SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • CHEN Tzu-Ching “At the finishing party of the 6th Asia Future Conference”

    “See you next year at Taipei, Taiwan!” My words above were addressed at the closing party of the 5th Asia Future Conference (AFC) in Philippines in January 2020 together with ex-President Shui Shing-chin、Chinese Culture University and Taiwan Raccoon (Atsumi scholarship students).   Do they remember the what volcanic eruption next day of Conference?  Runway of the airport was closed by volcanic ash, and we had to wait long time at airport. They had to change their return flight in confusion.   We started our preparation for the 6th AFC after coming back from Japan. However, we have started our preparation since long time ago actually. It was the time when we visited volcano. Professor Shui advised us “Let’s have a liaison conference for preparation” at observation deck just before eruption.     One month later, we had a meeting in Taiwan. Ms. Imanishi and Mr. Tsunoda from Japan and three AFC members from Thailand joined.   We had tight schedule from morning to night for inspection of accommodations and trying Taiwanese sampling foods. Many opinions flied out how to make Taiwanese charm points known to people.   Taipei one-o-one (101) Building is famous as a landmark. Do you know the Grand Hotel in Taipei? It is 14-story Chinese Palace style hotel having red pillars and golden roof tiles and it is the first five-star hotel in Taiwan. We found banquet hall where people can enjoy prestigious feeling. We saw 11 meters high ceiling where coiling dragon throwing up beads in the sky. Each member thought if we would have our closing party there, we could have glorious atmosphere. And we decided to reserve this hall.   At that time, we did not imagine Covid would become so influential in the world.  In Taiwan, we were on the alert and masks were rationed. I remember clearly that Imanishi-San asked me “Can I give you masks?” when she came back to Japan at the airport. And I replied, “No thank you, please keep it for yourself”. I did not imagine supply of mask became so insufficient. On March 19, 2020, just after Imanishi-San and others went back to Japan, Taiwan closed borders and Covid spread throughout the world.   Amid a circumstance which we could not see a convergence of Covid, preparation committee members discussed many times whether we can have face-to-face conference. It is the best part of the Asia Future Conference to have opportunity to be able to have academic exchange through face-to-face discussions with scholars from various countries. However, we decided to postpone the 6th AFC which was scheduled to be held in Taiwan in August 2021 thinking “We can see some hope if we will postpone one year.”  And we decided to have online “Pre-conference” on August 26, 2021, as a propaganda instead.   We could finish “Pre-conference” successfully aiming for actual conference. However, Covid took an unexpected turn having mutated to “delta” and “omicron” from “beta” and we could not decide style of conference, ‘online’ or ‘hybrid’ or ‘face-to-face’. As the preparation committee, we thought communication through face-to-face style, which is the best part of the AFC, is important. However, we decided ‘hybrid’ style finally because there were immigration restrictions. It was the first challenge for the AFC.   We had hectic atmosphere till few days before the conference and had to take temporary measures. The number of infected persons among panelists and interpreters increased one after another. At five minutes before the midnight of August 25, we got a sudden request from secretariat that information in English, which would be released on the 26th, should be interpreted into Chinese. We had a tense moment whether “we are in the time or not in the time” in the unit of second. We realized now that we can start our conference with various network and team members were mobilized.   On August 27, the conference started at Chinese Culture University which locates in a mountain of norther part of Taipei. Although there were various restrictions against Covid in Taiwan like ‘keep a distance’ ‘wearing masks’ etc. We got a lot of people at conference hall.   At the symposium, professors who are active in various fields, starting from an Epidemiologist Doctor Chen Chien-jean Ex-Vice President of the Republic of China, told us variously about COVID-19 as a keynote speech. According to one of the panelists, Doctor Huang Sheng-Jean (ex-Director of TAIPEI City Hospital), keynote and other speeches were perfect for our objectives of the Conference “Our issues shall be solved by ourselves”. We agreed fully.  Thanks to proactive corporation from every member of Chinese Culture University, staff members from Japan and Thailand and preparation committee members, we could carry out keynote speech, symposium, round table talks and breakout sessions for three days smoothly. We cannot forget corporation from a lot of people behind. I thank them from bottom of my heart.   I spent those three days nervously having so many roles as a member of preparation committee, commentator, moderator, presenter or co-presenter using Japanese, Chinese and English (I am not used to). It gave me a lot of motivation that my new research theme was evaluated as “Best Presentation”. I acknowledged that the Conference could establish fields that we can share results of new research or challenge and established also other fields that scholars from different fields or countries discussed from different viewpoints. I am so glad that I could participate the Conference.   The 6th AFC ended safely. I feel sorry for the fact that we could not manage face-to-face conference. However, I think era of hybrid style conference would become normal.   The conference from the 1st to 6th, we had no-Covid era, Covid-era, post-Covid era and with-Corona era. What kind of era will it be next? The 7th conference will be held in Bangkok where we had the 1st conference. I am looking forward what kind of subject would be talked.    Then, I like to pass the baton to Bangkok from Taipei.   See you in Bangkok in August 2024.     SGRA Kawaraban 718 in Japanese (Original)     CHEN Tzu-Ching / SGRA member, Professor Ochanomizu University (Cultural Sciences)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai ”Thinking of ‘War and Peace’ from Picasso-Guernica”

    Summer vacation is over now, and we can see school children who carry Randoseru (school bag) in school uniform.  In Japan, on August 6 and 9, we consider of atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on August 15, we welcome the End of World War II Memorial Day and taste the preciousness of peace. However, everybody can hardly believe there was a war on earth now, 77 years after World War II.   We, my family, ended August without any trips or outing. However, I think we could spend memorable summer vacation having a chance to speak about war and peace. There is the Museum of Modern Art in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture and we can see a famous tapestry “Guernica” by Picasso as their permanent collection. My wife told me she likes to let our children see it and I accompanied. Staff member of the Museum had a plan “Let’s talk in front of “Guernica”. He explained children kindly the most interesting part of “Guernica” withholding the words “War” and “Peace”. Children could not think of a word “War” from Guernica and wondered “why human and animal are drawn in this way?” However, they were inputted “it is an anger against war drawn by famous painter Picasso”.   Museum staff explained us that there are three Guernica tapestries in the world, and one is in United Nation Headquarters in New York. He also explained Picasso himself joined supervision of threads and colors which were used for making tapestry. According to him, he visited a school near the Museum and discussed with students how they feel in their heart in front of Guernica.   A few days later, Guernica became a topic again at home. My son, primary school student, told us that teacher told him about a picture book, the word account is low, titled “Sensou sinai (we do not engage in War)”. According to my checking, it was written by Shuntaro Tanigawa. I recalled he has said in some TV interview that it was at his junior high school age when there was the Great Tokyo Air Raid, WWII in 1945.   I think it is great to engrave the history of War in children’s heart by handing down the War using pictures and picture books for thoughts of peace. According to my son staff member of the Museum told him “In Japan, student study about Guernica at the sixth grade in elementary school.” I asked my wife “Is it sixth grade when you learn about Guernica?” She replied, “At seven-year-old!” She added “I had a birthday present titled “Beautiful Picture” written by Kako Satoshi at the first year of elementary school. Guernica was introduced in this book. Shuntaro Tanigawa and Kako Satosi ! There is no place where I, as a scholar of international relations can do. Because they convey easily toward wider generations what they like to say and remains in readers’ heart long.   I had a class this spring about “International Relations” and “Learn about history of international relations”. And I taught about difficult issue “War and Peace” also. We recalled war and peace in the 20th century and thought of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine together. I told students that there is a war in the 21st century and now is the time to consider war strongly. I have been reading difficult academic books about war and peace. However, I like to read now easier books which are written for ordinary people and children.    In autumn term I will keep in mind to speak to students about war and peace more easily to understand.     SGRA Kawaraban 716 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai / Associate Professor, KYOAI Gakuen University     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • CHEN-Yijie “Meaning of the Original in Art Appreciation”

    When I majored in art history, teachers repeated their words “In art appreciation, it is the most important to watch original works”. At first, I had a little doubt in such words. It may be necessary to check the original when you appraise authenticity together with paper, print and mounting. However, if you like to enjoy the art, is it important to discriminate original and copy?   Thanks to the progress of technology, it became possible to preserve high-precision print replica or graphics data. There is an anecdote. When a Chinese specialist for Chinese art history found a famous masterpiece of the Chinese Southern Song Dynasty in a hotel in Japan, he was much surprised. It was a copy made by Japanese publisher “NIGEN-sha”. A copy which can deceive professionals is said to be the one “which is almost the same with the original. But it is one rank lower than the original because it is copies”. However, high-precision graphics data can be enlarged easily and be confirmed in detail. On the other hand, when you see the original in museum, you cannot discriminate because it is too dark and too far. I think it better to use graphics data than the original when you analyze graphics.   I got an answer against such question about “the original” when I studied in Japan. I would like to state my impression taking Japanese arts as an example.   First, there are differences in ‘size’. In Japanese paintings, ‘byoubu’ (folding screens) and portraits account for a large percentage. However, when we see byoubu and portraits in catalogues or graphic data on PC, those sizes become smaller than the original due to limit of size of catalogues. Impact on viewers depends on size. Impact which you look up on portrait in hall of ‘Nijo Castle’ in Kyoto is incomparable with sensitivity which you see illustrations in art books. Figure painting is the same. Life-sized graphics can shorten a distance between appreciators and figures in painting and leave an impression as real human beings. In case of gigantic buddha or God in religious mural paintings, it emphasizes its impersonality and awake sublime respect of viewers. If size would be changed by duplicates, it will become difficult to understand real intention of producers.       Next, there is a unique appeal in material. In Japanese art, mineral paints or gold /silver leaf are used generally. Paints which are made by mineral reflect by change of beam. This glittering shimmer bring transparency and liveliness in scenes. Photo printer and graphic data cannot bring such charms of the material. Gold or silver color is one of the most difficult points to reproduce in photos and become worse when you print. The works by Higashiyama Kai (1908-1999) are good examples. I have tried many times to confirm his pictures in works of art or lectures by Power point. But I could not feel charisma.  It was the year 2018 that I found its beautifulness when I saw his original at “Higashiyama Kai Exhibition at his 110th birthday anniversary” at the Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art. When I stood in front of his paintings, I had a feeling which I wandered in the dark and chilly forest at night.      Lastly, I think it is impossible to find intention of creators in their composition without special display methods. When we talk about painting on the ceiling of lecture hall in temples, “Happou Niramino no Ryuu” (Dragon which glares in all directions) is famous. When you look up at ceiling, you feel that you are stared by dragon wherever you are. You can see such dragon at Shokokuji-temple, Kenninnji-temple, Nanzennji-temple and Tenryuji-temple, all in Kyoto. Some Byobu (folding screen) create three-dimensionality using its ruggedness. Both “Unryu-zu byobu” (folding screen of cloud dragon) (The important cultural property of 1773) by Maruyama Oukyo (1733-1795) and “Kan-getu” (winter moon) by Konoshima Oukoku (1877-1938) (you can see at KYOCERA Museum of Art in Kyoto) are these kinds of pattern.   During these few years of my studying in Japan, I saw a lot of the original paintings which  broadened my horizons and recognized deeply the important meanings of “the original” in art appreciation. I would like to share such knowledge with all of you.       SGRA Kawaraban 713 in Japanese (Original)     CHEN-Yijie / 2021 Raccoon, Doctor of The Graduate University for Advanced Studies (International Research Center for Japanese Studies)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • HU Shi “Genetic Modification”

    You can see words “genetic modified” or “non-modified” on labels of goods at supermarkets or convenient stores. We are taking a lot of “genetic modified foods” without noticing them because technologies of genetic modification are applied in feeds or materials of processed foods. As I have been researching for genetic modified plants as a student in Japan, I would like to explain about genetic modification here.     What is “Gene”? According to a course book of biology, genes is made up of DNA segment which carry genetic information. “What is DNA?” Answer is Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Then, what is Deoxyribonucleic Acid? Questions and answers are endless. Simply put, genes can be said to be an engineering drawing for creatures. This drawing determines how creatures grow adapting to the environment. In case of human beings, genes determine gender, appearances, physical conditions or having congenital and untreatable diseases. It may determine lives of descendants.     There are many technologies which can change quasi figuration. For example, single-edged eyelids can be changed to double by operation. People can change their eye-color by wearing contacts. Gender can be changed by operation too. Changes mentioned above are superficial and things which are set on by genes cannot be changed. Some people cannot lose weight even though they eat less foods. Why? Some people do not become ill even though they do not exercise. Why? There are persons whose diseases are incurable. Why? … People think “Everything is determined by God”. However, it is genes that decide everything. The work of scientists is deciphering of this engineering drawings of “genes” to change our daily life.   What is “Genetic Modification”? Genes modification is technology which install a part of creature’s genes in cells to other creatures and express. Simply put, when creature ‘A’ has an adverse point for its’ quality of life and creature ‘B’ has no such point, creature ‘A’ can survive having no adverse point by transferring genes of ‘B’.    The first genetic modification plant was tobacco in 1983 in America. In 1994, genetic modification tomato, called ‘Flavor saver tomato’ was sold for the first time in the world. Genetic modification crops have merits such as disease and pesticides resistance or big volume of yield amount. In Japan, they are importing big amount of genetic modified crops and using as raw materials for processed foods and livestock feeds. It is said that 90% of corn, cotton, rapeseed and soybean are genetic modified crops in Japan.    Safety of genetic modification crops If you worry about genes transformation to human beings, I do not think it is “impossible” logically. “Spider-man” in the movie was born bitten “genetic modified super-spider”. But I do not think it to be materialized in these few decades. For example, there is a question about modified rice plants which BT genes are introduced. “We know insects in such rice plants are killed. However, are they harmless for human beings?” When insects eat modified rice plants, protein which are produced by BT genes will combine with receptors of insects. And it results in killing insects. Human beings or other creatures which have no such receptors as insects have no effects. There remains concern a little in safety of genetic modification crops. Don’t worry about imported genetic modification foods. Because they are imported under severe safety inspections.   “Genetic modification” is technical term and there are no relations with “good” or “bad”. There are no relations with “right” or “wrong” in technical term. It is possible that we, as consumers, do not serve genetic modification foods on the table. It is possible also that we avoid putting on clothes which use genetic modification cottons. I hope you would not deny results of research by scientists.      SGRA Kawaraban 711 in Japanese (Original)     HU Shi / 2021 Raccoon, Nissan Chemical Corporation (in charge of development of pesticides)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LEE Chung-sun “from ‘Then and there’ to ‘Now and here’”

    Scene #1 In early spring of 1952, seventy years before, a young soldier had been enjoying his life with his family as temporary home coming from the Korean War battlefield. His name was William Speakman-Pitt. He was taking dinner with his family having his daughter sitting on his laps. It was a scene of a father of modest and general house.       Scene #2 In the spring of 1965 at United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, they had an unveiling ceremony of the British Commonwealth monument praying for the British Commonwealth victims of the Korean War. Mr. William Speakman attended the ceremony together with his comrades as representative soldiers of United Kingdom.   Mr. W. Speakman was a UN soldier from U.K. At the war alongside of the Imjin River on November 4, 1951, a lot of soldiers’ lives were saved thanks to his activities.   In 2018, he passed away at age 90 and was enshrined at the UN Memorial Cemetery “His second home” in 2019 according to his dying wish. The funeral was conducted in solemn atmosphere attended and watched by his bereaved family, Government officials from the U.K. and South Korea, and a lot of citizens.     Let’s go back to the scene 1 and 2. I found those two historical scenes in the process of my preparation of doctoral dissertation. In 2020, seventy years after outbreak of the Korean War, I explored his footprints as my academic research.   In scene #1 in monochrome, Mr. Speakman seemed to be spending his blissful time keeping smile consistently. Such a modest happiness as a father in his home rather than his mighty attitude at official ceremony of British Commonwealth (Scene #2), stayed in my mind more strongly. I do not know the reason why this scene left an impression on me. I have been studying abroad leaving my hometown. Did I imbricate myself over him?      When I gaped at those two scenes, I recalled that his sons have visited South Korea at his funeral in 2019. And I sent a mail to a person concerned of United Nations Memorial Cemetery whom I was keeping contact since my doctoral dissertation. “I found a rare picture of Mr. Speakman who was enshrined in UN Memorial Cemetery. Could you kindly send the picture to anybody who has any connection with him?”  I got a reply. “I could share your picture with one of his sons. According to him, it was the first time for him to see the picture. He did not know that his father had visited UN Memorial Cemetery. Of course, he was delighted with the picture.”   I realized an importance of giving back my knowledge which I accumulate as a researcher to the society. If acquirement of knowledge would mean “understanding a part of things”, practice of knowledge will be a contribution to human beings and societies after finding the core part of things based on establishment of knowledge. I have been engaging in my research work for seven years in Japan and I focused my research on learning knowledge. If I would aim at becoming a real researcher, “sharing the knowledge” in society after “acquiring the knowledge” on personal dimension will be more important. If I apply such understanding to the scenes mentioned above, it will change as follows. Knowing histories and persons relating to the UN Memorial Cemetery is primary action for acquirement of knowledge. And sharing such academic knowledge with persons concerned of the UN Memorial Cemetery and sons of Mr. Speakman will be secondary action of intellectual constructive action.   Through my research I understood clearly from those two scenes that persons, things and matters of “then and there” came down to “now and here” consequently. In other words, bereaved family of Mr. Speakman could get back his footsteps of “then and there” from myself of “now and here”. Excitement of his son would be immeasurable when he saw his deceased father in the scenes.     I like to acquire the past knowledge and practice wisdom of goodwill at the same time. I like to elicit effective and suggestive points which are applicable through the life from “then and there” to “now and here”. I think it is my role to help peaceful and inclusive society as a researcher of cultural heritage of the Korean War and as a goodwill global citizen. On the extension of such understandings, I worry about present Russian invasion to Ukraine.      I hope Ukraine War would end soon. And combatant and noncombatant, like Mr. Speakman 70 years ago, could return to their home and pass blissful time with their beloved families.       SGRA Kawaraban 710 in Japanese (Original)     LEE Chung-sun /2021 Raccoon, Doctoral student at the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • CHAN Ya-hsun “Pandemic・Global Civil-War・Kōtoku Shūsui”

      My research life started from the book “Teikoku-shugi (imperialism)” written by Kōtoku Shūsui. Now I am facing crisis of critical thinking which fall into a trap from the pandemic. During these two years we have been engulfed by pandemic protectionism, frequent proclamation of emergency and social alienation. And lock-down, slow-down or shut-down based on governance of National borders and sovereign nation continued.   (*Kōtoku Shūsui:1871-1911, journalist, idealist, anarchist in Meiji-era)   On the other hand, violence of war or civil war broke out beyond geographical borders quietly.  The world is paying attention on Russia-Ukraine War. But shadows of war are lurking in Palestine-Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia and Myanmar too. Configuration of war has changed by reason of industrialization and globalization and does not limit to physical attack. Reality of violence which penetrate throughout our daily lives is called as “global civil wars” in modern political thought. Travel restrictions is extensive during the pandemic, people may consider easily that the situation of other countries or areas have nothing to do with them. We are now in state of social isolation which does not limit to the presence of human beings and may not be able to imagine the reality of global civil wars.     “Teikoku-shugi” which was published in the early 1900’s seems to respond to the pandemic and global civil wars in 2020’s. Koutoku Shuusui alerted modern imperialism saying that patriotic disease germs would spread in society and imperialistic plague would be transmitted into the world. And those would destroy civilization of 20th century. When this book was written, people in Japan were panicking over plague especially in the year of the Rat (Nezumi doshi). He used metaphor between disease germ and plague. It is outstanding that he made out psychological mechanism of imperialism through interrogation of patriotism. Violent behavior named patriotism precipitate mentality of hatred and entanglement toward the others. He says that tendency of discrimination or attack others by reasons of “non-patriots or traitors” deepen internal struggle consequently. Under such situation, people discriminate and attack others by patriotic reasons like “they are non-patriots or traitors”. He writes also that such situation bring rivalry among citizens of the world which they are unable to have no enemies, unable to have no hatred and unable to have no wars”.   “Teikoku-shugi” is an alert for pandemic which leads to the end war or civil war in worldwide scale by imperialism boom. This book has been gathering people’s attention for a while. During Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), Kōtoku Shūsui dared to stick to pacifism and trans-national solidarity. But he had a terrible time with coteries of Heimin (commoners)-sha (publisher of “Heimin Shinbun” (commoners’ newspaper)) and circulation of Heimin Shinbun dropped sharply because of oppressions of the authorities and abandonment by readers. Kōtoku Shūsui who fought against “patriot disease germ” and “imperialistic plaque” ended his life ten years after publishment of “Teikoku-shugi”. He has been monitored by the authorities and put into jail. Then he exiled himself. His last tragedy was frame-up of the "High Treason Incident" (Kōtoku Jiken). It is said that he incurred hatred for the administration. But we cannot overlook his social isolation which came from social atmosphere for patriotism. He was treated as an unpatriotic person. The administration crushed dissent voice using High Treason Incident as an excuse. It was an abuse of the administration and start of the tendency of civil war. What they could not stop was an abuse reflected the limits of social solidarity.    His sharp association to patriotic structure and world-wide war or civil war is essential even now. I do not say “Teikoku-shugi” can make sense in modern age, and we must find our own solution basing on present situation. Under the present pandemic, though we do not say difficult decision or strategic operation, people understand vaccine nationalism or closure of national borders which are nationalistic or protectionism and is the only solution. There are a lot of issues which should be solved, and trance-national solidarity is becoming weaker now. The issues like conflicts in conflict zones, North-South disparity, gender gap, racial discrimination and refugee issue are becoming more serious together with the world-wide pandemic. It is a present progressive global civil war. You must acknowledge the limitation of traditional and international cooperation system. You must change your stereotype sovereign states. You must seek possibility of borderless social solidarity. Those are basic stance when you face during the COVID-19 era. If you read “Teikoku-shugi” in real time, you will be able to elicit your critical thinking power as the Pandemic-alert. I hope it will connect to your positive effort.     SGRA Kawaraban 706 in Japanese (Original)     CHAN Ya-hsun / Doctor’s Course of International Social Science, the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Mohd Hafiz Hilman Bin Mohammad Sofian “Deep Work”

      SNS (Social network system) is becoming universal and changing our human life now. Needless to say, there are lot of things which change for the better. SNS can spread information quickly and make possible to communicate persons in long distances. On the other hand, SNS has a lot of wrong points which are overlooked in society. Above all, what distract SNS is paying people’s attention recently. I think it unnecessary to explain to you who are reading this essay. You can understand for no particular reason. If people use SNS too much, you cannot bring out your real potential. There are not much-people who like to solve this question to change their lives. I recommend such people to read a book “Deep Work” written by Professor Cal Newport, Georgetown University. I think it is essential to read this book if you would like to increase your production rate.   “Deep Work” is defined as “an activity which enhances cognitive ability to the limit and is executed in concentration with no inattention”. Author says that we must develop our ability to execute “Deep Work” to survive successfully in present world. As SNS make distracts, we must be distant from such situation as much as possible, not to say completely. By doing so, we can get concentration. Reason why “Deep Work” is important in many cases as we are requested to do our works using our brain. If you look around properly, everyone can understand easily.   Needless to say, the world is going toward future named “Automation systems”. Starting from self-driving cars, smart-houses and robots, the most advanced technologies and services are prevailing now. And ordinally people can get easily now because cost of such technologies and services are being reduced. As almost all the companies at present are involved in such technologies, they have department named “Software Department” which will grow gradually and become an important deployment. In future, software jobs will increase, and job-chance related to software will increase also. In order to get skill and knowledge concerning to complicated software, concentrated power is required. And, for this purpose, “Deep Power” is considered as important.   Now, I hope you could understand an importance of “Deep Work”. However, you may be confused how to get such skills. Author explains in detail in his book. However, I would like to explain my personal and recommendable way of getting such skills. Change your way of using Facebook and Instagram. At present a lot of people are using SNS for 24 hours a day at ones convenience. They check SNS as soon as they wake up in the morning. When they are waiting for their turns at restaurants, they take cellphones out of their pockets to check SNS. It is a bad habit. Your brains do not grow accustomed to “trivial matters” and seek for stimulus.   If so, when you tackle complicated and important tasks, you cannot concentrate and quality of your works will deteriorate. In order to solve this problem, you fix a time of checking SNS and follow. For example, you check your SNS for 45 minutes at noon and after 8:00 only and refrain from checking except those two times. By doing so, your brain will be trained against “triviality”, and you can be a strong person. As a result, your concentration will improve, and you can execute important tasks.   After I read “Deep Work” my life has changed 180 degrees because I have tried to include its’ contents in my daily life as much as possible. When I was at the third year of our faculty, I had to research programing and image processing. I had trouble to solve the complicated and difficult problems in a short time. At that precise moment, I found a book “Deep Work” and was absorbed in reading it. I implemented what I learned. It was tough at first to change my habit to utilize my time. But I got used to such change gradually. After a while I could get the skill for difficult programing too.    I recommend all of you to read “Deep Work” and include what the book has written in your daily life. I hope your life would change to the better.      SGRA Kawaraban 705 in Japanese (Original)     Mohd Hafiz Hilman Bin Mohammad Sofian /2021 Raccoon, Doctor of Function Control System, Shibaura Institute of Technology   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LI Zhaoxue “Understanding by things”

    I am writing this essay in flight back to Tokyo after all these years.   In 2019, I went to National Taiwan University from Japan, where I had been studying, as an exchange student to research Chinese art history. I could not imagine at that time it would be my two years’ farewell from Japan. I could not return to Japan after March 2020 by pandemic of COVID-19 and kept waiting at Tianjin, my parents’ home, writing my Doctoral dissertation. In March, immigration to Japan was deregulated and I was allowed to return to Japan. However, in Beijing, they fell into a predicament of lockdown by public housing basis as soon as they find infected persons. I came back to Tokyo feeling uneasiness for future of the world.   Since it was not easy to get air ticket, I thought it was sold out. But there were only tens of passengers in Boeing 777-300, and I was surprised. Before COVOD-19, flights to Japan were always full. I remember a funny story where a return flight from Japan could not take off due to heavy cargos with too many souvenirs. The “shopping spree” times have passed already and seems to be the past.   When I met people from my home country who made shopping at Ginza or Odaiba in the “shopping spree” times, I had a feeling of embarrassment. Recently I became comprehensible   for their behavior and mood. It may be reasonable to consider their fondness for the way of thinking or design of people who made things. There is an admire for their wisdom behind things. Through distribution of things which are called as commodities, Chinese people consider Japanese as people who made tools which are easy to use and designed beautiful package of commodities.      I had a similar experience. A designer taught me a few years ago that aluminum can like “Hyo-ketsu” (cocktail in a can) use a technology called “Miura-fold”. It is a way of folding paper devised by Mr. MIURA Koryou, aerospace engineer. It can fold big sized paper in an instant. Using this technology, folded solar panels can be opened smoothly in universe. It is also used in forming technology of reinforce structures by giving regular crease. By these reasons, “Miura-fold” technology is important in NASA’s space exploitation. Once I know a history of “Miura-fold” technology, it became my habit to observe cans in convenient shops. It can be said that it is a power of researchers or designers. “Miura-fold” is used widely now from beverage cans to space exploitation. I understood now that an idea by Japanese people is very simple and useful.    By the way, old Japan experienced long National isolation and they understood China through things. Understanding through things is a research theme in Japan-China long history and in art history which is my research theme too.      When Chinese dynasty changed, survivors who could not serve to new dynasties (of Ming or Qing Dynasty) evacuated to Japan. And it was “things” of art such as calligraphy, paintings, sculptures and handicraft that contributed to survivors’ understanding. They could understand each other in writing because they had common perception of Confucianism and Chinese writing culture. But there is a limit to popularity of Chinese characters and Confucianism. It is not that everybody understood. Commoners in the Edo period imagined China through UKIYO-E in, Sangokusi -Engi or Suiko-Den.   It is obvious that not only theme, but expression style of UKIYO-E also came from wood engraving printing culture of Suzhou civilian. At that era, Ukiyo-e artists who produced Ukiyo-e after a model of Suzhou civilian printing might be a connoisseur of China.       Since for a long time, Japanese people have admired the things from China and called them as “Kara-mono” (things from China). They were chinaware called “ten-moku chawan” and textile called “kin-ran” in Kamakura and Muro-machi Era. A sense of beauty for “Kara-mono” has spread together with a culture which enjoyed tea-ceremony. Japan has a long history of National isolation. But they have never stopped exchange of things.   What human being make and exchange commodities to each other is the most simple and important trade. By this reason, the West use a word “china” as Chinese wares and “japan” as lacquerwares using small letter ‘c’ and ‘j’. Such relations are not limited between things and country names. We can see very often such relations between things and company names or store names also. It is an expression of identity by things.   However, main measures for understanding changed to imaginary information exchange in mass-media or online due to the influence of COVID-19 in these two years. As a result, public opinion poll in Japan shows Chinese popularity toward Japan decreased much. I think main reason of such change came from one-dimensional understanding by words or data from quadratic understanding by things and words.  What we lost in this change is the things which we actually see, touch and use. We can understand the other country through daily necessities, article of taste and works of art despite we cannot understand language of other countries. I think quadratic understanding through things, not through discourse is ideal.     SGRA Kawaraban 703 in Japanese (Original)     LI Zhaoxue /2021 Raccoon     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Unicorn Enterprise in Japan”

    On March11, KEIDANREN (the Federation of Economic Organizations) announced their goals that they will increase the number of Entrepreneurships and start-up revel of successful model by ten times by the year 2027. At the same time, they proposed establishment of “Start-up Agency”. I was surprised at this announcement because it was KEIDANREN that will increase “Unicorn” enterprises. I think it is very innovative for Japanese economy. Since it was announced officially, I think it is better to materialize quickly. I like to watch a birth of new type of IT companies like GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft). Actually, “Unicorn” enterprises in Japan are very few. According to the data of CB Insight (America), the number of unicorn companies in Japan is the fifth position in Asia. Of course, the first in the world is the United States.   It is South Korea that support “Unicorn enterprises” nation widely. Regretfully I do not have the right to introduce such position. Because I have been thinking Zaibatu enterprises like Samsung, LG and Hyundai lead South Korean economy. However, once I know dynamic mechanism of Korean unicorn enterprises, it brought me endless surprises. South Korea was a market which investors in the world have been keeping their watchful eyes. According to statics of unicorn enterprises, South Korean is the fourth in Asia.   Initially, in order to startup as unicorn enterprises, it is important to be an enterprise which exceed one billion dollars in company’s value before stock listing. Investors are keeping concentrate on finding promising startup companies. Yet, Silicon Valley in the United States is famous as starting up place. We must watch globally from now on. Especially for venture capital enterprises, they must keep their watchful eyes worldwide if they think startup is a kind of vein of ore. According to “ECONOMIST” (English magazine dated 2021/11/27-12/3), seven companies out of ten were supported as venture businesses. Then, how to raise fund for startup in South Korea?   South Korea supported much for creation of fertile unicorn enterprises. It is said that formal support for starting up began at the Park Geun-hye administration. And the Moon Jae-in administration followed. They did not end up their support and showed their potential power. The Government laid out their targets and policies one after another. In 2017, “Small and Medium-sized Agency” was promoted to “Medium-sized Department”. Investment program toward venture capitals were unified also. Private companies increased their investment chances by deregulation. We can say that it is a completion of endless “echo-cycle” which we can expect further investment.   What kind of unicorn enterprises are there in South Korea? It is a smart phone business that became popular among people. “Coupang” is a big company in E-commerce field and is called as “Korean Amazon”. It has been already listed in the New York stock market and is getting oversea’ investment as a famous Korean unicorn company. “Socar”, car share service company and “Kurly”, quick delivery service of perishable food became unicorn companies too.  Startup of those companies are not always new business style. E-commerce or car sharing services existed already in other countries. Then, reasons why they (Korean three companies mentioned above) became unicorn companies are they could offer the services which Korean people wanted timely. They have grown up by establishing their own distribution networks systems which can deliver the goods timely when customers want. Japan must emulate such sense of speed.   Speaking of startup business in Japan, there are many niche marketing strategy. In other words, they take innovative items which have no roots still in the market. This point differs from Korea. According to Toyo Keizai (Japanese weekly magazine) special issue “Great 100 venture capital”, startup industries are varied much. It is interesting when we see such promising startup, Japanese Government should arrange new system for fundraising and prepare for echo system which can encourage unicorn enterprises. And Japan can change to a nation where people can startup easily and quickly.   What Japan is lacking now is a sense of speed and an appeal to overseas’ investors. When I read “Great 100 venture capital”, I noticed one thing which Japanese do not recognize. Japanese people keep making an effort steadily and finish their works or business models meticulously and politely. There are not so many in other countries which can follow such Japanese stile. Japan should promote this point which is the one and only and make state level changes in startup like in Korea so that the founders can concentrate in innovation, not fundraising. At the same time, we can expect increase of investment chances by private sectors in domestic market. As mentioned in KEIDANREN’s recommendation, variety of capital investors to VC (venture capital) in Japan is poor comparing with the West. In South Korea,    Zaibatu enterprises and startup companies are supporting creation of chance of startup together far from being rival. By the Governmental deregulation, private companies can make investments to startup directly.   It was the KEIDANREN’s suggestion that I was convinced that there is a base which Japan can compete equally with South Korea. KEIDANREN is supporting for increasing and making bigger the number of startup enterprises. Business startup in Japan which is niche now may become a world standard in near future. Lastly, I would like to point out that it was a female Vice President (of KEIDANREN) that announced the suggestion. Is it only me who see a ray of light in the future of Japan?     SGRA Kawaraban 702 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai /Associate Professor of KYOAI GAKUEN UNIVERSITY     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUE Qu “Fragmentary Impression of Studying Abroad in Japan”

      I have only one week left before I leave Japan. It is difficult to summarize my four years’ studying in Japan. Nothing is vaguer than memory. Memory is changing with the times. When we seek for past truth, it may be certain that we look back the past record rather than we rely on our vague memory.   I have continued to write a kind of memoirs as a training of Japanese language since my arrival in Japan. I chose three memoirs as the epitomes of my study abroad life.   ◇ September 27, 2017 (Two weeks after my arrival in Japan) It seems rain outside. NO! It is raining already. Window glass of my room was echoing “Kara-kara” by wind all day. The air was thick and hot.     A book by Shuichi Kato is too difficult. So, I went to a fish store for a change. The store was good. Their prices are far from cheap, but quality is fresh always. They have variety of choices.  I cannot indulge in luxury. I cannot spend much money because I must spend a more days. But I yielded to temptation and ended up buying a lot of ingredients.   I wrote down about today’s “Bakugai (overspending)” for the future. Snapper head, red prawn, club croquette, large clams, mussel, autumn salmon, deep fried sardine   In my fridge, there are clams, chicken wings, sweet shrimps, pork steak which I bought yesterday. It seems I can enjoy another one week but I could not make any progress in my study regardless of my rich eating habits. I have only four months left before entrance examination. I must get my daily life back on track as soon as possible.   ◇ March 2, 2018 (One month before starting doctor course) I finished translation of today’s part (I was translating “Collection of Kenji Mizoguchi). I have already spent more than one month for translation of Mizoguchi literature. But I have no improvement in my translation. If I keep present pace, I wouldn’t be in time for manuscript deadline. I will increase my time for translation.   I have read manuscript copy of “Makura-no-Sosi”. I do not know how many hours I spent for the reading. It is too long though it is written in cursive style characters. I will re-read because I have got an annotation of Shincho Classical Japanese.    By the way, it was fine today. It was nice sunny day without a single cloud and suitable for taking a walk. However, I could not go out comfortably because I had a lot of things to be completed. I wish I could go to mountains and lakes when I finish everything.   ◇February 12, 2019   What is a meaning of academics? It is meaningful to seek for the truth without profit and loss. And it will be important to utilize it for peoples’ daily lives by scholars’ efforts. In order to make efforts to people, sensible approach is more effective than logic of sentence. SUZUKI Daisetz (Japanese American, Buddhist monk, religious scholar) tried to explain spirit of Japanese and everything which configure the world by one word “spirituality”. Furthermore, he increased his sensibility using his sensitive expression integrating “spirituality” with “Daichi-sei” (take roots on earth). There are such treatises at that time. He conveyed attractiveness of Buddhism (especially Zen Buddhism) to the world through this theory. As far as we can reach our goals, accuracy or logicality is secondary issue. I understand scholar like SUZUKI knew already. Come to think of it, subjective (sensible) academics have decent meaning. _ _ _ _ _   I have enjoyed shopping, studying, thought and natural features of the season. Four years have passed in an instant and I have confidence in my future research and my life itself despite I repeated trials and errors. When I leave Japan, I have one wish. I hope this farewell would become another beginning not ending.     SGRA Kawaraban 701 in Japanese (Original)     YUE Qu /2021 Raccoon, Full-time Lecturer at School of Chinese Language and Literature of Beijing Normal University (in September 2022)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala