SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Peng Hao “Approach to “Common Knowledge” and “Common Wisdom” in East Asia “

    We had the forum “The Mongol Invasions of Japan and the Globalization of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century” in the city of Kita-Kyushu in the early part of August 2017, sponsored by the Atsumi International Foundation. It was the second forum of the series “Possibilities of Conversations among National Historians”. Historians from Japan, China, Korea and Mongolia got together and discussed about the history of the Mongol Empire, especially about its impact on East Asia.  As, I, a researcher of histories, participated in the planning of this project, I had a lot of impressions which cover various things. Taking this opportunity of writing this essay, I like to briefly organize my impressions. First of all, the forum, this time, was not merely an international conference based on a key topic “The Mongol Invasions of Japan”. I would like to emphasize again the following points. We like to describe a history of mankind, first, from a viewpoint different from the historical description of the nation state. Next, we would like to correct mistaken perceptions of histories, which dominate through the influence of national history view, so as to improve relations among countries or people, which have been hindered by the problem of politicized historical recognitions which come from political confusion of means and objects.  Actually, there have been various recent conversations of histories among those three or two countries, Japan, China and Korea, as several participants of the forum referred.Some conversations were well known being led by government. Or some show high specialties in methods of researches or themes or the way of usage of historical records.Each direction or goal is not always the same. As Prof. Hiroshi Mitani pointed out, if we think of relationship, after the conversations, becoming friendly or unfriendly, we have to say that conversation based on private interaction is easier to proceed. On the other hand, private-based conversations are easy to result in deepening discussion on individual theme or technical knowledge. However, as those researchers have their own “habits” or proceed by force of habit, they are completely absorbed in discussing their interesting theme. As a result, they tend to neglect important points such as how to promote common recognition of histories from their technical discussion without thinking of social meanings of the theme. There are quite a few “conversations” which ended halfway because the participants could not continue their researches due to financial difficulties, though they got subsidy for their researches. Concerning such problems, there is a key concept: “Common Space for Wisdom” or “Platform of Wisdom”, which Prof. Liu Jie proposed as an object of the forum. The meaning of the word “Wisdom” is very broad and we can say it contains the meaning of “Knowledge” also. Through technical researches, it creates reliable historical “Knowledge” and also creates “Wisdom” which benefits to overcome adverse effects of the national historical perspective. .I dare to add this point here because we tend to forget when we proceed with our technical discussion.    I like to add my impression based on the point in dispute. One is an evaluation of the so-called “Impact of Mongolia”. Prof. Yasuhoro Yokkaichi reported an invasion to East Asia by Mongolia in perspective.  A Mongolian element, as part of the impact of the advance of Mongolia, spread to whole of East Asia including China. But, as Mongolia has ruled China and extended their influence throughout China, we can say that some areas have been affected also by Chinese culture. I was very interested in the three-dimensional report about “Mongol Impact”. In the discussion of the history of the Qing Dynasty (1616–1912), we could get a historical image that a ruler of the Dynasty had various faces besides being an emperor of China. He has built various ways of dominance depending on areas or races under his rule. Comparing the history of Qing Dynasty with that of Mongol Empire, historical documents written in Mongolian language were very limited. Especially, the history of East Asia was written mainly by classical Chinese and most of the existing historical documents are written by classical Chinese.Due to this, an image of the Yuan Dynasty, one of the Chinese dynasties, is easy to establish. But, on the contrary, we cannot distinguish an identity or independence of Mongol or plurality of Mongolian Dynasty. Recently, an image of a rich Mongol Empire became distinct by an effort of Prof. Masaaki Sugiyama.  Listening to the reports of this forum, a historical image of Mongol Empire became clearer in my mind and I was very impressed. Having related to the above, there is a problem to be solved. As Prof. Liu Jie pointed out when he summarized the whole discussion, there are double meanings in China under rule of Mongolia and China, a part of Mongol Empire. How to handle this problem when we discuss as “Common Knowledge” or “Common Wisdom”?  There are many opinions. We can take up “Yuan Dynasty” as a part of Chinese history as in the past. But, as  Prof. Ge Zhaogung pointed out, there is a way of multiple layered description, in the context of the histories of East Asia or of Eurasia.  Now, the so-called “Nation-state” has a lot of problems, which have no sign of being solved soon. But, it is not realistic to neglect their historical views about such “Nation-states”. Or rather, through such multi-layered descriptions about histories, if we can integrate various historical images, which we could not see until now, into text books, it would be useful to build “Common Knowledge” and “Common Wisdom” in the long run. I was also interested in how researchers of Mongolian histories made conversations with “the past” despite of the situations that the first historical sources were scarce. Through various reports, this time, I could understand well that reporters have strived for their creative and original studies by criticizing compiled historical books, using an approach that is not based on written datand by inference based on “common sense” in human societies and their historical background. Through the conversations of historians who handle different eras and areas, they stimulated each other in their methodology. But, I thought such conversations, in another sense, make a connection with an approach to “Common Wisdom”. SGRA Kawaraban 550 in Japanese (Original)  ( Associate professor, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka City University )  English: Translated by Kazuo Kawamura Checked by Max Maquito
  • Chang Kuei-E “Global Dynamism of Manga & Animation Research and Its New Possibility”

     Tezuka Osamu, famous cartoonist every Japanese knows, said “Novel is made by letters from pictures. Illustration is made by pictures. Manga is made by pictures from letters. Comment is made by letters.”  It is said that he regarded “Manga” as “the third culture” which exists just between pictorial culture and literal culture. In France, on the other hand, where they have peculiar aesthetic sense and sharp discerning sense for originality of artworks, Manga is regarded as “The 9th Art”.And, Manga became the subject of criticism or research recently.  It is also brought to public attention that the Louvre Museum, the world greatest sanctuary of the art, has opened its door at last in the 21st century to Manga which has both pictorial beauty of visual arts and stylish beauty of linguistic expressions. In the past, Manga has been denigrated as vulgar reading, uncultivated amusement or just sub-culture in“business-first culture”.  However, by the effort of creative Manga writers who pursued originalities and innovativeness, Manga is now owned commonly by the people all over the world as a treasure house of art which represents deep culture or cultural products which depict world view or philosophical principles.Due to this, a boom wherein Manga collections should be enhanced in libraries or museums has broken out in the world, especially in Japan and France. Animation or cinematization of Manga has progressed dramatically by the remarkable evolution of digital image technology.  And it became the latest culture which dominated the world immediately. Globalized Manga and animation culture have built a wonderland like fascinating cosmos which seems to have reached the summit of visual art. It captivated the young in the world.  Readers or viewers of Manga are invited to the unusual daily-life and are enchanted.  Manga and animation are now media to understand themselves or understand others and the world. The Manga-animation culture, which has become a sub-culture of comic magazines or books through paper medium, or animations, goods relating to popular characters and cosplay (dressing up the costume of a character), has now made birth “content industries” of global scale. It caused changes to the main culture of a country, affecting their economic development. We can say that it is the source of our soft-power which changed our life-style dynamically affecting the behavior of people today.  