I was in Fukuoka from 24 to 29 December 2021 to research “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall against the Mongol invasions)”.
Khubilai Khan, the fifth Khagan-Emperor of the Mongol Empire, sent his envoy to Japan requesting “Friendly Relations” after his conquest of Goryeo (dynasty of Korea: 高麗) in thirteen centuries. However, Japanese Kamakura shogunate rejected the request and Mongolian forces including Goryeo forces attacked Japan twice in 1274 and 1281. Against such invasions, Kamakura shogunate ordered their Gokenin (shogunal retainers) in Kyushu areas to build 20 kilometers stone wall along Hakata Bay from Imazu to Kashii. We can see a part of such archaeological site now. It is so-called “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall in preparation for an attack by the Mongol invasions)”.
I arrived at Fukuoka on 24th of December in a Christmas atmosphere and went to Sawara district on 25th of December 25 to research stonewall there. At Nishijin station, I asked station attendant for the place stonewall against Mongol invasions. But he did not know about stonewall exactly and asked me “Is it a building or archaeological site?” I replied, “It is an archaeological site which have been built against the Mongol invasion”
I used the words “the Mongol invasions” instead of “stonewalls” because the words “Mongol invasion” are being used in Japanese textbooks popularly. Station attendant said, “I understood”. He entered station attendant room and confirmed with other attendants. He brought a map and showed me the way to the stonewall saying, “You can go there using No. 1 exit then walk along “Sazae-san street” and turn to left at the first crossroads and so on”. It seems people do not know exactly about stonewalls against the Mongol invasions. But everybody knows “Sazae-san street”. On a direction board at No.1 exit, we can read “Archaeological site of the Mongol invasion at 3,6,7-chome of Nishishin” or “Monument of Sazae-san (Sazae-san street)”.
One of the stonewall of Nishijin 6,7-chome exists in Building No.1 of Seinan-Gakuin University. I did not know we can observe the wall from Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00 only. It was written on direction board. I walked around Building No.1 for a few minutes. But I did not see anybody around Building No. 1 because it was Saturday and the University was closed for winter vacation. I went to other stonewall which can be seen at South of University Gym.
The Mongol Invasion Shrine came into my view first. The commemorative pillar of the shrine showed me, “Historic site: Stonewall against the Mongol Invasion. Built in October 1931”. I saw excavated stonewall beside of the pillar. I saw three trees which were planted by “Empress Nagako”, “His Highness Kuninomiya” and “His Highness Kaiinnomiya Haruhito and Prince Nashimoto Morimasa”. According to a material which I read later, October 20 festival at this shrine is a customary event.
Stonewall against the Mongol invasion was designated as National Archaeological site by Japanese Government in 1931. Excavation and restoration of the wall in early Showa era and construction movement of monument in Meiji era which I will write later have close connection with Japanese advancement to the (Chinese) continent at that time.
I visited stonewall at Iki-no-Matsubara in Nishi-district next. I got off at Shimo-yamato station and confirmed the place of stonewalls with station attendant. He knew about stonewall in the area and explained me the way to the stonewall on map. A roadside board “Iki-no-Matubara stonewall against the Mongol invasion” (including a board which was built by board of education of Fukuoka city) was very helpful. There is a monument of the stonewall in woods of Iki-no-Matsubara and shows us that “Archaeological site of stonewall against the Mongol invasion: Built in March 1931 by the Natural Monument Preservation Act designated by Ministry of Education”. Along the coast, stonewall are piled up at two meters height and there was a notice board apart from the stonewall by a few meters. On this notice board, there is a reproduction of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. Stonewall was reproduced. But it was very impressive and made me think about the Mongol invasion fully.
On December 26, I went to Genkou (Mongol invasion) Archives on the second floor of two-stories building in Higashi-Park (on the first floor, there are ramen shop and yakitori shop only). There is no full-time staff in the archive and a staff of concession stand works in double hat. It is necessary to book in advance by telephone to visit this archive. Finally, I could contact them two weeks before my visit after making many telephone calls. When I arrived at the archive, the entrance was locked and found hand-writing memo “You are requested to contact stand”. So, I went to stand to explain myself. A staff confirmed that I was surely booked and opened a door. He explained that taking photos are prohibited and visiting time is limited to thirty minutes. I paid entrance fee and walked around.
In exhibition room on the first floor, I saw armored, stirrup, pot, bow and a part of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. On the second floor, there was another spacious exhibition room (more spacious than that of the first floor). There were various special corners like the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War and the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. According to a book which I bought in archives, it was established as a memorial hall of the Mongol Invasion in 1904 first. And it was reopened in 1986 as Genkou archives after being moved and rebuilt in the area of the association to preserve Saint Nichiren.
There is a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren next to the archives. The height is 10.55 meters, and the weight is 74.25 tons. In 1888, there was a movement in Japan for establishment of memorial statue of Genkou. According to a poster which called on an establishment of Genkou monument in 1887, they have planned an establishment of an equestrian statue of Houjyo Tokimune first. However, it was a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren that was completed in 1904 taking 17 years. It was the year 1904 when Japan went to the Russo-Japanese War. Over the years, people lost interests in a movement of establishment of Genkou Monument which was heated up all over the country nearly a hundred years before. Although I say the Genkou archives, the exhibited on the second floor is not so many. Together with precious and historical Genkou records, the records of the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War are mixed. Adding to those records, there are Ramen-stand and Yakitori-stand on the first floor. It is very indecisive. How ironic it is!
During my stay in Fukuoka, I researched the Genkou stonewall in Nagatare Kaihin Park and Chigyou (Chuuou-district). But I could not research the stonewall in Taka-shima.
I am looking forward to visit Taka-shima and Matu-ura City (both in Nagasaki Prefecture) next time.
SGRA Kawaraban 700 in Japanese (Original)
BORJIGIN Husel / Professor of Department of International Studies, Showa Women’s University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
I decided the theme and approach of my doctoral course to be “How to minimize chances to meet others”. During my five years’ working before coming to Japan, I realized how it is important to meet others. The number of name cards which I got from people inside and outside South Korea became more than one per day on average. Sometimes it was meaningful but there were some which I could not recall. There were cases which I could not imagine how the meetings would go until the time when I have met. Sometimes, validation of my interview itself became my works. And I decided to proceed my Japan-research basing on literatures avoiding talking with others.
Accordingly, I managed to complete my doctoral dissertation. Dissertation writing under the epidemic of COVID-19 was “fight against myself”. The reason why I could finish my dissertation was an obsession “I will submit it absolutely”. At a defense(oral examination）in February, interviewers gave me various and severe indications which I had to admit. I am thinking to amend now. Doctoral dissertation is not a completed thing but a starting point.
I started my real research life now.
I spent these six years as a post graduate student, and I am asking myself whether it was good or bad. I am a person who grasp things critically. So, I must say frankly “I have seen real Japan”. Recently, Japan-Krean relationship is getting worse and I have a feeling of uncomfortableness. Especially this year, I realized strong peer pressure in Japanese society in the COVID-19 countermeasures. Various aspects which are lurking usually were exposed by COVID-19. I am thinking now that I got another assignment as a Japan-researcher.
I have walked on “Mainstream” in South Korean society as a “Majority”. In this meaning, an experience as a “Minority” in Japan for six years was good for me. I have been always concerned with “minority issue” in Soth Korea. But there were limitations as far as I was not put at minority position. Thanking to many foundations, I could have relationship with foreigners who were in similar positions. It gave me a good chance to consider “minority”.
“What is Japan?” “How do we consider Japan?” These questions have been always underling in my research life. I thought I found an answer. But the answer receded soon. My research life has been repetitions of such questions and answers. But quantity of my knowledges increased definitely over these six years. In my research life, I was conscious of “academics” exclusively and controlled “journalistic” statement or outbound as much as possible. I intended to be coexistent “academy and journalist” seriously. Frankly speaking, I had a feeling that status of postgraduate student is suffocating, especially in Japan where the number of working adult/University student is not so many. I kept feeling that I wanted to get out of such feeling as fast as possible.
In the end, let me say one thing which I felt strongly in my work. What I like to say is that people do not imagine when and where they meet afresh. You may say it is quite normal. But I have a lot of experiences which I met people unexpectedly whom I have met them earlier. before. And these unexpected meeting led to various destiny. It may be a precept “Do not do something wrong against others”. Human relations are very momentary. But we may have any relations in future. It may be a fortune. Under the epidemic of COVOD-19, the number of scholarship students of Atsumi International Foundation whom I have met will not be less. But I hope I could meet them in near future somewhere. Now, I am ending my six years’ austere trainings and going back to working adult. I like to keep it in mind
SGRA Kawaraban 699 in Japanese (Original)
YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, Project Lecturer of HITOTSUBASHI University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
I came to Japan having hundreds of productive ideas and a big passion “how to realize those ideas”. And I had a question “which ideas are worth focusing?” After entering to doctoral course, I could choose any directions and anything which I had interest as far as it would have novelty and challenging. Such freedom gave me a lot of possible directions. At the same time. it gave me uncertainty also. I thought “How to spend those three years hereafter?”
It will be the easiest way to find a theme of my doctoral course that I combine my research and “The New Laboratory”. A theme of doctoral course should be possible as far as it would be challenging and have novelty. So, I proceeded to this direction for the first one and half years.
However, I was confronted with my self-questions which many doctoral course students have experienced. “Are there anybody who think it necessary?” “For whom am I proceeding?”
Answers from my pondering did not satisfy myself. I know there are few companies which understand my technology and the number of people who like to use such products which use my technology is few. As I have been working for a business world for years, I was accustomed to the works which respond to customers’ needs. In other words, it became difficult for me to work for technical development which may have no customers’ needs.
I realized my doubt. It was very important period which is one year and half before the thesis defense of the first semester and start of doctoral thesis. I know I would suffer a hardship or lose my motivation if I spend my remaining time being unable to trust how my research would be useful. I could not cheat myself anymore. I thought “How can I write doctoral thesis where I do not have confidence? I will have questions which I cannot answer from examiners or others.”
I think it necessary to trust myself from bottom of my heart what I am doing now in order to continue my long doctoral course and to have a power which can overcome my difficult time and setback. I must find honest answer to myself to questions: “For whom and for what am I doing? Is it useful?”
During the period which I was looking for the answer, I recognized a new thesis. I recalled a customer’s dissatisfaction which I heard when I have been working for Russian company. When I talked with potential customers of my technology at an industrial exhibition in Tokyo, I could confirm their questions. I discussed with CEO of a company of my research field to make clear about difficult point and after this discussion, I could grasp a trend of technical development of my research field using ‘big data analysis tool’. When I attended international meeting, I could understand future of this technology after talking with a top of academic conference and technical scouts. I studied about process of political decision for the purpose how the Japanese Government support research field and analyzed the Governmental data at GRIPS (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies).
I concluded that the most important factor for customers is the price of goods. What customers are unsatisfied is not performance of goods but the price. There are a lot of potential customers who know about our sensing technology but cannot afford to buy although they like it. So, I put my effort into affordable price and came up with an idea that the most precious parts of sensor system would be made on the photonic chips.
Now I understand that I have been working for customers who could not afford optical fiber sensing technology and I am convinced customers would buy and use the products if we can decrease the prices.
I repeated unsuccessful efforts for the first year when I started toward new direction. Nothing went well. Design of chips, production process and setting up of testing etc. I could not find what was wrong. However, I did not feel depressed. I thought it would go well next time. I trusted myself thinking that my research would be useful and it gave me a power of inspiration, motivation and endurance for failures.
What I learned from my doctoral course is an importance of trusting myself from bottom of my heart when I proceed long term projects. It is necessary to have not only logical understanding but emotional connection also. If I can do so, it will be useful for getting better, being encouraged and encourage others in my daily life.
Principle mentioned above can be applied to a lot of occasions in daily life.
1) When we learn new languages, it is necessary to trust the languages and necessary to trust ourselves. In my case, the reason why I can speak English is I have stayed in America for six months where nobody could understand Russian language.
2) As I was afraid of getting fat, I keep on doing exercises every day.
3) Everybody knows early riser is efficient. But it is not enough to know what is early riser. It is necessary to believe their feelings truly. In my case, I started my early rise because I liked to see sunrise.
Hereafter I will keep finding honest answers against my question “Why?” for what I am doing.
SGRA Kawaraban 698 in Japanese (Original)
Victor SHISHKIN /2020 Raccoon, Project Researcher at The University of Tokyo
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
During my doctoral course period of three years, I put my efforts into activities in academic conference and writing theses. And it made me think of “Assignment as a Researcher and Educator”. In the field of special support education, the number of researchers who are active in this field was small. Many people are active as University instructors and at the same time as researchers. Under such situation, I became a part-time teacher of the subject “Special Support Education” for students who aim to be teachers in future.
I have accepted a class keeping my conflict of feeling and I proceed the class without any experience as a teacher. However, I read various comments of participants like “I attend the class to become good teacher” or “I attend the class to correspond to the students who have various needs”. And I realized gradually “I, as a teacher, like to give participants knowledge of special support education and those students would teach children in future”. As a result, I could explore how educator should be after I become one. would be an educator. I liked to guide students as an educator hereafter through trial and error.
When I worked in University as a teacher, I realized it was not easy to balance the position of researcher and educator. I, as a university staff must devote myself to both teaching and University assignments. At the same time, I must write essays and prepare conference presentation as a researcher. Now, I was swamped with preparation for class and meeting and unable to make any prediction when I started my research activities. I had an uneasy feeling if such situation would continue indefinitely. In the dizzying pace of my daily life, I would like to continue both educational and research activities without forgetting my first resolution as educator and researcher.
The point, as a researcher was how to communicate with teachers who were active in the educational sites which was my research field. I got a chance to accept a workshop which has theme of researchers and educators. And I realized my position as a researcher and an educator. At this workshop there were many teachers and graduate students who were working at elementary schools and special support schools. I got to know that they were asked to proceed their classes aiming for not only their own research results but supporting students’ needs in future also. I was researching “Career Education” at special support school for the mental retardation and was not aware of present situation and thesis of researchers at their educational sites. I could listen to their opinions was a good result. I think I, as an educator decreased communication gap between researcher and educator of students who aim to be teachers in future. When I was listening to teachers, I understood there was no change in what they were thinking of the students regardless of their positions as a researcher or an educator. However, there are researchers who consider pupils as a data. I realized an importance of ethical education
Especially, as the target of clinical psychology is human beings, human right is very important. I am always asking myself how I am aware of responsible research activities (RCR) and what I can do for such activities. I am reconsidering a goal of good research. Target of my present research is mild dyslexia. I have a feeling of necessity in my research activities in which I care about “Well-being” adding to present research ethics which are biasing to “informed consent”. Above all, I am keeping “Meaningful Life (contribution to the others)” in mind which is emphasized and like to continue my research which contribute to rich life of dyslexia and their supporters and parents.
SGRA Kawaraban 697 in Japanese (Original)
LEE Sujin / 2020 Raccoon, Assistant Professor of Hamamatsu Gakuin University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
Two years has passed of COVID-19 pandemic. I was spending Chinese New Year in Thailand and Korea at that time. When I heard news from China (unidentified infectious disease are spreading) in Thailand, I thought it was someone else’s problem. However, when I entered South Korea the situation changed. Passengers who entered from Wuhan (China) were proved to be infected one after another and the Government sent transport airplanes. I thought “the situation will calm down soon” and left for Inchon Airport to Japan. I little dreamt such situation would continue for two years.
During this period, the world hasn’t return to the time-“before Corona”. And, we had technical and cultural change which were thought to be a few years later. We could have many lessons. Especially, anti-COVID-19 counter measures varied by countries and showed characteristics of their directions. Basing on such situation, I like to write here that “COVID zero measures are being expired in the epidemic of the Omicron variant”
During these two years, people in the world witnessed a variety of anti-Corona measures. Some countries took limited or isolated measures like lockdown. Some countries relied on self-motivation of people rather than compulsory measures. There were countries which utilized IT (information technology) and personal information proactively. Based on such situation, a diagram “Democracy vs Authoritarianism” for the COVID-19 became the subject of discussion in social science field. In short, authoritarianism can suppress spread of infection easily. In the Western countries, they had travel restriction which is one of violation of human rights successively and wearing masks and vaccination were politicalized excessively. They took measures like mandatory vaccination or compulsory wearing masks in some areas. It seems to be a regression of democracy.
“Blockade of Wuhan” gave a huge impact in the World. But it is important that China could return to “Normal Life” by measures so-called “China Model” which based on areal blockade and huge number of inspections. It could not be a world model because it was difficult to have such model in other countries than China. The measures against corona virus in the United States in their deteriorated relationship with China affected much. American pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer and Moderna) developed new vaccines but the vaccination rate in the United States is sluggish (60% for the second vaccination as of January end). There was little progress in support of developing countries by the United States. We can say the Western countries are “loser” in terms of the number of infected persons and the dead.
However, such situation is changing in the spread of Omicron variant. “Introvert and exclusive measures” are becoming meaningless because of its strong infectious capacity and low severity. Western countries which experienced the spread of Omicron variant first are asking minimum quarantine to “essential workers” who support infrastructure of communities. Even in Japan, which is criticized for its severe border rules, quarantine period was shortened to “seven days”. (FYI, immigrant to Japan must stay at isolation facilities in the spread of infections. It shows slow change of direction in Japan.) South Korea, which has given up containing the virus to spread, will shorten the period after February. World-wide consensus that “COVID-zero measures have no chance against Omicron variant” are being formed now.
The reasons for policy change came from the fact which the number of inpatients is increasing but it is not the same with the peak period. The U.K. Government took the lead in such change and did not request immigration inspection for the people who took vaccination twice. They will loosen quarantine measures for infected persons and close contact persons. It may be possible to have a new variant. But almost all countries will take the same direction.
Under such situation, the counter measures by China in Chinese New Year and Winter Olympics are gathering attention. In January, Eurasia Group, American famous research firm, announced their interesting report “The Top Risk 2022”. It emphasized that “COVID-zero Countermeasures” by China are not sustainable saying the measures are the biggest risk in global economy.
According to this report, “mRNA vaccine” by Pfizer and Moderna are very popular in the world, and it reduces a danger of Omicron variant. On the other hand, these vaccines are not used in China, and it caused to weaken immunity of Chinese people in the “COVID-zero measures” circumstances. (In this point, scientific proof is insufficient.)
It seems difficult for present countermeasures by China to contain Omicron variant from spreading. The report anticipate the Chinese Government will be forced to change their countermeasures. In other words, Omicron variant pinpointed the weak points of countermeasures by the Government which have achieved success and the low immunity of Chinese people backfired. If we will consider political schedule of the Government hereafter, the past successful experiences might be a hindrance of political leaders and repeat lockdowns.
Under such circumstances, we must worry about adverse effects of global supply chain where China played a part. There were its “harbinger” in many places in China actually. In Xi’an, they had lockdown for 33 days which was the longest since Wuhan’s case, and people had problems in distribution of foods and medical systems. Semi-conductor manufacturers Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology (USA) were forced to shut down. Toyota Motor Corporation suffered a blow in Tianjin by similar measures. In Fengtai District, Beijing where the Winter Olympics are being held, infected persons were confirmed one after another. People in China began to go out actively in Chinese New Year despite they could not contain Omicron variant. In some local Governments, they requested the Government to announce the order of refraining from going outside. Stealth Omicron (BA.2) (it is difficult to classify with other variants and have stronger infectivity than Omicron) is confirmed now and COVID zero measures entered crucial stage.
After the COVID-19, various “model of measures” was tried and failed (lost) one after another in South Korea, Japan and Australia. (It is true that the number of the death in Australia was small.) And China may follow. The point is “How to coexist with Corona virus?” It is very difficult to contain the corona virus. In other words, it is an “obvious lesson” which human beings should be humble in front of the nature.
SGRA Kawaraban 696 in Japanese (Original)
YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, specially appointed lecturer at Hitotsubashi University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
Disparities are spreading in the world. There are a varieties of disparities such as income gaps, disparity in education, regional disparities and “vaccine disparity” also. We like to avert our eyes from such disparities narrowing such gaps. What’s worse, disparities would chain.
We can see disparity chains especially in income and education. First, in case of income gaps, people will lose chances to receive education at cram schools. It leads to disadvantage in entrance exam and become difficult to enter high-level Universities. Consequently, it leads to difficulties to start at high salary and stable companies or find lifetime employment and start as normal working adults. When people cannot enjoy higher education means negative chain of disparity. If such negative chains would continue for generations, it will be terrible. It is regarded as a problem not only in Japan but in China and South Korea also. Points in common in those countries are flourish industries of entrance exam and it is unavoidable for Universities to have entrance exams.
When we talk about university entrance exam, pressure for candidates in Japan would not be so serious. In China, all the candidates must take the only one exam called “高考(GaoKao)” and its result decides new school. In South Korea, everybody like to enter prestigious Universities, but the number of such Universities is limited. It is because everybody knows that only the graduates of such Universities can find employments in prestigious Zaibatsu companies which can pay good salary. Yes, everybody does not like to be in position of low disparity level. However, competitions are becoming harder, and disparity are being bigger.
Consequently, you can easily imagine enervation of young generation who are living under such disparity of education. Theme of Korean drama “IKA Game” which was distributed by Netflix at early 2021 was just “disparity society” and it became very popular not only in Korea but Japan and United States also. Its theme was not educational disparity, but protagonists of this drama were the people who live at the bottom of Korean disparity society. They challenged themselves to children’s game at the risk of their lives. It means the death, if they drop-out. Background of popularity of this drama did not come from cutthroat scenes of drama. Challengers in this drama were depicted thoroughly about their darkness in their life and the process which they went down to the lower hierarchy of the society. I think such depiction grasped the heart of viewers.
South Korea is good at stories which ask a question of sympathy strongly to disparate society. Before “IKA game”, they have enjoyed a film “Parasite” (2019). In this film, there were only two families. One is rich and the other is poor, and there was no middle class. It shed light on the disparate society in South Korea clearly and completely. It might make you feel appalling. I think similar works would be made under the theme of disparate society changing a way of produce and would hit greatly.
Let’s go on to China. Recently, the words “Lying flat people” are becoming popular in China. The background of this popular words came from fierce disparate society. “Lying flat people” means that if the young do not work hard and lie flat, they cannot keep up with competition and cannot narrow the gap. In order to change such disparate society fundamentally, Chinese Government took drastic measures for overheated industries of entrance exam putting up a slogan “共同富裕” (common prosperity).
In July 2021, the Government announced, “Prohibition order of Cram Schools”. This order reduces burden of learning of elementary and middle school students and do not allow cram schools of their business for profit. Cram schools suppress households’ balance sheet and connect to aggravation of declining birthrate. For example, in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, cram school fee cost about 100,000 yen a month mostly. It is not exaggeration. Students who cannot go to cram school have little chance to enter prestigious Universities. The number of students who come from agricultural areas and enter prestigious Universities like Peking University is decreasing year by year. In other words, it shows clearly that entrance exam industry is prosperous only in big cities. It is serious that not only regional disparity between urban and rural area but income gaps in urban area are becoming bigger. We cannot say the prohibition order of cram school will solve disparity of education.
The chain between income gap and disparity of education should be cut. In the proceeding of inflation, it is not easy to settle income gap. Then, educational disparity should be settled first. Besides education at schools, easing of examination ordeal which require a lot of money for cram schools will be necessary. And the young should be given chances so they can work at any prestigious companies regardless of their universities which they enter. Especially in South Korea and China, the system which their lives after universities are decided by entrance examination should be changed. In Japan, the number of universities is big, and they have rich individualities in their faculties and curriculums. China and South Korea should learn from Japan where they do not attach too much importance to ranking (deviation).
Then, how to adjust disparity in Japan? It is important to increase the number of choices of scholarship for high school students and information about scholarship should be made understandable clearly. When I was writing this essay, I found a poster at the store by chance. It was a scholarship system of a foundation of big company. Oh dear! They are supplying scholarship to junior high school students. This scholarship can afford monthly tuition of cram school. Don’t give up saying “it is impossible to get scholarship”. There may be a chance to get scholarship. It will become more important for not only private companies but Government or Municipalities also to thicken compensation of single parent families which show high poverty rate. I do not say the poor and needy family should be paid more. It is enough for municipalities which hire vacant space in towns and dispark at free as study rooms. Increasing of chances to get education and equalization of chances of entrance exam would raise disparities.
SGRA Kawaraban 695 in Japanese (Original)
XIE Zhihai /Associate Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
In my life, I had chances to meet two great religions and, in detail, to accept four faiths. Here, I would like to explain the process of my acceptance of four faiths, and I would like to write my conclusion about my present “way of being”.
I was born in Italy and had been studying Buddhism literatures in Japan for thirteen years.
I was very often asked “what is your religion?” or “what is your faith?” The answer isn’t so simple. Because I am not a person who has been lived in one culture or one world only. I had been interested in different spiritual cultures of different countries (Japan) and accepted a different religion and belief (Buddhism).
I was raised as Catholic, and I am a so-called “Born Christian”. Although my wife is not Buddhist, she is a very open-minded person towards all faiths. However, my first partner in Japan was Buddhist. Here I choose to not reveal her personal information, so I will limit myself to explain that in her Buddhism there are a “New Religious Organization” and a “Traditional Community”.
Her family were believers of the “New Buddhist Organization”. I accepted her faith under the consent of my family and the church to where I belong. Then I joined her religious organization from Italy. The consent of the church to where I belong means that my church said : “if you do not deny Christianity and also if you do not get out of the Catholic Church, it is OK for you having had more than on one faith” and “when you go together with a person who believes in a different religion (for example, Buddhism), if you will have a child with her in the future, we only ask you to make all efforts to baptize your child”. I did talk to her many times about it as follow: “if we will have a baby in the future, let the child know about both Christianity and Buddhism and let decide by his/her own”.
As you see, it is not so easy for foreigners like me to get interested in a different spirituality from Christianity and get involved with a person who belongs to a different religion like Buddhism. Since I have no siblings, it was not so easy to live alone for more than ten years in another foreign country (Japan) to study and absorb a different culture and spirituality which my partner had. The Buddhist population in Italy is 0.5% only. Almost of them do not deny Christianity and are still affiliated to the Catholic Church. It is because they do not like to be problematic with the Catholic Church in the country.
You can easily confirm the above content from the people who accepted other spiritualities than Christianity not only in Italy but also in the other Christian cultural areas. Just ask them as follow: “Where you baptized?” “Did you have the First Holy Communion, and did you receive the Confirmation?” “Did you send a letter to the Curial Office in your district to ask for the annulment of your Sacraments such as Baptism (if not, you are still belonging to the Catholic Church)?” “Did you ask your Priest ‘Is it OK to have more than one faith joining a different religious organization for family reasons? (I think your Priest would allow you from his kind understanding.)” Nevertheless, there are many people who joined different religious organizations without asking permission to their church. Of course, this is no good. And the possibility of becoming problematic in Italy or in other Christian countries is not zero.
For me, now, it’s more than twenty years ago. I got interested in Japanese spiritual culture since my young age because I had been accustomed to meditative practices in conjunction with Karate from five to twenty years old. Moreover, there are three reasons I have in common with other people in Italy who can share other spiritualities than Christianism: 1) A sense of impending crisis: The Western world was getting philosophically stuck, and people began to feel that Western Civilization could be regenerated only if they would import something different from outside. 2) Important values (such as the perception of close connections between mind and body or between human beings and their natural environment) remain properly alive in Oriental Spiritualities. 3) Many people in Western world were dissatisfied with authoritarianism of their historical religions. (Clergyman as the center of structure of the religious life or “a priori” stipulation about how human beings should be and should live their life.)
When I came to Japan in 2008 as a research student of the Japanese Ministry of Education, all of my activities except my research (religious activities included) have been limited by the contract with the Ministry until recent years. Religious service which I did with her (whom I dated then), were limited in her house only. However, I have been trying to understand the history of Buddhism and absorb various development of its spirituality in University as my research.
Regret to say, it was not anyone from the “New Buddhist Organization” which she belonged but the “Traditional Buddhism Community” that educated me as a student and young researcher, giving me a lot which I had to do. I’m so much obliged to Professor M.K. (I write here only his initial) who was my supervisor and mentor, universities and persons who belonged to important temples of the “Traditional Buddhist Community”.
People who belonged to the “New Buddhist Organization” seemed to regard as follows: “Is he (myself) concealing or denying his affiliation to us in University or other places for being afraid to be considered as our fellow?” Or “Is he our fellow or not?” My communication and relations with them had been uncomfortable since more than ten years ago. I gave my family and partner anxiety for my relations with them as a young researcher. I think there were a lack of communication at first. In Japan, people do not confide or listen to their personal matters even among Japanese. There is a cultural aspect in the world of Japanese religionists that it is unnecessary to explain their basic positions repeatedly, because it all depends on their “affiliations” which are settled and unchangeable since they were born. However, I think it is inappropriate that Japanese try to understand foreigners’ situation basing on their own behaviors.
“New Buddhist Organization” and “Traditional Buddhist Community” were not able to have good relations historically. However, Professor M.K. and other people from the “Traditional Buddhist Community” accepted me basing on their kind understanding and because I clarified any detail of my situation at my department when I entered my University. People from the “Traditional Buddhist Community” still support my present research life. I understood and accepted also their (Professor M.K. and people from the “Traditional Buddhist Community”) faith and their views as a man who was able to accept a religion that differ from that of my family.
So, I was asked very often “What is your religion?” or “What is your faith?” As you can understand now, my answer cannot be simple. I think I am both Christian and Buddhist. So, my answers are: I have more than one religion and I am accepting more than one faith. 1)My family’s faith (Catholic) 2) The faith of “New Buddhist Organization”, which my first partner in Japan believes. 3) The faith of “Traditional Buddhism” which my professor and mentor, Professor M.K. come from. 4) My wife’s faith. All the above are important part of my present spirituality because I understand and accept all their faith and values fully.
For example, I’m ok with both the Catholic Rosary or Buddhist chanting which way I prayed in morning and evening with the people I knew. I experienced many times that I got feel better after both of these types of the worship. It is possible to rediscover same type of “vitality” many times even when we socialize with different communities. At the same time, I have no intention to mix them up. I speak Italian when speaking to Italians. I speak Japanese when speaking to Japanese people. I think with Italian culture when I am in Italy, and I think with Japanese culture when I’m in Japan.
When I speak to Christians, I think with Christian “language”. And when I speak to Buddhists, I think with Buddhist’s “language”. I can encourage Christians using Christian “language” and encourage Buddhists using Buddhist “language”. I often talk about points in common or similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. I also can advise Christians about the Buddhism viewpoints or advise Buddhists about Christian viewpoints. It is the same with people who get married with a person from a different religion, the multicultural identity of their children or the so-called “half” (people of mixed parentage, half Japanese and half foreigner, actually “double”, because they have more than one mother language, more than one culture and in some cases more than one spirituality).
I sometimes answer that “When I accepted also a different faith, I transcended and jumped out settings like “my faith is only this one and not that one”. I have to say that the questions “What is your religion?” or “What is your faith?” cannot lead people to properly understand person like me.
I prefer the second answer. If I must answer following the categories from Catholic, which I belong since I was born, the “New Buddhist Organization” and from the “Traditional Buddhist Community”, maybe I should say that I come from Catholic Church, I am a person connected with the “Traditional Buddhist Community”, which Professor M.K. comes from, and that I’m also an “understander” of the “New Buddhist Organization”, which my first partner belongs. But those categories are not always fit for person like me.
At this point I often collide with group of people who works in one world only because they could not have the chance to know different cultures and sense of values. In detail, my “way of being” collides their “Position-ism” and their viewpoint about “How people should be”. For example, they often say to me: “Yes but, basically, you are just talking as a member of ‘X religion organization’ right? or “Yes but, after all, which group are you belonging to!?” or “You think too much!” or “You care too much!” So called “half” (people of mixed parentage) often receive the same treatment. Sorry to say, people like me inevitably stay beyond the sphere of “which world are you belonging to!?” I am very sorry.
If someone will eventually force me to select only one world at any cost, I will be left with two choices only. I would like to be open to any other open-minded person, no matter his/her faith or organization is. But, if forced to an exclusive choice, I must select (1) Catholic Church which at the beginning allow me to relate with other religions, or (2) the “Traditional Buddhism Community”, again with the consent of my family and the Catholic Church, because I ‘m so much obliged to person like Professor M.K. who were the only people who understand me, nurtured me, and gave me so much to do to grow as student and researcher. This is no more a matter of faith, but a matter of ethic. I have to choose the only open-minded side which understand my situation and utilize me effectively. In the case of (2) above, Catholic Church says that will give me the same forgiveness as twenty years ago by the reason “for the sake of my job” as a researcher.
Anyway, I was born as a “bridge” between two worlds. A bridge is attached to more than one side. If someone cannot understand my situation or if someone do not have proper knowledge or experience about various circumstances of foreign people, I will say: please do not perceive as a crime of mine what simply is your lacking of understanding and knowledge.
I believe that everyone was born as he/she was born because of his/her innate mission and reason of existence. Some people who have been lived only in their own world for their entire life may not understand it. But there is a way of “jumping out” even for them. I recommend them to study, for example, the historical development of our respective spiritualities and beliefs. If they can emancipate themselves from the present influence of their spiritual heritage, relativize that influence, and become creative toward it, they will also enjoy much deeper all the factors that makes them what they actually are.
That’s what I believe.
SGRA Kawaraban 691 in Japanese (Original)
Emanuele Davide Giglio / 2007 Graduated Student at the top of his class at the University of Turin, Italy, Dep. of Oriental Studies; Winner of the Optimus Prime (Industrial Union of Italy) as best graduated student for his Faculty (Foreign Languages); 2008-2014 Government Student for the Ministry of Education of Japan; 2012 Master degree from the University of Tokyo, Buddhist Studies; 2014 Scholarship Foreign Student for the Nichiren School, Head Office for the Propagation of Nichiren Buddhism, Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple, City of Ota, Tokyo; 2015 Raccoon; 2016 Scholarship Student for Society of Promotion of Buddhism; 2019 Doctoral degree from University of Tokyo, Buddhist studies; Special Foreign Researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Research fellow at the International Institute of Research on Nichirenology, University of Mt.Minobu.
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koilara
I got a mail from Producer of KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) in Summer, 2021.
“Hello, sensei (myself)！I am a KBS producer working for a special documentary program. This year is the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK). We look back to soldiers who were sent by United Nations for the Korean War and died. We cast our light on the meaning of UNMCK. Recently, I read your thesis about the possibility of inscription of UNMCK in the World Heritage Site. We would like to have an interview with you, if possible, on the change, meaning and evaluation of UNMCK.
According to our Director Y., you are on the last stage in completion of your thesis, and we know you are busy. But we shall be very pleased if you would accept our request.”
When I received this mail, my head was full of doctoral thesis and my future. And, somehow, I accepted their request by something unidentified power. It was an encounter of my fateful start for “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” for four months. It was a special documentary program by KBS Pusan, and I joined as an academic supervisor.
This documentary program had another title “The Forgotten War and its Afterwards”. I did not know it at that time. The direction of this program seems nothing special. But I am proud of having contributed to suggest “Memory” as the basic concept of this program. The title of my doctoral thesis is “United Nations Cemetery in Korea as a memorial place: War cemetery as cultural heritage” and as you can see a close relevance in the title of program and my thesis.
I gave authentic advice using ZOOM as an academic supervisor in August and September. Responsible producer sent me various questions or opinion reading my argument on UNMCK. I answered on ZOOM meeting and gave her historical documents and pictures as supplementary data if required. When I gave her pictures or images of the year 1950s, KBS asked original authors for their license or bought copyrights.
Documentary program started from present stories (though 71 years has passed after the Korean War) of excavation of the remains of the War dead and their personal identification works by the Ministry of Defense. Protagonists of this documentary are not only the War dead (United Nations soldiers) themselves but surrounding people of the War dead also.
All of them made up the dramas.
Mr. James Grundy (90 years old) collected bodies of his comrades-in-arms which have been left in battle fields in the year 1951 amid the War and buried them in the UN Cemetery.
Mr. Vincent Courtenay (87 years old) UN soldier from Canada and Mr. Brian Hough (88 years old) UN soldier from UK proposed International Memorial Ceremony for the War dead under the title “Turn toward Pusan”. Mr. Michael Hockridge (the War dead) passed away at the age of 20 he was young and was buried in this cemetery. Mr. William Speakman was honored with the Victoria Cross (the most prestigious award for soldiers in the UK or the Commonwealth) for the Korean War. Their bereaved families made up the dramas too.
We cast our light on unknown soldiers or missing soldiers who were embroiled in gigantic and unknown violence “the War”. When I advised in ZOOM, producer told me “This drama would bring those people (who tell the story) instead”.
Her saying means “if we meet fortuitously, it would be our destiny”. When I started my doctoral course, I crossed my mind many times as I was at a loss for finding the theme of my doctoral thesis. Various stories in “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” overlapped co-incidentally with my present situation as storyteller about UNMCK. In that sense all the people who are the War dead who rest in UNMCK regaining their names and the War dead who could not regain their names, Producers of this documentary program and scholarships of Atsumi International Foundation may be my destiny which I should meet in my life.
Story of UNMCK does not limit to the past War which is far from “present” and “here”. UNMCK, whereabouts of the dead, is the pace of memory and oblivion. We confront the War dead and ex-soldiers alive who went boundaries back and forth of dichotomy between life and death or peace and war. Whereabouts of death and traces of war, both came from confrontation of ideology, are showing us a vision which we should aim as human beings who live in 21st century. Such reflection of documentary “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” is a legacy, which should be bequeathed to the postwar generation, as “Living Heritage”.
“My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” (photo album)
YouTube link “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” (trailer)
SGRA Kawaraban 694 in Japanese (Original)
LEE Chung-sun / 2021 Raccoon, Postgraduate student at the University of Tokyo
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
Mongolia has stopped foreigners to enter the country from China at mid-February 2020 because of CORONA pandemic. At the end of February, flights from Japan and South Korea stopped their operations. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health have changed their immigration rules very often. On the other hand, New Uran Bator Airport, which was postponed for opening many times, has opened on July 4, 2021, as Japanese mass media reported. New Airport is run by “New Uran Bator International Airport Company” which is joint venture by Mongolian Government and Japanese consolidated companies such as Narita International Airport, Japan Airport Building, JALUX and Mitsubishi Corporation. The 32 kilometers highway, which has six lanes (three lanes on each side) and connects between the new airport and Uran Bator City, has also opened. Flights between Japan and Mongolia reopened at the end of last year and the number of flights has increased.
I departed from Narita Airport on August 25 by Korean Airline. After one night stop at Inchon Airport in South Korea, I arrived at New Uran Bator Airport on 26th. Immigration at Narita Airport was very severe. I was asked three times for Vaccine certificate, PCR negative certificate and two times for certificate for hotel reservation in Mongolia for seven days after arrival. I was measured for temperature many times. Comparatively at Inchon Airport it was so easy. I could finish the procedure without documents and questions. At Uran Bator Airport, it was not so “severe” but took long time. It took me two hours for temperature checking, Immigration, submission of health check report, PCR checking before receiving my baggage.
It took only thirty minutes to arrive Uran Bator City from the New Airport. There were no congestion on highway because the number of flights and users of highway from the airport were less. However, in the city, it took me more than one hour to reach hotel due to road congestion. There were no change in the city of Uran Bator without a scene that everybody wears mask.
Many friends of mine in Japan, who knew my arrival at Uran Bator, asked me various questions. “How did you go to Mongolia?” “I would like to go to Mongolia. But it does not seem to be easy.” Departure from Japan, connection at South Korea, Immigration at Mongolia etc. It took me a week to reply to all of them by mail.
On September 4, we had 14th Uran Bator International Symposium “A hundred years of relations between Japan and Mongolia–History, Present situation and Prospect” at Multi-purpose room, Building２, Fourth floor, at Mongolian National University on-line basis under the joint sponsorship of Showa Women’s University (International Culture Research Center), SGRA Sekiguchi Global Research Association of Atsumi International Foundation, and Mongolia National University (Social Science/Asia Research) and sponsorship by Atsumi International Foundation, Showa Women’s University, Research Association of Mongolian History and Culture and Association for “Heritage of BARGA”. Ninety members of researchers and students participated.
The year of 2021 is the 110th Anniversary of National Foundation Day of Mongolia, the 100th Anniversary of the Mongolian Revolution and the 40th Anniversary of Democratization of Mongolia. And it is the 40th Anniversary of Reopening of Grant of Financial Aid from Japanese Government. When we look back on achievements of exchange between Japan and Mongolia for a hundred years and summarize present situation and problems of countries in East Asia, there is a special meaning which based on the relations between Japan and Mongolia.
We invited representative researchers from Japan, Mongolia and China. And we found and thought about new knowledges basing on historical records which were discovered newly and research results of academic societies from our friendship between Japan and Mongolia which surmounted “love and resentment” of history.
The Symposium started with the opening speech by Professor Sh. Egshig, National University of Mongolia (Asia Research Section, Social Science Division). We got congratulatory speeches from Ms. Junko Atsumi, Representative of Atsumi International Foundation, Sekiguchi Global Institute and Professor D. Zaya Baatar, Director of Social Science Department of National University of Mongolia. After their speeches, we had reports from researchers from Japan, Mongolia and China. Their names are: Ex-Japanese Ambassador SHIMIZU Takenori, Ex- Mongolian Ambassador to Cuba Ts. Batbayar, Honorable Professor NIKI Hiroshi Tokyo Foreign Language University, Professor D. Tsedev Uran Bator University, Professor MATSUKAWA Hitoshi of Ohtani University, Professor J. Urangua of National University of Mongolia, Director Mr. KUBOTA Shinichi, Japan-Mongolia Friendship Organization, Mr. B. Punsaldulam Chief Researcher of Research Center of Mongolian Academy for History and Anthropology. Ms. Imanishi was welcomed for participation after long time though it was online.
Mongolian newspaper “Soyombo” reported this symposium. In Japan, this symposium will be introduced in “Japan-Mongolia Academic Conference Bulletin” No. 52.
After the symposium, from September 9 to 20, I carried out on-site survey about “The Wall of Genghis Khan” in Dornod Province under the research project “Creation of the Base of International Joint Research for ‘The Wall of Genghis Khan’”. Members are Professor J. Urangua Department of Archaeology of National University of Mongolia, Professor U. Erdenebat, Professor Ch. Amatuvshin and Chairman Ts. Tumen of the Association of “Heritage of Barga”. We could get good results more than our expectations and I let you know the details later.
I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. ITO Yoriko, Embassy of Japan in Mongolia for giving me idea about PCR testing and others.
Photos from the symposium and research trip
SGRA Kawaraban 693 in Japanese (Original)
BORJIGIN Husel / Professor of Showa Women’s University (International Department)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
When I was writing my dissertation, I had a phone call from Mr. Sasamoto of the Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro City (Nagano Prefecture). I had not been in touch with him for a while as I got busy with the in the dissertation. On that day, he had some event of movies and gave me a call having recalled I am specialized in Chinese film history.
I met him when I was a University student. The Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro have a close relationship with Nanjing University, my alma mater. They sponsored “Toson (Shimazaki Toson : a famous Japanese novelist) Literary Prize in China” at Nanjing University. They organized also homestay activities of Nanjing University students. I came to Japan first as a homestay student in Komoro City and Mr. Sasamoto was a father of my host family.
I spent a week with Mr. and Mrs. Sasamoto. But it influenced my life a lot. As I was accepted to be a member of Sasamoto family, I could have a precious cultural experience assimilating into Japanese daily life. I danced in Yukata (an informal cotton kimono) at festival of Komoro citizens. They brought me to a spa on the top of mountain and famous sightseeing spot “Kaikoen”. I helped “mother” (Mrs. Sasamoto) to harvest vegetables which she cultivated at her groves. I could experience rich nature and culture of Komoro and perceive charm point of Japanese culture. I cannot learn it from textbook.
During my stay in Komoro, I have enjoyed various fresh experiences. What, I felt most impressive was a passion of Mr. Sasamoto toward Japan-China friendship. On the first day of my arrival at Mr. Sasamoto’s house, he gave me a book about histories of normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China and talked passionately that we should get along friendly, and we should never have war. And he asked me (I was major in Japanese language at that time) to be a bridge between Japan and China. He devoted himself to project for the Friendship between Japan and China after retirement from winery. I did not ask his motive of the project, but I conjectured there are some connections in his motive that he has been in Shenyang (ex-Mukden) in his junior high school days and experienced the Sino-Japanese War. I was impressed with his eagerness to develop the relations between Japan and China through public exchange activities as a civilian.
We have been communicating after my returning to China and he was very pleased for my studying in Japan. When I was studying for entrance exam, he sent me apples from Komoro to encourage me. At the entrance ceremony, he kindly attended coming from Komoro purposely as my family. When he attended the Shenyang junior high school reunions in Tokyo, he met me. He invited me to Komoro also and the “Chinese Film Week” in Tokyo. So we met almost every year (except the period of CORONA pandemic). He was keeping his Japan-China Friendship Project. He visited China as a head of group which visits China or invited Chinese University students to Japan. Not only his friendship with me but his attitude working hard for the Japan-China Friendship also encouraged my life of studying abroad.
I saw a movie in 2015 “Yamamoto Jisho, boukyou no kane, Manmou kaitakudan no Rakujitu” (The Bells for Homesickness /The Sunset of Reclamation Group for Manchuria and Mongolia) This movie is for Japanese orphans who were left behind in China after the World War II. During the War time, reclamation group have been sent to the Northeast of China (Manchuria and Mongolia area) and was left behind after the War. After I saw this movie, I could deepen my understanding of Japan-China Friendship project which Mr. Sasamoto performed with all his heart and soul. Yamamoto Jishou, protagonist of this movie, came from Nagano Prefecture same with Mr. Sasamoto and sent to the Northeast of China as a head of reclamation group three months before the Defeat. I learned from this movie about the history of Nagano Prefecture which sent the largest number of reclamation people to China and could get another or different understanding about the meaning of home staying in Komoro and friendship with Mr. Sasamoto.
I was surprised at the number of the Japan-China Friendship Society in Japan which was shown as sponsors in the ending roll of the movie. I did not know there are so many societies in agricultural areas especially. Establishment of so many societies in Japan may have some connection with confronting the history of “Reclamation Group for Manchuria and Mongolia” during the War time as “a negative legacy”. Mr. Sasamoto’s personal experience (he went to Shenyang and was repatriated from Northeast China) may be different from the story of the movie. But I think his motive power which he offered himself to Japan-China Friendship projects and face to the history of the War time came from his experience.
It became difficult to meet Mr. Sasamoto after the COVID-19 and the pandemic caused to his difficulty of his exchange activities between Japan and China. This year is the 120th anniversary of founding of Nanjing University and scheduled to have an award ceremony for the “Prize for Toson Literary in China”. He told me about his concern whether he could go to China during that phone call. There were other difficulties. He is ninety-one years old, and he is active now. He apprehends there is few young fellows in Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro.
It is true that the exchange became difficult due to the COVID-19 and the matter of his successor is important. However, various activities in various field for the exchange between Japan and China are executed continuously. For example, Atsumi International Foundation has contributed for better understanding among the East Asia through academic events like “Dialogue among historians in Japan, China and South Korea” or “China Forum”. Those events showed me a direction as a researcher and gave me a feeling that there is a possibility in my research. I like to accelerate mutual understanding among the people in Japan and China through my research in the exchange in movies in Japan and China so that I live up to expectations of Mr. Sasamoto.
SGRA Kawaraban 692 in Japanese (Original)
YU Ning / 2020 Raccoon, Researcher at International Christian University (Gender Research Center)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala