SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • TAKEUCHI Kyoko “To continue to be a ‘researcher'”

    The other day, I had a chance to have a lecture about my research life at the high school where I graduated. Students asked me, “Was it good that you have been a researcher?” It does not mean students have a negative image of researchers. I have focused too much on negative aspects of researchers, such as overwork, harassment, economic issues etc.   On reflection, I have hardly ever wanted to become anything, and I have never wanted to become researcher works in a research position. As I was interested in the experience of gender-minority as a research theme, I have been deeply involved in the common sense of sexuality. It means it is difficult to separate research from my daily life. In social situations, there are a lot of arguments about gender and sexuality. So, I had strong feelings that I must research against my will, even though the circumstances of Japanese researchers are not favorable.   There are a lot of friends who went to universities in English-speaking countries or got jobs at foreign universities because there are too many things to do in Japan besides research. As I think it is important to expand our research internationally, I kept studying English daily while living in Japan and tried to involve myself and attend occasions of international exchange or announcement as much as possible. On the other hand, however, I began to feel something strange. Firstly, it is English supremacy. Recently, English translation software has developed, and people who investigate and research non-English worlds, develop their arguments based on the information or research of English-speaking countries.   The second reason is a contribution to the community. I think it is problematic that researchers leave Japan and stop their relations with their collaborators after their announcements of research results. At least, I think it is necessary for them to report their results not only to their universities or research institutes but to targeted persons in a style they can understand. Personally speaking, I like to try to change the circumstances at the university and convey the results of my research to students in the classroom, even though I am a part-time teacher. I would like to contribute in the future for increasing the number of university laboratories for sexual minority research and making it easy to join for overseas students who have various backgrounds.            If such reasons were correct, I may be able to say that I was targeting a future in which I am glad to have continued to be a researcher. I remember there were many tough routes. But I could have a joyous and frustrating experience in which I noticed what I did not know or renewed my existing knowledge. There were other aspects or reasons for my existence, such as a good reaction in my class or encounter with new possibilities from my research. Anyway, I would like to thank the Atsumi International Foundation, which has made it possible for me to continue to be a researcher. I hope I can make use of the fate that comes from communication with Raccoon (Atsumi Scholarship Students).     SGRA Kawaraban 750 in Japanese (Original)     TAKEUCHI Kyoko: 2022 Raccoon, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • KATO Kenta “Reconsideration of ‘Interest in International Exchange'”

    When I applied for an Atsumi Foundation scholarship, I wrote “Interest in International Exchange” as my self-introduction, as follows (excerpt):                                International exchange has been my longing since my adolescence. But, at the same time, it was the subject of criticism.… I could enjoy an exchange of different cultures because I have studied abroad twice. On the other hand, I perceived power relationships that exists in international circumstances. I especially the English-centrism in academic discourse space after I took academics seriously. … In my Master‘s course, I have exerted myself in reading English literature on original cinema studies and giving presentations of the studies. And I was forced to realize an inequal relationship within academia. I have been dreaming of being an active scholar internationally without any doubt in the sense of “international”. It means I have accepted the order of knowledge that America is the center without any criticism. … Now, I like to be a scholar who always has doubts about “internationality” by attending international scholar activities positively.   The sentences above were written over one year ago. When I read it again now, I think about how cheeky I was when I wrote my application documents. However, I did not want to write well-mannered but heartless sentences like “it is very meaningful that international exchange leads to a promotion of understanding of the societies and cultures of other countries”. I might have queer stubbornness, and I expressed my opinion strongly even though I could not get a scholarship”. Anyway, I was surprised at the broad mind of the Atsumi Foundation, which accepted arrogant people like me willingly.    I have already spent one year at the Atsumi Foundation. Is there any difference in my “interest in international exchange”? Now that I have finished scholarship student period, I like to look back.   Frankly speaking, I think there was no change in myself. The Foundation adopted 16 scholarship students in 2022: 11 overseas students and 5 students from Japan. We can say this circumstance is “international”. When I communicated with those students, I had a feeling that we talked about our research or universities as researchers rather than international students. The year 2022 was the first year when the Foundation accepted Japanese scholarship students, and we used the phrase “as a first-time Japanese scholarship student” very often as “epithets”. It was different from my experience that I recognized myself as a Japanese in the circumstances of many foreign students. The reason why I was not conscious of “internationality” was that I am Japanese, and we talk in Japanese. Foreign students might have different experiences. However, I had a strong impression of the theme of self-introduction at the first meeting. It was “Are you a dog person? Or a cat person? Or what kind of person?” I did not feel any aspects of international exchange in such a theme.   I have a feeling recently that “internationalization” has become stronger for the purpose of domestic benefit in modern society. The most extreme problem is a flood of TV programs that report the severe work environment of foreign technical interns, and foreigners praise Japanese wonderfulness to the skies. We can see a lot of nationalistic statements that judge an individual or country by a simple definition “Do you like or dislike?” just like “anti- or pro-Japan”. Of course, it is an exchange among nations on the assumption of the existence of nations, “nationalization”. It is self-explanatory that “internationalization” built Japan as a community. I am afraid that it becomes obvious that “internationalization” would be promoted just for the profit of the nations, not for mutual understanding.   In this one year, as I wrote in my self-introduction above, my doubt about “internationality” which comes from the practice of the word “international” is getting stronger. It is true that I had never felt such feelings at a gathering of the Atsumi Foundation. I am fundamentally pessimistic. But, as I spent this year as a scholarship student, I became optimistic either way.     SGRA Kawaraban 749 in Japanese (Original)     KATO Kenta: 2022 Raccoon, Assistance of WASEDA University, School of International Liberal Studies     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • HIROTA Chieko “I, as a part of Universe – Looking back on my research and experience at Atsumi Foundation-”

    The other day, I experienced Indian astrology by a turn of fate. In Japan, we can see daily “fortune-telling” on TV or magazines. But, as I know such fortune-telling is written by writers, I understand it as just “good advice for my life”. Then, why did I consult a fortune-teller? There are two reasons.   Firstly, I was interested in Indian astrology. Indian astrology is a way to read the stars and was introduced to Japan earlier than Western astrology. Indian, an astrologist precisely checks the birth time (up to an hour and minute) and place of a person first. Then, an astrologist checks the stars in the sky under which the person was born and lived. After such checking, an astrologist shows the position where the person will live and pilgrimage. It seems as if I peeked at the moment when I was born.   Secondly, I have a feeling that my rapidly changing life in these ten years seems to have been guided by something rather than by my will.      My research theme is the elucidation of the cultural movement of decoration and handcraft by Kazakhs who live in the Mongolian State as a minority race. I focused on the point that Kazakhs decorate the inner part of their tent type houses, and clarified the reason why they try to decorate inner part of their houses enthusiastically and how they inherit or change their decoration technique.   However, it is not correct that I chose Mongolian because I like Mongolia.  Furthermore, I did not know about the existence of Kazakhs until I went to Mongolia. In particular, I was not an expert at handcraft nor good at it. Then, why, or how didIchoose the research theme?It was just a result of coincidences. Furthermore, a chance encounter affected my life very much.   Looking back, there were turning points in my feelings which were guided by something. I never thought I would aspire to be a researcher until I met the present research theme. During the time when I proceeded with my survey and research, there was a time when everything went smoothly, and I came up with difficulties. I had a feeling vaguely that there are some reasons each time. For example, I was accepted by ATSUMI International Foundation was the one which I got such feeling. I have been thinking that it is impossible for me to be accepted because my graduation period has already exceeded. However, a friend of mine introduced application information about Atsumi International Foundation and I had an interview as if I had been introduced by something. When I was accepted as a scholarship student by the Foundation, I had a feeling that “God” told me that now was the time when I finished my dissertation.   God’s message was found also in the involvement with the people of the Foundation. It seems there are no common belongings or research themes among the people of the Foundation. However, it is common that everybody “searches for something strongly”. So, when I met scholarship students of the same year or others, I enjoyed myself and was excited listening to their talking. It was coincidental that I was blessed with good students for the same year. Or was it destiny?   In such a situation, my dissertation went smoothly, and I began to be conscious of my future course. And something new change has been introduced into my private and public life. I had a feeling that I was overwhelmed by some big movement which we cannot see with our own eyes. It may be a so-called “turning point”. In such a situation, I encountered Indian astrology.   An Indian astronomer handed me a few papers and a calendar. Papers show the position of the stars of my birthplace and time by symbols. And a calendar shows the circling of the stars, year, month and day, from my birthday to the age of 120. Enumeration of the year, month and day made me surprised most. The periods which are shown as “Turning Point” meet with the timing of my first visit to the research place, proceed to a doctor course and submission of my dissertation. I got a doctoral degree, taking more time than other students. But a smile flashed on my face when I thought I used my time possibly meeting with the circling of the stars. It is because I thought my life as a human being might be placed as a part of a very big movement in space.   Indian astrology did not show any concrete guidelines for my future actions. But it was more than enough for me. Now, I have completed my dissertation and will go ahead as one of the “researchers”. It may not be easy. However, if there is any mission in my existence in space, there would be no choice but to keep striving for what I can do without any fear of failure.     SGRA Kawaraban 748 in Japanese (Original)     HIROTA Chieko: 2022 Raccoon, Special Researcher at Japan Society for the Promotion of Science    Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala    
  • QIAN Haiying “The start of my new life”