In 2001, the “Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics” was established and it became possible to academically and internationally approach the profound world of Manga from an academic viewpoint.  In 2006, a faculty of Manga was established for the first time in a university where they educate and study Manga there In the same year 2006, the Kyoto International Manga Museum was also established as the world-first “new style institution which has both the functions of a museum and a library. It attracts attention of the world as a sacred place of contents-tourism for enthusiastic Manga-fans who shall visit there once in their life time. In Taiwan also, a lot of cultural courses in universities which are being opened one after another so that they can deepen their understanding of culture and society of foreign countries through Manga.  Soochow University enhanced their collection of books on comics and set up the “Area for Reading Manga” in their library in 2014. They conducted academic symposia, also searching for possibilities of Manga-Animation culture; and cooperated with a faculty of Japanese language. Ahead of other universities, Soochow University is at the front of Manga-Animation culture which has already spread and has become established globally, and is trying to create its new possibilities looking steadily at the future of their academic researches. In May, 2018, we will have “The 8th Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum” in Taipei to be co-sponsored by Atsumi International Foundation and Soochow University.  We will discuss there about the “New Possibility of Global Dynamism of Manga-Animation Research” aiming at promoting academic “Media-Contents Studies”.  We paid attention to an appeal of “Manga-Animation Culture” which has spread on a world-wide level, based on an essay on “screen image culture” which can be owned jointly or felt sympathy as communication tools.In other words, we would like to set up a creative stage for considering processes of progress of “Contents Industry” which can be created together by global citizens of the next generation, as well as a stage for considering so-called “theory of emergence” of  Manga-animation, which we can emotionally support and own jointly as our communication tool for disseminating our culture. In our sessions, we would like to discuss on following themes: collection, preservation and utilization of Manga; translation of Manga-Animation and its communication among different cultures; theory and practice of formation of Manga literacy; Manga-animation and a theory of tales; visual arts theory; theory of pictures; mixing of Manga-animation and media and their multi-use; cultural economy of Manga-animation, Manga-animation culture and sociology etc. In this forum, we aim at finding new possibilities by researchers and participants who decipher “Dynamism of Manga-Animation Research”, which has become global now, from their own standpoints and academic approach.  We hope we can contribute to promoting our mutual understanding and exchange of ideas between Japan-Taiwan and among the East Asian countries.  *”Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum” is an international conference sponsored by Atsumi International Foundation Sekiguchi Global Research Association (SGRA), Japanese Interest Incorporated Foundation, and operated by an executive committee run by ex-scholarship students, living in Taiwan (members of Taiwan Raccoon-kai).This Forum is in line with the objective of SGRA of promoting academic exchange between Japan and Taiwan, deepening of Japan study and studying a future of Asia. At the Forum, we take up many subjects like language, culture, literature, education, law, history, society and regional exchange, etc. as Taiwan is very liberal and respects freedom of speech, thought and creed.  At the 8th Forum in 2018, we will have an international symposium on Manga-Animation culture co-sponsored by Japanese language faculty and Library of Soochow University. SGRA Kawaraban 544 in Japanese (Original) (Associate Professor, Soochow University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by MacMaquito
  • Kim Yullee ”Korean Presidential Election – People selected “burying the past abuse””

    Mr. Moon Jae-in was elected the 19thKorean president on May 9, 2017. The election, this time, was held for the presidency, which has been vacant after the impeachment of his predecessor, Park Geun-hye. The former president Park should have been the “symbol of obedience to the constitution and laws” to the Korean people. But, she was impeached at the Constitutional Court because she violated seriously the constitution and the law. She is imprisoned now in the detention house. As everybody knows, she is a daughter of ex-President Park Chung-hee, who   was president from 1963 to 1979. He seized power by a military coup and adopted a strong policy toward the economic development of Korea. The evaluation on his presidency, however, is divided into two.  One is that he was “a great leader” who built the foundation of the present Korean economy having guided Korea to economic miracle from the poor Korea, which had been suffering from the Korean War following after the colonial rule.  It may be an extreme example that there are people who deify and worship him celebrating his birthday as a festival.  On the other hand, he is considered a dictator who kept his post for a long time and having removed his opponents cruelly.  People should review that era and move on, because the present issues in Korean politics, economy and society, to a certain degree, come from the faults of the dictatorship of Park Chung-hee. It is said that a view for Park Chung-hee is a standard for distinguishing between reformists and conservatives.  Park Geun-hye, despite her little success as a politician, won her presidency by the overwhelming support of the conservatives due largely to her father’s prestige. In addition to this, in the slowdown of the Korean economy these several years, people felt a longing for the time of Park Chung-hee when the Korean economy made a great quantitative progress. Such feelings might have affected Park Geun-hye, who claimed the rebuilding of Korean economy during her presidency. On the contrary, during the time of Park Geun-hye, people had a difficult time.Especially, the so-called “Sampo Generation” (three generations of giving-up courtship, marriage and children) became miserable in their life. University students could not indulge in courtship as they had to study for finding jobs. And, even after getting jobs, they could not get married, which cost much and their salaries are not enough for this purpose.  Even if they get married, the couple have to work together for a living (double harness) and have to give up having children because child rearing and education cost much. The words “Sampo generation” appeared around the year 2011, the time of President Lee Myung-bak. The situation of the young, which this new words represent, was getting worse. The minimum wage by the hour in 2017 is Won 6,470 (about Yen 650).  The average lunch price is about Won 6,500. This means that the young worker barely ekes out lunch by working for one hour at convenience stores, etc.. Not only the young but also the most people were disappointed with the government of Park Geun-hye, which showed incapability to guard the lives of the Korean people, as in the case of the “Sinking of MV Sewol” or the outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in addition to the seriousness of difficulties of living. And, the political scandal of “the Choi Soon-sil–Gate” proved to be the trigger of the impeachment of the president. The Korean people who endured their hardships (not only the people who have never supported Park Geun-hye before, but also those who regret having supported Park) voted this time for Moon Jae-in, who appealed for “burying the past abuse”. Moon’s victory this time signifies a lot.  It is not a simple regime change.It is more a voice of reform against dictatorial presidency which became clear by the impeachment of the former president Park Geun-hye; against the prosecution who pander to the authority; and against collusion between the government and the big businesses. It is also a voice for easing the present economic inequality and consideration for the weak.  SGRA Kawaraban 535 in Japanese (original) Kim Yullee (2015 Raccoon) /Ewha Womans University (Korea), Finished Ph. D program without a Ph. D degree, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo in 2015  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • Frank Feltens “Flower Country”

