SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Koo Hye-won “A Tour of OZU”

     Few years ago, during summer, I was on the way to a café in Kiyosumi Shirakawa where I visited often. I was surprised seeing “Fukagawa” which was the address of cafe. Fukagawa is the place where a movie director Ozu Yasujiro was born and brought up. Director Ozu is a specialism my study. I was so excited to have stepped inside Fukagawa town coincidentally where we could find old town atmosphere in Ozu movies. As I was not familiar to geography in Tokyo at that time, it was unexpected discovery because Kiyosumi Shirakawa and Fukagawa were very remote islands in my knowledge. I downloaded the application of geography immediately and visited “the place where Yasujiro Ozu was born”. Large scale condominiums alongside big roads may be different from the scene which Director Ozu has seen. But when I saw the scene standing on asphalt road in hot summer sunshine, l wondered why Director Ozu seems to be, more or less, close to me rather than historical figure. I hit my realization that my study of Ozu started here basically. My unexpected meeting with Ozu went one step closer to. Since then, so-called “Ozu Tour” was a theme of my studying abroad. I followed footsteps of Ozu that a bronze statue of Saigoh Takamori in Ueno Park, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto and railroad in Onomichi. Wim Wenders, world famous German movie director, disappointed saying in his documentary movie “Tokyo Landscape” that there is no landscape like “Tokyo Story” (Ozu works in 1953) anymore. However, I found myself to be connected to Ozu a moment whenever I found something unchanged and felt everything has changed. Such moment, Ozu works in mono-colored changes to natural color in my mind. But soon absence of Ozu touches me deeply. When I come to the calm sea in Onomichi where same as that in “Tokyo Story”, I can share a look of Ozu. And, at the same time, it sheds light on the life of Ozu immediately.  “San-ma no Aji (Taste of Pacific saury)” (1962) is posthumous work of Ozu. There is a shot of vacant room upstairs after daughter gets married. Professor Masato Hase commented that this shot made audiences feel “the time spent together between father and daughter passed in an instantaneous”. This sense of time (passed in an instant) which applies to my “Ozu Tour” was emphasized in Ozu works by intentional omission of essential scene. It comes from blank space in his life where I had no way to go. I had strange and complicated sense of time which immersed in me with sparkling wave in Onomichi. I can express such sense of time with pain or vain only. Ozu tour was a repetition of meeting and farewell for me. Looking back when I entered Ozu world, I realize my curiosity about riddle of Ozu moviesguided me to my research world and his unshakable strength became an index of my research.My tour for Ozu world supported my study abroad life mentally as a source of vitality. When I was tired and frustrated doing my research, I collected my cluttered mind by following the tracks of Ozu which remained somewhere in Japan which made me evoke his existence or absence. Experiential resonance between reading his works and following his tracks colored the figure of Ozu and expanded my field of vision about Ozu. It was valuable experience for me to have studied abroad. Thinking about it now, not only my research but life in Japan for eight years also seems to have been guided by Ozu. How do I inherit his look which passed in an instant? This is an unsolved and lifetime question which impressed deeply in my mind.I would like to move one step ahead, even if it’s just a little.  SGRA Kawaraban 677 in Japanese (Original)  Koo Hye-won / 2020 Raccoon  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • WU Ching-wen I have encoutered Japanese Literature

     I read the Japanese novel “Hukai Kawa (Deep River)” written by ENDO Shusaku which was recommended by Japanese language teacher in my last year of high school. It was just after the year 1987 when we could buy any Japanese literatures translated to Chinese language at bookstores in Taiwan. (The Taiwanese Martial Law was released in 1987.) I, as a non-religious person, have been trying to find connotation in “Hukai Kawa” and it means I was the reader who drifted in the history of long river like Chiang Jiang.   One of these days, when I was going around bookstores with my classmate who was searching for annotation of Chinese novel “Hong Lou Meng” for mock exam, I found “Waga Hai wa Neko de Aru” (I am a cat) by NATUME Soseki as the title fascinated me. It was the beginning of my exam of Japanese literature and read “KOKORO (heart or spirit)” too and I left my hometown where I could enjoy warm sunshine and pleasant breeze and went to a University in Taipei to learn Japanese language.     The more I learn about the Meiji Era which NATUME Soseki lived and about a life in Taiwan which was full of social success and struggle for survive, the more I realized schooling-oriented society in Taiwan. The youth in Taiwan who study at a university in metropolis feel stress about not only high cost of living and bad residential environment but isolated human relations and social expectations also. The number of children who suffered from psychosomatic illness due to muggy climate in Taipei is quite a lot.    Recently TV drama titled “Children are not your possessions” which criticized society became a topic in Taiwan. I think such acceptable drama should be produced earlier. I grew up under the parent who were not concerned about social status and have been keeping strange feeling about educational system in school. Especially when I talk with the youth who comes from metropolis, has increased my awareness that the youth who grow up in utilitarian atmosphere in the society, live up to expectations of “love” by their parents and teachers. The youth are impatient thinking that “being personage” rather than “it is enjoyable to challenge”. Such common issue in the East Asian countries where academic histories are regarded highly should be pursued continuously hereafter in the field of education.    