SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Xie Zhihai “Japanese Market Hereafter Depends on India ?”

    Rapid progress of technologies and internet has made the world “borderless”. However, international issues became more complicated though it seems to be a contradiction to borderless. For scholars or analysts of economics, it is very difficult to forecast the economy or the international situation of the year 2016. Present anxieties for the world economy are decline in oil prices, slow down of the Chinese economy, opaque future of the economy in EU and difficulties in the growth of US enterprises.Furthermore, the Bank of Japan announced “Negative Interest Rate” first in the end of January.  After the announcement, the Nikkei Stock Average fluctuated violently and has kept on declining. According to the Nikkei (newspaper) which I gave a once-over,  an analyst of the stock market says “in order to turn the Nikkei Stock Average to an upward trend, it is necessary to have a new theme like acceleration of progress of the economy of India”.I pay attention to India, not ASEAN. India is now attracting world attention not only in its economy but also in various phenomena. As I live in Japan, I cannot get information about India as expected, although the Japanese people like Indian-curry.  India, a faraway country, is now becoming familiar to Japanese.Masayoshi Son, president of Soft Bank, chose an Indian, not a Japanese, as his successor.This news, together with the huge amount of his officer’s compensation, made the headline all over the world. At the same time, we came to know that Mr. Son invested huge amounts of money on enterprises in India.  Since Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi’s visit to Japan in 2014, the Japanese people have now become interested about India. Does the economic growth of India have a power to push up the Nikkei Stock Average? The more we know about the country and people of India, the more we realize that Japan and India stand in the exact opposite positions: Japan is ahead as an aging society, but low in birth-rate.On the other hand, the population under 25 years old in India is about 50% and its population density is high. They do not control their population like China. Population in India is increasing. We are overwhelmed by such energetic image. We notice now that India is producing many excellent business executives to the world. We can see a lot of Indian CEO names in the world’s big enterprises. The Nikkei Business (magazine), issue of September 28, 2015 featured under the title “Indian CEO control the world” and analyzed three points as the reasons for “why Indian CEO?” ―Large number of men of talent who have IT skills, for example, which can be used in the world. ―Way of thinking or management styles which are set forth for assumption of diversity ―Patience, creativities and response capabilities all of which have been developed by its severe circumstances.It comes as no surprise that these three points affect the Japanese economy. These three points may be insufficient in the Japanese people. For this reason, Mr. Son did not choose a Japanese CEO as his successor. I am not saying India is stronger than Japan. There are a lot of troubles in India like the deep-rooted caste systems, confrontation among religions as India has various religions or a male-dominant society.  I think they can live in the global world only after they crawl their way up from such a complicated society. Both in China, my home country and in Japan, where I am living now, people are still interested in India these days. (Full-time Lecturer of Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen University)  Translate by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito SGRA Kawaraban 484 in Japanese(original ) 
  • Wang Huijun “Assisting Foreign Students in Japan to Learn Japanese Language”

    I realize that it has been already ten years since I came to Japan in March, 2007 to pursue a master’s degree course at the graduate school of Waseda University.In the summer of 2005, I came to Japan first as a trainee under an internship program and spent the summer holidays of the 3rd-year in the University in Tokyo. It was my first time of living abroad and I felt freshness and excitement during those two months. I used Japanese language which I have learned since I was freshman in the university and it was the time when I became conscious of the pleasure of speaking Japanese with a lot of people, home-stay family, staff members of the training institute, and friends with whom I got acquainted in Japan. When I thought of my job after graduation, I realized, from my stay in Japan, that it would be good if many foreign students who have learned the Japanese language can enjoy speaking and understanding Japanese like me. Furthermore, I hope to work in a job which supports foreign students who have learned the Japanese language. And, finally I decided in my study to major in Japanese language education in the graduate school of a Japanese university. After proceeding to the graduate school, I have been intent on my research. In April, 2015, I worked as an assistant of Japanese language education research in the university which had a class in Japanese language mainly for foreign students.I studied for 8 years since 2005 as foreign student, and now I am working as  an assistant for educational activities supporting foreign students who study Japanese language.  Actually I do not have any class for Japanese language, but I can help foreign students from a closer standpoint so that they can take better opportunities for learning Japanese language.  As I chose a way which I learn Japanese language enjoying communication by Japanese language, I can say that this job is just my heart’s desire. I never dreamt of getting such job in Japan when I first came to Japan. One year has already passed since I got the job as an assistant. Sometimes I remember my first individual consultation meeting for a Japanese language curriculum, which was very impressive. When I arrived at the meeting place on that day I found that just before the meeting, everything was prepared and made ready. Teachers who actually had classes and volunteers who could communicate in English, Chinese and Korean were already seated.  Foreign students began to arrive on the starting time outside the place.  But, it seemed some of them were too nervous to enter the place and were just watching and hesitating to enter into the hall.I called out to students who were hanging about outside the hall and guided them inside.  Some of them gave me worried glances.  The glance of a student, who could not speak Japanese seemed to me like a voice which he cried for “help!”  I tried to listen to his concern or problem as carefully as I could, so that his worry could be eased. When I assisted in such guidance sessions, I noticed one thing. All students were supposed to come here for consultation about their curriculum of the Japanese language study, but actually some students did not understand what they should be consulting with us.  When I guided Chinese students to the teachers or volunteers, I was told: “I will come again after I decide what I should ask”.  Frankly speaking, I was surprised a little at the comment, though I clearly understand their nervousness, based from my own experience as a foreign student. The individual consultation meeting was established to assist foreign students to solve any problem which they may have. But we came to realize that it was not easy for foreign students to come to such meeting. We understood that they hesitate to come because they cannot understand Japanese language well. But, it seems that the language problem is not the only concern. They are not familiar with getting consultation or assistance from people with whom they are not acquainted in a big hall and they have never experienced consulting with others. I was impressed with their seriousness that they were thinking carefully about their question before they left their chair for our consulting table. And, at the same time, I had a feeling which I, as a foreign student, did not experience before.  When I came to Japan, I had no trouble in speaking Japanese because I had learned Japanese language in university.  I had a feeling now, also, especially during this one year when I was working as an assistant, that there are many foreign students who cannot speak Japanese well. Moreover, I realized that now is the time for diversification. When they left home country, these students had varied purposes, backgrounds and experiences,  and their level of knowledge of the Japanese language were also different. When we assist various foreign students who are learning Japanese language, I think   there may be a lot of things which I could not imagine if I follow my experience. Of course, we can solve some of their concerns based on my experience. However, we cannot solve their worries or trouble like an equation because their backgrounds or purposes are different. We have to listen to what they are saying first how much they have learned by then, what are they aiming at and what kind of worry or hesitation they have now.  In March, we will receive new students and our activities for such foreign students will be developed again. Though I have little experience, I like to do my best keeping my posture of scrupulously listening to what each foreign student is saying. (Japanese Language Research Assistance at Graduate School, Waseda University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito SGRA Kawaraban 483 in Japanese(Original)
  • Xie Zhihai “Luxury brand articles are in trouble with capricious consumers”

    It is not as easy as the present for enterprises which have luxury brands to forecast consumers’ behaviors. Everybody has a smartphone and access to internet every day. In such circumstances, it seems to be easy for such enterprises to analyze customers’ tastes  from purchase records or search history. But, actually this analysis is not so easy to do.. I have a feeling that world-wide long-established brand companies, whose brands are easily recognized merely by their logos, are being tossed around by capricious consumers’ behavior.  When we look at both sides, luxury brands companies and consumers, we note that there has been a relation that the companies which produce high-grade brand articles which have strong or outspoken impact and consumers’ demand for them. The rich customers could get them easily. People who cannot afford to buy hankered for the articles and yearned for the rich. Images of high-grade brands were getting higher valuation. Recently, however, when I see SNS (Social Networking Service) or “YouTube”, it seems to me that people do not admire the brand as before.Where have their interests gone ? I found an interesting research in Harvard Business Review (the November 2015 issue of Japanese version). The title was “High-grade brand article which copes with “inconspicuous consumption”. Consumers, as shown by a recent trend, do not like such articles to be conspicuous as before. Such trend started from Europe and America and became stronger. In China too, sales of clothes and bags which have famous logos dropped recently. The research about consumers’ behavior points out that there is a trend which avoids luxury brand article in the world. And, according to this analysis, there are three factors which support such trend. The first factor is high-grade brand articles became popular to middle class people and their logos are no longer mark or proof of being rich. This is because high-grade imitation goods by “fast-fashion” and diffusion-line (popular products of high-grade brand articles) of brands. (For example, diffusion line of “Armani” is “Armani-Exchange”.) The second is blatant status-symbols do not fascinate the upper class consumers any more. The third is the niche brand articles went in for the boom owing to promotion in the social media. For example, in the case of handbags, Bottega Veneta which has less brand logo is becoming more popular than the Gucci brand. In the case of coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee is preferred rather than Starbucks This research analyze mainly how upper class people trend away from brand logos.  And those three factors mentioned above are related also to middle class consumers who are the most important customers. First of all, the rise of “fast-fashion” is unavoidable. And, everybody can enjoy their dressing up now.  Besides, owing to popularization of internet and smartphone, everybody can access any information which they like to get and they can use their information by themselves. It is now in fashion in the world that people introduce their clothes by themselves using “Selfie” (picture taken of yourself mainly for SNS) or “Instagram”. If they do such introduction every day, they prefer to have many variations of dress and accessories which they purchase at “fast fashion” as much as possible, rather than having only one high-class brand handbag.  Actually, popular “fashionista” in “Instagram” is the one who wears a dress stylishly not the one who has a lot of high-class brand articles. According to the research, niche-brand boom made by social media, the third factor mentioned above, is explained as exchange of “subtle signal” among people regardless of socio-economics classes. In other words, there is no wall on the internet among social classes. Everybody can communicate freely from site to site. By doing so, like-minded people of tastes or purposes get together naturally. A fashion is created by attracting people’s attention. As an example, when Chinese tourists came to Japan in the past, they usually bought SKII (high-class cosmetics) . But, nowadays, they buy facial packs at drug stores in town. Why? It is because those facial packs have been used and guaranteed as good by the people who have visited Japan and have written “good” in their blogs. Consumers enjoy shopping using information from like-minded (visiting Japan and enjoy shopping) people rather than enterprises that invest big money for advertisement.   Not all the Chinese tourists stopped buying luxury brand articles. If you go to Ginza, you can see many Chinese tourists in luxury brand shops. We can say that consumers have many options now. They go to luxury brand shops, drug stores and Don Quixote. Now, it is not a status symbol for the people who have luxury brand articles. I think an experience becomes a status by popularization of SNS rather than possessing luxury brand articles. It is easy for people who can share “experience” on SNS saying “good!”rather than showing off luxury brand articles which they have bought. The existence of social media has changed consumers’ behavior and tastes. Did marketing people of luxury brand enterprises presume such changes?  As the conclusion of the Harvard Business Review, a trend of high-quality image which does not show their brand logomark becomes very personal not social. In other words, a bag whose design is refined and has brand-logo mark inside symbolizes higher status than a bag which has conspicuous logo mark outside. Yes, the key-word is “personal”! On the internet now, there is a page like “Facebook” or “Instagram” which consumers can open by themselves. This “personal whereabouts” page spreads out to friends or to hobby pages. There is another site “Pinterest”, not SNS, which can preserve favorite pictures and specializes for enjoying “possessing” those pictures personally,. We can book-mark on our personal board our favorite pictures from the internet. We can classify such pictures by categories like clothes, interior etc. and it is possible for somebody else to access those “Pinterest”.  It is a good chance to show our sense. By collecting our favorite pictures, we can build up world view by our own and can get our feelings that we possess. For example, when we bookmark a picture of watch which we could not possess before we can enjoy a feeling that the watch comes near now. It is a show of “personal” hobby of middle-class enjoying our “whereabouts” on internet without possessing. Rich consumers are enjoying casual (or nonchalant) luxury now. Other consumers are also enjoying their own luxury not sticking to possessing. It is not easy to forecast such bipolarization hereafter. It is said that there are enterprises which correspond properly to such customers’ changes restraining from exposing their logo marks. Marketing of enterprises which have luxury brand articles will be forced to face hardships hereafter. (Full-time Lecturer of Maebashi Kyoai Gakuen University)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito SGRA Kawaraban 482 in Japanese (original)
  • Yeh Wenchang “How to Express History ? ”

    It is said that history is written by the victorious in a war or conflict. But this assertion is limited to within a country or to an occurrence in nationalism. If history will be written in a country for their own convenience, neighboring countries may understand it in a different way, and people after ages cannot take either version on trust. Under a democratic system, there are many understandings of history and regimes or governments will change also often. So, beliefs and understandings do not turn out as those in power wished.   I studied in Japan from the first to the third grade in elementary school. I read a biography of Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536-1598), one of the great Japanese unifiers, and I thought he was a great person as was written in his biography. However, when I returned to Taiwan, I found that Hideyoshi is written up in a history textbook as a bad fellow. I grew up in a family which believed in the time under Japanese reign. My parents told me that public security in Taiwan had been good under Japanese reign and everything became worse under the Nationalist Party. In school, we had to study our history from Chinese viewpoint and impression about Japan was not so good. I came to know that there were many people who had been oppressed and discriminated against even during the period of Japanese reign. People felt in different ways even if their experience occurred in the same place and in the same period. I thought it arrogant to understand history from the experiences of only a part of the people.   Science leads to the same answers for everybody. In this sense, we cannot say present history textbooks are not science. What should history textbooks be ? I had a chance to talk, over “sake,” about history textbook with learned men in Japan and scholars about the history of China and Korea. They are trying to write history textbooks which all of them can accept for establishing a society by scholars of histories in Japan, Korea and China. According to them, the most difficult point in the process of reconciling histories was the problem of communications among different countries. The meaning of a word or concept would be different depending on the quality of the translation. If they use English as a common language, they can communicate only superficially. Moreover, doyens of historians in each country cannot speak English well.   In the world of science, it would be best to explain by the use of easy languages which can be understood by everybody. So, I told them that they can communicate in simple English if they have difficulty to describe historical events. But history researchers replied to me that they have to explain the relation of cause and effect, and in a subtle nuance when they explain histories. So, it will be difficult to explain histories using easy languages.   It seems to me historians make simple occurrences or events complicated. For example, when Japanese historians explain a battle or a war, they use a word differently. For example, they use the word “Rebellion“(乱) for coups d’etat which failed and “Incident”(変)for coups d’etat which succeeded. Both are coups d’etat anyway, and they make it complicated. It is said that such complicated Japanese expressions are “refined or graceful”. It is the same with Chinese expressions “深奥”(meaningful) or “奥妙” (superb) which Chinese people in Taiwan use in the Chinese culture. So, I think historians who use such words do not understand well the cultures of other countries. Such complicated expression of histories in Japan originally came from China. In China, there are many expressions in Chinese history books about “War” or “Killing others”. In the case of “War”, they use several Chinese characters to describe it as simple occurrences, conquests or invasions, all of which are very subjective. For example, the Syrian War can be explained as “Conquest” from a viewpoint of one country and “Invasion” from others, depending on their standpoint. So, I think histories should be written using simple vocabularies as much as possible and excluding sentiment about right or wrong.   So, in the case of the Sino-Japanese War, I will write “Japan sent its troops” to China. The words “invasion” or “conquest”, are both very subjective, and are unnecessary. And if we write “sending troops”, we will be released from mental complication, that is, we have to use the word “conquest” when we send troops to another country and “invasion” when another country sends its troops to our country. If we are asked whether “sending troops” are right or wrong, I think it is unnecessary to judge in history because we have been taught by teachers since the first grade of primary school that it is wrong to strike the first blow or to bring in weapons first. There are a lot of interpretations for a historical occurrence. When there are objections among historians, they mention only the part which they agree after verifying evidence. About the part on which they cannot reach agreement, it will be enough to let the young conclude from the opinions of historians of both sides of the issue.   (Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Faculty of Science and Engineering of Shimane University / Researcher of SGRA “Environment and Energy” Research Team)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 481 in Japanese (original)
  • Yang, Yu Gloria Report on “Construction Site (Redevelopment of Kachidoki 5chome Area) Visiting”

    We visited the construction site of Kajima’s project “Redevelopment of Tokyo Kachidoki 5-chome Area” on November 4, 2015. Our visit was made together with ten scholarship students and officers and staff of Atsumi International Foundation composed of Ms. Imanishi, Managing Director, Mr. Tsunoda, Secretary-general, Ms. Ishii, Ms. Ota and Ms. Honda.   We assembled at a ticket gate of the Kachidoki Station of the Oh-Edo Line and walked to the site enjoying the special atmosphere of downtown Tukishima area under a clear sky. As the site was not yet opened to the public, our curiosity was stimulated. A Kajima staff explained to us about the outline of a high-rise apartment project which is under construction and its special and technical features.   The construction of a 53 stories apartment started in 2013 and will be completed by December 2016. They complete five stories a day integrating their most advanced technologies. He explained also, as the most prominent feature of the project, that Kajima adopted the “VD Core-Flame method of construction” as Japan has frequent earthquakes which is inadequate for high-rise buildings. It is the first method of construction in the world. They install “oil-dumpers” among three buildings which are combined together and this method absorbs the shock of earthquake. Structures of combined three buildings, called “Tristar (three stars) Type” are strong but superior in design. Traditional box-type huge buildings give us an oppressive feeling.  But we think the Tristar type is more well-matched with the surroundings because of its being well-lighted and expansive approaches on the ground.   After this explanation, we went up to the upper floor via the temporary elevator, after putting on a helmet and having a transceiver.  In our elevator which is operated at high speed, all of us were excited imagining how the site will look like.   When we got out of temporary elevator, we were captivated by panoramic view of the Bay of Tokyo which was very  wide under a clear sky.  We were impressed by such grand sites as the Loop 2 which is just before the opening to vehicular traffic, the Hamarikyu Gardens, the Tokyo Tower, the roofs of the Tsukiji Outer Market and the bridges over Sumida-River.  All of us shouted “Wow! Mt. Fuji!” It was a valuable experience for us that we could see, in our presence, actual “light (in weight) tubes” and “oil dampers” which were explained to us just now as being the most advanced technologies. We were impressed also by the splendid clean and systematic administration of the site where Kajima execute such works like pillars, structural members, floors and wirings of each room perfectly, as scheduled. When we were told the recycling ratio of industrial wastes reaches to 98%, we recognized clearly that Kajima is very particular about creative construction.   After visiting the site, we moved to a nearby “gallery for high-rise apartment” and visited a theatre for publicity and show rooms. The entrance hall of the gallery is decorated with modern taste as actual entrance hall.  At the theatre, were shown the premises, urban space and living style on 3D cinema and three motion videos. Panoramic simulation of sunset, at a show room, which seems to symbolize elegant and refined living style of adults were very impressive. We had an animated discussion about sociability of high-rise apartments and a change of social structure which comes from the change of urban space from horizontal to vertical.   Visiting the jobsite of “Kachodoki 5-chome Area” was a very valuable experiences for the scholarship students. This high rise apartment, which is under construction, would be certainly a new land-mark. The under construction living apace influences the life of the residents. Apartment numbersing more than 1400 units can be said to compose a town. We expect valuable social and cultural role of “Kachidoki-tower” in Tsukisima area in Tokyo which would show case the most advanced technologies and design concept.   (Scholarship student of Atsumi International Foundation)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   AISF Report in Japanese (original)
  • Yutaka Tonooka “J.I. Forum – the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II: Thought on Historical Memories and Their Recognition –“

    I attended the Japan Initiative (J.I.) Forum under the coordination of Mr. Hideki Kato, Representative of JI:”Ko-so Nippon”, which was conducted in Japanese.  Professor Tadashi Kinomiya (Graduate School of Arts and Science, University of Tokyo) who specializes in Korean Political History and Professor Liu Jie (School of Social Science, Waseda University), a specialist in Modern History of the Relations between Japan and China). Both speakers are closely related with SGRA.   I gave my opinion, at the last session of questions and answers which was moderated  by Prof. Liu Jie, who pointed out that anybody who likes to promote “national reconciliation” by “public (common) wisdom”, should establish a platform on the internet. At the get-together meeting, however, I became aware that my opinion was misunderstood and given an opposite meaning. So I like to clarify my opinion in this essay.   When we conducted a survey of the histories of East Asia, there was a lot of confusion or unusual conditions.  The Opium War in China, separation of North and South Korea after the Korean War, and, in Japan, consecutive wars, including the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific-War after the Meiji Restoration. Although Japan lost the Pacific-War, we can say that all the confusions in East Asia have been caused by advances of the great powers in Europe and America who aimed to impose colonial rules.   We cannot always justify colonial rules by different races over Taiwan, Korea and Manchuria.  After the Perry (USA) Expedition in 1853, Japan had thought it necessary to oppose, as a nation of Asia, the advances by great powers into East Asia. There are deep-rooted opinions that Japan should have definitely insisted that they had fought consecutive wars, which were said to be wars of aggression, in order to protect (at least, at the beginning) Asia against the great powers.   After World War II, in the history education in Japan, the Japanese people have been taught, as convenient for America, that all the wars undertaken by Japan were “wars of aggression”. Some people say that this mindset caused Japanese to develop a masochistic view of history. After the War, the American occupation army forced on Japan a distorted history education characterized by fear of Japanese united power, fear of rising again as a warlike nation and fear of national pride. This distorted history exists even now. According to a public-opinion poll of the world, the young in Japan are notably weak among advanced countries, in terms of patriotic spirit, in respect of parents and in self-confidence. It is said those weaknesses have been an American strategy.  But it is also said that activities to recover national pride are being undertaken recently. Though I am not so positive, I am attending a study group of this kind in these days in order to learn if there are many people who have various opinions.   It is said a history is always written so that it will be convenient for administrators of the time. If so, the problem of historical recognitions is not solved as a national sentiment. As proposed by Prof. Liu Jie, if we like to establish histories as “public wisdom” of Asia, it is necessary to accumulate objective historical materials which are not affected by the politics of nations. Unfortunately, the Japanese people are lacking basic knowledge of histories and they do not know histories of surrounding countries. Knowledge and information, which would make researchers realize the pains of the people, who were under colonial rule, are also insufficient.   Governments are liable to impose on their people their understanding of histories which are convenient for these governments and would try to insist this understanding on other countries. However, as we are now living in the internet societies where we can share information among people of other countries. The citizens of the world should build networks for sharing objective materials of histories as “public wisdom” across national borders. There may be various opinions, but scholars of histories are asked to have a role to spreading such fundamental knowledge with opinions based on objective reasons and explainations which can be easily understood by everybody. People in each country will realize that there are opinions different from those of the government. There are many viewpoints. With this realization of general and objective understanding, people will come to know that it would be meaningless to confront each other on different views of histories by governments. As such, I expect some good result which will gradually remove individual ill feelings.   On the other hand, it will be a job for diplomats to solve confrontations among governments, including problems of different recognition of histories by countries. Recently, it is a reality that negotiations among Japan, China and Korea are not always going well, and I am afraid that this situation comes from poor negotiating abilities of  the diplomats of these countries.   Mao Zedong of China said “Existence decides Consciousness”. He preached that people who are concerned with politics have to think on the standpoints of the people (especially the poor and lower class farmers). This indicates that if politicians are not conscious of such standpoints, they are apt to think from their limited viewpoints. For the Japanese people, it is difficult to imagine standpoints or sentiments of other people who have been ruled.   As I was taking the above thoughts into consideration, I expressed at the meeting: “as Japan has never been colonialized, we have difficulty understanding the standpoints of Korea, China and Taiwan”. And I was aware afterward that I affirmed my indifferent attitude without self-examination.   At a social gathering after a lecture meeting, I was told by somebody that “Japan has an experience to have been occupied by American armed forces”. While talking with him, I became aware, for the first time, that my statement in my presentation was misunderstood. In Okinawa, many people have been certainly sacrificed; in the main land, also, a huge number of people (more than 300 thousand) died from the atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and in the Great Tokyo Air Raid many people also died.  I have stated that we have no experience to have been occupied because ours was not a colonial occupation for long period.   We, Japanese, have not yet gotten out of our understanding of a defeated country due to a skillful occupation which came from Japan-US relations for 70 years since the end of the War. The US military bases are still here and there is no future prospect for their going away. Some people say that the US wanted to occupy Iraq softly as they did with Japan so that Iraq would obey everything that the US says. I should have said that Japan is as good as being under (hidden) colonial occupation.   The Pope of Rome said definitely that present business enterprises are plundering and damaging the environment. As Mr. Thomas Piketty (French economist) pointed out, modern enterprises in advanced countries are getting profit skillfully but legally and are establishing the composition of societies where one percent are wealthy people and 99% are poor. There is another economist who pointed out that the US taxation system causes inequalities in societies. In the US, various financial instruments (e.g. derivatives) are developing and when company directors sell their shares, they are treated preferentially in taxation. There is another penetrating opinion that a part of the people in the world are active behind the scene influencing governments in the pursuit of their personal profit, and their activity is stirring up disputes in the world.   There is no point if we, as Asian comrades, are hostile to each other under the circumstances where a small part of the world’s population (consisting of the wealthy), pursuing their personal gain, dominate the governments of the world. In the societies of Japan, China and Korea, where there is a common Confucian culture of working together, I think we have a base which is easy to be reconciled with each other.   I am proud of the Atsumi International Foundation which, as you know, holds international research conferences in several cities in the world. These conferences have contributed to establishing common wisdom as Prof. Liu Jie said. Many men of talent who are scholarship students of the Foundation are very active all over the world. I hope we can enlarge the circle of friends for better understanding and establish reciprocal societies as Asian economic communities equal to the EU. This present research meeting is significant and, hopefully be the first step toward this end.     (Yutaka Tonooka / Professor of Humanities and Social Science, Saitama University, Visiting Researcher of Waseda University)     <Reference>   Co-hosting “JI Forum – the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II:Thoughts on Historical Memories and Their Recognition-“   On September 28,2015, we (SGRA) co-hosted the Japan Initiative (JI) Forum. JI is presided by Mr. Hideki Katoh, who is also Councilor of the Atsumi International Foundation and they have been examining problems in Japan such as “program (by the Government) review”. They offered us this time to discuss international issues also and we, as SGRA, have been thinking that international problems should be studied by Japanese people more. And we have decided to cohost the forum. JI held the first Forum in July 2015, titled “At the ‘70th anniversary of the end of World War II”, and they study this time the same period from the side of China and Korean peninsula. We decided on the title “Forum II, Thoughts on Historical Memories and Their Recognition at the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II”, asking Prof. Liu Jie (Waseda University) and Prof. Tadashi Kinomiya (the University of Tokyo), both have been supporting SGRA for a long time.   Prof. Liu showed retrogression of relations between Japan and China comparing two pictures:one is friendly photo of Mao Zedong・Zhou Enlai and Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka・Masayosi Ohirain 1972 and the other is a stiff shaking hands between Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping in November, last year.  He referred also, according to an attitude survey, not only politicians, more than 80 % of the people of both countries expressed their dislike of each other. He also said that there is recently a movement of history-recognition in learned societies in China.  In order to improve such situation, he asserted to promote  exchange at the intellectual level in Japan studies and necessity of common knowledge which can be shared among the whole Asia,about experiences of success and failure in Japan including the period before World War II.   According to Prof. Kinomiya, when the Japan-Republic of Korea Basic Relations Treaty was concluded in 1965, serious disputes had started between Japan and Korea because the Treaty did not solve problems properly. There were such changes in the relation between the countries like changes from vertical (Japan, as ruler and advanced country in economic development) to horizontal (equal partners in power). In Korea, there appeared domestic confrontation due to their diversification and stratification of society, and people found it difficult to compromise with Japan being afraid of being criticized domestically. He pointed out, as a solution, that Japan should tackle positively historical problems even though this may be in a narrow sense. And, it is necessary for Koreans to control themselves to avoid making a Japan-Korea problem into a “historical issue”.  He also insisted that, for recognition and policies against China, both countries should pursue common possibilities of access.   Moderator Mr. Kato premised “we like to look at historical issues on a broader scale without sticking at trifles”.  Opinion by both gentlemen, Prof. Kinomiya and Mr. Kato, were exactly an overlooking for big steps of modern histories. Based on responses to questionnaires after the forum, some participants commented: “it was difficult to give our own opinions on the theme this time because we could not identify what the truth is. We like to be as close to the truth as much as possible. We believe we can improve our chance to express our opinion by attending this kind of forum.” I thought, as the sponsor of this forum that it was effective because we were able to have such comment. We may lose free spatial feelings if we discuss on the basis of “justice” or “righteousness”.  Mr. Kato pointed out that we, Japan, came to feel cramped recently for certain though I do not know in foreign countries.  It was very impressive for me.   Lastly, I like to thank the participants in this forum and our co-host.   (Junko Imanishi /Representative for SGRA)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 471 in Japanese (original)
  • KIM Eun-hye “IITATE-Village, Overcoming dilemma for resurrection”

    1. How to face “Fukushima”, as a researcher of Japan Studies?   It’s the fourth time having “SGRA Fukushima Study Tour”after the disaster which occurred on 11 March 2011 in Fukushima Prefecture.   As a scholarship student of Atsumi International Foundation of the year 2011, I experienced vividly a personal turmoil after what has become universally known as the Great East Japan Earthquake. I will never forget this experience. This time, I have joined “Takidashi(soup kitchen)” (distributing boiled rice) in Ishinomaki-City (Miyagi Prefecture) and my feeling of wanting to help people in the disaster-tricken area (as in Fukushima), was refreshed. I have also worried about how to face “Fukushima Nuclear Accident”, and the word “Resurrection” did not reach my heart at that time because they were still in tense situation for settling the accident.   After obtaining my doctorate degree in Korea, I was searching for “Cities in East Asia which are possible to coexist each other and be sustainable together” at a research team under the theme “Crisis and conversion of cities in East Asia in this globalization time”.  I am also involved now in another research for Japan Studies analyzing countermeasures or recommendations against “Risk-scape” (scene of risks) which arise from nuclear power stations in the countries in North-Eastern Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea), I am especially concentrating on a research titled “Changes and Gropes of Japanese Civil Societies after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Accident”.     2. Pilot Studies in the winter of 2014   In December, 2014, I visited Iitate-Village for the first time.  I had been reading reports by mass media and other materials, keeping my interest in “countermeasures by Fukushima”.  I was at a loss for words when I saw at sites of the disaster a terrific scene of pyramids of flexible containers with decontaminated soil and leaves inside. Mr. Yoichi TAO, President(Representative) of NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima” explained to us the details from the beginning when he had met with the Iitate people up to the time when he established the NPO.  Mr. Muneo Kanno、one of the disaster victims, talked about his determination toward the resurrection of the Iitate village, starting with getting out of the confusions immediately after the accident.   I was most impressed by the positive attitude of the farmers in the stricken areas, with volunteers and scientists who were conducting corporate works, together with efforts for “recovering the people’s trust in technologies”.   We often use words, such as “Anti-nuclear power stations” or “Abandoning nuclear power”, but it is a reality that the number of groups, together with the village inhabitants, which take a step toward this direction, is very few.  It is absolutely necessary to cooperate with science and technology because radioactivity is invisible. In this point, I think NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima” is the most advanced group of scientists in the world.   At the exchange-of-ideas meetings at night, engineering experts, science researchers of agriculture and forestry and volunteers, had heated discussions about causes or settlements of disputes arising from accidents. I sympathize with the ideas that these experts spread their message to the world about the process and results which they got after their experimentation and discussions. In order to rise from such man-made disasters, people, especially victims of disasters must use such ideas from thwisdom of farmers and various specialists. I was especially impressed by their passion “to resurrect Fukushima using the power of scientific agriculture”. I thought science which would resurrect nature shall be a real science for human beings only. Mrs. Chieko Kanno presented me with warm socks for use in the snow-covered cold morning. In return, I helped with the “works in the vinyl-house” which the department of agriculture of Meiji University has installed. She spoke well of my works saying I have a sense of the science of agriculture. I like to do something to help their experiment for resurrection.     3. I joined again and worked together with the villagers in Autumn, 2015.   I joined this study tour this time, together with colleagues from Atsumi Foundation and others all with different nationalities, professional fields, gender and generation. When I heard news of heavy rainfall two weeks before the tour, I was very anxious about the situation. According to a mail from NPO “Resurrection of Fukushima”, roads surrounding the house of Mr. Kanno, which is the base office of “Resurrection of Fukushima”, was destroyed and everything including the experimental vinyl house and rice fields have been damaged.  When I arrived at the site, one fifth of rice crop had been damaged by rain.  We did our utmost effort to save the rice crop, but we were not fully successful. However, the roads and vinyl houses have been restored.   On the second day, we worked as a group and harvested as much as we could the damaged rice crop and subsequently joined harvest festival. I met two young guys who were gleaning around me when I was doing unused farm-works. Mr. Sota Sato, who dreams of becoming the Iitate village headman in the future, spoke of his passionate aspiration, with mixed feelings of hope and fear for the resurrection of Iitate. Another guy, who came from Chiba-Pref. as a volunteer and joined the “rice harvest” for the second time, told me that he would pray for the “resurrection of Fukushima” while storing his gleanings in his house.   Frankly speaking,when I joined the tour for the first time last year, I had some doubt about the word “resurrection”.  But, I have a strong feeling now that “resurrection power is a power of human beings”.   During my rice harvesting works in “rice cropping experiment”, I enjoyed cheerful talks, recalling my childhood or Japanese names of such worms as “crickets, earthworms, the Oriental mole crickets and newts which have red belly”. Such living creatures have been living in these rice fields. At this instance, I had a strong feeling of reconfirmation that this would be the first step toward resurrection of the land and fields where living creatures could survive. However, we heard the big noise of weed-removing machines being used in the other side of the fields. The workers who had been dispatched from the government for the decontamination operation involving very hard and dangerous jobs were all young. I wondered if there are no policies that could connect such hard and dangerous jobs to a joy for resurrection.     4. Overcoming severepresent condition,   In order to make good use of “our wishes for resurrection”, I would like to point out several contradictions. Radiological dosage in the disaster area is actually still high. But, there are big differences in degree among places or on conditions of the environment. In order to overcome such situation, it is urgently requested to convert the present system of decontamination to new system which can connect to suitable policies of government. I watched a tv news in the Shinkansen when I was returning to Tokyo, and saw consumers who are living in cities and are pleased with TPP (Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Agreement) because they can buy foods from overseas at lower prices.   I think it is necessary to discuss not only a compulsory return to Fukushima policy by the government but also a “return policy which is really helpful for the agriculture of Fukushima and the inhabitants there”, or a return policy that takes into account “different regional problem (for example, in cases where only the aged have returned, or there are many required legal actions after returning) and specific return policy of Iitate”.   Lastly, I recall “nuclear power plant in Korea”where the most densely area in the world in terms of land area and more than three millions of people are living within the range of 30 km. We have to watch out,for the way of resurrection for Iitate; how to make the best use of the results of the scientific and social experimentation which Japan has undertaken in the face of severe realities after nuclear power plant disasters.     (Asia Research Center, Seoul University)     Translatedby Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 472 in Japanese (original)
  • Xia Zhihai“Relationship between Children and Smartphone, and adults’ roles for it”

    Recent incidents by children are deeply related with smartphones in the possession of those children. In the latter part of the last summer holidays, a junior high-school student was arrested in Ehime Prefecture. He inflicted repeated violence on his classmate and displayed a picture of his violence using LINE. Similar incidents are being reported every day. But, it seems that no solution can be found to stop this practice. It may be because we cannot relate how present-day adults may have grown up owning smartphones, or had friends with smartphones. Internet surroundings for children, which are changing rapidly, cause bullying on the internet and result in suffering or commission of crimes.   I think such bullying, etc. are most important issues in the field of education.  But, teachers cannot interfere in communities of LINE of children in the internet even if they are alert in schools. Or, even if parents can filter use of smartphones by their children, they cannot prevent uploading of pictures or movies. Once pictures or movies are uploaded, nobody (school, parents or the police) can delete these. I do not know how education can cope with such a situation.   In my home town in China, the situation is the same. Relations between children and smartphones are social problems.  There are plenty of young internet users who feel uneasy if they are not always connected with friends on “WeChat” (微信) which is a similar application with LINE.  Adults also use “WeChat” conveniently. We can use neither “Facebook” nor “Twitter” in China.  But, we have many similar applications on which we can exchange our opinions.  These are “Weibo”(微博) which is a mini-blog like twitter, “WeChat” mentioned above, and “QQ” Chine which can be said to have created an internet dependence in a big country. In the relation between children and smartphones, though there is no governmental law in China, such as the regulation in Japan, where children are required to leave their smartphones with their teachers during school hours. Enforcement of such regulations depends on the abilities of the particular education system or schools.   Only LINE is prominent in Japan, as people being left out of friends. But, new applications similar to LINE are being developed one after another as catch-up or overtake efforts. It is said to be fashionable among students to upload to internet materials which they took by smartphones, after being edited using available applications. The file size of of moving pictures is said to be too heavy to send. This problem, however, was solved by the speed of internet and increased use of Wi-Fi access.   The other day, I had a chance to talk with people who belong to a youth development association. According to them, on using smartphone, the problem is not only LINE but also “on-line-games” which are provided together with TV commercials, using entertainers as presenters. It seems to be difficult for the parents to drag their children away from the games partly because parents are also addicted. There is  another trouble.  Recently, there are a lot of problems associated with applications which are specialized to sell unwanted articles and are not regulated in their use by young people who are under 18 years old. Under the present situation, children under 18 can sell unwanted articles, using available applications, can get money and buy other prohibited materials. Under such circumstances, what adults can do is to just follow the situation that new applications, which are convenient and enjoyable for the young, are developed one after another.  It may be a reality that we, adults, cannot grasp how such applications affect children adversely..   We cannot leave as it is the relations between children and the internet. First of all, parents have to know exactly the existing conditions.  And, it will ideal that parents establish some moral standards and rules to guide their children to the proper use of smartphones in the house.   It is said that schools are asking parents to think about their own personal relations with smartphones, in other words, how adults use smartphones by themselves. We are ashamed to hear of parents’ improper use of smartphones. . We know of the time when there is nosmartphone.  But, children do not know such time. This is the problem.  Unintentional exchange on the internet maybe used as dangerous weapons (for example, blackmail) or to be involved in unwanted incidents. We have to guide our children to understand such situations and be able to protect themselves.   (Full-time Lecturer, Maebashi Kyouai Gakuen University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 470 in Japanese (original)  
  • Bai Zhili “Japan Studies in East Asia, as a Means”

    On July 18, 2015, SGRA Forum “Looking for New Paradigm of Japan Studies” was held at Waseda University. About 20 researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia, who are active at the front, assembled. First of all, I like to express my profound gratitude to Atsumi International Foundation and to International Relations Research Institute for East Asia, Waseda University for giving me an opportunity for discussions and exchanges with other researchers.   At this forum, “Japan Studies as a means” were discussed as one of the main topics. I would like to summarize my study “Japan Studies as a means ”, especially “Japan Studies as a means in East Asia” in this forum.   “What is Japan Studies?” This is a difficult question to answer for researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia, especially China and Korea.   Many researchers, not only myself, aspire to be researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia for special reasons, apart from purely academic objectives. They have to undertake internal or spiritual self-examination, like staring at themselves through Japan, thereby reconfirming and recognizing themselves. When they lay their own individual experience, in other word “self” factor, over histories or development of their countries or races, they have to inevitably confront the process and development of their own histories   I can say that “Japan Studies” for researchers in East Asia is a double mirror which reflects themselves or nations and how they should be. In other words, “Japan Studies” is one of the internal conversation with themselves or nations, namely this is “Japan Studies as a means” for self-assessment.   Needless to say, such a way of thinking comes from geographical limitation of neighboring countries in East Asia and born on the basis of complicated development of their modern histories.   Specifically, Japan has achieved its modernization first in the Meiji Period in East Asia. Then, after the war, Japan has achieved economic and social development like Western countries through a period of peaceful development.   The process of Japanese modernization after the Meiji Period, even up to now, is based on familiar mutual relationship with East Asia. In this sense, Japan Studies in East Asia is about Japan and, at the same time, “Studies about East Asia” and “Studies of their own countries”. Researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia are unconsciously extending “Japan Studies as a means”.   Some people say that, as a misgiving or criticism, “Japan Studies as a means” is not genuine Japan Studies. But, as a researcher or a human being,we are forced to be strained mentally in a situation that there is a slight difference which can distinguish ourselves from others. So, I cannot look at such process as worthless because we cultivate and reform our spirit facing Japan as a subject of study.  I think, by such severe strains and self-consideration of intention, we can reach to more unexpected results than just academic Japan Studies.   When we emphasize, in Japan Studies as a means, the side of forming one’s mind, researchers have to necessarily face histories of victims in the past. In other words, we have to face “reconciliation of history” for its own sake, which is the biggest issue in East Asia.   Reconciliation is a relief of wrongdoers’ mind. At the same time, reconciliation has to be a relief of victims’ mind. When we grope for its solution facing such a real issue, intellectual accumulation of Japan Studies as a means in East Asia and self-consideration of individual researchers will become spiritual nourishment and first step toward a solution.   As researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia reflect on the interrelationship of his own country with other countries in East Asia, Japan Studies in East Asia becomes East Asia Studies. Needless to say, such viewpoint covers the whole of East Asia and will jump to intellectual community in East Asia and finally to East Asia community which precede a reconciliation of history, as mentioned above.   Japan Studies as a means in East Asia is a result of Western modernization in Japan.  It is essential for China, which is still in the process of modernization, to have numerous discussions with Japan which attained modernization first. In this sense, we can say “Japan Studies, as a means” never lose actuality and will increase its importance when we consider East Asia, Asia and the world.   Furthermore, we say “End of Capitalism” nowadays, and Japan, which has already accomplished modernization, is at a big turning point and is expected to go forward to establish a new civilization of post-modernization   So, “Japan Studies” and “Japan Studies in East Asia” will never lose its importance.   However, in order to ease such a tense atmosphere in Japan Studies in East Asia, it will be useful to approach “East Asia Studies as a means” after “Japan Studies as a means”.   If we acknowledge “East Asian Studies, as a means”, which is developed from “Japan Studies as a mean”, as valuable and if we point to intellectual community in East Asia, researchers of Japan Studies in East Asia will be requested to endeavor to sublimate, refine, systematize and share those means consciously, not unconsciously.   (Associate Dean, School of Government Peking University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 469 in Japanese (original)
  • Miyuki Ota “Telephone Booth”

    I am in difficulties. I would like to mutter to myself “Nippon! Will this do ?” This is a story of public telephones. The decrease in the number of public telephones due to the spread of cellular phones is remarkable. The number of public phones in 2002 was 584,162 and it decreased to 195,514 in 2013. (“White Paper on Telecommunications” by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)  I can easily imagine that if the number of public telephones decreases, the number of telephone booths will also decrease. This may be unavoidable. But I am a person who do not like to see the number of telephone booths reduced. I would rather like to see the number of telephone booths increase.  The reason is not only for emergency purposes or for the aged but for modern reasons.   Using the telephone is obviously increasing despite the spread of “LINE”(free short-message service). Due to this change, I think we are becoming insensitive to noise. On the street or in the buildings, we are always getting or making phone calls.  While travelling in trains, we often see a notice saying , “Please refrain from making phone calls in the train”, but are we prepared with an alternative place, such as on the noisy station platforms?, on the center, or even the edge of the street? All are not suitable due to the noise in these areas. It is also dangerous to engage in cellphone converstations while one is walking along quiet town, or even on residential streets, as voices can be easily heard by everybody in such quiet surroundings. When we talk over the telephone, our voice becomes louder compared with that in face-to-face conversation. I often hear noisy phone conversations by pedestrians who are passing by my house.   Then, how about in the buildings? Voices or sounds in the lobby of buildings resound well. We are often asked “May I have your full name?” by someone whether in a beauty salon or department store. I do not like to make a reservation of place or thing, ask setting aside items or claim saying my cellular phone number in such public places. I do not like to cause trouble to people around me. But, it will be more dangerous in deserted parts in the buildings. A guard may appear in the harsh times. How shall I enter the place against “No Entry” ?  Hidden value of telephone booths may appear in such situation.   In the telephone booths, noise may be reduced to a certain level and we can see outside through the transparent glass wall of the booth. Using cellular phones does not arouse any suspicion. I sometime use a telephone booth to talk on the cellular phone instead of  using public phones. In such a case it may be funny if people look at me from outside the booth and they actually laughed at me.  So, what?  I use a phone in a place for a phone.  I am not doing anything wrong. People who laugh at me are insensitive to the manner of verbal conversation. How pitiable they are!   Telephone booths were often seen in old movies or in lobbies of high-class hotels. I like to increase the use of telephone booths.  Revival of telephone booth would lead not only to improvement of manners but more importantly to show respect for fellow human beings.     (Atsumi International Foundation, Finished Institute of Policy and Cultural Studies, Graduated School of Chuo University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 468 in Japanese (original)