    The Nobel Prize-winning Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata began his novel Snow Country with the the famous sentence “The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country.” The word “Snow Country“ (yukiguni) is located in Niigata Prefecture, facing the Sea of Japan. Kawabata wrote poetically about a part of Japan that is covered by snow every winter.  But for me, rather than being a “Snow Country,” Japan is a “Flower Country.” Japanese people often try to enlighten me by saying that “there are four seasons in Japan.” Needless to say, there are four seasons in countries everywhere in the northern hemisphere like Germany and the United States. That being said, the four seasons in Japan are special and somewhat strange. Flowers bloom everywhere in the world, of course. But in flower-country Japan flowers play a surprisingly important role. Flowers bloom in every season, like plum trees in winter, cherry blossoms in spring, balloon flowers in autumn and chrysanthemums in winter. People can salvage the beauty of nature all year round.  In Japan, the change of seasons or differences in temperature are not as clear-cut compared to Germany, where I was born, and the United States, where I studied. In Canada, where I have spent my high school days, I cherished the change of seasons. In Canada, you could feel the difference between seasons very clearly.  When winter ends and the snow melts, people leave their houses and rub their eyes like bears coming out of hibernation. It is the time they shout with joy “how nice and warm!” But Japan triggers a similar feeling although the difference in seasons is less distinct. Every Vernal Equinox Day during the four years that I have lived in Japan, I was filled with this incredible and irrepressible joy. I wondered to myself “why?”. I found the answer in the beginning of this year: It is “flowers.” I found my joyfulness in flowers, not in temperature or in sunshine. This revelation was my most important discovering this year. I realized that seeing the flowers blossom around myself made me incredibly happy. In the flower country, Japan, flowers start blossoming shortly after it becomes warm. Flower buds are waiting on withered branches to blossom in spring and they start greeting us during the first days of warm sunshine. In Japan, flowers are cerebrated more than fresh leaves which are synonym for the arrival of the warm season in other countries. The color of the Japanese spring is pink, not green. Plum flowers blossom right in between winter and spring; their flowers are mysterious and have a unique beauty. Plum flowers blossom on knotty branches, which seem to be hundreds of years old.  When thinking of plum flowers, I remember the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto, which I visited while studying in Japan for the first time. More than the flowers itself, however, I recall their fragrance. When I visited the shrine in February 2007, I was unexpectedly engulfed by the sweet and gentle scent of the plum blossoms, giving me the feeling that I was reborn in paradise. The wind carried the fragrance of the plum blossoms to my nose.I recalled also a Waka (Japanese poetry – 31 syllable (letter) Japanese poem) by the poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241). Among his poems, we find a verse saying “umeno-hana kozuewo – naete, hukukazeni, sorasae-niou, haruno- akebono”. (meaning: the plum blossoms, in the wind which is blowing to wither treetops, is fragrant in the air of daybreak on a spring morning)At this instant, Japan changed, in my feeling, to plum-blossom-country. When I was waiting for the train sometime this February, the wind once again carried the plum blossom fragrance to my nose. Although I could not spot a plum tree nearby, the wind had brought me a present.       Generally speaking, people think spring in Japan arrives together with the cherry blossoms. But, for me plum blossoms, which connect spring with winter embody spring. Cherry blossoms which have come to represent Japan are different from plum blossoms. Plum blossoms herald spring, but cherry blossoms, which fall like a snowstorm, reiterate the winter of Kawabata’s snow country and translate it into spring.  It is strange, for me, that Japanese people change their feeling of seasons by snowfall of cherry blossom from winter to spring. Another strange thing in Japan is the timing of the seasons. Spring arrives every year around the same time and the forecast of the cherry blossoms is usually very accurate. Plum blossoms, on the other hand, give us their beauty silently and without much commotion. I believe that plum blossoms represent Japan. However, as cherry blossom supersede everything in Japan, the value of each seasons may be overshadowed.  In Japan, the word “flower” (hana) is synonymous with “cherry blossoms” since the Heian period (794–1185). But, I think the most appealing aspect of Japan, “the flower country,” is the abundance of flowers that blossom in each and every season. Due to global warming, the climate of Japan is also changing, But what will not change are the flowers in the minds of the Japanese. SGRA Kawaraban 526 in Japanese (Original) Frank Feltens / Anne van Biema Fellow in Japanese Art, Freer|Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.) Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
  • Takeshi Kawasaki “Name of the War and Possibility of Dialogue among National Histories” (Report No.2 of the 3rd Asia Future Conference “Environment and Coexistence”)

    Many people in Japan understand World War II ended on August 15, 1945. This is because Emperor Hirohito (posthumously known as Showa) announced on radio on this date that the Japanese Government had accepted the Potsdam Declaration by the Allied Powers that demanded unconditional surrender, saying that “we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable…”  In the colonies like Korea, people are said to have given cheers for the Japanese defeat. However, it was on the previous day, the August 14 that Japan had conveyed to the Allied Nations its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.  In fact it was on August 10, four days before, that Japan conveyed its intention to accept the Declaration through Japanese ministers in Switzerland and Sweden, both neutral nations. Victory over Japan Day in the United States is September 2.  It was the day that Mamoru Shigemitsu, fully empowered foreign minister, had signed the instrument of surrender onboard the USS Missouri. The counterpart was Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.The New York Times on September 2 wrote by just three big headlines; “JAPAN SURRENDERS TO ALLIES,SIGNS RIGID TERMS ON WARSHIP;TRUMAN SETS TODAY AS V-J DAY” In China, V-J Day is September 3, next day of the signing on the USS Missouri, although the Japanese Army had signed the instrument of surrender in Nanjing on September 9. The Soviet Union followed suit and made its V-J Day September 3.  Only Japan set August 15 as the day for the end of the war.  In Europe, the memorial day of victory in this war is May 8, eight days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide. All the countries which fought in this War have their own memorial day.  The names of this war are also different among the countries involved, while  recognition of the war is common ---Second World War, World War II, Seconde Guerre mondiale, and ZweiterWeltkrieg. But in the United States, “Pacific War (against Japan)” and “European War (against Germany and Italy)” are well-known.  In the Soviet Union, the war was called the “Great Patriotic War”.  The name was given because it war was more furious than the war against Napoleon (1812) which has been called the “Patriotic War,” and that “Great” was added to distinguish one from the other.  In China, they call the War “Anti-Japanese Revolution” and  “World Anti-Fascism.”  Each country and people perceives the war in different ways. In Japan, the Cabinet of Hideki Tojo officially named the war the Great East Asia War on December 12, four days after the declaration of war against allied nations. Including this one, each name contains various sentiments.  The Pacific War connotes that it was fought against America but feels like ignoring the battle line in China.  The Fifteen Years War, which means the War’s duration of fifteen years, is reasonable considering that the War started from the Manchurian incident in 1931.  Other names include “The Second Sino-Japanese War” and “The Asia-Pacific War.” The reason I am thinking over the name of war and the day when the war ended, although I am not a specialist, is that I was listening at the back row of the forum “Possibilities of Dialogues among National Histories.”  What kind of works will be necessary to talk about history among not only specialists or intellectuals but among ordinary people? The round table discussion was meaningful in that specialists from Japan, China and South Korea searched for the present state of  “intellectual  community” in this region and groped where to go from there. Professor Liu Jie of Waseda University, raised a question that dialogue on history has been stagnant, emphasizing necessity of finding an agenda that would come after studying each other’s academic research situations.  He also said, “The intellectual community in East Asia is the last frontier in the region.  I am worried that dialogue among intellectuals might collapse.”  “That is why we got together to exchange opinions and each other’s knowledge so that we can make national histories in East Asia that can be shared among us.  This forum is important in that we can nurture talented international students, a special group of resources who can understand fellow countries’ material, for the future.” Cho Kwang, professor emeritus at Korea University in South Korea, said experience of the colonial period can be a factor for providing a country’s national history. He said, “One cannot discuss world peace if his political perspective is right.”  I thought it is true, not only for Japan.  I thought it is true, not only for Japan.  He said “Gokuryeo (高句麗)” hold an important position in Korean history but added that it was also part of the regional history of China.  “Things look different depending on perspective -- personal-based or location-based,” Kwang said. One solution to overcome different views and misunderstanding can be to compile a history on Japan-China Korea relations Ming dynasty and Joseon missions to Japan (朝鮮通信使)show in which histories of Japan, of Korea and China intersect. Professor Ge Zaoguang of Fudan University, China, suggested possibilities of compiling  diplomatic history of Japan, China and Korea, taking as examples of Mongol invasions of Japan (1271, 1281), Oei Invasion (1419, known as the Gihae Eastern Expedition in Korea) and Japanese invasions of Korea (1592.) Hirosi Mitani, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, criticized a new high school subject introduced by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, called “comprehensive histories.”  The frame work of the new subject dealing with Japanese modern history is taught in the order of (1) modernization, (2) popularization, and (3) globalization. He said, however, “The order is reverse. Globalization was the start of Japanese modern history.”  He added that the most important thing for the young generation is “to look at their own country from the outside and learn from each other the histories of neighboring countries. If they do not do this, they will miss a chance to know the histories of East Asia forever”.   He urged the participants: “we cannot possibly advance only by dialogue. Let’s collaborate. Let’s create a reference about neighboring countries which can be read in their own countries”. I was told this type of forum will continue for at least five times hereafter. If young researchers would join, this type of works will become more active, even though political, economic and national security influences of each country would affect the outcome of the researches. Let me express my hope as a non-specialist.  I want to know national histories of Japan, China, and Korea. Also, I want to know history of country-to-country relations, not limited to the three countries. For example, the Vietnam War was fought between the United States and North Vietnam. Vietnam had been fighting against France for their independence. It was Japan that ruled Vietnam before France. Historical revisionism, which tends to rewrite its own beautiful version of history, is now spreading over Japan.  I do not think such atmosphere is temporary and even feel some energy in it. The forum on “dialogue among national histories” supported by a development of intellectual community of Japan, China and Korea will become more important and urgent.  SGRA Kawaraban 507 in Japanese (Original)  (Lecturer at Tsuda College, Former staff writer at The Asahi Shimbun)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • John Chuan- Tiong Lim “Trump- Tsai Telephone Call”: The beginning of new rivalry between America and China

    On December 2, 2016 23:00, Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan, made a telephone call to Mr. Trump, an elected candidate of American presidential election.  It made China be over sensitive and shook the world. A word “Taiwan” caught the eye of the people and became top news of international media. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, Wang Yi and spokesman of Taiwan Affairs Office, State Council of the People’s Republic of China, replied simply “it does not affect us at all” against questions from the media and added “it was just cheap tricks played by Taiwan and it is impossible to change our structure of “One China”. However, we can imagine how this twelve minutes “Trump-Tsai telephone call” has  surprised Chinese leadership. The Chinese Communist Government, together with their national security organization and think-tanks, has been trying to find the background of “the telephone case”. The more they investigated, the more “Zhongnanhai”, (central governmental body) was disappointed. If this telephone call was a sudden hit Trump’s mind, it would not be a surprise, considering his character that he has always shuffled unconventional cards.  But, his team was actually preparing a list of heads of government whom Trump should call by telephone immediately after his victory declaration. According to informed sources, the name “Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan” has been included in this list.After fixing the schedule of telephone calls, Mr. Trump’s staff explained to him, and he fully understood the possibilities of a negative reaction of the world. In other words, “Trump-Tsai telephone call” this time was the result of thorough preparation by his team, not a rash decision.  Of course, it was not an one-sided “cheap trick” from the Taiwan side. Thoroughly prepared “Trump-Tsai telephone call”  Next, the most important concern of China is the intention of Mr. Trump.  Does he, by “farcical telephone call” this time, intend to change the “One China” policy which was crafted by Henry Kissinger in the 1970s ? At this moment, personnel revisions of his cabinet is not a opened yet. Strictly speaking, his speeches and behavior before his inauguration may not be the same as the policies of the United States government thereafter. But, “Zhongnanhai” cannot be “careful but optimistic” any longer about the Chinese policies of Mr. Trump whenever they get information which they have to worry about. After calming down from such surprise and shock, one influential organization which has taken issue to the “Trump-Tsai telephone call” has attracted attentions. This is “The Heritage Foundation” in the United States which is considered as a leader of conservative influence.  This organization was established in 1973 and developed to its present size with a budget exceeding 80 million dollars through the effort mainly by its founder, Edwin Feulner, for more than 40 years.  It is considered one of the biggest think tanks which have influential power in Washington DC. Many high governmental officials of the Republican Party went into politics from this foundation and Elaine Chao is one of them. She is selected to be transportation secretary by Trump. The Heritage Foundation has also prepared a policy white paper for Mr. Trump and many members of the Foundation participated in the election as cheering party. This foundation has maintained a very close relation with Taiwan since these several decades, and it has been considered as headquarters of pro-Taiwan activities in the United States. So, the Taiwan side also has been lobbying and maintaining interchange relations through this foundation.  “The Heritage Foundation” who has big influential power    It was Mr. Edwin J. Feulner who drove forward directly “Trump-Tsai Telephone Call”.Mr. Feulner has been the President of the Foundation for a long time and has been keeping a good relationship with Taiwan. He has visited Taiwan more than twenty times and also attended inauguration ceremonies of Taiwan President many times. He has met seventeen times with successive President of Taiwan, such as Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian, Ma Ying-jeon and Tsai Ing-wen. Mr. Feulner, who graduated from the London School of Business, same as Tsai Ing-wen, joined the cheering party of Mr. Trump last August and became one of the most important brains of President Trump for his national security and foreign policy. He visited Taipei, Taiwan last October together with his staff and on October 13, he had a meeting with Tsai Ing-wen at the Office of President. Another person in the foundation, who is in important position as a researcher and has influential power toward America-Taiwan relationship is Mr. Stephen Yates. He is head of the Republican Party of Idaho States and concurrently holds the office of advisor for Mr. Trump’s transition team . Mr. Yates has worked as Vice Presidential aide of national security for Vice President Dick Cheney. He drafted “The Taiwan Relevant Law” and “The Six Assurances”, both of which are in the General Plan of the Republican Party. In “The Six Assurances”, there are words “America does not approve Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan” which angered China. Mr. Yates has been closely connected with Taiwan. He had been a Mormon missionary in Kaohsiung, Taiwan from 1987 to 1989. He speaks fluent Mandarin, though with a Taiwan accent, and is keeping broad personal relations in politics and social life.  In this sense, no one surpasses him. Four days after the “Trump-Tsai telephone call”, Mr. Yates visited Taipei and made a courtesy visit to President Tsai Ing-wen to convey an intention of Mr. Trump. Reaction in American politics on “Trump-Tsai telephone call” was polarized. As President Obama has expressed repeatedly “One China” policy during his time, this telephone call gave American policy against China a great shock and we can easily guess that people do not like to disrupt the cooperative relationship between America and China, two economic giants. Against the “One China policy” by the Democratic Party and American-media, not only Mr. Trump himself counterattacked in his twitter or face-book, but the personnel necessary of Trump camps and influential politicians of the Republican Party also expressed their appraisal for “Trump-Tsai telephone call”. This faction questioned the rigid way of thinking of the Whitehouse. An ex-government official of the Department of State mentioned that “Mr. Trump will not always follow the same position which the heads of Republican and Democratic parties have taken. For him, typical Washington rule is not always the best option” although people who were involved in the “Trump-Tsai telephone call” fully understand “One China policy” which America has held for a long time. New rivalry between America and China by using the “Taiwan” card Chinese uneasiness toward American policy about China by President Trump will not be limited to the “Trump-Tsai telephone call”. On exactly the same day when Mr. Trump received the telephone call from Tsai, Lower House passed the “National Defense Authority Act” by an overwhelming majority. This bill lifted many military restrictions between America and Taiwan which have lasted for more than twenty years and made full of future of America/Taiwan with “infinite possibility”. Actually, the Taiwan side has started their study and discussion immediately after passing this Act in the Upper and Lower House. They look forward that their Ministry of National Defense can step in the Pentagon fair and square. They also look forward to joining the Trans Pacific Joint Exercise under the American initiative. It means that they hope to actualize military cooperation among Taiwan, America and Japan. Under the organization of Xi Jinping the “Taiwan issue” is one of the “Core issues” which cannot be easily compromise. The “Trump-Tsai telephone call” might be critical for China and Taiwan. But, it may be also a turning point. At least, I presume China has already changed from their “careful but optimistic” conception of the Trump era. Beijing will study the weak points of Trump without looking on idly and look for personal connections with him. They will try to access any personnel who has influential power to prevent President Trump from adopting a policy that would distort the “One China policy” which America has kept for forty years.  A rivalry between America and China using the “Taiwan” card was newly opened.  SGRA Kawaraban 517 in Japanese (original)  ( Assistant Professor, National Taiwan University/Assistant Researcher, Modern History Research Center, Taiwan Central Institute )  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • Gloria Yu Yang “A Nomad’s Tale of Two Cities” (Series “Studying in Japan” No. 4)

     “What kind of people (and from where) ride on a Sunday train at 5AM?” I asked myself the question while sitting on a JR train bounding for Shinjuku and pretending to read a book. The book I held, “Kyoto-Ghirai (I Do Not Like Kyoto),” is historian Sho-ichi Inoue’s latest book, and it is peculiar. Books on the Kyoto culture generally sell a convenient-store set, made of “Maccha (powdered green tea)”, “Gion Matsuri (The Gion Ritual in Summer)”, Machiya (traditional townhouse)” and temples, featuring unchanging themes of “The Tale of Genji,” four seasons and the “heart of Japanese tradition.” Moreover, they also describe the vague term “ikezu (spiteful)” as unique to people and customs of Kyoto, exemplified in the restaurant’s rejection of customers without introductions, or the host’s notorious question, “Do you want to have some Bubu-zuke (a simple dish mixed rice with tea),” which was an indirect request for “Go Home.” Claiming to decipher the phenomenon related to “ikezu,” these books actually eulogize or mythologize the term as the emblem of the incomprehensive Kyoto. The book “Kyoto Ghirai, ” however, provides a different perspective. Examining his bitter personal experiences of encounters with the “ikezu” through a distant, analytic lens, Inoue reveals the social structure and essence of the “ikezu.” I admire his courage and enjoy his meticulous analysis of the popular image of Kyoto manipulated by the profit-driven mass media. “But isn’t he (Inoue) born in Saga, lives in Uji and works in Katsura?” Someone from Kyoto raised a small question with a light smile. For people who are familiar with the famous scenic spots of Kyoto, the Arasiyama (Saga) and the Katsura-Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Vila), the intention of the question was not clear. People who have lived in Kyoto, however, immediately recognized the alarming signal in the smirk: a war was waged towards people like Inoue, an outsider, who dared to explain the real Kyoto. Inoue begins with the history of the Saga region, explains the cultural connotations of the “Raku-chu”(inside of Kyoto) and “Raku-gai” (outside of Kyoto) and articulates the sense of superiority of people who live in the center and their discriminations against people who live in the outskirts. To briefly summarize, the question is all about, “You know nothing about Kyoto if you are not from Kyoto.” I lived in Kyoto for two years. I visited Japan several times before and spent a year in Yokohama, which made me thought I was used to life in Japan. To my surprise, I had a cultural shock in Kyoto—the food, language, expression, human relationship and custom—everything was completely different. This is not Japan—I told myself—a whole new world. No, maybe it is actually the traditional Japan lost in textbooks. To me, the tranquil lattice windows of traditional “machiya” houses suggested a labyrinth, where the scary “ikezu” Minotaur was waiting at the end of the dark, narrow hallway. The gap between ostensible “omote-nashi” (hospitality) and “ikezu” is not unique in Kyoto. It is a common phenomenon in tourist cities around the world, where sightseeing spots, products of tourist commercialism, present a different reality with the everyday space, where local social relationships take place. The double structure between the surface and exists in everything. For example, the invention of the “nogoya” structure, which inserts a layer of “hanegi” beams underneath roof beams to share the weight of the roof, enables medieval Japanese temples to build large roofs with slender materials. Invisible from the exterior, one can detect the existence of “hanegi” beams from the traces of nailed joints. Similarly, now matter how complicated and puzzling the surface looks, there is always a passage connecting it with the underneath structure. It is the training and pleasure for a researcher to find the “Toori-niwa (a small garden passage connecting the front and back of a “machiya” town house). As a passionate researcher, I dedicated myself to deciphering the social and cultural codes of Kyoto by reading previous studies (literature on “Ikezu” and authors from the Kyoto University), conducting oral interviews (rival gossips from paparazzi neighbors) and observing “Ikezu” behaviors in the streets. In the end, I still do not know everything about Kyoto, but have learned a lot about historical methodologies from Kyoto. For example, individual grocery stores and small restaurants outnumber convenient stores and chain restaurants in the residential neighborhoods of Kyoto. Rather than pursuing profits, these small businesses aim to sustain for a lifetime. For decades, regulars at the restaurant chat with the owner while enjoying their coffee and foods. In this way, they establish a special bound by spending time together. Kyoto is a town where people respect individuality and give priority to personal relationship over the popular trend. The historical perspective, which situates one’s thinking within the temporal and spatial context is a common mentality of everyday life in Kyoto. The studies of the ancient capital have made me enjoy the life in Kyoto. The historical way of thinking, modest life style, not-trendy fashion, delicious and reasonable food, the “Kamo” river, the summer evening festival at “Simogamo-jinja” shrine, “Kami-kamo-jinja” shrine, “Kifune” shine in the rain, Purple Mountain and Bright Water (an expression for place of outstanding natural beauty), practice of tea ceremony in the morning and a misty morning on the “Demachi-yanagi” bridge. The moment when I finally felt Kyoto as home, understood the old proverb, “the place you get used to is the capital,” and gained knowledge of survival skills in the ancient capital, I had to leave the capital and moved eastward. Like Inoue’s explanations of Saga reveal, Kyoto people are strongly attached to their homeland. Maybe because buildings are close to the ground, or maybe because there are so many families of hundred years, people seem to be locked within their neighborhoods by the invisible “genius-loci.” As a result, the autonomous association of each neighborhood forms a strong sense of local community, meanwhile, projects a strong rejection towards the outsiders. The rivalry is not only between Kyoto and Tokyo, or between rakuchu and rakugai (center and outskirt of Kyoto). Even within Kyoto, the Nishijin people battle with the Nakagyo people for the “authentic” center of Kyoto. Against the backdrop of strong sense of community, people find their local foods the most delicious, local friends the kindest and their homeland the most livable. They try to guard such living styles for generations. In this way, the locale has become the framework for personalities of the residents—people are categorized by where they come from. Outsiders, who do not belong to any locale, are not accepted because they do not fit in any framwork—just like the floating weeds. This is also why Kyoto people always begin a conversation with the question, “where (which neighborhood) do you live?” followed by the second question, “where did you come from?” These questions are not random chatting topics, but are the touchstones of one’s geo-cultural framework. That was the reason why I left Kyoto, because I do not feel strong attachments to my hometown. Since my child hood, my family have been moving around in the northern and southern China. After I went to Beijing for my undergraduate studies, I continued my graduate studies in the United States, where I began studying the Japanese language, and then I came to Japan for research. During the past ten years of studying abroad, the international environment, the society and culture of China have changed dramatically. As a result, like a person not able to ride the escalator of progression, rather than nostalgia, I feel futuristic whenever I return home. People also consider me as a “Showa” outsider who belongs to the outdated generation.   Ten years of studying abroad have engraved my Chinese identity with fragments of languages, cuisine recipes and landscapes from various countries and cultures. I have been, am and perhaps will be “on the road” for a lifetime while being an “outsider” and a “local” in every place. This ostensibly free life style also bears solitary shadows. Having experienced a variety of societies and cultures, Kyoto has made me realize, for the first time, my identity as a “nomad,” who has no hometown but also enjoys everywhere as a hometown. Although I deeply miss the food and nature in Kyoto, I know it is time to move on. I do not fit in a place where people are categorized into stereotypes based on their geographical backgrounds.     Inoue applies a sociological approach to understand the internal structure of the culture in Kyoto. Not satisfied with the backstage stories or personal experiences, he explores the underlying social and historical reasons that shaped the stereotype of the ancient capital, including the national educational systems and regional differences. His conclusion points out a new possibility that an outsider can see Kyoto more clearly than a native, which is inspiring. In any society, there are various frameworks/stereotypes generated by regions, occupations, genders and races. Studies of societies can either conduct in-depth research in the vertical direction of a single framework, or analyze, in the horizontal direction, the interrelations among various frameworks. A diverse society relies on the coexistence of multiple frameworks and the tolerance towards the nomads who crosses boundaries of current frameworks. In the time of globalization, we see an increasing number of nomads, and we might even be able to define a framework for the nomad in the near future. On a JR train heading to Shinjuku at 5AM on Sunday, I saw a girl with none makeup just off from work at a hostess club, sleepy high-school students holding training bags of club sports, drunken businessmen who missed the last train, and colorfully dressed mountain hikers. What an amazing crowd. No one cares about other people’s opinions. Indifference in Tokyo also bears a sense of liberation and tolerance. It does not matter whether it is beautiful or not: the incomprehensible is fun. I can live in Tokyo with a Kansai accent and keep my Kyoto peculiarities. I am grateful to the support from Atsumi Foundation, whose events and activities contribute greatly to the coexistence of various cultures, establish a transnational community of international nomads, and broaden my perspective. They have made Tokyo my new hometown. Honmani Argiatoo! SGRA Kawaraban 503 in Japanese (original)  ( Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in Japanese Architecture and Art, Research student at Ito Takeshi Research Lab, Department of Architecture in University of Tokyo)   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • Moon Kyungnam “At my Completion of Doctorate Course” (Series “Studying in Japan” No. 3)

    I will complete my doctorate course (Greek Philosophy) at the University of Tokyo this coming March, 2016. I have been there for a long time. Though it is now full spring outside, contrasting with such spring scenery, I, who will start a new life at the age of over thirty years old, have a chilly feeling that ”it was a too long journey for me” or “now I am caught in academia” - not exciting thoughts.  It took me ten years to get this doctorate from the university. I think these “ten years” were not “too long”, when I consider that I had been in military service for two years and stayed in the United States for study. Moreover, I could enjoy my school life much more than several friends of same generation did, because I have fortunate and very grateful to a few foundations that helped me from my entrance into my university to finishing my doctorate course. Despite my tendency to be lazy, I am still clinging to my study which is very close to the one which I wanted to tackle seriously for the first time. As I am vaguely aware of my harsh life hereafter, I cannot remove such a chilling feeling. It will be a given condition for a newcomer to “university business” where I find myself in the world of global competition and decrease in the number of children. There would be only a handful of people whose existential value could be guaranteed by keeping their high standard in the field of their researches and studies – it will be a great effort just to keep up with the needed high standard. There are so many discourses and opinions about the present situation of “university business” examining closely and showing solutions. Actually, most of such opinions are worth listening intently and I try to read them as much as I can. But, I am afraid to say, I cannot still fix my way of looking at such themes. I do not have any confidence that I can classify and rearrange (as a scholar) and put such opinions in order. Nevertheless, this does not mean that I think lightly of the subject. I have to admit such situations, all the same, that we have serious problems which are similar to those of the former generations. I don’t say present universities are suffering historically extraordinary misfortune. If so, is it self-deception? When I try to step forward getting out of such feeling (self-deception), it is always my vague and impatient thinking that I like to sort out present problems immediately.It may be fruitless that I am just standing paralyzed without trying to solve the problem like I feel uneasy about my uneasiness without any reason. I know this, but I cannot step forward. I am aware of what I do not grasp “my actual feeling” that I deny my words immediately after my saying which were uttered forcibly. It will be plainly unproductive to stick to what I cannot explain. But, now I go out into the world finishing my work (a thesis for a doctoral degree), which is very far from getting “actual feeling” by myself.  I dare to like to stick to what exists outside of textbooks or what cannot become subject of discussions which are full of semiotics. It will be something of value to show a route of theory beautifully or to have discussion to defeat opponents. My writings hereafter would be so.  I like to arouse myself about the importance that I always bring any existence into my view which is going around diagrams of “problems and solutions”. It is my nature to have superficial discussions all the time and I am in a circumstance to be encouraged strongly to do so. Needless to say, what I wrote here will not be suggestive for the future of university nor Asia. There is no fresh assertion. If there will be a special meaning, when a certain person utters common words at this instant and at a certain place, such a sketchy murmuring makes me properly involved in the society where I live. It will be my work hereafter that will prove meaningful or not. (Written in March 2016) SGRA Kawaraban 502 in Japanese (original) (Assistant Professor / the University of Tokyo) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • Grib Dina “Studying Abroad in Japan, as my Choice” (Series “Studying in Japan” No. 2)

    Seven years ago my friend asked me “Oh my God! You, being old enough, will study in Japan for two years? What for?” I remember this conversation well even now. I did not understand why she asked such a question to me. I thought it was quite natural for me to wish studying in Japan after majoring in Japanese language and culture. Frankly speaking, at that time I have been denouncing people, who are not interested in studying abroad for being narrow-minded. But, I realize now that it would be myself who should be narrow-minded. It took me a long time to realize it. And studying abroad was the experience that helped me to realize. When I was in my master course, I attended an English class for foreign students. In this class, we had a discussion whether we should study the Japanese language or not. When I heard the theme of this discussion, I thought it would be meaningless because, as all of us were already studying at the Japanese university, and for sure we needed to study the Japanese language. And, contrary to my anticipation, foreign students eager to study Japanese language were in the minority. The majority of students claimed that learning Japanese language was a waste of time, as they managed to live in Japan and enjoy it without speaking Japanese. It was a real shock for me. It turned out, that it is not always necessary to study Japanese for living in Japan. That people can even live happily without learning foreign languages and without studying abroad. It even seemed to be more general and upright way of life. At that moment I began to feel doubtful about my choices, about devoting all my energies to learning the Japanese language, about coming to study in Japan. Actually most of my foreign friends who are studying here in Japan feel uneasy for their future and seem somehow to be hesitating. And so do I. I came here intending to spend two years in Tokyo, but seven years have already passed. Still I have not finished my studying yet. And still I am not sure if I can give other people a convincing reason or excuse for spending so much time studying abroad. The generally acknowledged advantages of studying abroad are improvement of linguistic abilities, experiencing different cultures and making new friends. I think most people would agree as well, that studying abroad makes a person more independent, helps to broaden one’s view and tolerance level by contacting with different culture. However, I have to admit, that short-term studying abroad as well can clear these points. So what were my reasons for long-term studying abroad? Originally, I just wanted to deepen my knowledge about Japanese history and polish my ability of the Japanese language. And may be, I was looking for a chance to bring some diversity to my life, to change my “ordinary life”, as well. Though I have been enjoying my life in Russia before I came to Japan, it is also true that I had a mannerism. So I just escaped from it, and I was lucky enough to forget about the “ordinary life” for several years. While studying as a research student, and even after starting my master course, I traveled around Japan as much as possible, meeting new people, enjoying festivals, visiting museums, joining every study tour or cultural exchange available. Searching for new experience I climbed Mt. Fuji, visited Noh and Kabuki performances, watched cherry blossoms, experienced wearing maiko dress in Kyoto and samurai armor in Shimane, and so on and so forth.   But my priorities have gradually changed. My research became a matter of primary importance for me. Now I feel like being just “a doctoral course student” rather than “a foreign student”. Studying in Japan has become my “ordinary life”. It is not a constant amusement any more, but it has filled with new sense for me. Instead of sightseeing or travelling I keep to a library of my university for long hours. And if I go travelling now, it means mostly attending academic conferences or study camps. People might think I am spending dull time. But, I enjoy it. I sometimes think how I would have been if I have kept staying in Russia not going abroad for studying. I might spend a calm life, not worrying about my future. But, I would have lost my chance to meet with a lot of people and to get new experience and knowledge. And moreover I wouldn’t have found the joy of making my own research, the joy of struggling to become a researcher. After all, I cannot say for others whether people should study abroad or not. At least my experience helped me to overcome my narrow-mindedness and realize, that it depends, and there is no answer, that fits everybody. In my case, even if I could return to the time seven years ago, I would have made my choice to come to Japan without hesitation. Even if others don’t understand and approve my choice to have studied in Japan, I am sure that including my anxiety and worries, it was the best choice for me. SGRA Kawaraban 498 in Japanese (original)  (Graduate School of Tokyo Metropolitan University) Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito
  • The Third Asia Future Conference (AFC#3) Report

    The Third Asia Future Conference (AFC#3) was held from Friday, September 30th to Sunday, October 2nd in Kitakyushu, with 397 registered participants from 20 countries. The City of Kitakyushu developed as an industrial city with a strong base in the steel industry. Because of this, by the 1960s the city started to experience severe water and air pollution. Since then, however, due to the efforts of its citizens the environment of the city has greatly improved. In 2011, it became the first model city in Asia for urban green growth under the OECD’s Green City Program. Inspired by Kitakyushu’s story of coexistence between mankind and the natural environment, the overall theme was chosen to be “Environment and Coexistence” including broad range of issues based on the theme of coexistence in various social and cultural environments. Under this theme we had a keynote speech and symposium, forums and roundtable discussions, as well as a large number of research paper presentations, promoting international and interdisciplinary discussions. The night before the conference, at 7:00 PM on Thursday, September 29, the 10th SGRA China Forum “Toward the East Asian Cultural History Without Borders” was held at the Kitakyushu International Conference Center. SGRA has been hosting China forums once a year in Beijing and other cities in China, but this time it was hosted as a pre-conference of AFC#3. In this forum, the points of discussion and achievements from the last two forums in Beijing were introduced and reviewed, and with the new contributions, the theme of wider cultural history was further developed. On Friday, September 30th, from 9:00AM to 12:30PM, four parallel forums and roundtable discussions were hosted in the Kitakyushu International Conference Center. All of the four session rooms were full. (Simultaneous translation between Japanese and Chinese) n  Roundtable Discussion “Dialogue of National Histories; Japan, China and Korea” (Grant: Tokyo Club)We all agree that we have to overcome our history in order to realize historical reconciliation, rebuild mutual trust among people, and to stabilize cooperative relationship in East Asia. The first step should be to “establish a dialogue” among the three national histories of China, Japan and Korea. Intellectual exchange among the respective “national historians” will lead to a “Shared History of Asia”. This roundtable discussion was the first of a series of 5 forums of the same theme aiming at establishing a “Dialogue among National Histories” among researchers from Japan, Korea and China. (Simultaneous translation between Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans) n  Roundtable Discussion “Religious Responses to Changing Social Environments in Southeast Asia” (Grant: Japan Foundation Asia Center)This roundtable discussion took into consideration the present situation wherein religion tends to be viewed as the cause of conflict and clash in recent years, despite its genuine aim of achieving the happiness of humankind and society. Based on Southeast Asian country case studies, which reveal the unique religious and social relations that form a mosaic of ethnicity and religion, invited researchers from this region, together with foreign and Japanese researchers active in Japan, actively discussed universal themes such as the relation of society with religion, as well as social changes and the role of religion. (Language: English) n  Roundtable Discussion “Humans and Robots: Towards a Society of Coexistence” (Grant: Kajima Foundation)In this roundtable discussion, after the introduction of the present situation of development of robots in Japan, Korea, Russia, Europe and China, the problems for the development of robots, which aim at coexistence with human beings, was discussed. The discussion about the society in the near future where human beings and robots can coexist was further elaborated by the comments of young scholars in the fields of philosophy and art. (Language: English) n  AGRI(?) Economic Forum “Population Problems and Solutions in Asia" (Host: Asia Growth Research Institute)Currently, many Asian countries are facing a variety of population problems including declining fertility, aging population, declining population, migration, urbanization of the population, the entry of foreign workers, and gender differences. For these problems, it is critical for each country to conduct comprehensive analysis and introduce solutions urgently. In this forum, four specialists from the Asian Growth Research Institute took up various population problems facing Asia and discussed these problems, their impact on the economy and society, solutions to these problems, and lessons for other Asian countries. (Language: English) After the lunch break, from 3:00PM, the Opening Ceremony commenced with a welcome speech by Dr. Michiaki Kondo, President of the University of Kitakyushu, followed by the proclamation of the opening of the conference by Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Conference Chairman. The keynote speech was given by Yoshikazu Tanaka, Chief Engineer of MIRAI, Toyota Motor Corporation on the theme “Development of the Fuel Cell Vehicle, MIRAI and the Challenges towards Hydrogen Society”. The Commemorative Symposium of the 70th Anniversary of Foundation of the University of Kitakyushu “Sustainable Development and Asian Civil Society -Toward the Hydrogen Energy Society-” started right after the Keynote Speech, in which researcher, NPO director, and entrepreneur reported their own activities. (Simultaneous translation between Japanese and English) Program of Forums, Keynote Speech and Symposium are available from the following link: At the end of the ceremony, after the speech of Vice Mayor of Kitakyushu City, Mr. Teruhito Matsumoto, the Sake Barrel Breaking Ceremony was held to celebrate the 70th Anniversary, using the sake produced in a collaboration between the University and local producer. When the participants went out from the Hall after the ceremony, 300 participants were offered this sake in the courtyard, where miraculously the rain stopped. After the participants, mainly from Asia, enjoyed casual food served at portable stalls (yatai), there was a local drum performance, followed by this conference’s highlight event, projection mapping, which showed the 1500-year history of Kitakyushu in 3 minutes on the big wall of Conference Center. On Saturday, October 1, all the participants went to the Kitagata Campus of the University of Kitakyushu, where 225 papers were presented in 58 panel sessions, including 8 arranged group sessions. As the Asia Future Conference aspires towards an international and interdisciplinary approach, each session was arranged by the topics such as “Peace”, “Happiness”, and “Innovation”, which the presenters selected during the submission process. As such, each session did not necessarily consist of specialists in a specific academic field. Although different from academic conference in specific fields, this approach helped foster many rich and diverse discussions. 109 people in total including invited guest speakers kindly agreed to act as the chairperson of the panel sessions. Poster presentations were displayed next to the coffee break corner. Piano performance and tea ceremony were conducted by the students and volunteers of the University of Kitakyushu. The Best Presentation was chosen by two chairpersons in each of the 50 sessions (excluding arranged group sessions). The list of Best Presentations can be found at the following link: Two Best Posters were selected by the AFC Academic Committee from the 10 posters that were displayed in the Conference.  The list of the best posters can be found at the following link: In addition, the Academic Committee chose the Best Papers before the conference. and the awards were presented during the Farewell Party on the last day of the conference. 46 judges reviewed 115 full papers, which were uploaded to the AFC Online System by February 28, 2016 (with abstracts submitted by August 31, 2015). The papers were divided into 13 groups, and 4 reviewers read each group. Reviewers were asked to evaluate based on the following 5 criteria: (1) Is the theme of this paper in accordance with the AFC Theme "Environment and Coexistence"? (2) Is this paper perspicuous and persuasive? (3) Is this paper original and innovative? (4) Does this paper hold international aspects in some points? (5) Does this paper have an interdisciplinary approach? Each reviewer recommended two papers out of nine or ten in each group. After compilation, 20 papers were selected as the Best Papers. The list of the best posters can be found at the following link: At 7:00PM at the Station Hotel Kokura, the farewell party started with the brief conference report by myself as the Organizing Committee Chair, followed by toast by the Vice-president of the University of Kitakyushu, Dr. Saeko Urushibara. Before dinner is over, AFC Academic Committee Chair, Dr. Hitoshi Hirakawa, Professor of Kokushikan University, gave a selection report and then the Award Presentation Ceremony was held. 20 authors of Best Papers came on the stage and the Conference Chair, Mr. Yasushi Akashi, handed a Certificate of Best Paper to a representative. Then 2 Best Poster authors and 50 Best Presentations awardees were commended. On Sunday, October 2nd, participants took part in organized study tours and excursions, which included a Study Tour to Minamata, going to Akiyoshidai Cave and old town Hagi, sightseeing in the City of Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu Environmental Study Tour, and a hot spring experience. The Third Asia Future Conference “Environment and Coexistence” was hosted by the Atsumi International Foundation Sekiguchi Global Research Association (SGRA), co-hosted by The University of Kitakyushu and City of Kitakyushu, supported by Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, received grants from The Japan Foundation Asia Center, The Tokyo Club, The Kajima Foundation, collaborated with Kyushu Economic Federation and Asian Growth Research Institute, and sponsored by Aso Cement Co., Ltd., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Daiichi Koutsu Sangyo Co., Ltd., Honjo International Scholarship Foundation, JR Kyushu Railway Company, Kajima Corporation, Kajima Oversea Asia PTE Ltd., Kajima Road Co., Ltd., KOKUYO Co. Ltd, Kyudenko Corporation, Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd., Mera Group Corporation, Moji Koun Kaisha Ltd, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, PT Senayan Trikarya Sempana, TENO Corporation, TOTO Ltd, West Japan Industry, Trade Convention Association, The Yamaguchi Bank, Ltd., Yaskawa Electric Corporation, Zenrin Col, Ltd., The Organizing Committee and Academic Committee for this conference were organized by former Atsumi scholars (known as “Raccoons”), and together with the SGRA Steering Committee members, they voluntarily took part in almost all aspects of the holding of the conference, from planning the forums, maintaining the home-pages, selecting the best awards, to taking charge of the reception. A separate Organization Committee was established in the University of Kitakyushu with more than 120 professors, staff members and student volunteers. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the more than 400 participants, as well as to those who supported the holding of the conference and all of the volunteers who provided assistance in many ways and helped lead to the success of the Third Asia Future Conference. The Asia Future Conference is interdisciplinary at its core and encourages diverse approaches to global issues that are both mindful of the advancement of science, technology and business and also take into consideration issues of the environment, politics, education, the arts and culture. This conference is organized with likeminded institutions, in order to provide a venue for the exchange of knowledge, information, ideas, and culture, not only by SGRA members, but also by former foreign students of Japan from various educational institutions throughout the world, by their own students and collaborators, and by anyone interested in Japan.  The Asia Future Conference started in 2013 and was originally planned to be hosted five times within a span of ten years. After hosting AFC successfully for three times, the Atsumi International Foundation has decided to continue even after 2020. The Fourth Asia Future Conference will be held in Seoul, Korea, from August 24th to 28th, 2018. AFC#3 highlights AFC#3 photos shown in the farewell party (movie) AFC#4 flyer We would like to ask for your continued support, cooperation and, most of all, your participation.  Junko Imanishi,SGRA Chief Representative