SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • ChoiKyu-jin “Medical Blank and Human Rights” were made clear by COVID-19

     ◇At the beginning : No countries have excellent plans against COVID-19 at this moment. In Sweden, they did “cluster immunities”.  In Italy and U.K., there were a lot of dead because of the delay of measures at the beginning. We have a few effective measures through which we check suspected persons quickly and if they are proved to be infected, proper measures (grasping the numbers of patients and their isolations by administrations) would be taken and other people will keep “social distances”. It is an actuality now.  In such circumstances, we can say that the measures which Korea took are evaluated highly in the world. They are trying to follow the model of Korea, so-called “K-epidemic prevention”. For example, the world is taking notice of “drive through”, “walk through” and “diagnosis kits”. I am glad that Korea, which follows Japan as the member of the council of the WHO, can contribute to the world in the prevention of COVID-19.  It is true that “K-epidemic prevention” has succeeded. However, it is true also that there are opinions about problems behind Korean successes. I like to introduce such issues which exist in the back of Korean success. It is not my purpose to find fault with Korean way of preventions. I would be happy if you understand my real intention of bringing up the issues here the counter measures against the secondary wave of COVID-19 more perfectly than the first wave.  I would like to explain here about the most important issues like “medical blank” and “human rights” referring to two actual incidents. One is “the fatal accident of Mr. Chong Yuyob (17)” and “spread of COVID-19 at a night club at Itae-won in Seoul”.  ◇Medical Blank in the fatal accident of Mr. Chong Yuyob(17) Mr. Chong run high fever and went to a general hospital which is one in the area around seven o’clock in the evening. But he was refused any medical care before PCR checked and was asked to visit next day. He had to return home without any medical care as the PCR clinic had already closed at six o’clock.    He suffered from high fever all through the night. He visited the clinic to get PCR checked in the next morning and was X-rayed. However again, he had to return home because he had to wait for the result of PCR before hospitalization. In his home, he kept running high fever and had difficulties in breathing and his parent got touch with the Disease Headquarters (an organization under the Ministry of Health and Welfare) immediately.  The headquarters got touch with the health center in the area, but the center needed PCR report from general hospital for further action. Meanwhile, time passed in vain. It was only after 4:30 PM when Mr. Chong went to the general hospital. His parent heard the result of X-ray and his condition was not good and was told to go to the Yong Nam University Hospital. Mr. Chong could not get proper medical care and passed away after two days.  Many people say that the death of Mr. Chong was unavoidable in such circumstances of the pandemic of COVID-19.  If we get away with such case this time, it means we leave the similar cases which would have few hundred victims hereafter as “unavoidable accident”. Moreover, Mr. Chong had no basis diseases actually. During the time when we verify this accident seriously, we found many points which we cannot leave unavoidable.  It was the basic policy of general hospital, which is one in the area, that we cannot get any measures without results of PCR. It has revealed to be big faults of measures against COVID-19  If private hospitals had to follow Governmental regulations, they should have advised other facilities which can do PCR at earlier stage. There was a clinic within only five- minute walk actually which can check PCR that evening. In spite -of doctor’s view about Mr. Chong’s pneumonia next day, general hospital instructed him to wait at home before PCR. General hospital missed early chance of treatment and we can say it was the fault of hospital clearly. The Disease HQ and clinic both has just instructed parent to get touch with private hospitals. They did not mediate properly during the time when he waited for the result at home. It was a cause of accident this time that there was no control tower which know medical systems in the area accurately.   People can be hospitalized in Yong Nam University Hospital any time actually without the result of PCR. It means the accident could be prevented if either Disease Headquarter, health center or general hospital would have referred to Yong Nam Hospital. We cannot say Yong Nam Hospital had no fault. When they were informed from general hospital that the result of PCR is negative, they kept doubting of pneumonia by coronavirus and had checks thirteen times. Moreover, oxygen mask was off for thirty seconds. The reasons are under investigation now.  But it may of medical staffs for infection treatment.   Some people say that it is the specialty of North Gyeonsang Province where big epidemics. 0ccures. But I think it is same with any other provinces. Korean societies should reconsider many points:・We do not have any control tower which grasp the whole medical systems in the area.・Where we can get instant PCR report quickly in the pandemic of COVID-19?・Where do we get medical treatment in emergency before PCR check ? Many people agree that the Medical Control Head Quarter will be promoted to the Medical Control Agency. And, some people say that “Public Medical Agency” should be established in the circumstances which present Korean medical systems depend on private medical facilities.  Korea is the lowest among OECD Member Countries in terms of specific gravity of public health services. A specific gravity rate in terms of the number of sick beds is 10% and in terms of medical organizations is 5.7%. In North Gyeonsang Province where conservative political party is controlling, public medical service organizations were closed one after another and the gravity of public health services became lower than other provinces.  It is impossible to say that Mr. Chong’s death has no relations with unfortunate conjunction circumstances. We like bethink medical “blank” again.  ◇Human Rights which can be seen through ”Spread of COVID-19 from Itaewon” When the number of infected patients doubled digits gradually in early May, infection spread rapidly among visitors in Itaewon club. Dislike and discrimination against minority became serious after rapid spread of COVID-19. Human rights issue is big in Korea now.  The shadows of the issues on dislike and discrimination have been cast actually since the early stage of prevention of epidemics. Following to dislike and discrimination against Chinese, there was an attack on the specific religion “The New World” by the whole societies. The government has focused on measures for prevention of epidemics too much and has overlooked the issues. As a result, dislike and discrimination against minorities have occurred. As discrimination against specific groups is an obstacle for prevention of epidemics and connect to spread of coronavirus, everybody in the society have to work on and improve such phenomena.   According to report, many gay or (male) homosexual visited the club in Itaewon where there were clusters of infected people in early May. Media had attacked visitors in the club excessively as immodest sexual group and such dislike of feeling in the society was exaggerated. Moreover, the number of infected people has increased because some visitors to Itaewon did not get PCR. And dislike and discrimination against gay became more serious accordingly. In this case, complicated issue of discrimination is involved and we cannot debate simply saying they lack in ethical values. Some self-governing body check anonymously. But if people visit Itaewon, they are considered as gay and discriminated. This is question which will not be solved simply.  Once people get PCR check, they have to wait for result for one or two days at least even if they do not contact closely with infected person. They have to explain to their friends or workplaces for the reasons being stayed at home. In the atmosphere where media stirred up such dislike, it will be almost impossible for the people, who visited Itaewon, to inform work places about the report.  In the Korean society where there remains negative understanding against minority and such dislike and discrimination, it would affect the life. In case of a lecturer of “juku” (private-tutoring school) who goes to a university in Inchon area, he hid his actual occupation and what he hid his occupation caused to the situation that his colleagues and students were infected. Under such circumstances, Inchon city government filed criminal charge against him. He confessed afterward that he was afraid that his studies would affect and feared for further aspect of job. Would it be possible to say that he is responsible for spreading coronavirus? I think Korean society, media and politicians were responsible for the second and the third spread of infections. Korean society has discriminated minority. Media kept sending stereotyped messages that visitors to Itewon were minority and minority should be excluded from society. Politicians left also such messages unchecked and made ordinary people to be “liars”  Public health doctors (who work at health center not as military services) who worked at selected health centers and knew the importance of receiving checked quickly, had visited clubs at Itewon. But they hid such visits for four days and examined patients.  Even doctors who work at selected health center were afraid of discrimination rather than coronavirus.  As mentioned above, dislike and discrimination of the weak socially are big obstacles for prevention of epidemics. All world is prepared now for prolonged war against coronavirus. It will be simple to win the war. In case of suspicion of infections, it will be the only way for victory that we arrange everything in the circumstances to be able to get PCR check quickly. In order to improve present circumstances where we cannot receive PCR check voluntarily in discrimination, it is necessary to have positive intervention at national level.  ◇In conclusion: It is true that infectious diseases are misfortunes which threatens humans. But we cannot say necessarily that there are only negative side in infectious diseases. The diseases have made us notice social issues which we could not find. When we can solve the problems properly, we can step up to more matured society. There are some who understand in wrong way. However, a lot of enterprises and politicians are trying to introduce desperately paid holiday systems (they can take holidays without losing salaries), remote medical treatment and biotechnologies. (Be ashamed to say, Korea is the only country among OECD member nations that has neither paid holiday systems nor allowance for sick and wounded.)  The discussion mentioned above are based on evaluation on success of “K-epidemic preventions”. I can say it is better than other countries where they cannot practice any measures for prevention and cannot foresee how they should discuss.  Frankly speaking, I am worried about missing my both lesson which we learn from epidemics of coronavirus and chances which we can develop to better societies.  SGRA Kawaraban 635 in Japanese (Original)  Choi_Kyu-jin / Professor Inha Medical University (Medical History and Medical Ethics),    This essay was written in the Korean language.Korean to Japanese translation by Saori Hasegawa Japanese to English translation by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • John Chuan-Tion Lim “New Characteristics of Japan-China Relations in the Post-COVID-19 Age”

     In the year 2020, COVID-19 shook the world and threw the world systems into confusion  We are facing with the issue “the Post-COVID19”. In the process of solving the issue, the most important point for the world block or countries is how to adjust the relations with China. In this paper, I would like to focus on the relations between Japan and China in the age of “post-corona”.  In America, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the President in 2017 and took the national strategy “China containment”. Through the trade war and technological race, America has been pressing China and their relations deteriorated gradually. On the contrary, Japan and China have stepped, strangely enough, to the opposite direction “all-out restoration”. However, such “quasi-honeymoon” for two years came to the end by structural shock of the coronavirus pandemic.  ◇From ”Honeymoon period” to “Quasi-honeymoon period” When we look back the relations between Japan and China for half-century since the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1972, “honeymoon period” was only in the decade of the 1980s. In the decade of the 1990s, the relations was “sometimes good and sometimes bad” due to “historical issues”. In the decade of the 2010s, especially in 2012, Japan has nationalized “Senkaku Islands” (Diaoyutai Islands in Chinese) and the relations fell into inescapable and hair-trigger situations.   In November, 2014, Japan-China relations came to the turning point “A Thaw” narrowly. Two countries got the “essential common understanding on four points” and reopened their exchanges partly. However, China did not start the mechanism of mutual visits of their heads. In the year 2018, Japan conceded to soften their attitude toward Chinese policy “One Belt, One Road”. Afterward, China got the policy “getting back the Japan-China relations to the original orbit”.  The visit of the Premier Li Keqian in May 2018 shows that both countries have started their relations toward total recovery. Afterward, Prime Minister Abe visited China in October. However, Prime Minister Abe understood at that time that we can say “complete recovery of the relations between both countries” only when the heads of two countries visit each other after the President of the People’s Republic of China (CRC) Xi Jinping visits Japan as a national guest. In CRC, they regarded President Xi’s visit to Japan in April 2020 as important and expected to declare the coming of “new era of Japan-China relations” jointly. At the same time, China side have expected to announce “the 5th political document” which symbolize the new era of both countries at summit talks. The “Quasi-honeymoon period” which China took initiative reached to the climax.  ◇The latent vulnerability in the friendly relationship between Japan and China Improvement of the relations depend on the interests and strategic thinking of both countries. The reason why they could keep “quasi-honeymoon period” for these two years is the Chinese new strategy mainly. Actually, Japan did not cancel nationalization of the Senkaku islands and kept their defense capacity strengthening, including setting up of the National Self-Defense Force, in the area of “Nansei Shoto (the south-west islands)”  Amid such situation which Japan did not compromise in important issues, China like to restore the relations with Japan. As background of such Chinese attitude, there is no other reasons than a shock of the “New Cold-War between China and America”. By dividing the power of Japan and America which aim at shutting up China, China wanted to cut down American controlling power toward China.  In short, during these two years which we can call the “quasi-honeymoon period” after the decade of 1980s, both countries established their basic standpoints, “positive policy” in China and “wait-and-see policy” in Japan. However, there was a latent vulnerability in the “friendship between Japan and China” which came from the characteristics of “one-sided (not each other) direction”.  We can find such vulnerability in the public opinion polls on the relations of both countries. Japanese NPO “Japanese Public Opinions“ and Chinese International Publication carried out together public opinion poll on the relations between Japan and China jointly in 2005. The poll of last October (before coronavirus epidemics) shows that 45.9% of Chinese have good impressions on Japan. This figure was the highest since 2005 when they started the poll. However, Japanese impression on China was “just returned to normal orbit” and we cannot say we reached “improvement”. The ratio which Japanese have “no-good” impression toward China was 84.7% and it was considerably high.  Actually, atmosphere of welcoming President Xi’s visit to Japan is not warmed up yet in Japan despite President Abe urged Xi’s visit as a national guest eagerly. It is important that unexpected pandemic of COVID-19 this year made China confused completely about their strategy toward Japan. At the same time, the base of “friendship between Japan and China”, which was vulnerable from the beginning, was shook in Japan.    ◇Unrest of the base of “Friendship between Japan and China” due to the pandemic of COVID-19 First of all, Prime Minister Abe proposed “friendship between Japan and China” together with China in spite of America’s urging to promote the “suppressing China strategy” which was severe and speedy. Prime Minister Abe considered first friendly relations in economy between Japan and China beside his historical evaluation as a prime minister.  However, the Abe Government reconsidered economic relations with China because the pandemic of COVID-19 has started from China. On April 7, the Abe Government announced “Declaration of Emergency” and passed the budget for “Emergency economic measures”. And they appealed reorganization of supply chains which is on the verge of emergency due to COVID-19. They allocated 240 billion Yen, at the first clause of the budget, for shifting production lines from China to Japan or diversification of production basis to South-East Asia. Such movements are based on decentralization of risks.  Public opinions in Japan foresee Chinese economy after COVID-19 pessimistically and it will be impossible to have “V-shaped recovery” in China. In this point, it is different from Chinese public opinions which foresee the Chinese economy optimistically. Japanese economic circles, including “keidanren” (the Federation of Economic Organization) foresee the Chinese economy cautiously and Japanese public opinions are “adverse wind” apparently to Japanese economic circles which like to maintain close connections with China in foreign trades.     As to Chinese measures toward epidemics, Japanese views have been getting worse because of questions about “concealment of infectious diseases” and their “omissions” at initial stage or punishment of Dr. Li Weiliang. China invoked “big propaganda” to the world since March. However, such propaganda was interpreted by the mass media in Japan as recoveries of initial fiasco in epidemics. Japanese antipathy toward China has increased.  Furthermore, COVID-19 spread in Europe and the United States after March and the pandemic shock hit the United States.  The government in Washington is trying to establish new policy “China bashing” which accuse China of responsibility of “concealment of infection diseases” and claimed compensation. It is not difficult to imagine the relations between America and China in the “post-corona period” would become slyer. Under such circumstances which “anti-China” steps by America are being accelerated, it will be inevitable that America would pressure Japanese “pro-China” policy and Washington may trigger toward Japan.  ◇Japan-China relations in the Post-COVID-19 – “cool-Japan and hot-China”??? Under such new changes of the world in pandemic, Prime Minister Abe realized that it would be difficult to keep good friendships with China which he has tried to maintain keeping pace with China and has stopped to control carefully his ideological position and did not try to maintain Japan-China relations which have been vulnerable from the beginning. Being a contrast with expansion of antipathy to China, prevention of epidemics in Taiwan were highly evaluated in Japanese society. PM Abe, who has been the most “pro-Taiwan” since the decade of 1960, did not hide his dissatisfaction toward China. And he expressed his support to Taiwan which like to take part in the general meeting of the WHO as an observer.  Chinese Government began to take strong measures against Japan without any hesitation perceiving Japanese changes in its determinations which have been heading for improvement of Japan-China relations. On May 8, four vessels of China Coastal Guard Corps invaded Japanese sea area and pursued two Japanese fishing boats and Japan protested. Japanese Government announced that Chinese public vessels appeared around the Senkaku islands 41days continuously after May 24.     Summing up the above, “quasi-honeymoon period” which has been vulnerable from the beginning will end soon by pandemic of COVID-19. I personally think that President Xi’s visit to Japan during this autumn will not be possible in friendly circumstances after coronavirus.  However, if the relations between America and China would become severe, Chinese side may not abandon soon the strategy that they check the United States by winning over Japan. Therefore, even if Japanese feeling of friendship toward China would fall by COVID-19, Chinese side will not withdraw their Japanese policy, in a short period, which they regard it is getting back to normal orbit. Accordingly, Japan-China relations in the “post-corona period” which have a characteristic of “cool-Japan and hot-China” will continue in considerable long period.  SGRA Kawaraban 633 in Japanese (Original)  John_Chuan-Tiong_Kim / Researcher of Japan General Research Center in Taiwan, Head of Japan Research Center in Wuhan University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala  
  • Ferdinand C. Maquito “Manila Report – Spring 2020”

    The President of the Philippines put the Manila metropolitan area in lockdown on March 12, 2020. It has been the first time in my life that all the schools are closed and teachers and staff members had to stay at homes. This “Lockdown Order” was the worst situation that I have been worrying about since January 30, when the WHO (World Health Organization) announced PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern).  During the grace period until enforcement of the order, I had a choice to return to Manila from Los Baños. But I decided to stay in Los Baños together with my nephew for the sake of scattering of family.  Luckily enough, we could keep using internet and hear public opinions through SNS.  I made up my mind starting from “Sustainable Shared Growth Policy Brief” which is a part of my research theme “Sustainable Shared Growth”.    I would like to introduce my first report hereunder.  To begin with, infectious diseases come from the natural environments. Some people say that it is a conspiracy of biological weapons because of the conflict between America and China. But, research papers, which coronavirus grew naturally, are leading. In the theory of disasters, concept of vulnerability and resiliency is important. If we talk about such theory in the concept of time, vulnerability is for “before diseases” and the point is whether it is damageable or not.  Resiliency is a theory for “after diseases”. There are many reports in which vulnerability and resiliency depends on the factors in distribution of income and development of economy. Distribution of income would become worse and development of economy would become lower, vulnerability becomes higher and resiliency becomes lower. In developing countries like the Philippines which distribution of income and wealth are not good, had serious problems after the pandemic this time.  To absorb the shock of pandemic, the government, various public organizations and societies, the citizens of the Philippines had applied every possible countermeasure up to now. Stepping from such serious struggles, I like to evaluate this pandemic from viewpoints of “sustainable shared growth”, namely from circumstances, fairness and efficiency. For further explanations for sustainable shared growth, I like to proceed on three dimensions, time, space and universe.  ◆Sustainability and Time In environmental economics, it is an important policy on how natural resources shall be distributed between present and future generations. We can find such views in the definition of “Sustainable Development” saying “development which satisfies both the present and future generations”. Such views have been focused also in the report by the World Committee of Environment and Development, which has been announced on April, 1987. Distribution of natural resources among various generations is decided depending on the period of planning (either short time or middle/long time) by policy planners.  The environment which has clean air and water and no diseases are considered as natural resources. In order to distribute such environment to each generations, certain amount of funds are necessary. When certain policy proposals for the pandemics would be made, middle or long-term finance shall be necessary. It is a kind of insurance and can be used in the Philippines too. As an example of market-oriented fund, there was a “catastrophe bond” of the World Bank. Though people have criticized that the bonding conditions were too severe, the World Bank has gathered 320 million dollars from investors and such a way of thinking was proved to be effective measures. Such kind of fund is market oriented and we can say it is useful to promote investment for the sake of evaluation, dispersion and reduction of risks against pandemics.  ◆Shared Growth and Time In development economics, there is a theory of “Inverted U-shaped Curves” by Simon S. Kuznets. He separated the economic development process into two phases. In the first phase, the gap becomes bigger when the economy develops and at the second phase, the gaps become smaller. Some researchers say that it can be applied to the Philippines.   As mentioned above, distribution of income or wealth depend on the phases in vulnerability and resiliency against disasters and it is indispensable to flatten the “Kuznets curve”. In other words, when shared growth in developing countries will be materialized smoothly, they can lower vulnerability and can raise resiliency.  ◆Sustainability and Space There is no border in environmental issue. It is applied to pandemics too. When we elaborate measures for pandemics, we have to cooperate across borders.  In such cases, a multinational organization like the WHO is necessary. Though there is criticism against the WHO in the Philippines, there is no change in the opinions that any international organizations shall be necessary to cope with pandemics. The reasons why the WHO fall into such situations, came from decrease of contributions from member nations and an increase in voluntary donations. They have lost their composures to carry out their missions. It is necessary to change their structures. I think they should start from the revival of contributions by member nations. Since the West Pacific Headquarter of the WHO is in Manila, the Philippines are in a good position for lobbying activities to participate positively.  ◆Shared Growth and Space One of the basic patterns of the shared growth is decentralization. Through decentralization, growth will spread from traditional growth hub and be shared as a result. The growth hub was attacked first by the pandemic this time to disable it. I can say it is natural results of globalization. We have to develop growth hubs in each country to connect together. Infectious diseases spread very fast and attacked growth hubs one after another.  In order to strengthen such growth hubs, I think it is necessary to disperse or decentralize our growth.  ◆Sustainable Shared Growth and Alternate Universe As mentioned above, if sustainable shared growth (harmonize with environment, fairness and efficiency) in our societies would get into gear, difficulties by COVID-19 might be reduced. I have kept appealing that we should have such development in the Philippines more than these 20 years. I emphasized such opinions at the 5th Asia Conference which was held in Manila and Los Baños in January this year.  Pandemics this time made clear that such sustainable shared growth is necessary in the world.  Lockdown was relaxed partly both in Manila and Los Baños in June.  But it will be necessary for us to be prepared for severe lives which come from pandemics.  In order to overcome such difficulties, it is important to (1) be intent on something and (2) keep good relations among family and friends.  SGRA Kawaraban 634 in Japanese (Original)  Ferdinand C. Maquito /Researcher of SGRA Shared Growth Seminar, Associated Professor at Los Baños School, the Philippines University Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Xie Zhihai “COVID-19 and World Economy”

