SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Chen Hongyu “What AI can do and cannot do”

    AI (artificial intelligence) is a word that Professor John McCarthy, a computer scientist and cognitive scientist, suggested in 1956. It is defined as “science and technology that can make intellectual machines, especially intellectual computer programs”. At present, research on AI has progressed, and definitions of AI differ depending on scientists and their fields. Automation and streamlining in various fields are facilitated by AI. For example, autonomous driving of automobiles, inspection of defective products, and detection of unauthorized entries on credit cards. Those technologies are fulfilled by the acquisition and study of large quantities of information through the recognition and reading of pictures and voices by computers. As we can use ChatGPT without any professional knowledge, it is now a worldwide topic. It can generate, summarize, and collect information through natural communication, conversation or sentences with other people automatically.   My research field is organic chemistry. As a new current in the development of chemical reactions, the utilization of machine learning and data science is drawing attention. At present, the development of an asymmetric catalyst that can control the three-dimensional chemistry of data science under the trials and errors of researchers is ranked as a challenge in organic synthesis. I have been working at my doctoral course on building and demonstrating methodologies that adopt machine learning to the system design of stereoscopic branched type asymmetric catalysts that supply complex molecules to green. I succeeded in the efficient development of a complicated but new catalyst system and could realize the convenience of AI.   On the other hand, many people began to worry that the development of AI will take away the work of human beings. At present, AI is specialized in specific issues, like the solution of simulated or mathematically modeled issues. However, when singularity (technical singular point: at the time of new AI, which is at the same level as the brains of human beings) will get near in the near future, AI will alternate what only human beings can do, and it is the big change in the living environment of human beings. It is likely that AI will be applied not only to simple tasks like cleaning and delivery, but also to professional fields like medical and financial services.   Then, in a technologically advanced period, what kind of AI works that cannot be alternated are there? In principle, when we reach ‘singularity’, computers can keep the same or higher-level knowledge with human beings. As computers can reduce work and human errors, we can realize cost reduction and efficiency improvements comparing with human beings. However, there is a possibility that such ‘no-mistake’ perfectness becomes a demerit. For example, take the case of kindergarten teachers. If we set up AI, AI will teach students knowledge or manners, and play with them. However, kindergarten period is important for students’ growth, and it is essential for their formation of characters and sociality that they know emotion and mistake mistakes that ‘human being teachers’ commit unconsciously. If we introduce ‘AI teachers’, it will be difficult for kindergarten students to obtain a suitable lifetime rhythm for their ages.   AI technologies are progressing rapidly. It may take a long time to reach ‘singularity’. But it is an important issue how human beings coexist with AI and complement each other’s.     SGRA Kawaraban 740 in Japanese (Original)     Chen-Hongyu, 2022 Raccoon, Researcher at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.              Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • CHO You Kyung “AI Music from Aesthetic Viewpoint”

    My research life started in 2008, when I encountered a study on “Aesthetics” in Japan. It is not easy to define “aesthetics” in short. If I would like to explain straight forward how human beings acknowledge ‘beautifulness’, and ‘sensibility’ at that moment. So, every deed done by human beings can be an object, and its scope is infinite. For such reasons, the center of discussion about ‘aesthetics’ would sometimes be ideology or art, depending on the time or country. As the definition of art is being diversified, as mentioned above, it is possible to make research like this essay. As an example, let’s study AI music from an aesthetic viewpoint.   If you put a lot of music into an AI system, it would make similar and new music by analyzing original data. For example, “AI Composer Emily Howell” composed by David Cope, can produce a lot of music in a short time based on the old composing style of Beethoven or Mahler. In the field of popular music, a research team led by Ahn Chang-Wook under the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea developed “AI Composer EvoM”, and various popular songs including K-pop. Against such AI music, regardless of academic or non-academic field, public opinion has shown its interest in such scientific and technological aspects of AI as its historic, scientific potential and commercial value. Moreover, such controversies have recently extended to the field of ‘post-humanism’ like social and ethical issues, and aesthetic and philosophical fields by environmental philosophers.   We can re-consider, from the relationship between AI music and human beings, “creativity” which is one of the main concepts of “aesthetic”. In the evaluation of AI music in classical music (western artistic music), it is criticized as poor tasting songs that imitate songs by great classical composers simply. When I listen to AI music, I think its quality is much inferior to ‘music by human beings’. However, such criticism may be caused by the creativity of ‘human music’, which has been controversial since the latter half of the18th century. At that time, the concept of ‘genius’ or ‘originality’ rose, and the composition using existing music, which has continued since the Middle Ages, was criticized.   Namely, borrowing behavior itself means no originality. For example, the citation technique of Gustav Mahler, composer of the post-romanticism era, was related to ‘Jewishness’ (negative meaning), and its originality was suspected. Such a tendency lasted until the modernism of the 1950s and 1960s. For composers and critics who asked for novelty, the use of adjusted music means ‘return to the past’, and quoting the behavior of existing music means ‘dirty music’.   Deliberation for ‘creativity’ in AI music may become the start of this issue. Against various aesthetic questions for AI music, like 1) What is creativity? 2) What is the function of a composer? 3) What is work? 4) How do listeners react? The answers would be the following: When you input information into AI, it is ‘human composers’ that select information, and, on the other hand, it is AI that creates new music. As David Cope mentioned above, even if ‘human composers’ collect, select, and input information, AI will produce unexpected results.   From the theory mentioned above, I can say that AI has ‘originality’. According to David Cope, it does not depend on human inspiration alone but arises from another factor like a machine. And ‘originality’ does not come from anything but the context that comes around ‘originality’. ‘Originality’ comes from the composition of works that other people have done. Furthermore, it must rely on the judgement, for or against, of other people who accept or reject the things that are aesthetic. We can find such insistence of Cope in the process of creation, not in the result of works of ‘originality’. Such discussion about the ‘originality’ of AI marks an important beginning for understanding the ‘originality’ of human beings. It gives us the big suggestion that we create something new from nothing, and we can review our attitude toward appreciation, which is bound by modern mythology.     SGRA Kawaraban 739 in Japanese (Original)     CHO You Kyung /2021 Raccoon, Postgraduate student at the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala       
  • Oksana KAKIN “Beautiful Nature in Japan – Healing Spots in Tokyo”

    I am writing a doctoral thesis now and feel mentally tired quite often. Even if I do not write a doctoral thesis, there are so many dreadful things in the world. There are various ways of healing. It is effective for me to go out to beautiful and calm nature spots that are not so congested. When I go to such places and breathe deeply, I can relax mentally and physically. I feel heartwarming and think “Let us work more and harder!”   I could finish my doctoral thesis because I went to such places once a week last year. So, I would like to introduce such healing spots from my experience.   Firstly, I recommend going to the Institute for Nature Study and the National Museum of Nature and Science in Shirokane (very close to Tokyo METRO station). It is not well known among international students and is different from other parks in Tokyo. It is a real forest, not a garden like Koishikawa Koraku-en Garden or Shinjuku Gyo-en (the National Garden). There are passes and bridges for taking a walk, and various plants are growing like forests. We can forget being in Tokyo because tall trees are standing to hide towns. We cannot enjoy such feelings without going to the mountains, which take three hours to reach. It is just a place where we can enjoy walking, forgetting our daily lives.   We can enjoy its beauty every season, but the time of the autumn leaves is the best. There are many gardens or temples that are famous for their autumn leaves, and the leaves of those trees are pruned so that they do not grow tall. However, the trees in the Institute of Nature Study are not pruned and there are a lot of tall autumn trees. I think it is the only place in Tokyo where we can enjoy tall, red autumn trees. If you would like to enjoy walking, I recommend you go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. You can enjoy modern architecture and history there, and the garden is very beautiful.     I recommend you secondarily to go to Sankeien in Yokohama. Minato-MIRAI and Yamashita-Park, both in Yokohama, are famous. But I will be tired more because those places are popular spots. Sankeien, however, is located in a quiet place, ten minutes by bus from Yamashita Park, and is not crowded. It was released by a businessperson named Hara Sankei in 1906, and it is very big and worth walking. It is very beautiful, especially when plum blossoms are fully bloomed. Harbor views of Tokyo Bay from Sankeien are good also. The most highlighted one is its buildings, which were relocated from Kyoto and Kamakura. All of them are valuable historically, and I recommend them to people who like to know Japanese architecture and history. You can see many luxurious houses around Sankeien and may be interested in modern architecture while taking strolls.   The last place that I recommend is the place where I would like you to go in cherry blossom season. Some people may dislike going to famous spots that are famous for their cherry blossoms because of their crowded conditions. But the cherry blossoms alongside the Shakujii-River is different. Its beauty is just the same as that of the Meguro-River. But the Shakujii-River side is not so crowded. The river is very long, but I recommend you take the course between Otonashi-Shinsui Park (Sound Nothingness Water Park) which is very near Oji-Station (Tokyo Metro), and Naka-Itabashi Station (Tobu-Tojyo Line). The park is strange or peculiar because this river was constructed using the old waterway of the Shakujii River. It is worth going only for this reason. When you walk along the river, you can enjoy cherry blossoms for five kilometers. As there are no Yatai (food stands) and few people like Meguro-River, you can enjoy cherry blossom while being relaxed. You will be healed fantastically if you walk while watching cherry blossoms and listening to your favorite music.      You may feel persistent stress every day. But let’s refresh and heal ourselves yourself by watching beautiful scenery.      SGRA Kawaraban 737 in Japanese (Original)     Oksana KAKIN / 2021 Raccoon     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Vacant House Situation in Japan and China”

    I have “Problem Based Training Class” at my university. Students raise various social questions in English and try to find solutions. The vacant house situation is one of the issues which were taken up recently and I found this issue is not only for students who live in the provincial area, but mass media has taken up recently very often also.   Financial Times (electronic edition) reports in their “Japan’s Empty Villages Are a Warning for China” (October 30, 2022) that the number of vacant houses in Japan is increasing, and Chinese people are afraid that their real estate bubble would “Japanize”. However, I think there is no similarity in the vacant house situation in Japan and China. Then, how does China study from Japan? I did not have any special awareness of this article at that time. But the vacant house problems in both countries have made me uneasy now.     The reasons why it became vacant in Japan, are: There is no person to live with after old residents passed, away and being almost untouched condition. Now I notice such houses between my house and the nearest station in the same situation. I can say such an area is a vacant zone.   In China, an image of vacant houses is the one that has no residents despite being built for speculative investment purposes in high-rise building areas. There is no difference in the meaning of the words “vacant house” in Japan and China. But the origins of the words “vacant house” are quite different. I have distinguished these the words “vacant house” in Japan and China in this way.    There are so many “no occupancy” high-rise apartments in China and such areas are called “鬼城”(ghost town). Many people in Japan know these words. However, in Japan, the words “ghost town” mean a trace of the place where people have lived, and residents have disappeared. Of course, some residential areas have a few vacant houses, and some areas are called ghost towns when all residents disappear. The number of statics (every five years) by the Ministry of Public Affairs for vacant houses shows 13.6% in 2018 and this figure reached a record high in these 20 years.   I realized now that vacant houses mean just the same for non-Japanese and non-Chinese. A vacant house is a vacant house. According to Financial Times, the Japanese economy are keeping continue without any economic recovery after the collapse of the real estate bubble in the 1980s, and the FT worries about the present excessive investment in housing projects in China. Yes, if we will go back to the Japanese Bubble Period, we might be able to find similarities in the vacant house situations in China.   The FT warns further that if the real estate market in China would continue in such a present situation, they may repeat the same failure as the collapse of the real estate bubble in Japan. The reason why the population of China began to decrease. In Japan, the population has begun to decrease already and there are a lot of elderly. The increase in vacant houses is one of the reasons and there exists an inheritance problem also. If they cannot clean up their inheritance problems, they must keep their houses to be vacant. Such vacant houses cause the deterioration of public security and delay in urban development.   Now real estate problems include a wide range of issues both in China and Japan. Then, what does China learn from Japan? The excessive debt problem of China Evergrande Group (CEG) is still fresh in our minds. And excessive financing to real estate prices and soaring prices of real estate became distinct. Those situations are very similar to the collapse of the real estate bubble in Japan. After the regulation of CEG, we saw a lot of companies suffer from cash flow or are burdened with their debts. People who purchased real estate from CEG began to distrust CEG and cancel their contracts. Social confusion spread among ordinal citizens. Mr. Shin-ichi Seki, Head Researcher of JRI (The Japan Research Institute, Ltd.) says “China has already learned from Japan”. Weekly Magazine “Economist,” says also “China has made interest rate reduction and deregulation of financing to real estate companies already”. (September 13, 2022) I hope matters would not become worse.   Real estate is considered precious property both in Japan and China. (Of course, such thinking is not limited to Japan and China only.) As I feel strongly that people in both countries believe building houses revitalize their economy. In Japan, we see the news about depopulation, declining birthrate, or aging society almost every day. However, in such a situation, houses are being built new every day. It is not an exaggeration. According to the data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the number of housings starting in 2022 increased by 0.4% from the previous year. We can say China is not an aging society. But the population began to decrease last year for the first time.  I hope both countries should reconsider comprehensively the balance between the population forecast and the supply of new housings.     SGRA Kawaraban 736 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai / Professor, KYOAI GAKUEN University   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • CHIAN Hsun-y “What I got from ‘Comparison’”

    My life was a stream headed North. I was born in Nantou (南投)County in Taiwan. Nantou County is the only county that has no sea. It locates in the center of Taiwan and has a famous tourist spot “Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)”. Except for such tourist spots, it is not bustling and there is an image of the countryside. I enjoyed my childhood in Caotun (草屯), and moved to Taichung (台中) to go to a prestigious junior high school and high school. I went to an elite university in Taipei (台北). I headed for the North and urbanity. I am now in another further northern island country and living in the international big city Tokyo.   I do not forget a day when I was impressed with snow in Tokyo for the first time in my life. I used a humidifier for the first time because I felt an occurrence strongly of various health problems like skin drying when the temperature becomes low. I was surprised at the length of the night also when the sun sets at 16:30 in winter. When I encounter people who came from many countries, using complicated railway networks which seem to be a labyrinth of a different world, I realized that I am living in a big city.   The subject of my research is a Confucian scholar Ogyu Sorai (荻生徂徠) in Edo Period. He was ejected from Edo (Tokyo) and spent his teens and early twenties living in Nanso Town (midlands of Chiba Prefecture). After returning to Edo in the latter half of twenties, he was enlightened to be in a situation surrounded by “enclosed districts (廓)”. He compared his “Experience in Nanso” with thriving Edo in his front. And he concluded that the influence on  the people by “ customs (風俗) is big. Because their insight comes from the environment in which they are living, and their own experience. As a result, he emphasized the importance of their ability to understand “native customs” relatively apart from their present “enclosed districts”.      As I have changed the living places, I could acknowledge the difference between “native customs” and the limitation of “closed districts”. Though various information is flowing freely and quickly now, people’s ways of living and interests are different. Needless to say, there is a big difference in culture and concept of value once they cross borders.   Before I came to Japan, I had a simple impression of Japan. I shared the Taiwanese common images of Japan like “foods are salty” and “people are polite” etc.  Although these conclusions are not wrong, the complexities of Japanese culture are summarized in a very rough style. “Salty” may be applied to ‘Ramen’ or ‘ton-katsu (pork cutlets). Japanese home cooking is relatively lighter seasoning than that of Taiwan. I think traditional Japanese cuisine does not pursue heavy seasoning. As to Japanese politeness, they keep a certain distance in human relations. Sometimes, I feel the difference between their principles and real intentions.     Through my living in Japan for years associating with a lot of Japanese friends, I understand now that we cannot comprehend “the others” simply. And, at the same time, I feel I could comprehend various phenomena in “ourselves”. For example, when Japanese friends asked me “what are the characteristics of Taiwan foods?”, I noticed the meaning of this question for the first time. My conclusion was “Taiwan foods are sweet”. We can see discourteous behaviors often in Taiwan. But I think it comes from an atmosphere that does not pursue “conformity” with humane societies.   The purpose of comparison of “ourselves” and “the others” is not a judgment of their superiority or inferiority. Based on the understanding of the actual situation of “ourselves and the others”, to understand the others, we speculate “the others” by our features. And, to acknowledge ourselves, we contrast ourselves from the features of others. Through such understanding, we can relativize “the others and ourselves” and release both from “enclosed districts”. As I changed my living places very often, such understanding is very beneficial for me and useful for my comparative study of the history of thoughts also.     SGRA Kawaraban 733 in Japanese (Original)     CHIANG Hsun-yi /2021 Raccoon, Studying at ph. D course in Humanities and Sociology at the University of Tokyo   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LI Dian “My Study Abroad supported by my partner.”

    This Spring, I will start my new life after finishing seven years of training in the doctoral course. I spent ten years in Japan studying abroad and like to look back on these ten years.   I came to Japan at the age of six. I moved to Osaka from Beijing because of my parents’ job and lived for two years in Osaka. I remember my homeroom teacher in my elementary school learned Chinese to communicate with my parent well and my classmates were kind to me. So, I wanted to come again to Japan when I left Japan.   Thirteen years later, I could make my second visit to Japan in 2011 spring, just after the Great East Japan earthquake. As an undergraduate in biology, I came to Yokohama for an exchange program. I lived in a foreign country by myself for the first time fearing aftershocks of the earthquake. But I could spend fulfilling days due to interesting classes and practices. I had a chance to visit a laboratory to which I belong now an introduce my teacher, and they accepted me luckily after the doctoral course.      After graduating from the university in Beijing, I started my new life in Tokyo in 2014 spring. I did not expect to spend nine years at Keio University. As the doctoral course was not so difficult, I kept taking the usual lessons and used my remaining time for experiments. Though there were challenging projects, those projects went smoothly and I was getting good results. As I could enjoy getting data from brushing up way of experiments, two years have passed in the blink of an eye.     I proceeded to the doctoral course without hesitation because I liked to pursue an academic path. However, there were various changes. Project did not go smoothly because experiments did not go well. I could not get good any results despite my repeated tries and errors. The balance of my lifeworks began to collapse when my good seniors, who have taught me about experiments, graduated. When I made my research presentation, severe designations aggravated me further. There was a time when I could not do anything by the reason that research and personal relationships were unpromising. I got sick. I could not get out of bed in the morning and could not go to the research laboratory.   In such situations, it was my husband that supported me emotionally. He came from China and stayed together until I got over. I took time to recover and started new project from scratch changing the way of research. It was the third year of my doctoral course and made up my mind to enjoy my research life. My husband resigned from his job in China and started his research doctoral course as new research life in Japan at the same research laboratory.   This March, we completed our research work taking four years and obtained a Ph.D. During these four years, everything did not go well smoothly as mentioned above. I encountered problems almost every day and got setbacks sometimes. I realized it is important that we keep the balance of our hearts calm to support our hearts in overcoming difficulties, and not mind little things around us. Usually, emotional support in our daily life would be family. But it will not cover its works. I feel emotional support both in daily life and work are necessary equally. I could overcome my difficulties with my partner’s support who understood both in private life and work.      Another important thing that I keep in mind is I do not care for little things in daily life using unnecessary energy. It will be a waste of time and energy to have hope and fear alternately for every result of the research. We cannot be depressed by any news or SNS information. It will be efficient to analyze everything logically, not emotionally. When I use my energy too much, I will be tired the next day. So, I understand it is effective to keep my condition at a certain level suppressing a waste of my energy. I may be said to be “not expressive”. But I do not care about it.       I feel now that I have been blessed with help from a lot of people. I experienced both successes and failures. However, such experiences lead me to my growth. So, I like to challenge myself with immediate projects without forgetting to feel gratitude.         SGRA Kawaraban 732 in Japanese (Original)     LI Dian / 2021 Raccoon, Studying at Graduate School of Medicine, Keio University,     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • CHEN Xi “Live in Plural Hometowns”

    It was the 2013 autumn that I came to Japan for studying abroad. As I liked to study in Japan from the beginning, I applied for an application and was selected luckily as a government-financed scholarship student. I started my research life at graduate school in Tokyo. It was not easy to live surrounded by foreign languages and continue my research in a foreign language. However, I do not remember I have been in a difficult situation with language. There are two reasons.   The first: I had the experience to study the Japanese language in university before I came to Japan and communicated with teachers and foreign students. Thanks to such experience, I could be familiar with Japanese life comparatively smoothly.   The second reason: I transferred schools often in Guizhou State when I was little. It was languages that I struggled with first because there were several languages in Guizhou State though it is one state. As Mandarin Chinese was not so popular at that time, it was usual that we use several dialects not only in daily life but in the classroom also. So, time and elaboration were necessary for kids to adjust to the local languages.   What I realized through my repeated change to schools was that speaking languages are different depending on the place. Common knowledge in certain places is not common in other places. I have had a kind of feeling that, in my childhood, what people trust in their ideas or ways of thinking is not absolute but relative.   Lu Xun (魯迅) said, “I venture out to find different people in different places walking the different roads.” Following his words, I chose to study abroad in Japan and could meet several “different” people luckily in Japan. Being supported and under the corporation of such “different people”, I could finish my doctoral thesis on the Corona Virus. And I got a bachelor’s degree and took the first step as a researcher.   As I wrote a doctoral thesis with limited time and talent, I do not think it is enough to find materials and analyze textbooks. I think I could consider other viewpoints and the point of the issue. Such reflection will be the next issue for me.     What I realized often in my study abroad life is I have no homeland to which I can return. As I spent in Guizhou in my childhood, Guizhou maybe, roughly speaking, be my homeland. However, I left Guizhou when I went to university and spent six years in Tianjin and eight years in Tokyo. I kept living in distant lands from Guizhou. Without realizing it, Guizhou, my native land, became one of the places where I have lived for a short while.   However, it is not unlucky. Because I could get plural hometowns by losing my native land instead.   There is a book titled “Mille Plateaus” written jointly by philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Pierre-Felix Guattari. Those two thinkers say in this book that the histories of human languages, cultures, and natures are not held up by a single theory. In other words, human beings are alive in various languages, cultures, natures, and histories. Deleuze and Guattari advocated a theory of “diversity” or “plurality”.   I think a theory of “plurality” means not only the simple fact that human beings have diversity but human beings have hidden potential which can change the world also. And I like to keep my standpoint practicing “living in plural hometowns” having a certain responsibility.     SGRA Kawaraban 731 in Japanese (Original)     CHEN Xi / 2021 Raccoon, Specially Appointed Researcher at East Asian Academy for New Liberal Arts of the University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • WANG Xing fang “Time flies like an arrow.”

    Four and a half years have passed since I came to Japan. Putting the word “time” aside, I understand the word “time” means a certain period between certain times. Based on such understanding, four and a half years is not short and have flown so fast. Time flies like an arrow. Looking back when I was a child, I felt that time is long and does not end forever. As I grew older, however, I began to feel that time was passing quickly. Such an impression is not mine. Many people have such common impressions. Why do we feel so when we grow older? There are various research and investigations about the reasons. I like to omit reasons here and write my impressions of how the stream of time flows strongly.   I remember a deep impression about Confucius (the 6th century BC) who said in his Analects at riverside “Time flies. It never stops night and day”. I have a feeling that I could have empathy with his words finally. For a long time, I have thought I could translate his words into beautiful modern words and understand their meaning. It is correct superficially. However, I was surprised at speed of time which does not stop and realized the real meaning of those words through my own experience recently. At the same time, I got a feeling of fear and scare. Scare for my life which is vanishing gradually and scared of my laziness. I do not discuss here why human beings scare for losing their lives. I like to take notice of the scare of laziness here. I was interested in why human beings fear for their laziness and why it is not good for human beings to be lazy.      When we talk about laziness, I remember a famous paragraph in which Confucius scolds Zai Yu (宰予). “Napping Zai Yu: Confucius said ‘We cannot carve on dead trees. We cannot coat on mud wall. So, it is meaningless to scall Zai Yu who is napping.” Why is he scolded just for napping? There are many explanations. Incidentally, I try to understand the meaning of the word “laziness”.   Confucius indeed criticized laziness. Then, why does he criticize laziness? There is an answer in the words “at riverside”. We can feel a stream of time in the word “riverside”. A river flows without ceasing and “all things are in a state of flux”. So, we, as human beings must make efforts day and night. We can see similar and famous words in his “周易”(Divination Book of Changes). Heaven has been moving without any ceasing. Man of virtue must exert himself to strive and devote himself without laziness adopting himself as a model of heaven.   Heaven moves healthily without stopping. All things change without stopping. Human beings, as a part of nature, must follow and make efforts forever. It may be a reason for a human being of Confucianism. I think it is an attractive answer. By the way, I tried to find out an answer by searching on the internet or asking friends around me. The answers varied. Popular opinion is “Laziness is not particularly bad”. Why? Lazy or ‘not lazy” depends on individuals and is up to them.   We try to find the answer in Heaven or ourselves. I can see a distinction there between tradition and modern ages.     SGRA Kawaraban 730 in Japanese (Original)     WANG Xing fang /2021 Raccoon, Studying at Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, Faculty of Law, The University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LEE Chung-sun “My ‘Power Plant’ bloomed in a foreign country.”

    South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol visited United Arab Emirates (UAE) early in the New Year. The visit of the South Korean prime minister to UAE was the first time since 1980 when both countries normalized their diplomatic relations and both countries have been promoting their friendships and economic cooperation since then. President Yoon and his economic mission visited the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant site which KEPCO (Korean Electric Power Corporation) consortium built and operated after getting an order in December 2009.   I noticed one picture in which we can see President Yoon and KEPCO employees who work in Barakah Power Plant. I noticed my ex-boss behind President Yoon whom I have worked together ten years ago. I saw my colleague also who was smiling proudly with his unique facial expression.   KEPCO is my ex-workplace where I have been working for eleven years before I came to Japan as a foreign student in 2015. I have been working at Cheongju (清州) and Seoul HQ from 2003 to 2014. And I became a project member for getting an order for four units of a Nuclear Power Plant in Barakah. I dedicated myself to the project for one year together with my colleagues at the top-secret basement room of headquarters which was called “War Room”. Exaggeratedly speaking, the room was a top-secret space which associates underground room in the movie “Parasite”.   Through a course of patience, the KEPCO consortium has succeeded in getting an order amounting to 40 billion dollars overcoming strong competitors like US-Japan Consortium or France Consortium. In South Korea, December 27 is a national holiday for celebrating nuclear safety and promotion. This date means the KEPCO consortium got the order and was nominated by UAE as a final business operator. The figure$40 billion is the biggest in South Korean overseas contracts up to now.   After getting an order, I was responsible for administration works at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant till 2014 end when I resigned. Administration works covered the administration of personal, general affairs, financial affairs, remittance, and top-secret documents. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and strong worldly desires. It gave me a strong trace of laughter and tears also in my thirty’s biography.   In the early stage of my studying in Japan, I had a feeling that it might be too late to become a researcher. However, I am just around the corner of obtaining a Ph.D. now and elicited another conclusion. Namely, those eleven years of social experiences became my valuable assets and became “My Power Station” which made me work energetically. I could have a variety of experiences. creation of the business report, analysis of a variety of conference materials, presentation by myself, business collaboration with foreign VIPs as a liaison person in charge, keeping our promises, understanding of different cultures, adherence to business ethics, positive attitude, etc. Looking back at those eleven years of experience, it made me resilience against any difficulties and gave me a source of power towards tomorrow.   The UAE Power Station stopped at the end of the year 2014 in me. But another “Power Station” has been keeping running in myself in Japan. First, my doctoral dissertations which I have finished writing recently, although they may be immature, will be my first “Power Station”. Early in the New Year 2023, I am full of emotion confirming my “Power Station” thinking having sowed seeds that grew ripe in the desert as Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.   Construction of nuclear power plants delay five to ten years usually. KEPCO Consortium, however, could succeed in its construction work as scheduled within the budget overcoming a lot of unfavorable conditions. When President Yoon visited UAE (as mentioned above), UAE promised to make an additional investment to South Korea amounting to 30 billion dollars. It is because UAE admitted that the Consortium has kept its construction period and its mission for the project. So, I like to operate my “Power Station” in a foreign country at my own pace, temperature, and style from my viewpoint. After my getting degree, I like to keep getting and constructing hereafter No. 2 and 3 “Power Stations” aiming for the next stage.   Barakah Nuclear Power Plant remained an eternal and unfinished plant in my mind. I like to send my applause to my ex-colleagues who completed the plant and Raccoon members who are operating their own “Power Plants” around the world.     SGRA Kawaraban 729 in Japanese (Original)     LEE Chung-sun / 2021 Raccoon, being enrolled at the University of Tokyo, Ph.D.      Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LI Kotetsu / “養鶏金卵と殺鶏取卵(Feed a chicken to take eggs or kill a chicken to get meat and eggs)”

    SGRA kawaraban 943 of November 3 reported my essay “Let’s learn about Taiwan more” which the author reported at the session of INAF (Institute for Northeast Asian Future) of the 6th Asia Future Conference.    I made a report under the theme “Re-organization of Global Supply Chain in Semiconductor Industry - Struggle for Hegemony between the United States and China, and Taiwan”. Amid such severe trade friction and struggle for hegemony between the US and China, it is said that a “Country which controls semiconductors can control the 21st century”. I gathered and analyzed articles and tried to clarify the relations between the US, China and Taiwan for the development, production and sales of semiconductors.   In November, we got noteworthy news related to this theme. “(Central Bangkok) Summit Talks of APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Corporation) ended in Bangkok on November 19. Morris Chang (91 years old), on behalf of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, revealed at a press conference on the 19th night that he had unofficial talks with Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, in the morning of 18th, the first day of the conference. According to Mr. Chang, they exchanged greetings in the breakroom on the morning of the 18th. When he told Xi that he got an operation on hip joint last year, Xi Jinping responded saying “I’m glad to see that you seem fine”. He said also about the meeting with US Vice President Kamala Devi Harris. According to him, Ms. Harris welcomes the factory construction of TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), which is a leading company in the semiconductor industry, in Arizona and showed American determination which supports Taiwan. Mr. Chang is a founder of TSMC and it is the sixth time since he was elected as the representative of APEC in 2006. It is the fifth time since 2016 since President Tsai’s inauguration.   TSMC is a world-leading semiconductor company. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan, Taiwan foundry (contract manufacturing of semiconductors) is enjoying a 70 percent market share in the world. It is said that TSMC, the top of the foundry, exceeds 50%. Especially, they are taking lead in the world in the logic device industry. According to SIA (Semiconductor Industrial Association in America), 92% of factories which can produce less than one nano-meter line width exist in Taiwan and 8% in South Korea. Especially foundries in Taiwan can produce the world’s latest computer chips which can be mounted in almost all high-tech machines such as from cell phones to fighter planes.   As to semiconductors, both USA and China rely on Taiwan. According to the Nikkei Shinbun, TSMC is supplying high-performance chips Xilinx which can be mounted on F-35 jet fighters and other military chips approved by the US Department of Defense. We do not know how the US army relies on Taiwan chips. But we can imagine its importance from the fact that US Government pressurize TSMC to move their military chip factory to the US mainland from Taiwan. US industry relies on Taiwan semiconductors. It is said that only TSMC can supply 5nm processor chips which are mounted on the products line of iPhone 12, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. A15 Bionic chips which are built-in into the latest gadget of iPhone 13 or iPad mini of Apple are made by TSMC. Other big enterprises in America like Qualcomm, NVIDIA, AMD and Intel are TSMC’s clients.   China imported semiconductor chips amounting to USD 300billion from Taiwan in 2020. Needless to say, Taiwan is the biggest import source of China. They are investing hundreds of billions of Dollars to minimize their dependability on foreign chips under the plan “China Made 2025”. But it will take time to cover their needs by domestic supply. SMIC, semiconductor manufacturer in China, have entered 7nm production recently. But they are a few generations behind TSMC which produce 3nm or 2nm already. It means Chinese companies cannot help but rely on Taiwan-made chips. Huawei, the Chinese high-tech company, is the second largest customer of TSMC and relies on TSMC for 5nm and 7nm processors. It is said that Huawei contributed to TSMC’s revenue by 12% in 2021.    What kind of relations are there between the above report and the title of this essay “養鶏金卵と殺鶏取卵“? The two idioms which consist of four Chinese characters are Chinese proverbs. It means “Feed chickens for the purpose to keep taking eggs or kill chickens to get eggs and eat their meat”. The clever choose the former and the stupid choose the latter.   US Government applied a permission system for the export of semi-conductor production equipment for miniaturization 14 nm or more to SMIC, the biggest foundry in China. It is an embargo. US Government tightened regulations having applied a permission system for the export of high-efficient AI chips to China which are suspected to be used for military purposes. On August 9, CHIPS Bill was enacted in the US. It encourages production capacity, research and development, and supply chain of the US semiconductor industry by subsidy amounting$52.7 billion and tax deduction. People say, “The one who controls semi-conductors can control the world”. If Taiwan would be swallowed by China, China could control the world. The US, the hegemony, cannot concede it. We want to avoid the US-China war over the Taiwan matter.     How is the correspondence of China? When Nancy P. Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan on August 2, a few authorities in China reacted all at once saying “she violated Chinese ‘Red-line’”. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called up US Ambassador Mr. William J. Burns at night unusually. He condemned severely saying “Nancy P. Pelosi provoked intentionally and destroyed peace and stability of Taiwan strait. The result is very important. We cannot overlook it and you must compensate for your mistake.” In the afternoon of four days after the return of Pelosi to the US, China announced that they had “Important military exercise” at surrounding areas of Taiwan strait having launched eleven missiles at six airspaces and waters. We remember it vividly.   At the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, General Secretary Xi Jinping said that “We never promise we waive our use of force” and “We must accomplish our reunification”. The most important theme of “Great reconstruction of ‘Zhonghua minzu (Chinese race)’ in his saying is “Homeland unification”. The US and the West analyze that Xi Jinping aims at Taiwan unification during his term of office. If Xi Jinping understands peaceful reunification of Taiwan is difficult (the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan is opposing their unification), unification by use of armed might “cannot be denied”.   According to a net-media “観察者網”(Observer Network?)、economist Ms. Chen Weiling, China Center for International Exchange (she is said to be one of the influential economist for policy making of the Government) made a speech at a lecture meeting of People’s University of China on May 30. She said, “If the US and the West impose destructive sanctions on China like against Russia, we must get back Taiwan for the reconstruction of the supply network. TSMC was originally Chinese own”.     If the Chinese Government would decide and take an action following her words, it may lead to a war for the “liberation of Taiwan”. It means that if China would expect to get Taiwan which lay eggs, it is the same that China killing Taiwan only for getting one egg. I hope the leaders of China would not be so stupid. China should select the way of the wise men “feed chickens to be kept supplying eggs”. It is a way for peace. In such meaning, flexible diplomatic meeting of Mr. Morris Chan with leaders of the US and China at APEC had an important meaning.     SGRA Kawaraban 725 in Japanese (Original)     LI Kotestu / Chairman of INAF (Institute for Northeast Asian Future)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala