SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • The 73rd SGRA Forum: Palestine and the Wall Between Us

    The 73rd SGRA Forum will take place as a hybrid event as per the details below. Please register for the event if you wish to attend.   Title: Palestine and the Wall Between Us   Date/Time: June 25, 2024 (Tuesday) / 17:30 to 19:00 (followed by dinner reception*)   How to attend: In person or via Zoom webinar   Venue: Showa Women's University, Central Administrative Building, 3F (Building labeled "AB" on the campus map. Please enter through the Main Gate.)   Language: English and Japanese, with simultaneous interpretation **   Registration: Please register via this link   * Please join us for the dinner reception with Palestinian food after the event (free).   ** Simultaneous interpretation will be done via Zoom. If you are participating at the venue and need interpretation, please bring your own device (smartphone, laptop, etc) and earphones.    Contact: SGRA Office ([email protected])     About the Forum The ongoing conflict in Palestine is often described as "too complicated” to understand. This characterization can be seen as a myth that aims to foster indifference towards a conflict that has been going on for more than 75 years. This event seeks to unravel these complexities by examining the situation through an objective and humanitarian lens, emphasizing why it should matter to everyone. Through insightful presentations and discussions with experts, Palestinians, and students actively involved in pro-Palestinian movements, we hope to shed light on the importance of addressing this issue and the various barriers encountered along the way.     The term "wall" in this context carries profound significance. It represents not only the physical barrier due to apartheid and colonization in Palestinian territories but also the invisible wall that stifles open discussion and suppresses free speech on this topic. Students worldwide are breaking these invisible barriers through protests and activism, sparking necessary public debate and bringing fresh perspectives to the forefront.    This event aims to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the Palestinian cause, exploring both local and global perspectives. Attendees will gain new insights and consider diverse approaches to address the issue.   Program 17:30 Opening (MC: Aqil Cheddadi, Keio University, Visiting Lecturer) Opening Remarks (Junko Imanishi, Atsumi Foundation/SGRA Representative)   17:35 Presentation 1: Hani Abdelhadi (Meiji University, Senior Assistant Professor) Basics of the Question of Palestine: Revisiting the Historical and Political Compositions (JP)   18:05 Presentation 2: Weam Numan (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Graduate Student) Architecture of Control: How Built Environment is a Weapon of Colonization (EN)   18:20 Presentation 3: Takami Mizokawa (Waseda University, Undergraduate Student) Student, Queer and Environmental Activists Taking a Stand: Pro-Palestine Movements in Tokyo Since October 2023 (JP)   18:35 Q&A and Discussion (JP/EN) Moderator: Yoshiaki Tokunaga (JSPS Postdoctoral Researcher, Nihon University) Online Q&A Facilitator: Lifu Guo (Tsukuba University, Assistant Professor)   19:00 Close / Dinner reception   Presentation Abstracts Presentation 1: Hani Abdelhadi (Meiji University, Senior Assistant Professor) Basics of the Question of Palestine: Revisiting the Historical and Political Compositions Currently, movements in solidarity with the Palestinian people are taking place all over the world, with many participants in Japanese society. However, in order to realise not only a 'ceasefire' but also justice beyond that, it is also important to have a long-term perspective that leads to structural and essential changes. The primary importance for this is to act in line with justice, backed up by knowledge and logic, not only sympathy. For this reason, the aim of this event is not to explain the latest developments and new facts, but rather to explain the long and complex history of the Palestinian issue and the important and basic points for understanding the current political composition of the situation, and to reconfirm the foundations that all people should share.   Presentation 2: Weam Numan (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Graduate Student) Architecture of Control: How Built Environment is a Weapon of Colonization Architecture is the physical manifestation of politics. It not only encapsulates the designer’s perspective of the world around them, but can also be used as an apparatus for political control. This is very clearly exhibited in the colonial architecture of the west bank and Gaza, but also invisibly in the public spaces that have been the chosen locations for Pro-Palestine protests in Tokyo and around the world. In this talk we attempt to draw parallels between the architectural apparatuses that contribute to the daily oppression and control of Palestinians, and the comparable yet understated apparatuses of architectural control in public spaces around the world.   Presentation 3: Takami Mizokawa (Waseda University, Undergraduate Student) Student, Queer and Environmental Activists Taking a Stand: Pro-Palestine Movements in Tokyo Since October 2023 Since October 2023, various groups such as students, the queer community, and environmental activists have been joining Palestinians in Japan to call for ceasefire as well as the liberation of Palestine through demonstrations and events. Through presenting cases from Tokyo, this presentation looks at the activities of these groups over the past 7 months, and considers how they address the issue of Palestine/Israel.   Speakers Hani Abdelhadi Ph.D. (Media and Governance), Keio University. Senior assistant professor at Meiji University / member of the board of directors of the Tokyo Camii Institute. His major publications include "The Impasse on Solutions for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" and "The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in Islamic Law."   Weam Numan Weam is a Palestinian Jordanian Architect and game environment designer who was born to a father from Tulkarem, Palestine, and a mother from Yafa Palestine. Weam graduated her master’s program from Tokyo Institute of Technology where she is currently balancing between researching the influences of virtual game architecture on cognition, and advocacy for Palestine. Having worked in the game industry for 5 years in Jordan, Europe, and America, she is currently working as a 3D Environment artist in Japan.   Takami Mizokawa Undergraduate student at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Waseda University majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. His research focuses on queer issues in Arabic literature and the Arabian sphere. He is also a translator and involved in pro-Palestinian activism.   Aqil Cheddadi Aqil Cheddadi is a licensed architect and a visiting lecturer (full-time) at the faculty of Policy Management at Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus. He received his MArch from the Moroccan National School of Architecture in Rabat, and obtained his master’s in Media & Governance from Keio University. He was a scholarship recipient from the Atsumi Foundation in 2022. His research focuses on informal and emergent practices of city-making, including slums and historic towns of Morocco, as a case study.   Yoshiaki Tokunaga Yoshiaki Tokunaga is a JSPS Postdoctoral Researcher at Nihon University. He received the Atsumi Scholarship and completed a doctoral program in area studies at the University of Tokyo (Ph.D. 2024). His research focuses on the political and legal history of Modern Iran. He has also published articles on the development of parliamentary system in the 1920s such as "Between Parliamentary Control and Fiscal Discipline: The General Budget Act for 1303/ 1924-25 (1925) on the Eve of Pahlavi Rule," Middle Eastern Studies 59(6).   Lifu Guo Lifu Guo is an Assistant Professor in the Bureau of Human Empowerment, the University of Tsukuba. They graduated from the Department of Area Studies, the University of Tokyo. Their research focuses on feminism and queer studies, especially the gender and sexual politics in modern mainland China. Recent publications include “Medals and Conspiracies: Chinese and Japanese Online Trans-Exclusionary Discourses during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games,” Kazuyoshi Kawasaka & Stephan Würrer (Eds.) Beyond Diversity: Queer Politics, Activism and Representation in Contemporary Japan, Düsseldorf University Press, pp.117-135, 2024.
  • YUN Jae-un “Tough Question of ‘Relief of Victims’”

    There are numerous cases of victims in international disputes or environmental problem and policy, yet providing relief for these victims is far from easy. When there are complicated webs of interests among those involved victims, assailants, supporters, and political entities (political parties, politicians) makes finding “solution” challenging. Sometimes, a new “victim” may merge over time, raising the question “Until when and how they should be relieved” a serious issue. There may be other controversies about the method of relief, particularly monetary relief and government regrettable attitude are the core of the matter.   In some case, domestic issue may escalate to international level stipulating the relationship between countries such as Japan-Korea, Japan-China and Japan-North Korea. The deep-rooted nature of the issues involving victims and assailants makes it discuss these matters without addressing these border concerns. This interconnectedness draws a special attention to the facts that the people’s identities in relation this problem.    On September 27 this year, Osaka District Court delivered a noteworthy judgement. The 128 plaintiffs of Minamata disease who sued the country, Kumamoto Pref., and the company Chisso, won the case. The final judgement was difficult to foresee given that it was the first trial and the defendants have since appealed. Many people might be surprised thinking that “Minamata disease was historical issue!”.         The disease was confirmed officially at Minamata City in 1956, leading to conflicts and compromises among victims, their supporters, the company Chisso and the government. In the midst of the pollution problem around 1970s, the system of financial compensation (mainly by Chisso) and administrative accreditation by the Ministry of Environment toward Minamata victims was established. However, a lot of people who suffered damage were left behind. The system which certified as Minamata victims officially were very complicated, and there was no relief measure for victims who were not certified. Legal responsibility for the country was only certified by the Supreme Court in the year 2004, after decades, of court battles!   The Government attempted political settlement for Minamata victims for the first time in 1990s, exceeding in the “Political Settlement” providing relief for about ten thousand Minamata victims. However, this allowed the government to escape legal procedure. Then the Prime Minister Murayama appraised this result saying: We emphasized the Minamata disease as “genesis of pollution problems and worked out the solution between the parties”.   At the same time, he acknowledged “there were reflecting points too”. Nonetheless, legal responsibility was evaded. It was the result of repeated litigations of national reparations in Osaka, the Government lost the case in 2004, revealing an unusual dual classification system Minamata victims labelling them as both “certified patients and (representing as a negative symptom) and “Minamata victims saved by the Government”. The Supreme Court’s 2000s judgment made it clear that Minamata issue was a far from solved. Around 3000 uncertified victims raised lawsuit in 1995. First ‘No more Minamata litigation’. Another court battle began as the Government failed to establish a new framework despite their final decision.     It was after the change of politics that controversy about relief of victims intensified. Just before the Regime change, both ruling and opposition parties agreed on “Special Measures Law for Minamata victims” (the law for relief of Minamata victims and solution of Minamata problems). It marked the first legislative measure for the relief of Minamata victims after the War, but this law was temporary, with the due date “September 2017”. In the preface of this law, there was a sentence: “This law was established for the purpose of ending conflicts of the area, protecting the environment and actualizing the society which people can live peacefully as the final solution of Minamata problem”. The enactment of this law reflects a thought of “final solution”. Approximately fifty thousand victims were relieved by this Special Measures Law. In May 2010, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama attended the memorial ceremony of Minamata City as a first representative of the Government after the War and apologized by saying “Please accept my sincere condolence as we failed to recognize our responsibility and we neglected the damages”.   Despite, the relief measure provided by the Special Measures Law, new lawsuit emerged the case “The second ‘No More Minamata case’” highlighting the ongoing complexities.   Although we thought Minamata problem was resolved by the fair judgement at the Court, it had been receiving people’s attention. The history of Minamata disease and its victims shows how complex its relief and solution are. Despite financial compensation, apology and the Government reflection, controversies about victim relief have been continued for more than 70 years even now. It emphasizes the important of ensuring relief measures are not temporary.     SGRA Kawaraban 752 in Japanese (Original)     YUN Jae-un / 2020 Raccoon, Special Researcher at Peace/Community Research Organization, Rikkyo University     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala           
  • JO Byeogwook “Waku-Waku feeling”

    I successfully attained my doctoral course this Spring. It means I completed my nine years of university student life with graduate and PHD course. And then I initiated my academic career. While it has not been so long since I concluded my studying abroad in Japan, I would like to share my impression and experience as a teacher.      In my childhood, when boys read Manga (Japanese comic books), they used to be excited and thrown into an uproar in their room. I had a quite similar feeling at the age of ten. When I read ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’, ten years later at my high school time, I had a feeling of excitement (Waku-Waku feeling). Although, I can’t claim to have glow mentally, there was a subtle difference comparing with ten years before. I had a feeling of expectation that I would be able to make robots of my own if I attend a prestigious university after diligent study.     I successfully passed the entrance exam with the desired division of the university after another year. However, upon starting my university journey, I found a gap between studies and my suitability. For instance, I lacked interest in attending practical sessions and experiments, rather I acquire knowledge passively. During my undergraduate year, when I was challenged with something new, I had a sense of duty rather than Waku-Waku feeling. Despite being eligible to enter graduate school, I decided to join the army force as I struggled to find a clear conviction for my future.     The army life was more boring than university life because there was a sense of duty only. In army life, there were scheduled events and manuals, and it was more important to keep collective behavior rather than challenge something new. For the people who prefer to live as their own term, like I do, I think they cannot be satisfied with militant life. However, I learnt a lot from army life.         I completed my military service career and commenced my doctoral course in 2018. My research theme was cell, which proved challenging to predict in terms of result. I vividly remember I have researched this theme in my 4th year of undergraduate level. Strangely enough, after eight years pause, I experienced the same “Waku-Waku feeling” which I had in high school years and in childhood. The excitement may come from the fact that I chose and researched this theme independently, rather than it being a compulsory assignment, and it was more enjoyable than I thought. I used to return home at midnight almost every day after an intense research session. Especially, I cannot express how challenging the last half year of my preparation for examination was. However, I am thankful for my supervisors who instructed me and provided me valuable guidance. Thanks for their support, I successfully completed the doctoral course.   Today, I am working as an assistant professor in the same laboratory, guiding students their research. My duty and responsibility became bigger, surpassing those of my student days. The “Waku-Waku feeling” has diminished in comparison. Ironically, however, my boss (of laboratory) has an opinion that “Research work should be done with Waku-Waku feeling”. So, I found myself contemplating every day how I can implant this Waku-Waku feeling in my students. Recently I had an opportunity to conduct an omnibus style class for the first time. It was an hour explanation of theoretical lecture followed by thirty minutes’ simple experiments, and it was not easy to convey the truth uncovered by past scholars. Sharing this information was not easy, but it really made me happy when some students expressed that he experienced “Waku-Waku feeling”. It was my recent Waku-Waku experience and I hope to continue enjoying such situation for a while.         SGRA Kawaraban 751 in Japanese (Original)     JO Byeongwook/ 2022 Raccoon, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English was checked by Sabina Koirala