    COVID-19 is steadily going to spread in worldwide scale and we cannot see any prospect of convergence. According to the totaling by John Hopkins University, on May 4, 2020, the number of infected people shows over 3.48million and the number of deaths became 240 thousand. The world economy has been affected seriously by COVID-19. It is now clear that an impact by COVID-19 exceeds the “Oil Shock” or so-called the “Lehman Shock” (2006 financial crisis) and we call it the “Corona Shock”.  International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on April 4 that the world economic growth rate of the year 2020 is (-) 3.0% compared with the previous year. JP Morgan Chase & Co. predicted also that world economy will suffer loss of five trillion dollars in the next two years. This figure is equal to the Japanese GDP. According to other data, many countries in the world show a serious fall in GDP in the first quarter of 2020.  For example, (-) 6.85% in China and (-) 4.8%, (-) 3.8%, (-) 3.4% in America, the Euro zone and Japan accordingly.    Medical experts point out that it will take at least one year to converge COVID-19. It means it will take one year or more to recover economies.  Then, how does each country overcome the economic crisis caused by the corona shock?Almost all the major countries in the world are taking financial relief measures on a big scale. But there are questions whether such relief measures are effective or not. Relief measures tend to focus on the prevention of cooling down of consumptions at this moment, but recoveries in the production fields may be more important.  At the time of the Lehman shock, financial fields have been damaged at first and then the real economy was affected. In case of corona shock, the first damage was the real economy.  It may be more difficult to recover from corona shock than that from the Lehman shock.  We are now in the back current of the globalization and protectionism in the world which came from threats of corona shock. And those phenomena may continue for the time being. We cannot expect a V-shaped recovery in economy even if COVID-19 converge.  In fact, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) warned that it would take a few years for the world economy to recover from the pandemic of the new coronavirus.  Then, how about the Japanese economy? On April 27, the Bank of Japan announced that the growth rate of Japanese economy of the fiscal year 2020 would be minus 3~5%. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been expected as a catalyst for the Japanese economy, but they have been postponed due to the new coronavirus. According to the estimate by the specialist, this postponement will result in an economic loss of about 640 billion yen. Even if the Olympic game would be held in summer 2021, the numbers of foreign visitors to Japan would be lower than originally expected. Whether or not the inbound at that time can save the Japanese economy is still uncertain.      However, we cannot say that everything by corona shock has negative for the world economy. There are at least four positive aspects points. 1)We can see illogical phenomena in the field of supply chains of the shortage of relief supplies such as masks. In global economies, it is now urgent to rebuild supply chains. As Japan has relied on China too much in the field of supply of daily necessities or goods, it becomes difficult to get when it comes to the crunch. This is what we learned this time. For example, Japan has imported 80% of masks from China. Japan, as a big country of “hay fevers”, had a big demand for masks and should have produced in Japan more. 2)Corona shock made us revolutionize our working styles in world wide. When many people worked from homes, they realized that there was a lot of useless meetings. Such works shall be selected hereafter. After convergence of COVID-19, works from homes or shorten the time of works should be left partly. For example, it will be unnecessary to keep the shops open. Convenience stores or family restaurants, which open 24hours should be reviewed. When many people work from homes and shorten their working time, congestions at public transportations would be eased. 3)Corona shock will accelerate new technical innovations. In fact, the advancement of IT will continue in various fields, such as the arrival of 5G will move ahead of schedule due to the influence of corona. For example, “On-line classes” or “video conferences” became common, and IT enterprises in America, such as “Zoom”, have made rapid progress. There were reports in America that robots are doing very good jobs in delivering foods and goods. 4)Finally, I think corona shock made us consider how globalization should be. When we compared the epidemics of infectious diseases in the past, COVID-19 this time has spread very fast due to globalization. On the other hand, because of globalization, countries can quickly share information, technology, experience and supplies, which is useful for corona countermeasures. Globalization will not be withdrawn due to corona shock, but rather, globalization will be further promoted through the improvement of various systems and strengthening of cooperation.  SGRA Kawaraban 632 in Japanese (Original)  Xie Zhihai / Associated Professor of Kyoai Gakuen University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Nahed ALMEREE “COVID-19 and Human Societies”

     The crisis of virus diseases, which is known as “COVID-19” instantly, gave us new social rules like “isolation policy” or “social distances” for the sake of prevention of infection or to prevent possible spread of infections. Above all, traditional social communication style for expressing our acceptance or supporting others, such as physical touching like patting shoulders, shaking hands, hugging each other and kissing, gave us big changes. Forms of greetings, which were built for centuries to show habits or traditions of intimacies, are different depend of countries. In the Arabian worlds, shaking hands and kissing is the most important style of greetings. Particularly, in the way of greetings, the significance of kissing depends according to the district of on the Arabian countries. For example, in the countries bordering of Syria and Egypt, people kiss on foreheads,cheeks, shoulders and the back of hands. Adding to those styles, they touch on noses also at the countries in the Arabian Peninsula. In the Moroccan area countries, they kiss both the palm and the back of hands. There are variety of meanings of all these forms of greetings. In some Arabian countries, when relatives visit their homes and if they do not kiss on cheeks by hugging each other, they are thought to be impolite. There are quite a few people who kiss on cheeks twice or thrice.   People who live around the Mediterranean Seas understands such cultural varieties among each other. It is no wonder that people, who live alongside the Atlantic Ocean, would be confused how to greet when they conclude their negotiations, agreements or treaties. However, they agree to conclude through handshaking. Everybody understand that they have obligations to respect cultural peculiarities which are different depending on areas. When people go to foreign countries for the first time, they can check the habits or traditions of visiting countries to avoid misunderstandings or embarrassments. When I was in Syria, some Japanese, who has felt sick first for kissing, became accustomed to kiss intimate friends.  However, COVID-19 is insensitive in respect of cultures under superiority of public securities. Under prevention of spread of infection, the point is group-oriented responsibilities. It is not social common-sense nor individual rights or duties.          Until the time when such new social styles become new common sense, it might be neglected. But, such styles would become normal social style which produce next generations and be called as customs or traditions.  Deliberate establishment of new social styles should be based on relative and scientific values. Such values should be based on social consent and support which is measurable and interpretable. In case of virus, however, which cannot be seen by human eyes and attack human beings indiscriminately, decisive judgement should be made by medical specialists, not by influential leaders nor politicians.  In the “after-corona world”, expression of our feelings physically or physical communications between human beings or human-to-any objects may not be acceptable.  It may be necessary for ourselves to keep certain safe distance between human beings and any objects. Corona forced us to keep “social distance”. Social distance does not mean discontinuation of social or individual communications by human beings. Rather, I think corona has strengthened our social communications and made us reconsider style of communication and recognize its importance. And, corona has made us to strengthen our interests in helping others to prevent infections and spread its knowledge. It made us reevaluate the importance of thoughtfulness for others. We came to know limitation of ourselves by corona and realized that we are just social living things which ask for existence, good health, safe and rich life. In order to establish “after-Corona world”, we have to study starting from “social distance” and review our relations between foods and good health, reconsideration of priorities of expenditures on the individual, government or national levels.         SGRA Kawaraban 631in Japanese (Original)  Nahed ALMEREE / 2019 Raccoon (Syria) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • John Chuan-Tion Lim “Why did Taiwan succeed in prevention of epidemics, in comparison with Hong Kong?”