At the beginning of my doctoral course, new educational system which considered practical utility to be important like in the United States started together with promotion of national security alliances between Japan and the U.S. Exclusion movement of social sciences in Japan affected educational system in Taiwan. One of my colleagues who was translating Japanese contemporary novels confused saying that “what is the good of novels?” One junior of mine decided to be enrolled in go to a good college. But he felt frustrated about how he would be considered after taking doctor’s degree. The causes of his frustration are low birthrate in Japan, sharp drop of the post in universities and unstable employment. Tragedy or political failures follows. Unbalance ratio between demand and supply in the field of social science which came from increasing of the number of students of doctoral course, social looking down on the unemployed despite their high educational background, loss of self-identity of postgraduate students etc. I was feeling depressed after coming to Japan. I have been bullied through social media by my senior who came from Taiwan. When I said I would like to attend an academic conference, I was treated inadequately and rumors spread around the people among same field. When I shared my private living on Facebook, snide remarks were made. I was accused falsely saying I have disrupted the future of others. When I made my research presentation, I was told on through teacher. I was introduced to a male who was looking for marriage partner saying that it is difficult to find jobs for foreign students in Japan and Europe and a female should marry. I think they are in the “co-dependency” relations. Desire of others is own desire. The end justifies the means. They betray immediately when they have conflict of interests.        I recall “Hukai Kawa” which guided me to Japanese literatures. A hero in this novel made a long trip to India in search of meaning of life. I have been living in the life of unbelieving and uneasy human relations. I like to ask myself what shall I trust? My world of existence in Japan is quite different, blessed with nature. I was told this area was developed recently but my heart was calm surrounded by big and calm forest at the night before exam. I saw spiderweb was shining in gaslight near a bus stop. At bookstore, there was a section “enjoyable living with forest and birds”. On a clear day, parents and children relax running around fields and feeding fish and ducks. One of my junior studying graduates said jokingly “since many foreign students here purified by nature, they are all gentle and kind”. The reason why we feel relaxed when we read SAIGYO and BASHOU is we travel with SAIGYO and BASHOU in our hearts.By the way, before studying Japanese literature I heard people go travel when heartbroken.I wonder why? In Taiwan, when they are heartbroken, they go to drink or for songs. The world of Japanese culture which I became familiar is too classy and its interesting generation gap among parents and brothers.    SGRA Kawaraban 676 in Japanese (Original)  WU_Ching-wen/2020 Raccoon, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at National Taiwan University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Slow Living”

     I will start this essay with the surprises that I experienced in Japan as a student studying abroad. I lived in Beijing first and then moved to Tokyo. It means that I moved from the capital of China to the capital of Japan. I was surprised at beautifulness of Tokyo. And it is a safe city. Particularly I was surprised with the politeness and quick response of the   restaurants. Waiters brought me water immediately when sat at a table and it was always iced water. (It took some time for me to get habituated to take cold iced water as being from China.) When I was ready to place an order, waiter would immediately come to take one before I call him. He takes good care of customers and moves around kitchen and table inside. The response remains the same if I order food of Yen 500 only. I thought within “you don’t need to do so much”. I do not care whether a glass of water is cold or not and do not even care also to be left alone. Is it the only me who comes from China and is surrounded by unfriendly waiters?  As the time passes in Japan, I began to have a feeling that even Japanese feels “hard to live” in such peaceful country where everything is perfect.  I was vaguely aware before the pandemic that everybody moved around expressionlessly as if they were chased by something. They could not enjoy peaceful life and were deprived of freedom of moving around the street by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Foreign tourists disappeared and “Mask Police” appeared. They tell each other not to go out without mask or and to citizens who do not cover their noses by mask. It is a shame that people in Japan made their society hard to live by themselves.  I think they can live their life more casually. It will be OK for you, as far as you wear mask and sterilize your hands even if others do not. It would be hygienic enough if you compare with other countries. I remember one of my fellow international students from India told me that he had a feeling that Japan is the most beautiful in the world after returning from academic conference from other counties and his home country. I think Japanese in Japan made their society harder (to live) and hard by themselves.    There is one Japanese who raised the question, why it is so hard to live in Japan? His name is WAKASHIN Yujun. He is the Manager of Company and a Specially Appointed Associate Professor of KEIO University. He pointed out that people in Japan seek “correctness” too much and make themselves harder to live. When people enter restaurant, waiter serve cold water. It is “correct” and common sense in Japan. It is very convincing for me. Now in Japan, everybody wears mask when going out. “Mask Police” came from the reason, why Japanese seek correctness too much. There is no sign to stop seeking for correctness and the society becomes harder to live.    I think it better to change the society which seek “correctness” more.For example, it is quite common not only in China but in Europe and America that, trains delay sometime. There are no announcements made on how long the trains will delay and passengers do not care. In Japan, however, there is an announcement made on how long the train will delay even if the delay would be for a few minutes only. It will be a kind information for passengers who are waiting. I am used to wait in other countries but in Japan and I have a question why station attendants in Japan try so hard to excuse for the delay. I think the stress of station attendants or companies might be relieved if the number of announcements will decrease. The most important thing for passengers is that they should not care if there would be a few minutes delay. Five minutes will pass quickly if you watch the phone while you wait for the train.  Prof. WAKASHIN is researching the communication between people and organizations and likes to establish “allowable society” in the end. He suggests such society that can allow the mistake of consumers by relaxing standards of their daily life.  I agree that we can live our lives in the society more relaxed by allowing others. Such thinking is “effective” in other countries than Japan and it is “necessary” in Japan.  The future of Japanese society will be possible to be bright as far as there would be the people who like to change, and not running away, from the present “hard life”. I do not care to be served lukewarm water or served foods with water at the same time.  SGRA Kawaraban 673 in Japanese (Original)  XIE Zhihai / Associated Professor at Kyoai Gakuen University    Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YU Ning “The unpredictable journey that leads me to Japanese Language”

     I was often asked about the reason why I started studying Japanese. Perhaps it was my destiny to enter the Department of Japanese language, even though it wasn’t my original intention. Or perhaps it might have originated from my mother’s love of YAMAGUCHI Momoe and MIURA Tomokazu.   I did not initially choose “Japanese language” when I was filling out my university application, because I had no intention to major in foreign language. But there was a question in application form that says, “Do you still intent to enter the University, even if the major you desire is unavailable to you?” and I answered yes. I was accepted to the university of my choice, Nanjing University. But unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the major that I wanted. I was instead made to change into Japanese Language major, which was still available for enrollment at that time. I thought about taking a year off, because this switch was quite unanticipated. But it was my mother who encouraged me to enroll in Japanese Language course. She even joked, “when you learned how to speak Japanese, you can take me to Japan, and even interpret for me when I meet Momoe and Tomokazu.” My mother has been a big fan of Japanese movies since her young days in the 80s. During that time, a lot of Japanese movies were imported to China. A lot of Chinese, including my mother, became fascinated by the actors in these Japanese movies. As a result, I would hear about these movie stars’ names over and over again during my childhood. So even though I had no clear idea what I would do by studying Japanese language, at least, in my mind, it might be helpful someday when my mother gets to meet these movie stars. Once I started to learn Japanese, I found myself enjoying language study more than I expected. The more I learned about Japan, the more I was drawn toward Japanese culture. I was grateful to have enrolled into Japanese language major despite not being my first choice. When I was a junior in university, I accepted the invitation from Japan-China Friendship Association to homestay for a week in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture. It was my first visit to Japan. I stayed with a Japanese family, and got to participate in the local town festival too. It was a valuable experience for me to learn about Japanese culture in such intimate way. It made me realized the limitations of learning only from textbook, and as a result, I decided to continue my post-grad education in Japan. Despite having decided to come to Japan, I had a hard time choosing which field of research I should advance. Some of my classmates majored in Japanese language because of their love for anime or Japanese idols, but I had a hard time searching for a field of study that I would be passionate about. At that time, Soushoku-Kei Danshi, or “Herbivorous men” in English, had become the hot topic in Japan and China. Someone in my class joked with me by calling me such term, and through this exchange, I got myself very interested in “Gender study”. Just as I had this realization, I coincidentally crossed path with a lecturer, who was presenting movie analysis from the gender viewpoint, at the annual intensive joint course held by Nanjing University and University of Tokyo. Instantly I made the decision to major in gender theory and film studies, and that lecturer would later become my current academic supervisor. I finished my undergraduate thesis under the title “Herbivorous men” and was subsequently accepted to post-graduate program in Tokyo University, which I am still continuing currently. Every time I was asked about the reason why I came to Japan, I get a renewed understanding of how I get to where I am was the result of series of unpredictable occasion. These unplanned events changed my life course beyond my expectation. Even though these paths were not my initial choices, I believe I am heading the right way. Amidst all the unpredictability, I am grateful to my mother for pushing me toward taking this path. Someday, I would like to bring her to Japan to enjoy the sceneries she once saw in movies. And if by a miraculous chance we get to meet YAMAGUCHI Momoe and MIURA Tomokazu, I would try my best to be the prefect interpreter for her, and convey her love and admiration to the couple as clear as possible.  SGRA Kawaraban 672 in Japanese (Original)  YU Ning / 2020 Raccoon, Researcher of Gender Research Center at International Christian University  
  • Mardan Nurmuhammat “My experience of studying abroad in Japan.”

     I am a Uyghur and I come from East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), where is 4,348 Km away from Japan in fair distance. When I was a child, I had great impression about Japanese advanced knowledge and technology because of the popularity of Japanese home appliances and automobiles among us. Furthermore, my interest in Japanese manga and animation which started form elementary school had deepened my impression of Japan and Japanese culture.  We, living in the areas where is the furthest region from the sea in the world, know the world better by expansion of internet at the late 1990s. Since as a young kid in high school, I have had a dream to be a good doctor. And I realized that in order to achieve my dream, I have to learn top and advanced knowledge in medicine, which is the major reason why I chose to study medicine in Japan eventually. Because Japan is widely known by its advanced knowledge and technology not only in the manufacturing and production, but also in medical science. It was the year 2015 that I made my first step to achieve my dream.   I would say that my school life from the school of Japanese language to graduate school in medicine and my <semi-worker life> as a part-timer was overall quite enjoyable. And my imagination about Japan before I came here was mostly same. For example, how beautiful and developed country Japan is. And the manner of Japanese people. I can say that Japanese is the politest people regarding social manner and relationship in the world as far as I know. I was impressed by their attitude of honesty and conscious. The typical Japanese Yamato race as expected, What a people!  Of course, there was a little discrepancy as well. For example, before I came to Japan, I was told that Japanese love readings and they read books and newspapers in trains. Then I found that just only few people still do it especially elderly people. The young people mostly have stick to smartphone instead of readings as imagine.  What surprised me most is the decreasing rate of marriage and population in Japan. It seems the young do not care about their marriages so that population keep dropping. I wonder what would be the Japanese population in 50 years? And this made me worried about existence of this remarkable nation.  During my life in Japan, I have faced many barriers and difficulties such as culture, language as imaginable. And I knew that I have to overcome those difficulties, which I had been prepared to be faced to as a foreign student. I did my best to turn these difficulties and feeling of loneliness to my motivation to learn and accumulate experience. Just like the saying < Endeavor never betray>, from school and part-timer life, I have learned not only about my major knowledge in medicine and also Japanese culture. I also made some Japanese friends during the part-time job. Fortunately, I got my scholarship after trying for several times. Then I stopped doing part-time job and I was able to dedicate my all effort and time to my studies and other activities. I would say that the scholarship gave me opportunity to enjoy my school life more and helped me to finish my Graduate school smoothly.   The best impression I have in my six year’s life of studying aboard in Japan that when you encounter any difficulties, the most important thing is try your best, attain your effort and face it bravely, rather than give up or escape easily. Things do not always work out as we expected. If we could compensate every shortcoming and defect that we had this time, we would be able to do anything next time.  My advice to those who are thinking to study abroad, you may encounter various difficulties in the beginning, such as language, culture, economic even emotional difficulties. But do not give up. If you overcome those difficulties, such experience would become your treasure of life.Try your best! Do not forget your goal.    SGRA Kawaraban 671 in Japanese (Original)  Mardan Nurmuhammat: 2020 Raccoon, The Uyghurs, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University 
  • CHO Sojin Meaning of my studying “Zenkyoto” (All-Campus Joint Struggle League)

     I have always concentrated on majoring in “Japanology” since my undergraduate. It all started when I heard about J-POP in my second year of junior high-school. And I was interested in Japanese culture. I could not catch the meaning of the words of songs, but I was enchanted by its special atmosphere which was different from Korea and started learning Japanese language by self-educating as watching Japanese movies and dramas. When I entered high school, I chose Japanese language as an elective course because I did not want my passion to learn Japanese language remain just as a hobby. I made up my mind to major in “Japanology” when I would be enrolled at a university. I have grown up from a   junior high school student to a university student who have majored in Japanology just listening to J-POP.  When I was an exchange student during my undergraduate period in Tokyo, I could encounter actual “Japan” which I only imagined in my head and wanted to study more about “Japan” at graduate school rather than finding an employment in Korea. As a result, I have encountered “Zenkyoto” (All-Campus Joint Struggle League) which include history of student movement and social movement.  It was the time when I knew a word “Zenkyoto” at a seminar of graduate school in Korea.  Theme of seminar was “Japan in 1960s” which was unknown to me. I remember I studied Japanese history at the course “Japanese early and postmodern history” in earnest at my undergraduate age. But I did not learn the history of 1960s. Framework of “Postwar Japanese History” was fixed to until 1950s. Japan in 1960s was explained as “Politics’ Season” and I had an impression that it was succession of various events. I thought Japan in 1960s was only “past” news which were broadcasted hotly rather than “history” which were stated stiffly. Students who lived in 1960s were distressed in society and Japan started getting problems from their universities. In order to express their opinions, they raised objection in form of struggling and I was interested in such points.  “Zenkyoto” movement, which occurred in the later part of 1960s successively in universities in Japan, interested me.  Above all, Zenkyoyo in Nihon University interested me the most. It differed from that of the University of Tokyo which belonged to the left-wing series. Students in Nihon University were prohibited to assemble and could not have usual student movements and were very naïve in politics. It is said that they did not know strategy nor tactics of the movement.  Despite of such situation, the happening of unaccounted expenditure amounting 2 billion yen by the board of directors triggered Zenkyoto of Nihon University and established their own style which was apart from “sect-like” correspondence.  A series of their struggle triggered “Student Power” correspond to “the year of 1968” from appearance of unimaginable “mass”-like existence. The struggle became bigger in its scale and was evaluated as “the barricades of Nihon University are the strongest in the world”. Fresh passion in their behavior were pass on clearly to me who live in the present.  “It is interesting!” I thought it was interesting because we cannot find such passion in present Japan at all which is equal to that of Zenkyoto of Nihon University.  Starting with the Japan-US Security Treaty in 1960, student movements were activated in earnest. Zenkyoto movement put an end to the voluntary function of “the youth” or “students” who voiced the democracy. Youths grew up to be adults and students became members of society and formed the generation which could share the memory of experiences of struggles in 1960.  We can say that they have looked back upon the memory of “the year 1960”as their “nostalgy”.  However, present youths have just conventional image on such memory and it is difficult for them to share sympathy. I think it is causing so-called “generation gap”. Moreover, it may be the reason why they were extinguished from communication among generations because they were labeled as “baby boom generation” or “Zenkyoto generation” through media.   Under such circumstances, I think it is important for the present youth to have contemporaneousness same as generation youth inputting the background and values of “the year 1968”. They can imagine and “understand” the things at that time although they may not be able to “remember”. I think it is necessary for them to practice converting their paradigm gradually having sympathy for their framework of “study” “young” and “students”.  SGRA Kawaraban 670 in Japanese (Original)  CHO Sojin / 2020 Raccoon, Graduate School of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies,   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LIU Yichen Difficulty of Dialogue; the Movie “OUR YOUTH in TAIWAN”

     2020 was the year of big change under the COVID-19. Fate meant for me to join as subtitles translation team of the movie “Our Youth in Taiwan” which was written from book by Film Director FU Yue. I watched the movie and read the book repeatedly to confirm my translation in my inconvenient daily life amid COVID-19. In order to explain to Japanese audiences, I checked its historical background and terminology despite being written in my mother tongue. I realized strongly that there are different viewpoints of Taiwanese recent social situation and its changes which Director FU, editors and myself belonged to the same generation and experienced together.  The documentary movie “Our Youth in Taiwan” starts with monologue by Director Fu which look back the “Sunflower Student Movement” (2014). And the emotions and conflicts of Mr. CHEN Waytien, the leading role of the Movement and TSAI Boye, Chinese student from Taiwan has written about movement. At the final scene Director Fu himself confessed and exposed his contradiction and ineffectuality in front of Mr. Chen and Mr. Tsai.  When Japanese people would see posters and the title of the movie, they may misunderstand that the movie is a success story of the social movement in Taiwan. But the story would disappoint them. Heroine in the movie becomes an iconic character and is drawn as despaired as it is. Director Fu himself felt “wavering” strongly being bewildered or betrayed by those two heroes. His bewilderment was presented into a documentary film.  “Social movement” is not the one which sets an expectation on a hero. We came to know the meaning of “social movement” through this documentary film and we understand things by our actions which throw ourselves out. Movement is not the one with which we ask its promotion. Reflection and action which follow the movement cause to a real change. However, it is not simple to make changes.  Taking a chance when I was a member of the translation team, I read his writings. And I thought variously. I was touched by his repeated saying: “If we like to move forward, we have to start from our consciousness that we were damaged. In Taiwan, a lot of people were damaged, excluded and delineated by themselves because of the present political situation and historical background. We faced a congenital problem for our position, we had a feeling for what you said were distorted and could not reach mutual understanding with a person close to you.”    Taiwan has experienced the martial law for the period of 38 years, which is the longest in the world under Japanese rule age, National Liberation(祖国光復) and the age of authoritarian regime under the Nationalist Party. During this period, “White Terror” were rampant. The Government arrested and executed people, who criticized the current situation of affairs, by reason of anti-communism. At the same time, we experienced diplomatic loneliness after 1970s. Democratization movement in Taiwan built its foundation from the social movement against the anti-establishment. In 1986, we had substantial election under the newly formed anti-establishment party. We took the first step to our democratization.  Adding to democratization, the movement for labor, environmental preservation and women  heightened. However, whenever we had elections, both parties, the Blue Camp (Taiwan Nationalist Party) and the Green Camp (Democratic Progressive Party), repeated controversy for Taiwan ideology. A subject of Taiwan identity was taken up and emphasized very often and it became a reason of quarrelling among friends or family. Taiwanese who came from different hometown were hurt and damaged repeatedly. Confusion and difficulty of interaction became more difficult.  When we talk about ideology, we are labelled for being it sometimes. Such labelling is not limited in Taiwan. People who live in foreign countries experience it very often. It may be a good chance to solve a question of twined emotion or perspective if you pursue reasons why you think so? why you understand so? what is your background of your such thinking? and what kind of factor affects you?    In the process of translation work, we got a recommendation letter from IT Minister of Taiwan Andrew Tang. There was a word “公共事務“ (in English “Public Affairs”) which annoyed translation team. We could not find suitable translation in Japanese. It means non-government people or organizations participate in politics and involved in administration. But we could not find suitable conception in Japanese. It gave Japanese staff members impact. We struggled to confirm the meaning and find suitable translation. We acknowledged first the difference of structure of social system in Japan and Taiwan.      We mastered that it is not so easy to realize, acknowledge, understand and convey the difference to each other before we try to find points in common. In the circumstance of translation of caption, reading books by Director Fu and participation to translation team, such experience was the best present to myself.      SGRA Kawaraban 669 in Japanese (Original)  LIU Yichen /2020 Raccoon, Tokyo Institute of Language,   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala  
  • CHEN Yan SGRA-V Café #15 “Demon Slayer”

     We had the 15th SGRA-V Café on March 20 (Saturday 2021) amid COVID-19 pandemic.All the audiences attended the Café “on-line”, using “simultaneous interpretation and translation” in three languages Japanese, Chinese and Korean. We tried working diversely  for both COVID-19 and possibilities of on-line at the stage of planning, preparation and operation. I think we could satisfy more than 200 participants from all over the world, as “Webinar (web seminar)” by aggressive participation of viewers and efforts of SGRA staff members.  There is a small scale story behind setting of the theme of the Café. I have been thinking to take up a subject “animation” since 2019 when we had SGRA China Forum in Beijing on the theme “movies in Japan and China”. I asked Professor Eiji Ohtsuka (International Research Center for Japanese Studies) to attend the China Forum and talk about “media mix” which is said to be a characteristic of Japanese Manga-Anime Industry. The response was so good, I thought to take up any theme regarding animation at SGRA Café in Tokyo. Firstly, I planned to take up the subject “Research on animation culture” but I could not find “entry(entrance)” to animation research. Although the history of research for animation culture is not old, the way the animation should be is changing rapidly together with the development of the mass media. And the other reason not to find “entry” was too many phenomena of writers, works and era (times) surprisingly.  When I was worrying, there happened to be a much-discussed work “Demon Slayer (Kimetuno Yaiba)”! Its box-office revenue became the top successive ranking outstanding “Spirited Away” (Sen and Chihiro’s Spiriting Away). “Demon Slayer” attracted attention of not only fans of its original story but fans of animation in the world and also from people who had no interest in animation. I asked Professor Nobuyuki Tsugata (Animation researcher, Associate Professor Faculty of Manga, Kyoto Seika University) immediately to give a lecture on the title “Cultural Power of Japanese animation from the viewpoint of “Demon Slayer””. Since his books were translated into Chinese and Korean language. Coincidentally, Professor Tsugata was the most suitable guest as a guest speaker for “Webinar ” which had simultaneous interpretation in three languages.  We prepared slides in three languages and webinars comments on Q&A were also interpreted simultaneously by SGRA Raccoons on-line. SGRA Café started by introduction of Atsumi International Foundation and SGRA by Mr. Sangryul JEON (2016 Raccoon). I introduced Professor Nobuyuki Tsugata and I thank them for such special consideration by organizers of the Café.  Professor Tsugata started his lecture with the analysis of the reason why “Demon Slayer” became a big hit and explained its real image. According to his explanation, “Demon Slayer” was cinematized only for the fun of the original story first. (Cinematize of original story has been established in Japanese animation field since long ago.)  And nobody has imagined such the biggest hit which involved ordinal people. Producer Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli said   10 billion yen of box-office revenue is within the ability of the works. But more than 10 billion yen would be the social phenomenon. Many specialists analyzed the reasons for such “social phenomenon” and Mr. T. Suzuki pointed out two reasons which cannot be disregarded. One is “Demon Slayer” was screened at a vacant time of movie theatres which came from the postponement of releasing movies under the pandemic of COVID-19. There were unusual situations that “Demon Slayer” was screened at every fifteen minutes at four screens of a certain movie theatre.  The other reason: Beautifulness of screen and a story-telling is a piece of art of “Demon Slayer” satisfied fans who went to theatres at beginning stages and the box-office revenue resulted in exceeding 10 billion yen in ten days. And people, who did not go to theaters, thought “Let us go if it has so good reputation” by spreading big through mouth of fans. Such “synergistic effect” resulted in “the all-time top of box-office revenue”. Incidentally, there was a word “Total Concentration: Constant” (Zen Shuuchu) in Demon Slayer and this word is being used in the real world. According to Professor Tsugata, Prime Minister Suga used this word in the Diet. (cf. Prime Minister Suga replied with “Total Concentration; Constant” at the Budget Committee of the lower house of the Diet on November 2, 2020 replying to Mr. Kenji Eda, Acting Leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan)  Then, where should we place the “Demon Slayer” phenomenon in Japanese animation history? Professor Tsugata analyzed its appealing points of “Demon Slayer” following the history of Japanese animations since 1960s.  TV series “Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom)” in 1963, has established “Characteristics” and “Traditions” of Japanese animation after “Legend of the White Snake” (Hakujaden)” which was the postwar first and most famous animation film. The pattern where one story was broadcasted in thirty minutes a week was fixed. There were few TV animations at that time in the world. Even in preceding America, one story was only five to ten minutes and the contents were just short “gag” at most. On the other hand, Japanese animation could depict affection of characters richly taking thirty minutes for one story. A lot of TV animationsare produced now and the pattern thirty minutes for one story has fixed since then.  In 1970s, “Space Battleship Yamato” (1974) and “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979) established a rare genre which valued sophisticated stories and psychological description of characters for “young adult” not for children. It was the time when “theatre version” of TV animation were produced basing on animated feature film of popular works in TV. Popular MANGA (carton) stories are animated in TV first and produced theatre version followingly. Such production style has been fixed and became staple as the new genre and interrelated to “Demon Slayer”.     Animation industry in 1980s went into the golden days by producing series of MANGA in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. “Dragon Ball”, “SLAM Dunk”, “YuYu Hakusho” and “SAMURA X (Rurono Kenshi)” established various boom. It was in 1980s the activities of Studio Ghibli went into full swing. The series of such works by Director Miyazaki Hayao, “Naucica of the Valley of the Wind” (1984), “Castle of in the Sky” (1986), “My Neighbor Totoro”(1988) etc., also attracted attention of the people who were not interested in animation.  After 1990s, both production style of original popular animation and animation movies by Studio Ghibli developed independently. In addition to those two styles, technology of digitalization in production of animation developed in Japan.     Professor Tsugata concluded “originality” and “cultural power” of Japanese animation after marshaling its history as follows: Japanese animation has diversification and aims for young adults. It developed on2D (2 dimension) digital, not on3D(3dimention computer graphic).It caused to the social phenomenon of the world as it was dispatched as a new Japanese culture where Japanese animation were set in and introduced and also Japanese foods which were used in the film became popular.    As Part-2 after the lecture meeting which had a plenty of topics to discuss and we talked with Professor Tsugata about three topics. I, as an interviewer, asked him first about the “Demon Slayer” movie which was not explained precisely in his lecture. The hero in the movie, “growth speed is slow” and “week relatively” comparing with original story. He said there wasn’t big difference and explained that hero is being expressed emphasizing his growth just as a tradition of Japanese animation. I asked him “Who shall watch Japanese animations hereafter?” and “Will diversification of audiences affect Japanese animation?”His reply was that Japanese animation should be planned and produced toward the world on the assumption that the number of audiences in the world will be increasing.  I asked Professor Tsugata as the last question difference between “ANIME” and “animation”which was the point of issue in his Research. He explained difference between commercialized “anime” and artistic “animation” or classification by “for family” and “for adults” or difference of definition of words depending on production style or areas etc. For example, in America or Europe, “pokemon” on family shelves, “Ghibli” is “ANIME” and Disney is “animation” etc.In China, there are words “動画”(douga)and “動漫“(douman). He insisted we understand such differences by analysis of vicissitudes in the cultures of the areas.  In Part3 of the Café, we had questions and answers. Ms. Sonya Dale (2012 Raccoon) picked up several typical questions. Professor Tsugata and I made answers for the questions “Progress of Japanese Anime in overseas”, “starting point of animation research” and “expression for violence in Japanese”.  On-line SGRA Café using “simultaneous interpreters and translators” by three languages finished. SGRA is aiming at the Café “by four languages including English” to dispatch more globally. I am looking forward to up surging of webinars.    SGRA NEWS ( Report of the 15th SGRA Café) in Japanese (original)  Photos of the Day  Recording of the Day  CHEN Yan / 2017 Raccoon, Full-Time Lecturer of Faculty of MANGA(cartoon), Kyoto Seika University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Hate Crime against Asian American”

     Pestering against Asian American is never ending. But in Japan, it is not regarded as important. America on March 30 President Biden announced to take additional action for discrimination and violence against Asian American. On March 31, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said at press conference “Japanese Government is not in the position to comment on every American policy. But we are in the position that any racial discrimination is not allowed in a society. We watch every situation through the Embassy or Consulate General and strive for keeping safety of Japanese residents.  Discrimination against Asian people are reported often on TV. I saw a news video which was sent from America. In the street corner of Manhattan, New York an Asian lady was kicked by a white man and crouched down. Another white man who saw the lady from inside of the shop shut the door as if to say that “don’t ask help”. It seems there is no mercy. A victim was 65- year-old Philippine lady. It was a violence being said that you shall not be here”.  Last year I had downhearted feeling to know that Asian people became a target of discrimination in America before healing from murder of a black man (George Floyd) who was crushed to death by a policeman in Minnesota. Asian people in America are prepared taking care of COVID-19 and as well as discrimination. I think I am happy living in Japan. All the Asian people, who live in the area except America should understand the situation furthermore Asian people living with us being frightened toward discrimination and violence.    America takes quick action when something happens. Several faculties who study racism at the State University of San Francisco launched jointly a site “STOP AAPL (Asian American Pacific Islanders) HATE”. They tallied data of discrimination against Asian people in America. According to the data, the number of hate crime against Asian people in 2020 increased  2.5times comparatively to the year 2019. It became distinct that victims of discrimination and violence are Asian old man and ladies too.  Another hate crime which is fresh in my memory is a shooting by a white man in Atlanta, Georgia a little while ago, when a senior Asian lady was kicked in New York. Six victims out of eight who were shot to death were Asian ladies. Furthermore, it left an unpleasant aftertaste because a press officer made a statement which seems to have protected prisoner and deprecated Asian ladies. President Biden and Vice President Harris went to Atlanta to convey their condolences to victims. Those two mishaps were made in March and President Biden made decisions to strengthen protection of Asian Americans immediately.         It was March when Japanese Consulate General in America sent an E-mail. The mail was their residence reports to Consulate under title “Reminder of harassment for Asian people”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan is grasping such situation precisely and informed to Japan discrimination is becoming more serious in America. Yes, we are all Asian.  It is said that origin of discrimination against Asian people was the word “China Virus” which Ex-President Trump used for the corona virus repeatedly. We can say President Biden cleared up the mess by Trump. But he did not postpone the issue of Asian people. Asian people themselves demonstrated for eradication of the “hate crime” and shared the position that they report together when the hate crime happened. I think it important not only to report videos by security camera of Asian citizens who fell victims of discriminations but how they face discrimination also. We should report to America that Chinese who live in Japan, like me, do not encounter such discrimination by reason of COVID-19.   SGRA Kawaraban 668 in Japanese (Original)  XIE Zhihai / Associated Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUN Jaeun “Myanmar and Democracy in S. Korea and Asian countries”

     South Korea maintains a democratic relation with other countries. They put priority on the domestic situation and were democratized finally in 1990s. They had a sense of wariness towards the support of democratization by European countries and especially America. When South Korea was under Dictatorship, United States was pessimistic for their democratization the reason of the Cold War and there happened so-called “Korean Gate” when President Park Chung-hee threw money around the United States Parliament to conceal his oppression of human right. Due to the raised situation, they had strong recognition so South Korea got democratization “autogenously” without any external factors.  There is an exception the Myanmar issue. Myanmar has the largest certified number of refugees in few years.  South Korea, same as Japan is understood to be gloomy for the refugee problem. Refugee Certification Rate in South Korea and Japan is 0.4%. It was the year 1997 that branch office of National League for Democracy (NLD) (lead by Aung San Suu Kyi) was established in South Korea and Kim Dae-jung was elected as the President in 1997 supported Aung San Suu Kyi who competed against military dictatorship in International Society. Kim Dae-jung wrote in his autobiography about his special attention.  Under such scene South Korea could not neglect the coup by the Myanmar military at the beginning of 2021. News about oppression against demonstrators by the army were broadcasted in South Korea very often and the Moon Jae-in Administration took actions during March consecutively. Moon Jae-in himself appealed in SNS on March 6 “I denounce violence by the Myanmar army and police and ask release of National Adviser Aung San Suu Kyi and the imprisoned”. On March 12, he imposed export embargo of military supplies against Myanmar army and suggested review of the Official Development Assistance (ODA). South Korea was evaluated to have changed repressively because they had given the ODA assistance to Myanmar on a scale of about $90 million in 2019.  South Korea has refrained commenting on minorities (Uyghurs and Tibet) in China and Hong Kong. As concerned the human rights question in North Korea each administration reacted oppositely. Those questions shall not be handled from viewpoints of “human rights or value” but they are linked with basic foreign policy in other word “the national interests”. Japan criticized China at “the United Nations Security Council (2 +2)“, but they did not follow the sanctions toward China by European Union and America. In Myanmar, correspondence by the Korean Government is evaluated in its own way. There are few comments which asked for the support of the Korean Government and people from Myanmar tweeted on Twitter and Facebook.  Myanmar students in Japan appealed necessity support to Japanese people on the radio program referring to South Korea on March 16. But reaction from Japanese society was lukewarm regrettably comparing the China issue which is intertwined with usual anti-China feelings. I had uncomfortable feelings toward the broadcast done in Japan. On March 2, NHK conveyed expression about Myanmar people in Japan under the title “Very sorry for our demonstration amid COVID-19”. There were demonstrations by Myanmar people in Korea too, but I have never seen such a title like in Japan. Demonstration amid COVID-19 is not prohibited in Japan. (In Korea, there is a limit in the number of demonstrators.) Myanmar students who appeared in radio program in Japan were shocked when they knew the criticism written (they should not have demonstrated) in the comments in Netnews.          There are international organizations for human rights in Europe. But there is no such organization in Asia and the number of countries who has democracy is limited. It is not easy for democratic countries in Asia to raise their voices jointly for human rights. As seen in China and North Korea, their national security and interests are intertwined complicatedly. As many people know, it was Japan among advanced countries that lifted economic sanctions first against China after the Tiananmen Square Protest. It is said that there was consideration for economy and historical issues. I do not think it effects as far as they put priority on economics when they support for democracy. In Cambodia where Japan is assisting positively since 1990s, Prime Minister Hun Sen established dictatorship Government. It is far from democratic country. In Myanmar, we can see news reports “Japan asked self-restraint because Japan has connection with army too”. But Japan did not take any substantial measures.  Any assistance for democratic accompanies “intervention in the domestic affairs”. Under the authoritarianism, some counties are increasing their control over citizens taking opportunity of COVID-19. It is an important subject for Japan and South Korea as, both being democratic countries need to ask themselves “what is the function of democratic countries?” and “how to play a role?” Although we have no choice but to be skeptical, we can cooperate and  considering present tragic situation in Asia.  SGRA Kawaraban 667 in Japanese (Original)  YUN Jaeun / 2020 Raccoon, Associated Lecturer of Hitotsubashi University Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala