SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Chen Yan ‘ Report on the 12th SGRA China Forum “The Potential of Exchange of Japan-China Movies” ‘

     Forty years have passed since the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed. This May, the “Film Co-production Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China” became effective. Though we expected further progress in cooperation in the production of movies between both countries, it has been a cold winter for the movie industry in China. There have been fears about the Chinese government checking tax payments by people in the movie industry severely in order to reorganize the movie industry. As the SGRA China Forum was held in such an atmosphere on November 24, 2018, it moved us very deeply. The Forum was held in the Yifu Public Hall of Renmin University of China under the theme “Potential of Exchange of Japan-China Movies”. Different from past China Forums, the theme of movies is very popular now. I thought it was an excellent opportunity to understand the histories of movie exchange from specific viewpoints not only for researchers and movie fans but also the young who know names such as “Takakura Ken” from listening to their parents’ conversations.   During the Forum, we focused on searching for the potential reconstruction of histories of East Asia from various viewpoints and tried to clarify the historical aspects of cultural effects or interference. We also emphasized the importance of the construction of historical and general viewpoints in East Asian cultural exchange. Based on these aims, starting from the planning stage, we invited specialists in each field in order to understand the impact of Japanese movies on China and vice versa. And we could materialize for the first time the so-called “Listening Comparison (聴き比べ)” between two specialists of the Japanese and Chinese movie histories, inviting Prof. Karima Fumitosi (Honorable Professor, The University of Tokyo) , Japanese specialist for the history of Chinese movies and Mr. Wan Zhongyi(the chief editor of “People’s China”)Chinese specialist for Japanese movies. Prof. Chen Quijia, Vice President, School of Liberal Arts、Renmin University of China, representing the co-organizers, gave an opening speech. As a fan of movies he has been conducting research on Japanese Manga-animation for ten years, and has expectations for such a theme. Ms. Imanishi, representing the Atsumi Foundation, followed and explained the details of the Forum. Prof. Karima introduced criticism in detail about the introduction of Chinese movies into the Japanese market, under the title “What did Chinese movies produce for Japan, the past, present and future”. Recently, by new “contact” by increasing number of Chinese tourists to Japan, contents of anti-Japanese drama which handled Japanese army are being criticized. People say “we will not be cheated because we know the real Japan now.” Japanese side also came to know the real China through seeing Chinese tourists in Japan. Since a very long time ago when we could not have any chance to “contact”, movies have been playing such a role in creating impressions of each other. In fact, the first Chinese Movie Week took place in Japan in 1977. At that time, Chinese loved Japanese movies passionately. On the other hand, when Japanese people saw Chinese movies such as “Dongfang hong (東方虹)、”Eternal Glory to the Great Leader and Teacher Mao Zedong (especially the scene of the funeral ceremony of Zhou Enlai), which reflected the atmosphere of the time, they were shocked.  After this period, however, Japanese audiences got to know another China, which was not broadcast by the news but rather through movies along the flow of time. Prof. Karima has stimulated also his interest in China through his work on subtitling Chinese movies at screening parties. During the period, from the latter part of 1977 to 1980, this image that “the common people in China lived a poor life (especially in farming area), but they persevered to live strong” became solid in the minds of Japanese audiences. He presumes that Chinese movies, which describe present Chinese society, did not become popular in Japan because of the strong preconceptions of Japanese viewers.        The cinematic style in movie pictures in China at that time influenced Japanese movie directors like Mr. Nagisa Oshima, and people in the movie world in both China and Japan began to talk very often and communicate with each other. For example, Mr. Oshima’s point of view, from the non-sufferer perspective stimulated Chinese movie director Chen Kaige. Chen came back to story-telling and went on to produce “Farewell My Concubine,” which was a masterpiece of the 1990s. Japanese companies, which were involved in the production of Chinese movies directly by having Japanese engineers, started their own movie companies in China. Japanese actors also began to be active in China. The biggest change in the co-production of movies during these 40 years, besides the fact that they changed the location of movies to China, was that the depiction of relations between Japanese and Chinese in movies became very non-discriminatory and intimate.  Historical viewpoints by Japanese movie directors gave Chinese movies a new means of interpretation and opened up new possibilities. The “Film Co-production Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China” was signed this year. Prof. Karima expects that exchange and cooperation between the Japanese and Chinese movie industries will develop further.        In contrast to Prof. Karima’s presentation, Mr. Wang Zhongyi discussed the background of the movie world precisely under the theme “Japanese movies in China – Interfusion, Interchange, and Cooperation”, how movies expressed imagined sceneries of Chinese people and how Japanese movies influenced China.” In short, Japanese movies stimulated Chinese audiences and technical aspects of the movie world. The contents of Japanese movies left a deep impression on Chinese people. During the 1950s, in the early stages of the movie industry of New China, Japanese had already started taking part in the production of Chinese movies. For historical reasons, Shanghai movies were heavily influenced by America and movies in the North-East area inherited the tradition of Japanese movies. The most famous one was “The White Haired Girl” (1950) by Changchun film studios. In Japan, this film was opened to the public in the 1950s and Matsuyama Ballet produced the ballet version of it. Japanese documentaries about the effects of rapid economic growth such as social or environmental problems also made people in China consider these issues. After conclusion of the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, the Japanese movie boom took root in China and Japanese movies are being talked about even now. Through Japanese movies, Chinese audiences came to know about fashion, sceneries, daily lives and social issues in Japan. An image of a hero in a Japanese movie, which could not be seen in Chinese movies, won the hearts and minds of Chinese audiences and a Japanese movie star, who was at the height of his popularity, was born in China. This was Ken Takakura. His movie,“Kimi-yo, Hunnu no Kawa-wo Watare”「君よ憤怒の河を渉れ」(no English title) has been shown on screens many times in the past forty years and continues to have much influence even today. The place where the film is set became a so-called “Pilgrimage to the Holy Land” for Chinese people. Hokkaido, which is where the film by Yoji Yamada, a very famous Japanese movie director, is set has also been featured in Chinese movies many times. However, Mr. Wang emphasized that “the Homeland” for Japanese is the Seto Inland Sea. So, if Japanese and Chinese companies jointly produced a film at the Seto Inland Sea, considering our common culture of “Nasake (sympathy)” the films would be a sure hit.    .       Since the 1980s, events for cultural exchange for people in the movie world and films or dramas through joint production of both countries continued to be produced. “Bo-Kyou no Hoshi”「望郷之星(no English title)」 which was produced in collaboration with NHK and the preface of which was written by Deng Xiaoping, and “Daichi no Ko”「大地の子(no English title)」was based on a Japanese novel received good public response. Recently in the “Internet Era”, there have been a few cases where Japanese movies received an award abroad and became very popular in China first, and after that were released on the Japanese market. Prof. Wang said that we can expect further collaboration not only in movies and dramas but in stage productions, anime as well as games. We had a panel discussion after the talks by the two professors. Prof. Li Daoxin, Peking University, Dr. Qin Lan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Prof. Zhou Yue, Beijing  Language and Culture University, Dr. Chen Yan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Prof. Lin Shaoyang, the University of Tokyo took to the stage. Due to the limited time, they could not have a deep discussion but could share their own understandings and research on the cultural exchange of movies in Japan and China. Dr. Qin shared his educational experience in contemporary literature. Prof. Zhou analyzed works by Koreeda Hirokazu, Japanese movie director and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Chinese movie director. Dr. Chen examined the common market of Japanese movies and anime. Prof. Li, specialist in the history of Chinese movies, appreciated the lectures and remarked that “conversations between Japanese ‘geeks’ for Chinese movies and Japan experts in Chinese media people were very unique (curious) and were rich in content”. Prof. Lin talked about the cooperation between intellectuals in Japan and China, adaptation to Japanese of Chinese historical materials and the image of China in Japan.     Since young students in their twenties who were present had never seen Japanese movies from the nineties or before then. they thought that Ken Takakura, a movie star in Japanese movies, was just an idol for their parents’ generation. Through this forum, however, they came to know the histories of exchange between Japanese and Chinese movies. Inspired by this forum, they may start to study Japanese and Chinese cultural exchange, one which for a new generation is based on Manga and anime. I am looking forward to the future of exchange between Japanese and Chinese movies and to the exchange of academic research based on it.                Photos of the Day Refer to SGRA News (2019, January 10) in Japanese  (Chen Yan / Doctoral Course in Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sonja Dale
  • 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:   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