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
  • 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