    Amid spreading of COVID-19 in the world, Taiwan is being highly appreciated for crisis management and preventive measures of infections not only in the East Asia but also the world. In this article, I focus on the cases of Taiwan and Hong Kong and analyze how Taiwan succeeded in achieving these results and how Hong Kong can be compared with Taiwan.  Taiwan’s advantage: Expertise and quickness. According to the data of Johns Hopkins University dated April 2, the number of infected persons of COVID-19 in the East Asia region is 82,381 in China (main land), 765 in Hong Kong, and 329 in Taiwan. The number 329 of Taiwan is the smallest among “Asian 4 dragons” (9,976 in Korea and 1,000 in Singapore). Even in Japan, where the Taiwanese people often learn from, the number of infected people has already exceeded 2,384, and this time Japan is behind Taiwan.  Why is Taiwan able to achieve outstanding results in this “quarantine competition” of the world this time? I dare to say that Taiwan won the race over other countries by “quickness” not by “luck”. This keyword is due not only to the lessons learned from SARS in 2003, but also to the accumulation of expertise and the public opinion.  The economy in Taiwan has been poor for many years, and the GDP per capita and the salary level of experts have been far below those of other members of “Asia 4 Dragons,” South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. However, the experts in Taiwan have a high level of knowledge on average, and the overall evaluation of public services is as good as that of Japan. And the level of expertise for medical and public health are also evaluated highly in the field of international societies. “The Health Care Index of 2020” which was announced on February 9, 2020 shows Taiwan continues to maintain the top spot in the world ranking with 86.71 points followed by Korea in the second place and Japan in the third place. Incidentally, Hong Kong rank in 14th position and China (main land) rank in the 16th position. I think such high level of expertise in Taiwan’s medical and epidemics field also plays an important role in accurately responding to the current epidemic of COVID-19.  The "quickness" of the Taiwanese government's reaction can be seen in the process of handling the first fatal case in Taiwan on February 16th of this year. A taxi driver was initially diagnosed with severe flu, but a sensitive physician sent him to an isolation ward based on his professional judgement. The patient was subsequently confirmed to have been confirmed with COVID-19 infection because the Taiwan Department of Hospital had been retroactively examining cases reported as severe influenza cases.  Due to the painful lessons of SARS (2003) in Taiwan, they have been practicing seminars periodically every year at each hospitals for the past few years. In this pandemic circumstance, discussions on various treatment measures including adjustment and effective management of mask production quantity, planned maintenance of supply network, distribution of manpower of frontline medical personnel, etc. has been advanced in a timely manner. After the first death, the Taiwan Central Epidemic Control Center (Taiwan Central Infectious Diseases Control Center) immediately announced the response principle of the city surveillance report and expanded the front line of the epidemic prevention system to the end of societies.  In addition, Taiwan's “quickness” of reaction may be related to Taiwan's keen and swift response to the will and its changes as the most complete democratic Chinese region. It can also be said that this is in sharp contrasts to the Hong Kong Government which has been criticized for their delays in the current epidemic.  “Slowness” of Hong Kong: Masks and “Restriction of the Border Entry” We observed the “Confusion over masks” everywhere in the world after the epidemics. Taiwan and Hong Kong are also not an exception. For example, From the end of January, there were long queues of people looking for masks everywhere in Hong Kong. There were even elderly people lined up until midnight, but the Hong Kong Special Zone government finally admitted that it had been stockpiling 10 million masks all the time and decided to put it on demand in the medical field. It was not possible to respond promptly and temporarily release the inventory of masks.  Instead, in Taiwan, people can get minimum quantities of masks if they go to pharmacies  with health insurance cards. It is not necessary to line up in a long queue. Along with the development of IT in Taiwan, Minister Andrey Tang, Taiwan Executive Yuan (行政院)  designed “Mask supply information” application which enables Taiwanese People to search and check the stock status of masks at any pharmacy online. Eventually, it became possible to reduce the probability of not being able to buy a mask. This has received a great deal of praise from Japanese public opinion and IT fields.  In Taiwan, there is a public monitoring where the government must work by “120% power” and no oversight is allowed. On January 22, one day before declaration of lockout by the Wuhan Government in China, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen had already launched its quarantine system and was ready to put in under high alert. Minister Chen Shih-chung was appointed to the Commander of the Taiwan Center for Diseases Control (CDC) and he directed for day and night at the front line. During the operation, he not only summoned scholars and experts immediately, but also carried out the quarantine operation by successfully coordinating the coordination of the various departments of the government and taking the lead of himself continuously every day. Premier Su Tseng-chen declared strictly that “if we need human resources, we will supply human resources, and if we need funds, we will provide funds. If there is a break in the quarantine network, we will strictly deal with it”. In addition to the strict declaration, he immediately created an emergency special budget of 60 billion New Taiwanese Yuan and proposed measures to support industries such as transportations, domestic demands, agricultural and fisheries that will be suffered from the corona infections.  Since the government seriously tackled the fake “quick” production without tampering with it, the epidemic of COVID-19 in Taiwan was successfully controlled to a certain degree in the early stage, Taiwan was able to cope with the changing situation with the spare power without falling into the situation where manpower and resources had to be fully devoted to emergency treatment (for critically ill patients). This is how Taiwan has been relatively successful in this epidemic, and its excellent performance is reflected in its high public support.    How should Hong Kong learn from Taiwan? According to a public opinion poll released by TVBS (Taiwan Radio Satellite Television) on February 13, in response to the Taiwanese government's prevention of epidemics, the satisfaction rate of President Cai Ing-wen has risen to 54%, which is the highest level since her inauguration. Satisfaction degree for Premier Su Tseng-chen was 52%. For Minister Chen Shih-chung, Minister of Sanitation and Welfare, who directed day and night at front line, marked 82%. In addition, 71% also for the total performance by the government against corona epidemics and the figure 83%, which people trusted for measures and ability of the government, showed the satisfaction of the people. There is a considerable difference in public opinions of Taiwan and HK. According to public opinion poll by HK Public Opinion Research Institute on February 14, dissatisfaction shown by HK people showed 84%. They showed dissatisfaction to the measure against corona epidemics by Chief Executive, Carrie Law Chen Yuet-ngor.  Besides their dissatisfaction with Carrie Law management, mentioned above, HK people were dissatisfied with “blockade” of the border. After Wuhan was locked down on January 23, in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, each country continued to move out of its own country, restrict entry, and stop air traffic to and from China. As Hong Kong is adjacent to the Main Land China. So, everybody in Hong Kong, either HK Democrats or pro-establishment camp, requested “blockade”. It is because epidemic in Hong Kong cannot be controlled by incoming of people from main land. However, Chief Executive did not accept it expressing that “blockade” means “discrimination” using “Guideline” of WHO (World Hospital Authority).  According to the survey data released by the Hong Kong Institute of Civil Affairs on January 31, more than 80% of Hong Kong people say that the government should "completely prohibit entry".  Under these circumstances, the Hong Kong Medical Office labor union "Members and Workers' Line" had a dialogue with the government complaining of "total entry prohibition", but after this dialogue failed, a strike was launched on February 3rd. In contrast, Chief Executive, Carrie Law finally accepted her defeat. As a result, the airports and all ports were closed on 8th February. The passengers entering Hong Kong from the mainland shall be quarantined. Finally, the medical workers finally ended the strike by calling for a new policy of isolation in their home or other facilities.  Taiwan made a brilliant success in prevention of epidemics because they could regulate production and supply of masks, improve medical system and prevent split of prevention of epidemics. This would also be proof that Taiwan's democratic system is gradually maturing. I think Hong Kong needs to openly learn about Taiwan's crisis management capabilities and professional response capabilities in the prevention of epidemics. How can we learn a democratic mechanism that is backed by such specialized knowledge and can react sharply to the situation? Hong Kong have to carry out the “Double Election” (election for Chief Executive and Legislative Council) basing on Hong Kong Basic Law. There would be “no choice”.      SGRA Kawaraban 626 in Japanese (Original)  John_Chuan-Tiong_Lim / Researcher of Japan Research Center (Taiwan), Head of Japan Research Center (Wuhan)      Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • John Chuan-Tiong Lim “Isolated Taiwan” got “Complete Victory” over Tedros”

    On April 8, Tedros Adhanam, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has made unprecedented criticism against Taiwan at a press briefing, in a public place. He criticized that Taiwan criticized him personally and made racial discrimination. In December last year, Taiwan has warned possibility of “human-to-human” infection of coronavirus, but the WHO ignored it. World opinion doubted the WHO’s ignorance and became complicated that led to “Unexpected War” between “Tedros vs. Taiwan”.   At this “Unequal War”, which Tedros made positively, he lacked in strategic thought and effective measures. On the other hand, Taiwan maneuvered cleverly utilizing Tedros’s mistake (turning a disadvantage into an advantage) and has turned to worldwide appealing offensively saying “Taiwan_Can_Help (the world)” utilizing their successful experience in prevention of epidemics. They revealed themselves on the worldwide stage most for the last several decades. At the pandemic time, their excellence in prevention of epidemics were watched with keen interest by the rest of the world. They have been trying to open the door of the WHO and succeeded in making up favorable circumstances of the world opinion.  ” Four Strategic Mistakes” by Tedros in his criticism against TaiwanNeedless to say, WHO is the most important international organization amid pandemic of COVID-19. Director Tedros expressed his “pro-China” opinion many times at the early stage of the epidemics. We can say that his “wrong judgement” on epidemics were very remarkable and he has made denial statements about human-to-human infection on January 14. It goes without saying that he has been feeling a lot of pressure from such criticism of international opinions.  It is easy to understand that Tedros has tried his counter attack at the WHO press briefing because he could not endure any more. Critical international opinions toward him were piling up gradually and he made a lot of mistakes, at his problem settings, in contents, object, timing and judgement of situations which successful strategists might not make. He also lost his supports which take criticism from international opinions. On the contrary, he could not get possible effect but has given a chance of “a come-from-behind victory” to Taiwan.  How did Tedros make mistakes concretely?1) There is no evidence in his criticism. In any kind of “counterattack”, the most basic counter measure is an argument based on ample evidence. Tedros just censured “everything came from Taiwan” saying “insult myself”, “call me “colored” using discriminative saying”. Tedros also said “the Foreign Department of Taiwan know some people made personal attack on myself and do not deny it”. But, he did not show any evidence. 2) His saying was unsuitable for such occasion. He mixed up public and private matters and utilized public organization for his private use. Actually, he began to talk suddenly at the usual WHO press briefing about personal attack against him. It gave the world an impression that he lost an air of dignity as a leader of international organization. 3) He mistook the timing also. In March, COVID-19 pandemic has spread in America and Europe day by day. Under such circumstances, dissatisfaction in the world against mistakes by Tedros is getting worse and worse. When Tedros criticized Taiwan by name, signature-collection campaign on inter-net for his resignation marked 750,000. Such movement cannot be said always the one because of the fact Taiwan took initiative. It is because Tedros has started his “counterattack” under disadvantageous situation for him. We can say it was possible to predict from the beginning. 4) Tedros made a mistake also in selection of target. Target of his counter attack was neither an individual nor an organization. Not a concrete case. His target was Taiwan itself as a political substance. Moreover, the reason of criticism was just “human discrimination” and it was very ambiguous. He has just wanted to recover the support of international opinions and the strategy was planned by himself and small group around him. But the target was the whole society. It was not impossible to predict such strong “counterattack”, if they insist such opinions under the poor grounds and evidences.  As expected, “counterattack” toward Tedros was a roar of anger “anti-Tedros” from the whole Taiwan and such roar became a beginning of the union of ruling parties, “Democratic Progressive Party” and opposition party “National Party “in Taiwan, toward the other countries in the world. And all the people, not only Taiwanese but foreign students in Taiwan also, protested under united efforts against criticism by Tedros which is “not truth”.  How did Taiwan get “complete victory” turning a disadvantage into an advantage?”At that time, Taiwan has been achieving good results in prevention of epidemics and their medical technologies and innovation has been evaluated highly internationally. Democratic Progressive Party, taking this good chance, launched the “Taiwan_Can_Help” campaign and strengthened their international presence.  Foreign Department of Taiwan protested to Tedros immediately saying that “his criticism is buck-passing scape goating too much and he is irresponsible”. Taiwan President Ts’ai Ing_wen issued her statement on her Facebook that “Taiwan oppose any style of discriminations. We, Taiwanese, has been excluded in any style of international organization for a long time. So, we can understand people’s feelings which are discriminated and isolated better than anybody else. “It is just “turning a disadvantage into an advantage”. She also said that Taiwan want to shorten a distance between the WHO and Taiwan and expressed to Tedros to visit Taiwan by all means. In her statement, she also told, how Taiwan in the midst of being discriminated and isolated, has made efforts to keep their progress and contributed to international societies. National Party issued also their statement that the WHO leader should not blame, under groundless reasoning for it, the cause of criticism toward the WHO on Taiwan.  Amid a roar of “Anti-Tedros” by Taiwanese, fund-raising campaign “Letters to the World by Taiwanese”, by a You Tuber and a designer, has being attracted attention of the world. This campaign was carried on the New York Times first after “Criticism on Taiwan” by Tedros. The target amount by this campaign was NT$400,000. But it has reached to NT$1,900,000 immediately within fifteen hours after starting. This protest advertising was carried on the New York Times on April 14 and its message was “Who_can_help? Taiwan!” Taiwan emphasized that “when we were isolated, we chose unity”.  On April 17, when Taiwan donated face masks and other prevention goods to many countries, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized China again that China concealed the data of spread of the COVID-19 infection. He also pointed out that the WHO ignored the warning “human-to human infection” by Taiwan, which was made at the end of December, last year. In China, which should be the biggest supporter of Tedros, at that time, African people were receiving racial discrimination in Wuhan, China. Colored people in this area, regardless of being infected or not, were forced to be isolated. And, their passports were confiscated, and they were turned out of their homes or hotels sometimes. Under such circumstances, a lot of countries in Africa recalled their ambassadors to China and sent officials letters to Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. In those letters, they were watching closely on such circumstances and asked his explanation.   On the other hand, the world recognized that Taiwan is very friendly to foreigners. Even if the relations between China and Taiwan seems to be unfriendly, all the students or tourists from main land evaluated friendly attitudes and politeness of Taiwan society. Under such circumstances, Tedros directed his criticism toward Taiwan thoughtlessly by reason of “racial discrimination”. He did not anticipate repulsion would spread widely because Taiwan is not the member of the WHO, which shall be approved by the United Nations and lack in international positions. Tedros got the contrary effect.  Mistakes in the judgement by Tedros “Taiwan-criticism” resulted in big interests in Taiwan by the worldwide opinion. At present, European countries and Japan are expressing their supports that Taiwan can attend, as an observer, on the WHO general meeting in this May. Under such adversities, WHO had to evaluate officially on a press briefing on April 18, that Taiwan has made successful results in prevention of epidemics.  It all depends on an attitude of Beijing whether Taiwan can participate in the WHO.Confused fight between Tedros and Taiwan this time gave Taiwan, which has been isolated from international societies for a long time because of sovereignty of China, a good timing of getting international interests and supports. From this reasoning, we can say Taiwan has got “Complete Victory”.  SGRA Kawaraban 630 in Japanese (Original)  John_Chuan-Tiong_Lim / Researcher of Japan Research Center (Taiwan), Head of Japan Research Center (Wuhan)   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Sim Choon KIat “And, I transformed myself into Sterilization Geek!”

    When I come back to my house from university, supermarket or walk, I straightly go to the bathroom, gargle earnestly and wash my hands completely with hand soap. After sterilizing my hands, I put an antibacterial sanitary disposable plastic bag in my hand and return outside again to clean all the places and stuffs that I have touched. I sterilize all the germs, including good and bad bacteria without expression by using an absorbent cotton with antiseptic solution starting from digital number pad and its cover, handle of entrance door, electric switches, faucet of bathroom etc.  Then I sterilize my wallet, coin purse, keys and smartphone from my pocket. Now, even if I commit a crime, I'm confident that all the fingerprints and evidence left on the scene will be erased cleanly and never caught. I became an indiscriminate sterilizer now. I transformed into a sterilization geek now.  Till last month, I was laughing and chilling at people who were anti-bacterial and sterilizing anything. I have looked down on such people saying: “Are you tired of your fastidiousness?” “If you are aseptic, your immunity will be weakened and weakened, and you will become a Neuroses soon!” I was a little silly in my mind. However, life is interesting, and I became such “small fool” in myself now. Since Coronavirus is more cunning, worse and poor-quality opponent than a bacterium. So, it must be destroyed completely with zero-tolerance.  In order to prevent myself from being infected, and especially not to infect other people, we have to declare the war against all the germs. Even though we know that almost all the bacteria are not bad, but we must eradicate them on the pretext of extermination of germs. It’s like a war by between human beings. Especially in Japan, where the number of inspections is very few and cases of unknown transmission routes are very large, it will not be strange for anyone to be infected in anytime at any place. In a sense, it is not different from the war on terrorism. Since I have to forestall against germs and sterilize them, I had no choice to transform myself into “sterilization geek”.  As I often talk about the withdrawal problems in my university lectures, I have transformed myself into “withdrawal in my home”. I can understand feelings of others, who withdraw into their homes, through my experience of their withdrawal. They cannot go out despite they like to go out. They cannot go anywhere despite there are places where they want to visit. They cannot meet anybody despite there are people whom they like to meet. I could realize the state of impatient or uneasy mind. Even though the sunlight is pouring outside, we have to refrain ourselves from going out. This made me remember the lyrics of an old song “sigh again despite we are in spring…”.    A Japanese word “jishuku” (self-restraint) in dictionary means “to refrain from what you say and do willingly”, It is very ambiguous and awkward. It is up to us whether we are willing to refrain or not as there is no legal enforcement. It is not incomprehensible if there would be any person who says, “As we are in beautiful spring, let us go out!” I personally think that there is a lack of some sense of tension or crisis in Japan. This is big difference from other countries.  We are told that the number of people in the street in downtown, like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Ginza, decreased markedly. They restrained themselves from going out on their own discipline regardless of penalties like foreign countries. However, on the contrary, local shopping streets became busy. And, “shops for necessities of life” in super markets or home centers become amusement parks for children. I fully understand the feeling of parents who like to take their children out as they are not going to school. However, as an indiscriminate sterilizer, it is my honest feeling “Is Japan all right?” The decrease in the number of people who commute to work in the morning has not reached the target and looking at the line in front of the cash register in the supermarket, social distancing is not properly maintained as in overseas. I sigh again deeply saying “Is it really all right in Japan?”    I think their easygoing and non-cautious attitude arose from the attitude of leaders at questions and answers in the Diet where they read manuscripts by their monotonous voices. Such style of leaders’ speeches doesn’t reach people’s minds and hearts, such as other people's affairs, has been featured in the media of my country, Singapore, and is conspicuously noticeable in the current world situation. It's no wonder that you get lots of worried e-mails from your friends in Singapore every time the diet release or issue (“hasshutu” in Japanese) a monotonous declaration that are read hanging their heads. Are there anything that can be done about such “red-tape” word like “hasshutu” when everybody wants easy Japanese now?  I'm also curious about the polite words from the leaders which are too polite or courteous. I think "Thank you for your understanding" is still good, but "I would like to ask for your cooperation" may be too humble, and the sense of urgency may be diminished. If I speak to germs on my hands before sterilization that “Please understand and cooperate with me to kill you (germs)”, my feeling of indiscriminate sterilizer would be eased.  At any rate, I just pray for Japan, which keep following their old-fashioned or half-hearted style of countermeasures, to hold out against the coronavirus.   Anyway, my sterilization and withdrawal life would come to an end someday but I don’t know when. The intellectuals in the world, including SGRA, are telling that the change of power balance in the world, end of globalization, withdrawal of free market, the rise of autocracy, collapse of democracy, reorganization of economic activities, enlargement of racial and class gaps etc. There is no doubt that it will be a great test for humanity, and we will be faced with grand political, economic, cultural and social experiments, challenges and choices in the future. While working hard from my home, I am always thinking that by such changes or regardless of the changes, whether Corona will inevitably create a new type of human being due to those fluctuations or regardless of their transformation, whether history will reach a major turning point and whether I would transform myself after COVID-19.  SGRA Kawaraban 629 in Japanese (Original)  Sim_ChoonKiat / Associated Professor, Showa Women’s University, SGRA Researcher  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Xie Zhihai ”Classes in Universities amid COVID-19 Pandemic”

    Nobody in the world has ever imagined that the year 2020 would become the year like this. COVID-19, which have started in China, spread the world in an instant. Everybody cannot take their eyes off from the number of people, their countries and the world, who are infected and their daily life are also restricted. New word “korona-tukare “CORONA fatigue” is already born. Everybody, who is doing any prevention or measure against COVID-19, waits for its ending as soon as possible.As I have a feeling that measures against COVID-19 are different in countries, I would like to write here about the measures in universities.  We are now in March, but we cannot see any ending so the universities in the countries, which have a lot of infected person, are deciding to close schools. In America and England, universities front–loaded their spring holidays from mid- or end of March and students will take online classes after spring holidays up to the end of the grade. Some universities celebrate their graduation ceremonies in June by online. In China, classes are being taken online after this Chinese New Year. Korea is also the same. Reasons why those countries could change to online classes so easily are: infrastructures have been prepared already and they have been utilizing commonly.   Then, how about Japan?  Universities in Japan are still discussing about timing when they start new school term in April, not starting online classes. Amid such circumstances, the University of Tokyo decided that they will start their new term by online classes. At the other universities (private), they will make orientation for freshmen by online and are groping for new style of schooling on online systems. At the APU (Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University) or AIU (Akita International University), both of them have a lot of foreign students and the students who come from other areas in Japan, have already declared that they will start new terms by online. It is important to keep students healthy and their campus sanitary. And, there are other important issues to be taken care appropriately like acceptance and sending of foreign students.   One thing to be considered is that universities must be the place where they give students chances to study whatever happens. For example, if starting of new term would delay, universities have to have supplemental lessons even if they have to extend summer vacation backward. Anyway, it is important to have no blank period. I do not say they will change to online classes immediately. They give assignments to students and receive the report from the students by mail. If there are circumstances for smartphone and internet, they can keep communications between universities and students. Amid COVID-19, if students cannot go out from their homes and they are not informed when universities will be opened, they may have spiritual isolation or loneliness.  For this paper, I checked in the websites of universities in America and Europe.  On their guidance for online classes, I could see a guideline by a hot line for students who have to stay home and feel lonely.  I found community information among students who help each other to get over such situation on online. I was impressed by their measures which are prepared not only for online classes but also for the aftercare of students.   On the Emergency Declaration by the Japanese Government, Kyoai Gakuen University,which I am belonging, began to examine online classes. Under spread of COVID-19, I have a feeling now that we must be prepared for the situation that universities open classes and give students assignment or issues at any time. SGRA Kawaraban 627 in Japanese (Original)  Xie_Zhihai / Associate Professor, KyoueiGakuen University,   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Hirakawa Hitoshi The 5th Asia Future Conference Roundtable Discussion “South-East Asian Culture and Religious Dialogues”

    We had two days roundtable discussions under the title “The South-East Asian Culture and Religious Dialogues” at the 5th Asia Future Conference at Bellevue Hotel Alabang, Metro Manila on January 10 and at University of the Philippines Los Banos on January 11, 2020.    As I have been interested in Asian economy and recent development of economies in newly developing area, I made a speech under the title “Social ethics and global economy”. So, I would like to comment on what I thought and felt at the roundtable discussions.    My understanding was very limited because of my English language skills and lack of knowledge about religion and societies in the South-East Asia. Therefore, the contents of the meeting are not introduced here. So you are requested to confirm the contents with the report by the chairman of the discussion session, Professor OGAWA Tadashi from Atomi University. I myself would like to know more deeply about economics, religions and social ethics once the reports will be issued officially.  I myself have found that economics today has a great impact on developing societies, yet their attention to them is extremely inadequate. The 2001 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, describes the experience of his colleague, Professor Richard H. Thaler from the University of Chicago, that the perception of justice about economic behavior among students studying economics is far from the ordinary people.  According to his survey on pricing of shovels for shoveling after a storm, 82% of the general population answered that price increases were unfair, compared to just 24% of MBA students attending the University. The understanding of fairs in economics students is very different from that of social understanding. In fact, such cases are happening around us as a high-priced mask sale due to ongoing COVID 19. Professor Stiglitz sharply criticized that the economic affairs played a role in the collusion between wealthy people and politicians due to the widening income gap in American society.  The keynote speaker at the Roundtable, Professor Bernard M. Villegas, Vice President of Asia-Pacific University, addressed the issue that economics is less interested in social issues or selfishness. Professor Villegas, as an educator with a Ph.D. in economics along with his experience of around half a century summed up the discussion, saying that economics has expedited subdivision and quantization too much. He emphasized the elegance of mathematical formulas in the analysis of economic phenomena. He was objectively criticized for competing, emphasizing market independence, and eliminating justice, social responsibility of human beings, and consideration of national regulations. At the same time, he persuasively stated that he, himself, practiced his teaching of economics, being based on the results of various sciences, for solution of poverty in the Philippines saying economics is “social science”.    The report by Ms. Sister Mary John Mananzan of St. Scholastica University in the Philippines dealing with the feminization of poverty in the Philippines, the report by Mr. Somboon Chun Prampuri of the social participation Buddhist network reporting on the social ethics and globalization of Buddhism in Thailand, and the report by Jamhari Siswant, Dean of the Sharif Hidayatura State Islamic University, reported on the latest Islamic movements in Indonesia. These all reports addressed the current challenges of religious people in Southeast Asia.  Listening to those opinions, I wondered if economics which I know now can respond to such opinions or reports. Religious social activities are aimed at living human beings. They are directly involved in fighting various types of discrimination, including absolute poverty and gender discrimination, in various environments and conditions. Many social activities in Southeast Asia are aimed at liberation from poverty and sex discrimination.  Come to think of it, Economics sees society from a distinctly different perspective. Economics describes complex social relationships as a model of a simple abstract market, and considers that society can maximize "efficiency" through that market. The market here equates society with an unclear distinction between idea and reality. Moreover, in the current mainstream economics, the real world is captured through mathematical models, and other social sciences are excluded. Of course, economics has grown greatly now, and various models have been created to approach reality. The principle model has been modified.  But what if these economics apply to the developing world? Economists who write development prescriptions have little knowledge of developing societies, and the prescriptions thus made are policies through developed countries and international development organizations. In conclusion, such models can be said to have been founded on simple and philosophical market models. When a policy fails, its cause has been sought in the developing society itself. The response to the Asian currency crisis of 1997 is a good example.  I dare to say that there is no distinction in economics between economy and society.  In economic globalization, economics has been involved in the development of developing regions and forced developing countries to liberalize and privatize. The various contradictions which come from such enforcement have been imposed to the weak.  The story jumps a little, but the global financial crisis that hit the US subprime loan crisis in 2008, and the birth of US President Trump in 2017, are the consequences of the failure of policy promoted by liberal economics. Also, it is ironic that China, under the Communist Party's government, which seemed to be unsuccessful, achieved amazing development and growth. Is it a counterattack by actual societies against mainstream economics? Every society need rules. However, the economics of the past half century have broken down the rules of society, expanded the income gap, deepened social division, and deteriorated the economy and society by treating it as regulation. Isn't that attachment a democratic crisis both inside and outside the United States?  When I expressed my opinion, at round-table conference, saying that economics now think about welfare on the assumption of abstract “model.” Sister Mary Mananzan showed a nasty look which pierced my heart sharply.  The word "economics is science" also comes to mind. However, economics as a social science must be self-restraint regarding the application of abstract models to the real world, and policies need not be created in cooperation with various sciences. There are words “Economics is Science”. However, economics, as a social science, should be self-controlled when its abstracted models will be applied to actual societies and its policies must be decided in cooperation with various sciences. No matter how much economics claims academic superiority, it is only dogmatic and arrogant. In international development and poverty development, a restraint attitude may be required more urgently than ever before.  It is not wrong at all that economics is certainly valid for partial, local analysis and policy. However, when trying to apply it to a developing society, special caution and restraint are required. However, if we apply to developing societies, we have to be careful and self-controlled. I think it was around the Asian currency crisis, but I remember the anecdote that economists once learned of the history and societies of developing countries obscure decision-making by a former prominent American economist. I realized from this round table discussion about my relationship with society. I would like to continue my study hereafter “social ethics and global economy” and its relation with sustainable and joint development.  Lastly, I express my thanks to all the people who organized the round table discussions, Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas who made a keynote speech, Prof. T. Ogawa and Dr. Ranjana Mukopadhyaya, who chaired the discussions, Project Coordinator, Dr. Brenda Tenegra, Dr. Ferdinando C. Maquito and Dr. Sonya Dale who interpreted for me.  SGRA Kawaraban 624 in Japanese (Original)  Hitoshi Hirakawa / Professor emeritus, Nagoya University, Director of Atsumi International Foundation  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala