SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • 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