say that modern Japanese literature has moved toward a new direction after the Great East Japan Earthquake.Moreover, we can see such changes in the connections between literature and various actions and groups. I will introduce three examples. In April 2012, Waseda Bungaku (Waseda Literature) was published as an extra issue with the title “Ruptured Fiction(s) of the Earthquake”: it includes short stories written especially for this charity program, as well as essays and roundtable discussions on the place of writing after a disaster like the Tōhoku earthquake. It has been translated into English, Chinese, Korean and Italian, and the proceeds of the book as well as the translations are being donated to the Red Cross. In October 2012, the “Association of writers for a society without nuclear power” was created. This association emphasized the role of fiction after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the necessity to talk about the problems associated with nuclear power. Furthermore, in 2015 Nobel-winner Kenzaburō Ōe spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, saying that “we have no choice but to achieve a world without nuclear power. Keeping raising my voice: that may be the last job I can do.” His words had a big impact all over the world. There is one more way we can look at the relation between the Great East Japan Earthquake and the “movement” within Japanese literature. That is, writers have “moved”. Evacuation problems after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster arose not only in Fukushima Pref., but also in other regions. Starting with the Akutagawa Prize novelist Hitomi Kanehara, many writers, worried about the radioactive contamination, decided to move from Tokyo to Kansai area. Yū Miri was one of them. In her interview, Yū Miri said that her decision to move from Kamakura to Osaka on March 16, 2011 was based on her feelings as a mother: “I wanted my son to evacuate as far as possible for his own safety”. On the other hand, as a writer she felt the need to go immediately to Fukushima. In April, 2011 she returned to Kamakura, and began to visit Fukushima regularly in order to listen to the stories of people living there. She finally moved to Soma-City in Fukushima Pref. in April, 2015. What are the reasons behind her decision? “We cannot live there, although we want to.” “We have to live there, although we do not want to”. The nuclear disaster, and the problem of radioactive contamination are closely linked to the issue of “living”. Yū Miri has stressed that every person has a different bond with his/her birthplace: in order to understand that pain, we have to listen to each individual story. However, as she was listening to those painful stories while living in another place, Yū Miri felt that something was wrong: she realized that real empathy toward the pain suffered by the local people might be attained only by stepping on the same soil, breathing the same air with them. In her words, “compassion” (that is, “to suffer together”), was necessary. What would be the result of this “compassion”? A lot of “post 3.11” literary works have focused on a subject unable to write, powerless. On the other hand, Yū Miri has tried to narrate Fukushima from a different perspective. Until December, 2016 she has gathered the voices of nearly 450 people through a special FM radio program, “Two persons, one person”, held by Minami-Soma (southern part of Soma-City) special broadcasting station. About those stories she has written as follows: “Those are voices that I have heard from the outside, but they entered my body, and after a few days they suddenly changed to my own voice. His or her pain rises from my body, and the images of what he or she has lived spread through my mind as if they were my own memories.” Although Yū Miri has talked about the life in Soma-City in her essays and interviews, she has not written any fictional work about the people in Fukushima Pref. However, she has chosen to “suffer together” with those people, removing feelings based on pity and goodwill, which come from the outside. We can expect that such a writer would keep writing about the pain of people affected by Fukushima nuclear disaster, as well as about their hopes and smiles, and spread those stories around the world.  SGRA Kawaraban 551 in Japanese (Original)  (PhD candidate in Literature, Ochanomizu University) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac/Max Maquito
  • Peng Hao “Approach to “Common Knowledge” and “Common Wisdom” in East Asia “

    We had the forum “The Mongol Invasions of Japan and the Globalization of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century” in the city of Kita-Kyushu in the early part of August 2017, sponsored by the Atsumi International Foundation. It was the second forum of the series “Possibilities of Conversations among National Historians”. Historians from Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia got together and discussed about the history of the Mongol Empire, especially about its impact on East Asia.  As, I, a researcher of histories, participated in the planning of this project, I had a lot of impressions which cover various things. Taking this opportunity of writing this essay, I like to briefly organize my impressions. First of all, the forum, this time, was not merely an international conference based on a key topic “The Mongol Invasions of Japan”. I would like to emphasize again the following points. We like to describe a history of mankind, first, from a viewpoint different from the historical description of the nation state. Next, we would like to correct mistaken perceptions of histories, which dominate through the influence of national history view, so as to improve relations among countries or people, which have been hindered by the problem of politicized historical recognitions which come from political confusion of means and objects.  Actually, there have been various recent conversations of histories among those three or two countries, Japan, China and Korea, as several participants of the forum referred.Some conversations were well known being led by government. Or some show high specialties in methods of researches or themes or the way of usage of historical records.Each direction or goal is not always the same. As Prof. Hiroshi Mitani pointed out, if we think of relationship, after the conversations, becoming friendly or unfriendly, we have to say that conversation based on private interaction is easier to proceed. On the other hand, private-based conversations are easy to result in deepening discussion on individual theme or technical knowledge. However, as those researchers have their own “habits” or proceed by force of habit, they are completely absorbed in discussing their interesting theme. As a result, they tend to neglect important points such as how to promote common recognition of histories from their technical discussion without thinking of social meanings of the theme. There are quite a few “conversations” which ended halfway because the participants could not continue their researches due to financial difficulties, though they got subsidy for their researches. Concerning such problems, there is a key concept: “Common Space for Wisdom” or “Platform of Wisdom”, which Prof. Liu Jie proposed as an object of the forum. The meaning of the word “Wisdom” is very broad and we can say it contains the meaning of “Knowledge” also. Through technical researches, it creates reliable historical “Knowledge” and also creates “Wisdom” which benefits to overcome adverse effects of the national historical perspective. .I dare to add this point here because we tend to forget when we proceed with our technical discussion.    I like to add my impression based on the point in dispute. One is an evaluation of the so-called “Impact of Mongolia”. Prof. Yasuhoro Yokkaichi reported an invasion to East Asia by Mongolia in perspective.  A Mongolian element, as part of the impact of the advance of Mongolia, spread to whole of East Asia including China. But, as Mongolia has ruled China and extended their influence throughout China, we can say that some areas have been affected also by Chinese culture. I was very interested in the three-dimensional report about “Mongol Impact”. In the discussion of the history of the Qing Dynasty (1616–1912), we could get a historical image that a ruler of the Dynasty had various faces besides being an emperor of China. He has built various ways of dominance depending on areas or races under his rule. Comparing the history of Qing Dynasty with that of Mongol Empire, historical documents written in Mongolian language were very limited. Especially, the history of East Asia was written mainly by classical Chinese and most of the existing historical documents are written by classical Chinese.Due to this, an image of the Yuan Dynasty, one of the Chinese dynasties, is easy to establish. But, on the contrary, we cannot distinguish an identity or independence of Mongol or plurality of Mongolian Dynasty. Recently, an image of a rich Mongol Empire became distinct by an effort of Prof. Masaaki Sugiyama.  Listening to the reports of this forum, a historical image of Mongol Empire became clearer in my mind and I was very impressed. Having related to the above, there is a problem to be solved. As Prof. Liu Jie pointed out when he summarized the whole discussion, there are double meanings in China under rule of Mongolia and China, a part of Mongol Empire. How to handle this problem when we discuss as “Common Knowledge” or “Common Wisdom”?  There are many opinions. We can take up “Yuan Dynasty” as a part of Chinese history as in the past. But, as  Prof. Ge Zhaogung pointed out, there is a way of multiple layered description, in the context of the histories of East Asia or of Eurasia.  Now, the so-called “Nation-state” has a lot of problems, which have no sign of being solved soon. But, it is not realistic to neglect their historical views about such “Nation-states”. Or rather, through such multi-layered descriptions about histories, if we can integrate various historical images, which we could not see until now, into text books, it would be useful to build “Common Knowledge” and “Common Wisdom” in the long run. I was also interested in how researchers of Mongolian histories made conversations with “the past” despite of the situations that the first historical sources were scarce. Through various reports, this time, I could understand well that reporters have strived for their creative and original studies by criticizing compiled historical books, using an approach that is not based on written datand by inference based on “common sense” in human societies and their historical background. Through the conversations of historians who handle different eras and areas, they stimulated each other in their methodology. But, I thought such conversations, in another sense, make a connection with an approach to “Common Wisdom”. SGRA Kawaraban 550 in Japanese (Original)  ( Associate professor, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka City University )  English: Translated by Kazuo Kawamura Checked by Max Maquito