    I made up my mind to start my new life in spring, in the cherry blossoms. Then, what is the start of my new life? What is the difference from life up until now?   I am a 2022 Raccoon (Atsumi International Scholarship Student of the year 2022) and was scheduled to get master’s degree in March. A lot of 2022 Raccoon members started their new life in April and are working hard on their post-doctor course. Some of them got assistant professor jobs or regular teachers. However, I am working hard on my doctoral thesis, and there seems “no change”. You may think the words “the start of my new life” seem just a phrase of the new year.   Usually, I like sports other than studying and being conscious of building my physical strength. COVID-19, I bought a cross bike and began cycling, and scarcely use electric cars now. The reason why I care about my physical strength is, I was taught stamina is important for researchers at crunch time. However, in February last year, I, as an outdoors, was told suddenly that an unexpected disease had been found.   At the Tokyo Medical University Hospital, I was diagnosed with “you are breast cancer stage 2B”. My primary care physician of the breast oncology department told me “You got malignant cancer”. When I was told his pathological diagnosis (identification of benign or malignant), I was calm and rational. The reason why I could consider the treatment plan together with my primary care physician calmly is that I increased my medical knowledge about breast cancer. Starting from confirmation of medical articles and thesis written by doctors of the breast oncology department of the Tokyo Medical University Hospital, I confirmed the latest treatment and clinical data of breast cancer by the National Cancer Center Hospital, the Peking University Tumor Hospital and the National (America) Center Institute. The more I confirmed, the less I fear breast cancer. It may be an unexpected harvest so that I could confirm the words “A fear comes from ignorance”.   However, it was tough psychologically as I had to wait for the result of a pathological diagnosis of the tumor. The more I examined breast cancer, the more I was convinced “I got cancer arguably”. It was just distressing for me. However, at the same time, I can hear a voice saying, “More than 90% of breast cancer is benign”. The longest two weeks of my life ended with the words of the diagnostic results “You got cancer”. I awoke to find that the possibility of my malignant cancer was overturned. As I am encountering cancer now, I have no choice but to accept and tackle the treatment plan which my primary care physician recommended. It is worth passing as a patient.   After the announcement of cancer, I had a series of standard therapies like “freezing of unfertilized egg”, “anticancer drug treatment”, “operation” and “radiation therapy”. I never asked my primary care physician “How many years can I live from now on?” Because I know there are differences in individuals. Instead, I confirmed with him about a ten-year survival ratio judging from my “stage” and “subtype” classification based on my present clinical data. I was happy when I got his reply “90%”. I think the figure “90” is just an average, and I believe I can live longer. Strictly saying, cancer is incurable disease. So, in the medical profession, they use the word “remission” (very close to curable) for cancer. For example, ten years’ survival rate does not mean they cannot live more than ten years. It means they do not die of cancer within ten years. If sufferers do not recur in ten years, the possibility of recurrence is extremely low, and we can understand they are cured.   I explained about cancer a lot. However, I did not want you to know about the knowledge of cancer. I was shocked when I was aware of my death in my early thirties. “The start of my new life” meant literally, I started a different life from the one which I had lived. I started to use my time more effectively, and it became clearer what I wanted to do. I live with having breast cancer and not being scared and regret it. I like to spend the rest of my life proactively and make an effort for myself to have an ambition.     SGRA Kawaraban 746 in Japanese (Original)     QIAN Haiying: 2022 Raccoon, Part-time teacher at SEIJO University          Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Nora Beryll WEINEK “Grimm’s Fairly Tales and its Psychological Archetype”

    Grimm’s Fairy Tales are cultural heritage in Europe as a fairy tale which is loved all over the world. Fairy tales edited by Brothers Grimm contain plentiful insights into people’s personalities and are not only folk tales but important tools which can share common sense unconsciously and sublimate passion and trauma as well.   A lot of stories in Grimm’s Fairy Tales exemplify the psychological archetypes which are common to the hearts of human beings. Archetype is “a pattern which is common to the moving mode of human beings” unconsciously. It is a core concept of Jungian psychology and affects unconsciously to the common structure of heart of the human beings. It is an important factor to understand the incomprehensible part of human beings “What do you want?” or “What are you afraid of?”   Let’s analyze “Cinderella”. There are many factors which symbolize the archetype in Cinderella. Heroin is a lonely girl who lost her mother and is abused by a malicious mother and sister-in-law. It seems she sacrifices herself for the family situation. But her real power exists inside herself. She exemplifies her archetype, which symbolizes her authentic heart, philanthropy, and self-sacrifice.   Cinderella leads to the archetype of the “Fairy Godmother” who is a wizard. The Fairy Godmother symbolizes infinite possibility and represents the power of new start and growth. She casts Cinderella and gives her a magic pumpkin carriage, which symbolizes a new possibility and self-reformation. Also, she tells Cinderella “Speak the truth!”. It is advice which emphasizes the importance of recognition and expression of herself.    Cinderella also exemplifies the archetype of love through the encounter with her Prince. He understands her in the deep part of his soul and loves her. Such a type of love urges her self-recognition and growth and leads to real happiness. From the Jungian psychological viewpoint, we can recognize the deep part of our subconsciousness through our archetype, which we have in our inner private selves.    “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a story which exemplifies an archetype of beauty and jealousy. Snow White’s beauty ruins her and causes the queen’s jealousy. The queen asked the magic mirror about her beautifulness and got a reply that Snow White is beautiful. Then, Queen corners Snow White to kill her. This story shows how the archetype of beauty and jealousy affects the deep psyche of human beings.   “Rapunzel” (one story in Grimm’s Fairy Tales) exemplifies an archetype of freedom, growth and love. Rapunzel, the heroine of this story, is locked in a tower and her freedom is taken away. However, she frees herself by finding a way to express herself. She comes to the peak of her new beginning by finding love through her encounter with the Prince. This story shows the process in which human beings get freedom and pursue self-expression, which leads to growth and love.   Grimm’s Fairy Tales include a lot of stories which exemplify the archetypes of the deep psyche of human beings. We can find hidden meanings through Jungian psychological analysis. We can understand ourselves deeply also and encourage our self-acceptance and growth. Grimm’s Fairy Tales are valuable resources which research deep portions of our hearts and provide hints which greet our new start of life. When you encounter any barriers in your life, I recommend you read Grimm’s Fairy Tales. which present your deep understanding and any solution or hints to solutions to various problems.     SGRA Kawaraban 747 in Japanese (Original)     Nora Beryll WEINEK /2022 Raccoon, HITOTSUBASHI University (Doctoral Course of Sociology)        Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Maria PROKHOROVA “My Home Country”

    I was born in Russia and graduated from the Moscow City Teachers' Training University. Since I majored in education of the Japanese language, I could have chances to come to Japan twice (Akita and Fukuoka). After my graduation in Moscow, I lived in Japan (Yokohama and Tokyo) for the purpose of taking my studies more seriously. The period of my studying in Japan was eight years, and I had various changes in these eight years. The biggest change in this period is “an eye for watching my home country”.   During my high school and university years, I had little interest in my home country, and I had been crazy about Japan since high school. I was filled with Japanese drama or songs. I wore KIMONO at the high school graduation ceremony (though dressing was a little problematic). When I enrolled at the university, I was interested in Japan. The number of friends who study Japanese increased, and I concentrated on Japan more and more. It was lucky that there were friends who could share my interest, and such circumstances deepened my interest. I could get skills that are useful now by making the most of such luck. It may be the warmest memory in my life. However, I could be inexperienced, and my horizons were narrow.      When I visited Japan, I got a lot of questions about Russia. “Are there dialects in Russia?” “How about Russian eating culture?” etc. It was the first time that I recognized I was Russian. I did not know about Russia, despite living in Russia. I noticed there are a lot of mysteries in Russia, and Russia is a country that is “hard to know”. There are strange characteristics in every country. In the case of Russia, its geographical size is important. For example, if you live in Moscow, you cannot understand Vladivostok well because it is far from Moscow by more than 6000 km. You cannot understand unless you check and go there or communicate with people who live there.   If you think of Russia from the inside, your vision is usually restricted. You think you know Russia, but you know just a small part of it. It may be your own surrounding environment or the environments of your relatives or friends. If you look at Russia from the outside, it would be bigger, more complicated, and more interesting. When I listened to and answered the opinions of Japanese students who studied Russian, I realized that Russia is not limited to the environs of Moscow and became more three-dimensional. When I had a temporary return, I did domestic tours and town research. I noticed I could deepen my relationship with home country only after I tried my best effort to know it by myself. It is wrong that we know a home country well from the beginning.     Recently, the concept of “home country” has been questioned, and a passion for “home country”, so-called “patriotism”, is used for the wrong purposes. So, I am on the alert a little when I hear this word. However, I cannot agree with my friends who insist “I do not have a home country”. There are some reasons for their statement. For example, they have more than one home country, or maybe not a "mother country" but a "mother-in-law country" or a "father country". Or maybe not a country, but just some area. There are a lot of variations of the wording and the feeling. The word “patriotism” is used very often because this word is convenient for a government.      We have various feelings for the families in which we grew up. Just as well there are infinite ways to see, think, and feel for “home country”. It is no problem if you cannot love the actions or characteristics of your “home country”, or if you feel antipathy against them. However, it is an important fortune where you were born and grew up. When you trace your roots, you may be satisfied. By recognizing the relationship between you and “your home country” like a human relationship, you can find your own way, considering your own background up until now. At present, it may be easy for me if I can close my eyes to the relationship between Russia and myself. However, I do not regret at all that I was interested in my home country and “accepted” it as my important existence. We cannot select the place where we were born. It will be meaningless to evaluate where we were born. However, we can choose "the eyes through which we look at our home country." And we would be blessed with irreplaceable discovery if we tried to explore the selection of “looking” rather than refrain from “looking” at all.   I spent my springtime devoting myself to Japan. And I am working now on a comparative study of modern literature in Japan and Russia. Now in 2023, I am teaching Russian to Japanese students at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. There are a lot of things about which I would like to speak about. For example: “While taking all from the longing for far away, don't forget to look closely at the country where you are living and the country you were born."     SGRA Kawaraban 745 in Japanese (Original)     Maria PROKHOROVA: 2022 Raccoon, Teacher at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English was checked by Sabina Koirala       
  • LI Kotetsu “Career and Calling”

    Recently, we had a course “career design” at our university. At first, I did not know its meaning. As I was assigned to be in charge of this course, I read the book “Introduction to Carrier Design for University Students” and studied it. From this book, I learned “Career Design connect how to work with and how to live in our social activities. It makes us think, plan, and carry out our work in our social lives”. I asked my students to write a report under the title “A job that I would like to get”, and present “How to live a 100-year life?” using a power point. They examined various materials and presented their opinions.   However, I am always thinking something is lacking in Japanese school education. As I have never taught in primary, middle and high schools in Japan, I have no choice but to presume through my personal interviews how they are educated. What is lacking? Through my over thirty years’ observation in Japan, I realized that the role of education in Japan is the bring-up of salaried workers. I know a lot of salaried workers are necessary for the establishment of society. I think “carrier design” is necessary for this purpose. However, I cannot be satisfied.   I found an answer to this question in an essay by my Korean friend. I was introduced to him, at the “World Pease Forum” in the Philippines last December. He showed me my illustration as a lecturer and took a photo with him. We met together in Japan and Korea twice. I was surprised when I heard that he is a day laborer at construction sites. He is researching the depths of human beings and society by observing workers directly at sites and appealing to society through his illustrations. I was just to admire his wonderful way of living.   His essay which was published in a Korean newspaper flashed into my mind. There are three kinds of human jobs. The first is a job. The second is a career that can utilized our talent and technology at the office or in society. And the third is ‘calling’. I have heard a debate in Japan “Is school teacher a job or calling?”. But I did not know about ‘calling’ more than that. And I looked it up in the dictionary and found its meaning “call, cry, roll call, summon, the will of God, occupation, strong impulse, desire, propensity”.   I asked ChatGPT “How do I to understand ‘calling’?” and got a reply saying “Calling means: to feel an essential purpose or sense of mission in one’s lifestyle or job. And it is more than that of one’s occupation or job and links up strongly with a personal sense of value or passion”. I was very satisfied with this answer. It leads to the words of Confucius, Chinese saint, “At the age of fifty, I knew the will of heaven”. Last week, I asked my students “What is a carrier?” before my lecture and explained about “three kinds of human jobs”. As they were listening to my explanation with their eyes wide open, I understood it was the first time for them to hear that. In society, it is said “Education in Japan does not teach students to make them have a dream” or “There is no philosophy in Japanese education”. If so, we must teach students about not only ‘job’ and ‘career’ but also ‘calling’. I think it is necessary to educate students so that they can complete their ‘jobs’ having noble ideals and dreams and polish their ‘carriers’.   When I reflect on my life, I have been told and educated in my elementary school for the purpose of doing my best for my life saying, “We actualize communism in the world” and study “for the purpose of freedom of the worldwide proletariat.” Since I was a kid, I have taken it seriously. Of course, now I can understand it negatively as ideological education by communism. However, in the sense of acquiring knowledge of my view of life for the happiness of human beings, there is something in common with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). At last year’s forum of SGRA (Sekiguchi Global Research Association), we took up the slogans “Not leaving anybody” and “For good global citizens”. I think there is common thinking. And what I encountered with SGRA was an opportunity that has awakened my other “calling”.   People have various ways of thinking about how to achieve those goals through communism through capitalism or through the third road? But the slogan “Not leaving anybody” is excellent. If we could foster our philosophy of life by those thoughts, how wonderful a human being life would be!   I grew up having a good dream at school. But, once I became a member of society, it became my important issue: how to survive in a poor rural area. In order to break away from such poverty, I studied very hard ‘to death’ for the exam for four years, engaging in agricultural labor, and entered university in Beijing, which 800 million Chinese people admire. My life changed 180 degrees. At this university, I was educated by communism. I became a member of the Communist Party and swore in front of the Party flag “I struggle lifelong for the materialization of Communism in the world”.   After that, I went to graduate school and became a university teacher. In 1989, I joined students’ demonstrations at Tiananmen Square and sent a cheer to students who called for political reform. However, I watched this demonstration, which was suppressed by armed forces and felt disillusioned with the ideals of the Communist Party and Communism.  And I abandoned my job and decided to go to Japan which is capitalistic and free.   I came to Japan from nothing, without any purpose, dream or money. I was wondering for ten years about having residential status such as ‘pre-school student’ or ‘student studying abroad’ and making my living by a part-time job. I had no objectives for studying in Japan, despite having finished graduate school and becoming a teacher. I may have liked to find any opportunity, but it was not easy.   In order to extend my visa, after Japanese language school, I had to go to graduate school. At graduate school, I studied international economics and encountered a research theme named “International Development Scheme at the Tumen River Region”. It is a scheme under which three countries - China, North Korea and Russia - develop the Tumen River region together under the United Nation Development Program. The Chinese side of this region is my home country. As I have already mastered Chinese and Chosun languages and am studying Russian now, I am convinced that “this research is my lifework”. I did not know the word ‘calling’ at that time.   There are few people at universities in Tokyo who research this theme. A teacher at my master’s degree told me “Mr. Li, you cannot make a living in Japan by researching such theme”. But I did not give up. I pushed myself forward and got a destined encounter, and I could finally be a member of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research and take care of a project called “Scheme of Establishment of the Northeast Asian Development Bank”. We made a policy proposal to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. I started my life as a ‘carrier’. I was assigned to be a researcher at NIRA (Nippon Institute for Research Advancement) and participated in various projects, including ‘Scheme for the Future of Northeast Asia’. As a result of such research, I am now teaching ‘the Northeast Asian economy’ at our university.   I established INAF (Institute for Northeast Asia Future) together with volunteers three years ago. I made up my mind to do my best for the materialization of peace and prosperity in this area by spending my entire life. Such research and activity would be my ‘calling’.     SGRA Kawaraban 744 in Japanese (Original)     LI Kotetsu -1999 Raccoon     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English was checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YEH Wenchang “Japanese sake and Taiwan Shaoxing rice wine”

    I was told by SGRA (Sekiguchi Global Research Association) in 2018: How about having the Japan-Taiwan Forum (we had the Forum in Taiwan in the past) in Shimane Prefecture in Japan this time? I thought it was all right first if the forum would be in my field. However, SGRA asked me if the forum theme would be understandable for predominantly liberal arts (not STEM) members. (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) They are asking me “about the integration of “liberal arts and STEM””. STEM people are asked to understand liberal arts people under “cultured”. A lot of liberal arts people, on the other hand, do not try to understand STEM’s words. Is it strange?   As it cannot be helped, I tried to think of any theme that everybody could enjoy. Key words are ‘Shimane’ and ‘Taiwan’, ‘integration of liberal arts and STEM’ and ‘craftsmanship’, which I can enjoy. Shimane Prefecture is proud of ‘Tatara ironmaking’ and ‘Japanese sake’. When I got a job at Shimane University, I read “Satetu no Michi” (The Way of Iron Sand) by Ryotaro Shiba, paying honor to the craftsmanship of Shimane. I have tried to enjoy Japanese sake.    And I found ‘Sake’ can integrate liberal arts and STEM. Then, how about Taiwan? There is old sake, as a recent trend in Japanese sake. Japanese sake, which features freshness, is matured for several years, and when I tried sake, I found similar factors with Shaoxing rice wine. That is to say, its main raw material is glutinous rice. And I decided the theme of the forum to be “Japanese sake and Taiwan Shaoxing rice wine”.     It is said that ancient Chinese poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, advanced their intellectual creation for sake. In Matsue City (in Shimane Prefecture), Chinese poetry has been flourishing since the Edo period. I invited a lecturer who can speak about Chinese poetry in Matsue from the Edo to the Meiji period in order to understand it multidimensionally, hoping the intellectual creation of audiences will flourish.    The ingredient of sake is alcohol. In order to get alcohol, it is necessary for sugar to ferment yeast. In the case of wine, the sugar of the grapes is fermented by yeast. On the other hand, as rice is starch and does not contain sugar, we cannot make alcohol with yeast. So, it is necessary to change sugar from starch. There is ‘kuchi-kami sake’ all over the world from a long time ago. It is a liquor made by chewing with one’s mouth. It means human saliva saccharify enzyme. However, in the case of Japanese sake and Shaoxing rice wine, saccharification is made by yeast. We call it ‘multiple parallel fermentation’ in which starch, koji(mold) and yeast are mixed. Why do we call it multiple fermentation? I think it is fermentation in a broad sense, because its saccharification is due to microorganisms. In short, both Japanese sake and Shaoxing rice wine are fermented parallelly and multiply from rice.   I had several tours of Japanese sake breweries. The fermentation room is the most important point in sake breweries, and it is built of hinoki (Japanese cypress). Why do they use hinoki, not stainless? It is said that, in order to make ferment, they take advantage of the normal bacterial flora of hinoki. It is the same idea with the Japanese secret sauce of eel restaurants or Taiwanese Lo bah png (minced pork rice). I could have an expert say “It’s great that a pan is not washed for a hundred years. And foods that are cooked using such frying pans would be good.”   Do first-class chefs leave their taste of dishes to the dices of gods? It cannot be right. Do factory workers in cutting-edge technological semiconductor factories not clean room saying gods dwell in the rooms? No! It cannot be right. If I tell those two fables to sake drinkers, I will be accused. I am not criticizing hinoki rooms or secret sauce. Tradition is important. I think it is unnecessary to change such a tradition if they make foods nicely and profitably. However, I feel a sense of romance in craftsmanship that does not rely on gods. They aim for a taste by trusting a mix of bacteria, like 1+2=3, not entrusting it to gods. In the case of Japanese sake brewing, traditional predecessors have followed the rational and efficient path through the Edo period (‘kimoto’ yeast starter), the Meiji period (‘sokujyo’: quick fermentation), and after World War II (non-foaming yeast).   Then, how about Shaoxing rice wine? I visited Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation (TTL), where Shaoxing rice wine is produced for the preparation of the forum. Their process is very similar to that of Japanese sake by the reason that both factories adopt parallel and multiple fermentation system. It was surprising for me that fermentation room was made by Hforoki. They do not use the words ‘kimoto’, ‘shubo,’ and ‘moromi’, but, when I explain the meaning of those words, they could understand. Then, what is the difference between Japanese sake and Shaoxing rice wine? And what is the difference between Taiwan Shaoxing rice wine and Chinese rice wine? Taiwan Shaoxing brewery has been converted from Japanese sake brewery in Japan rule age by Chinese craftsmen of Shaoxing rice wine who came from China. Then, what is the difference between Taiwan Shaoxing wine and Chinese Shaoxing wine?   I do not reveal the answer here. Please come to the forum and find the answer by listening to the lecturers’ speeches and enjoying the differences in taste with your five senses.       SGRA Kawaraban 743 in Japanese (Original)     YEH Wenchang: Researcher of the SGRA Research Team (Environment and Energy), Professor of Shimane University (Physics and Engineering)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English was checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “How to be together with ChatGPT?”

    ChatGPT (generative AI) became a topic in Japan this year. While we could not fully understand in Japan, it is said that in the U.S. where GPT was developed, their local government decided on its access control in schools. Some teachers have classes named “How to Use ChatGPT” to encourage using it proactively. In the academic world, ChatGPT is a threat. I am not so strong at the new functions of smartphones and home electrical appliances. But I am not in the position to ask students to teach me what ChatGPT is. Or rather, I must reconsider myself about school lessons, problems and countermeasures against tests. It is said that ChatGPT is a shock not only to academic fields, but to all ‘white colored peoples as well (Weekly magazine “Toyo Keizai”). AI can be accepted by not only professionals in the technology field and AI researchers but by everybody. In the year 2023, AI became familiar through ChatGPT. I think ChatGPT declared “You cannot turn back now”.   As we cannot be afraid of saying threatened or shocked, I tried to create my account. I registered my email address, name, date of birth, and cell phone number. And I put in my authorization code, which was sent to my cell phone. It means people who have cell phones can create an account. It was not so difficult, and I could open my account easily and use it now. It would be timesaving, if my ChatGPT could complete the essay undermentioned. But, as it was not so easy, I input my question, “I like to teach my university students important notes when they use ChatGPT.” Then, I got a brilliant reply in twenty seconds:   Please note following when university students use ChatGPT:   Confirmation of sources: As ChatGPT has no information before the year 2021, there is a possibility that we cannot give up-to-date information. As to important information, we recommend you confirm it from in reliable sources.   Protection of personal information: ChatGPT is not a tool to protect secret information. Please do not share personal or private information.     Perception of bias: As ChatGPT learns from training data, it is possible to be influenced by bias. When you judge information, it is important to keep your objective viewpoint and make your original research.     Time management: ChatGPT is very useful tool. But it is important to manage time properly. Do not depend on others too much and cultivate your own ability to solve problems yourself.   Critical thinking: Answers by ChatGPT are made by machines and are not always correct. You are requested to have a doubt and try to have critical thinking.   The above are important points about which university students should take care when they use ChatGPT. Keeping those points in mind, please take advantage of this tool.   I was surprised at how smooth and beautiful Japanese is! Those sentences look like the ones that human beings (of course, Japanese) studied and wrote hard, and they are different from the ones that AI made awkwardly. I was also surprised that those sentences were itemized so that everybody could understands them easily. I did not ask ‘itemized’. The most surprising point is the fifth advice, rather than the cautionary point. We are requested to have ‘critical thinking’, which we, as teachers, tell students to have in the classes. We are scared that ChatGPT will see through teachers’ techniques.       I got punched when I heard the opinion of Mr. Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, a major semiconductor maker in the U.S. At the keynote speech of the development conference, he said “Generative AI started ‘the iPhone moment’ of AI”. I am ashamed of having ignored his opinion first. But I can understand now. It is terrible to use AI too much on smartphone. But it is more terrible that you do not use it at all. It is generative AI, starting with ChatGPT.   The CEO of ‘OpenAI’, the original developer of ChatGPT, strongly urged regulation of AI at public hearing of the U.S. Federal Parliament. I do not know its meaning. As he recognizes its dangers and disadvantages most, the Government has started discussions with representatives of generative AI developers, and they are in the stage of developing concrete guidelines about the use of AI. Actually, Microsoft executives who offered ‘Bing’ (a search engine) said “We welcome the function of the Government and authorities concerned who offer AI safely to people”. It seems the Government and enterprises that develop AI are moving forward. How about in Japan? Weekly magazine Toyo Keizai summarizes their opinions in their special issue “Revolution of Work Hacks by ChatGPT” about the use policy in big companies saying that “Japanese companies are very cautious”. Big companies starting with Panasonic say, “We can use ChatGPT on the condition of our internal rules”. It is a good point about Japanese companies that they make internal rules and employees obey the rules.   How about in universities? The university where I am working follows the guidelines of the Ministry of Education. However, at the actual site of education, we cannot wait for it and have begun to consider generative AI. When I searched ‘Waseda University’ or ‘ChatGPT’ by Google, I could hit a page ‘About the Use of Generative AI’ on the university’s home page. It is a message to students and teachers. The message is easily understandable and explains how to use ChatGPT. It explains the strong and weak points of Generative AI, how to use it, and the reasons why we cannot use it.   I do not understand yet whether everybody can utilize Generative AI, which enterprises and schools can access easily, and utilize it on the condition that everybody can access it. When we began to use Twitter or LINE at first, everybody jumped on them, and then, problems appeared depending on how to use them. In the case of ChatGPT, a representative of the developing company himself appealed in public for regulations on how to use it. It means there is a possibility that “it may bring risks into society and human beings”.   When I used ChatGPT, I realized I should be cleverer than ChatGPT, which can manipulate words well like human beings. I think strongly that we should not rely on ChatGPT too much and should not be governed by it. At this moment, the ideal way for users who should be wiser than ChatGPT is mentioned in Toyo Keizai as mentioned above. “Let’s fear, know and use properly”. Generative AI is always being developed somewhere or everywhere in the world.     SGRA Kawaraban 742 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai/Professor of Kyoai Gakuen University.       Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala   
  • AHN Eun-byul “One day diary at my sickbed”

    I had an operation for uterine fibroid and polyp removal on March 17. As the operation was simple, it was one-day hospitalization. I put off the operation for a year because I could not care about it because I had a doctoral dissertation. However, I got a surprisingly big bleeding one day before submission of my doctoral dissertation and made a quick re-check and reservation for an operation.     Hospitalization in Japan was the first for me. I was hospitalized in South Korea ten years ago. So, I would like to compare hospitalization in Japan with that in South Korea in this essay. Korean university hospitals are something like busy complexes, and doctors and nurses seem to have lots to do and give only glances at patients. However, the hospital in the suburbs of Tokyo, where I was hospitalized this time, made me relax. I do not know why. They gave me their maximum attention despite their busy schedules. According to a Korean lady who has lived in Japan for more than twenty years, she was rejected to have an operation in Japanese hospitals and finally changed to a big hospital in Korea to have an operation. It is said that Korean hospitals weigh heavily on operations for the purpose of showing off their careers, and Japanese hospitals tend to avoid operations as much as possible. When we compare the clinical environment in Korea and Japan, we can find out their cultural tendencies: Korean hospitals value operations, while Japanese hospitals value care and nursing.   When I answered a medical questionnaire, I noticed a big difference between the usual medical checkup and ‘the assumed physical condition of the patient’. When I answered a medical questionnaire that asked me about my clinical history, usual pains and prosthesis, if any, I could imagine the daily life of elderly people and their speed a little. How are medical questionnaires used in other areas?   Since I started my study at graduate school in Japan, it has become my habit to observe everything through my ‘cultural comparison lens’ and contemplate the next research theme, though I could not reach any effective thinking. The meaning of ‘difference’ in experience between this time and ten years before was personal, and it may come from differences in disease and operation method. Or my memory might fade away because ten years have already passed. Such experiences as the operation and hospitalization I had as ‘different things’, may become important mental food for my future life. What kind of memory shall I keep? How do you imagine such memories? Such thinking will have ‘the power’ to make my experience.   The most memorable thing is waking up from the anesthetics. Ten years ago, when I woke up from the anesthetic, I was brought to the recovery room and left alone for thirty minutes, and I felt horribleness and the cold in the recovery room. Such feelings might make me hesitate to get an operation. However, I was moved to ‘my’ sickroom (my personal place) after the operation and could be relaxed this time. I had a mysterious and foggy happy feeling, which was confused with a daydream that I wanted to read any books when I sat up. I thought it unnecessary to be afraid of ‘general anesthetics’ hereafter.   Though the operation finished at noon, I did not take a nap, worrying about sleepless nights. I kept reading books or looking video on YouTube in the afternoon. I read a book called ‘Think/Classify Sociology in Daily Life’ (by Georges Perec). In this book, he classifies ‘reading (action)’ in connection with ‘human Body’ and ‘surroundings(circumstances)’ in ‘Reading: A Social and Psychological Sketch’. As to ‘surroundings’, he classifies ‘time (while waiting for something)’, ‘means of transport’ and ‘others (like hospitalization)’. However, I think those factors are connected. It is ‘the time during which we wait for night’ or ‘the long flight time that has physical non-movement’. It is a long flight (from passage to recovery) toward the destination (discharge). I initially mistook it for ‘reading’. I had a feeling very often that I did not like to get off, even when I took a short flight or ride. The expression that processes are more important than purposes is not only an example of metaphor.   When I was in the hospital, I read the book “Wake Up! You, a freshman!” written by the late Kenzaburo Ooe. ‘Mr. H’, who is fighting diseases, said to ‘I’, ‘in the process of our lives, you may hurt others, or you may be hurt by others. And you may try to quit during your lifetime. However, those questions cannot be settled during your lifetime. You will end up being allowed by the others whom you have hurt. Of course, you allow the others. There will be no choice.’   In this novel, ‘I’ who have a handicapped son, read and rely on a poem written by William Blake, an English poet, to overcome the fear of living his life. ‘My’ fear is that my son will live alone after my death. For ‘myself’, not only reading but also writing a novel is an itinerary for ‘overcoming’. Of course, fears for living are not ‘the slate that can be cleaned’. However, when you read ‘words’ which record the appearance of relying on ‘words’, you can step forward in your future with courage and hope.   The hospital ward is very quiet, and I had to refrain from keyboard sounds. At midnight, I could hear the cry of a newborn baby. There is a stone monument in front of the hospital and the words of the Gospel John are engraved: “I am resurrection, and I am life”.      SGRA Kawaraban 741 in Japanese (Original)     AHN Eun-byul/ 2022 Raccoon, Doctoral Course at the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala