SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Xia Zhihai “Poverty creeps upon Children”

      Recently, I find the word “Children’s Poverty” on the headlines of newspapers or other medium very often. I didn’t understand first which country have such poverty, and it was incredible to know that it was in Japan. All the children in Japan have game machines and smartphones from schoolchildren time. I can’t believe also that their appearances are poor.   According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Japanese leading economic newspaper), “Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions” (国民生活基礎調査) by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare shows that Japanese poverty rate rose to 16.3 percent, record high, in 2012. It is 0.6 points lower than the previous survey. I understood the figures shows clearly. *poverty rate : a ratio of children under 18 years old who are living in the families   which is under half of average income As children do not work and have no income, above figures were calculated on the basis of incomes of their parents. As the reason for rising poverty rate, the survey points out that the number of farther-less families are increasing. As mothers are working as temporary employees (from agencies) or under irregular employment, we can say that it is natural that their incomes are low. If we judge the poverty of children by the family income, difference between families which have fathers who are lifetime employment or two-income families and farther-less families are big. Frankly speaking, I have been thinking that Japanese children are blessed as I told above and parents spend money with no stint to cramming schools and lessons. Apart from rising poverty rate, I began to be anxious about such income disparities. Disparities between the children who are blessed with good opportunities and who are not blessed may affect bad influence to the future of Japan.   Even if the income of their parents would have disparities, it will be all right as long as children can get equal opportunities for education without any disparities. It is natural for children to go to cramming schools in Japan. Is it difficult for the poor income families to let their children get good habits to learn because of their poor income?Why do Japanese children go to cramming school? First of all, it may be for their preparation for examinations. Next is a decline of educational power by school. According to the survey of OECD, incredible to say, expenditure for education by the government is the 31st out of 32 countries. If education in Japan is not enough, children will continue to go to cramming schools for the time being. And if children in Japan are played by disparity of income of their parents, how will Japan be?   Prof. Jeffery Sachs, the chief of the Earth Institute of the Columbia University, has been regarding this (children’s poverty is greatly affected by poor surroundings of their parents ) as questionable from many aspects since before. He insists that we should get out of the chain which poverty in America infects through generations. According to his monograph, they are in the cycle that children whose parents are unemployed, sickened or incarcerated, regardless of being divorced or not, are living in poor regions and go to schools of low educational standards. And such children who are brought up under such circumstances have no choice but to grow up to poor man, in other words man of poor skill and cannot get respectable jobs. Such negative chain should be cut. He warns also that increasing of such poor children may affect economic growth of America.He emphasizes further that it happened in an “affluent society, America”.I do not think such negative chain is not possible in Japan.   How to check poverty of children and how to cut such negative chain before it comes too late? Prof. J. Sachs shows how to solve. He advises, according to his monograph published last year titled “children and country suffered from poverty”, that public money should be invested to give equal opportunity for education thoroughly.There is “Kodomo Teate Law*” in Japan. (*It gives legal guardians of children under 15 years old.) Is it functioning well? I hope poverty rate in Japan would decline when I investigate next time.   (A full-time lecturer,Kyoai Gakuen University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 437 in Japanese (original)  
  • David Goginashville “How Long will the War in their Heart last?”

        I participated in “the Fukushima Study Tour” two nights stay, and I could understand thoughts of villagers and real situation of Iitate from exchange and co-working with villagers and volunteers in Iitate. I could hear also about ecology, economy and population of Iitate from academic viewpoint.   I have been keeping a feeling ‘déjà vu’ which I myself could not catch after I have talked with displaced persons at Matukawa temporary houses which I visited first this time. Such ‘déjà vu’ became stronger after having exchange between such people who were struggling for finding out any light of hope, who are making pathetical effort to find out any rebirth of living circumstances in the situation that they cannot find out, and habitants there, volunteers, learned men and the young who are aiming at improvement of an image of Fukushima through works of art.   Such feeling ‘déjà vu’ was similar with the one which I have seen the people in Georgia in early 1990’s who were in similar situation and feelings with Iitate. In Georgia at that time, there were a lot of such people that displaced persons who have been forced out from their homes, habitants who have been fighting desperately for recovering their home land and artists who have been active for letting the people forget such tragedies even for a moment. It was not from nuclear accident which has resulted from natural phenomenon but from war which human being has started.   Alike a part of the land in Georgia which are occupied by foreign armies, Fukushima Prefecture are partly covered by invisible enemy “ radioactive substance”.   During our conversation with Iitate villagers, we heard very often the words “war for returning to home village”, “war against radioactivity” and “war in our heart”. I have got a strong impression that Fukushima is “in the midst of the war”. But it is different from the war in Georgia in the point that, in Fukushima where they are fighting with the “invisible war” negotiation or diplomacy which ease a relation between “the war” and “invisible enemy” are useless. The only solution for this is perfect removal of “invisible war”, in other words, Iitate cannot revive without removal of radioactivity.   The war in their heart is the most difficult war among every kinds of war. I have heard very often that if they lose the war in their heart, they would lose the war against radioactivity too. On the other hand, it is said that they do not know how they should fight against radioactivity. A reason why Iitate villagers have been fighting in their heart may become vicious circle if they cannot find any solution for removal of radioactivity and it is only a matter of time that they would lose the war in their heart.   The problem which became clear to be difficult in this tour is a poor linkage between government and habitants in the disaster-stricken area. A scale of decontamination work done by the Government seems impressive at first sight for the people who do not know the details. However, as I got detailed explanation about the situation of Iitate, I realized that it is ineffective.   Of course, some people say that it may be impossible to make an objective judgment for the work without listening to the government opinion. I am not a specialist but I think it natural that they thought doubtful about effectiveness of decontamination when I saw many black plastic bags which are full of soil, contaminated by radioactivity and stripped off from the surface of the ground, and are piled up everywhere in the village.Moreover, it will be natural also that villagers feel doubtfulness about the purpose of the works by the government if they look such bags are put in front of houses and fields. There is no such official plan that Iitate villagers watch out the work and can participate in the process of establishing working policies and decision of the plan itself.I think it will be one of the reasons for the above.I think it very unreasonable and unnatural that there is no set-up in the reality which villagers cannot remove radioactivity which poured on their land and they cannot check the work by themselves.   There is one non-governmental body called “Resurrection of Fukushima(Fukushima Saisei no Kai)”. It was established for the purpose of filling a gap between the government and people and is composed of habitants in the disaster stricken area, volunteers and scientists of various fields. Members of this body, after understanding well about difference between safe and secure, promote such project that gathering and analysis of the pollution data, decontamination work of farm land and forest, resurrection of agriculture. We cannot say all projects are going well, but it is sure that such works are contributing to villagers who are fighting against the war of despair.   There are still many doubts in this theme which we have discussed during this tour: decontamination works by the government, relation between the government and people, consciousness about contamination problem, necessity of nuclear power plant and construction and operation of nuclear power plant. After returning from this tour, I strongly realized and deepened my conviction that we should not despair even in a hopeless situation.   (2014 Scholarship student, Georgia)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by  Max Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban  ??? in Japanse (original)
  • Junko Imanishi “Peaceful Country – Renouncing War―We are proud of our course of history as a ‘Peaceful Country’―”

    The Atsumi International Foundation was established in 1994 at the behest of my late father, Takeo Atsumi, the former President and Chairman of Kajima Corporation. We support financially foreign students who are writing their Ph.D. dissertations in graduate schools in Japan. We aim to make an academic network with those foreign scholars who have lived in Japan and who understand Japan. Using this network, we host forums and symposiums in Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Manila, and Taipei.   When I look back over my 20 years of interaction with our Asian scholars, I do not think it is difficult to talk with them about our histories calmly, even if at one time our countries fought each other in the last war. But, at the same time, we should not forget about the fact that memories of the Japanese Imperial Army have been passed down from generation to generation in Asia.   Each country has its own history and its history textbooks are written based on its self-centered view point. So, when we discuss about our histories, I think the following three points are important:   1. Accept complicated situations as they are, without framing them in black and white,     and persevere to look for points which could be made the basis for mutual     concession. 2. Grasp the situation with multifaceted eyes, which can also look from the other side,     as an individual human being without carrying the honor and name of the country 3. We need not hurry, but we should not escape from confronting the issue.   Recently in Japan, there is a strong opinion that it is “self-deprecating” to reflect on or apologize for a nation’s past fault. According to Mr. Sadaaki Numata, former Ambassador of Japan to Canada and Advisor of Kajima Corporation, when he was posted at the Japanese Embassy in the UK, people had a bad impression of Japan because of the Japanese atrocities inflicted on British soldiers during the war. The adverse reports in the UK stopped after the media were informed that Japan had apologized following an issuance of the statement by Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995. In order to break the political deadlock of Japan with China and South Korea, I think it is more fruitful to continue and even emphasize Japan’s postwar policies that were established over so many years with the efforts in politics, diplomacy, and civil activities.   In 2000, Kajima Corporation was ordered to reconcile by a Tokyo High Court with Chinese workers (who were forcibly moved to the Hanaoka Mine, Odate-City, Akita Prefecture during the war) by depositing 500 million Yen. This reconciliation is generally regarded as imperfect in Japan because some of the Chinese plaintiffs did not accept the offered compensation, as it was not legal reparation, and even criticized the Japanese supporters.   Prof. Lee Enmin of J.F. Oberlin University, who was an Atsumi scholar, pointed out that “the process of the Hanaoka reconciliation and the difficulty in formulating it, have not been properly understood”. Indeed it was epoch-making to have reached the reconciliation by overcoming big gaps among plaintiffs, civil rights activists, enterprises and justices, because some Japanese people still think that “forcibly relocating residents from their homes during the war was the responsibility of the government” or “it will affect other private companies who have similar problems”. The filing of lawsuits continues in South Korea and China for postwar compensations by Japanese private companies. In China, with the economic growth, it is very likely that people will have a heightened awareness of their rights and initiate new lawsuits. I think the Hanaoka reconciliation, which was tackled without escaping from the past issues, should be better appraised   I do not deny that the war responsibility has become a political issue rather than historical. But, I do not think that the passionate rationalization of the behavior of Japanese soldiers during the war is helping to enhance mutual trust among Asian neighbors. I think we should endeavor to send our message to the world that we are proud of our present course of history as a peaceful country under the “new constitution” of postwar Japan. I regret to say that the current Japan seems to be going the opposite direction.   (Managing Director, Atsumi International Foundation)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English Checked by Mac Maquito   Original:The Mainichi (Japanese newspaper)  
  • Virag Viktor “How will the Young Generation study and make the most ― The 2nd Asia Future Conference:from the Fukushima Session―”

    On the second day of the 2nd Asia Future Conference, we hold displays and talk-session about the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. At the session, we set up a theme “Fukushima and its Aftermath:Lessons from a Man-made Disaster” and considered discussion which everybody can participate important rather than one-sided reporting.   As we have visited Iitate-Village, Fukushima twice, where was affected by radioactive contamination and designated as evacuation zone, it was a start of our holding the session. We liked to share our various thinking “knew, felt and thought” at ‘Study-Tours’ which SGRA sponsored in 2012 and 2013,with everybody in the world starting from Indonesia. And we planned our session.   We set up the place like exhibition hall which is opened all day long. For example, projection of short documentary films and pictures of ‘study tour’ which participants took and exhibit them. In the afternoon, we set up ‘talk session’ involving participants who visited our displays.   After our reports about every difficulties which Iitate Village, especially villagers there, are being faced and activities of our (SGRA) visit to Village, we introduced our (SGRA members) personal experience at the earthquake and counter measures against radiation in our daily life. From such reports and introduction, we have pick up such key words like “man-made disaster”, “damage by radioactivity”, “forced evacuation”, and “decontamination” and free discussion on such key-words forwarded.   Answering to the questions from floors, we asked their opinions like: -How did the image of Japan change in the countries where participants came from after the nuclear accident? -How do they think about issue of radioactivity and countermeasure of Japanese government? Some Japanese participants explained about experience and troubles of their relatives and friends. We have planned to develop our talking toward the issues like power shortage or possibilities and risks of nuclear energy, but, due to restricted time, we could not discuss them regretfully.   To our delight as the sponsor, students of Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia where the conference was held, participated positively. Some students, who are interested in our conference, brought their friends in order to show our exhibits. I had a chance to talk with two of them and made sense what they replied to question why nuclear issue is important. Those two students study electronics and urban planning at the graduate school. They are in the position that they have to study seriously about risk of radioactivity and disaster prevention/recovery. Moreover, Indonesia is young country in terms of demographic structure and economic vitality. So, the young have strong intention “We have the honor of future of our country. We build Indonesia hereafter.” It is remarkable comparing with Japan. They think strongly that they build “good country” by themselves .      According to those students of the graduate school, Indonesia, as a developing country, is expected to develop rapidly in the global economy. But, it is facing gradually with power shortage due to enlargement of industries, expanding of production and improvement of living standard and they are actually investigating building of nuclear power plant. Young intellectual class have possibilities of being involved directly in policy making for nuclear electricity generation. Then, how do they think and study the nuclear accident in Japan?   I do not think it easy to answer because this question is very important globally. But, I think we could go a long way toward continuing such discussion by offering chances to consider this question seriously introducing the case in Japan from a viewpoint “lesson from man-made disaster” as shown in the title of the session. Media by “picture” is stronger than “word” and gave the young participants stronger impact and impression. It goes without saying that the young keep thinking seriously of nuclear issue which is topical and urgent in Indonesia and keep going along with process for establishing their opinion. I hope domestic argument about this issue in Indonesia become active.   In Japan, the issue of the restart of nuclear power plant remains pending. And, on the other hand, an assertion of abandoning nuclear power station is keep continuing. I have an impression, however, that dialogue between both sides is hard to be materialized in the process of constructive arguments. Sometimes they become emotional as it is very important issue. Recently, for example, some people are labeled “anti-Japan” by stakeholders when they declare abandoning nuclear power station. Similarly, many people who oppose nuclear power station were unsuccessful to present alternative idea which is stated in figure. I cannot help feeling sense of danger about such labelling or emotional argument. I hope such confrontation would develop to cool-headed arguments which are based on facts and objective data.   I like to add the state of progress of establishing more nuclear power stations in Hungary, my home country. I reported this in the report of 2nd SGRA Fukushima Study Tour which was delivered by SGRA Kawaraban one year ago. We have decided two more nuclear power stations besides present four stations which supply 40% of national demand for electricity at present. When Mr. Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, visited Hungary, he provided sales activities for nuclear power plants although he was said to be imprudent because it was just few months after the Fukushima Disaster. After all, they contracted with Russia after evaluation of conformity between estimation and present technology. I personally have a doubt why only “Japan of Fukushima” and “Russia of Chernobyl” are the counterpart of the negotiation.   Session “Fukushima” in 2nd Asia Future Conference was planned and run by SGRA members, Park Hyun-jung (pictures and exhibition), Dale Sonja (moderator), Erik Schicketanz (speaker) and myself. We appreciated Director, Eiichi Tsunoda, very much including his persuasive opinion at the session.   SGRA will have a study tour at Iitate-Village this year. Please join us if you are interested in this kind of issue.   You can see the pictures of the day in:  http://www.aisf.or jp/spra/info/Essay424Pfotos.pdf You can read our report on our Fukushima Tour in :   (Part-time instructor at Showa Women's University / Jochi Welfare College Japanese Association of School and Social Works (International Office ))   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban  in Japanese (original)  
  • Bingyue Dong “Future of Asia from Two Places for Debating”

      The 2nd Asia Future Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia on August 22-23,2014. Atsumi International Foundation, sponsor of the conference, declared “the purpose of the conference is to give a place for discussion about the future of Asia to the scholars who have studied in Japan and are interested in Japan”.   What is the “Place” here? If you think it just as the place or the site of the conference, it would be too good. The place where the conference was held is also the “place”. According to such understanding, Bali Island is important and has another meaning in the conference. The sponsor gave two places (dual meanings) to the participants. “Asia” was discussed as an object of our study and, at the same time, the participants at could have personal experiences in Asia. I greatly appreciated it.   I, as a participant from Beijing, began to think differently when I heard about “the rise of China” from participants from the Philippines and Singapore. I understood they look at China differently from the outside or from the inside. Then, what is a “rise”? Did China really rise? We can say China is rising economically. It may be true, but, on the other hand, there are a lot of social problems which came from economic and rapid growth, such as environmental pollution, corruption of governmental officials, disparity in wealth, depravity of morality etc. etc. Given these negative aspects, I do not think China has risen yet. I like to say there are a lot of things for China to study, not only from Japan but also from Bali. I think China has to pursue its “rise” in a manner which can contribute to the general well-being of Asia.   I also learned a lot from the second “place”: “Bali”. When I checked-in the hotel in the evening of August 21, I was enchanted by a music coming from the corridor of the hotel. How lonely and romantic! I learned later that it was local music which was played from a small flute and bamboo koto. I can enjoy the music now in Beijing as I bought a CD in Bali. As I like Japanese enka (a popular song), folk songs of Okinawa and Khoomei (a ongol folk song by special vocalization), I can now enjoy more “Asian music”, with the Bali music added to my collection.   As I am a scholar of social science of humanities, I learned a lot from my observation of the life style in Bali. After the conference which ended on 23rd August, I joined a field trip on 24thAugust. To my surprise, there were many shrines of the Hindu religion everywhere I visited. Total building area of the shrines seems a quarter of the total area of the town. According to our tour guide, people visit the shrines at least twice a day. In other words, the people in Bali have their own religion, belief and life-style, distinct from those of the other inhabitants of Indonesia. How are ordinary Chinese people or intellectuals interested in Bali (and Indonesia)? I think they are not so interested as they are in America or Europe. England is called “British Empire” or “Great Britain” in China. If we call Indonesia, where the total area and population are far more than that of England, as “Great Indonesia”, we would be laughed at.   In China, where people concentrate their thoughts on their economic development, it will be difficult to understand the high “value” of life-style of the Balinese people. Modern oriental history is said to be an invasion from the West and the resistance of the East against the West. On the other hand, however, the East accepted ethics and values of the West. We have to look frankly at both these aspects. There is a word “勢利” (pronunciation “shi-li”) in China, which means “an attitude to be influenced by money and authority” .   Both, modern Japan and China today are in the “勢利” It is not only Japan but also China which have been taken ill by a sickness called “Western inclination”. Both of us pursue “development” in terms of”the wealth and military strength of the country”. Bali Island taught us that “development” and “the wealth and military strength” are not absolute but just relative values.   The Asia Future Conference was held at the beach in the southeastern part of Bali Island. There is no building except our ten-story high Hotel. After the construction of the Hotel, it was prohibited to construct buildings taller han the palm trees. This prohibition was initiated and adopted by the peoples’ movement. I have become increasingly disgusted with the high-rise buildings in Tokyo and Beijing after observing low buildings amid green flora in Bali. Ourlocal tour guide explained that the people of Bali “plant rice plants and trees as much as possible and never plant “cement”. I thought he was like a philosopher. He expressed the values of Bali beautifully. The economic development of Bali may be behind that of the Chinese coastal areas. But, we cannot say people in Bali are not always happy. Or rather, their life-style is more “reasonable” than that of ours who live in big cities.   It is indeed fortunate that the sponsor of the conference selected Bali Island as venue, but I think the appreciation and understanding of general theme “Diversity and Harmony” was greatly enhanced by holding the conference at Bali Island. Hundreds of participants from several counties enjoyed the “Shi-shi-mai” (Japanese Lion Dance) and Indonesian Barong Dance in Bali Island, where people adhere to Hinduism, with Indian and Chinese cultural influences.   I thought this is just wonderful manifestation of “Diversity and Harmony”. What I thought to be more important is the realization by the participants that the idea of “Diversity and Harmony” is highly desirable. I thought the objective of the sponsor who gave “two places” dual meaning, (though I think it may be more than two) to the participants from several countries was fully accomplished. The Asian Future Conference has established a community of values. Though the participants came from various countries and were engaged in various fields, they had or began to have “common values”. Common values include concern and sympathy about Asia and respect for the others. I believe the future of Asia will be certainly bright if such a community which have common values become bigger. There are many wealthy people in China now. I hope they contribute to cultural exchange across borders, modeled after the Atsumi International Foundations.   (Professor, Institute of Literature , Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 423 in Japanese (original)
  • Hajime Takahashi “Re-consideration of Diversity”

    The 2nd Asia Future Conference, sponsored by Atsumi International Foundation, was held on August 22~24, at Bali, Indonesia and 380 participants from 17 countries, including researchers, having studied in Japan, had hot discussions. Theme of conference this time was “Diversity and Harmony”. As the conference should be based on academic approach, a lot of sessions and lively discussion on extensive range, such as globalization, peace, sustainability, environment and communication, were held. I, myself, attended 3 sessions regarding main theme “Diversity and Harmony”. And as I co-chaired at the final session, I like to re-study about “Diversity” based on research publication and discussion at the conference.   When we think of the meaning of ‘diversity’ from daily context, we can say “to exist in diversely and differently”. Originally, this word have been used in the field of biology. But, we use this word very often in the field of sociology, politics and international relations now. Actually, in multiracial nations, a slogan “integration in diversity” is being used as racial integration. Indonesia, where the conference was held, consists of about 17,000 islands and around 228 million of people are living in those 9,000 islands. Around 490 groups of race are succeeding their own ethnic and diversified culture. (Official website of the Ministry of Sightseeing Creative Economy, Indonesia)   There were two publications this time regarding ‘BATIK’, Indonesian traditional clothes. It is said Batik, as a symbol of the integration of various races, played an important role when Indonesia became independent as a republic. They created special Batik of their own as a tool for integration of different races, which does not impartial to any races who had their own Batik and were adopted as uniforms of students of junior/middle/high schools and public officials. Indonesian Batik is now acknowledged as the World’s intangible cultural heritages and contributes to an establishment of identity of Indonesia in the world community. It is good example that variety of Indonesia, which have been said to be difficult to overcome, has been overcome by Batik which were the great common factors among variety of races, or by adoption of patterns which impartial to any races. I was impressed by the pointing out of Masakatu Tozu (honorary professor of Kokushikan University), saying “clothes are identities of races” in his speech titled “Trial of Establishment of National Culture in a Multiethnic Indonesia”. Needless to say, there is an existence of suzerain state as an external factor behind their foundation of country, which urge their standing together of Indonesian ethnics and overcame difficulties of establishing national consent.   The word “Diversity” began to be used, as globalization progress, in the context of regional cooperation and integration among nations. Actually, when we think of the future of Asia in the conference, “Diversity and Harmony” were discussed from various aspects and “Unity in Diversification” became an unavoidable theme on regional cooperation and integration. “Unity and Diversity” is the motto of EU which have accomplished unprecedented deepening of regional integration. EU explained on their official website that European people live and cooperate together for the purpose of our peace and prosperity in the form of EU and become rich by our diversified and different cultures, traditions and languages.   There is a picture card named “a perfect European” which I bought in Brussels as a souvenir in 1980s and have thought a great deal of it even now. This card explain diversity in Europe humorously making fun of characters of EU 15 members of country(at that time) saying paradoxically and ironically “driving a car like French, excel in technics like Portuguese, controlling themselves like Italian, carefully like Danish, humorous like German, being organized like Austrian, talkative like Finnish, famous like Luxemburg people, generous like Dutch, being good at cooking like English, few off duty like Belgian, flexible like Swedish, sober like Irish, and modest like Spanish. Number of member countries of EU is 28 now. They have a customs union, common international trade policy, market integration, introduction of common currency and common foreign policy. They verified toward international societies that it is possible to make an international connection by transferring sovereignties depending on the field of policies.    In Asia too, market integration, in the frame of ASEAN, is going to be accomplished. At Jakarta airport, immigration controls for ASEAN people are separated from non-ASEAN people like EU. It clearly shows harmony in diversity is being realized in Asia. At the sessions which I co-chaired, there were questions about concrete meanings in ‘unity in diversity’ in the context of Asia. Against such questions, presenters explained that each country shall recognize the difference mutually and produce new values which are more than their own. It is common with the motto of EU. Proposition which I encountered at the 2nd Asia Future Conference was “we cannot cooperate because of our differences” or “we should cooperate each other because of our differences”. Actually, in the case of North-East Asia or East Asia where cooperation or connection on regional revel fell behind most the world stream, people often say that it is impossible to make a framework for systematic connections. Dr. Maria Elena Tisi, University of Bologna, who introduced a trial to produce harmony from a comparison between children’s book of Italy and Japan, said “a word ‘difference’ does not limit to big difference, such as culture, language and religion, and small difference also can be a reason for big reasons, - - - It is important to make the most of such differences not trying to overcome.” It is very suggestive when we think of ‘diversity”. It is also pointed out at the conference that colors composed of multi-colors bring about complex tone in depth than single color. I talked to one of my friend who is musician about such context in the conference after I returned to Japan. He said promptly and flatly “in the field of music, harmony in diversification is the most basic of basics.” He said also “an orchestra is compilation of harmony of variety of musical instruments” and never forget to add pointing out “for this purpose, existence of conductor as a great leader of an orchestra is absolute condition”. It weighs on my mind when I re-consider ‘diversity’ in international context. Can I say the word ‘diversity’ has different meaning such as 多用性(multi-usable) or 他用性 (used in different way) ?   I dare to emphasize that it is important to consider geographical neighborhood when we discuss about ‘diversity’ in the context of Asian region. It is an undeniable fact that there are unavoidable relations among neighboring countries. When we discuss about ‘diversity’, it is also important to have viewpoints whether we understand the relations with neighboring countries positively or negatively.   The 2nd Asia Future Conference was a good chance for me to recognize that domestic political factors in the context of North East Asia and struggles for leadership among nations in East Asia are hazards for forming systematic frameworks for regional connections.   (SGRA Counselor)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 421 in Japanese (original)  
  • Max Maquito “Manila Report 2013 Winter: Bringing the Fight Beyond Japan’s Borders”

      Right after 3.11, I had the chance to write down my thoughts in a SGRA Kawaraban (weekly online newsletter). Amidst an unprecedented disaster, I was moved at the fighting spirit of the Japanese citizens, and the global citizens that came to help, prompting me to write that this crisis is also an opportunity to review the philosophies that was Japan's very own, and to this day she has presented to the world. This "review" that I propose is not the "drastic reform" which, as shown in the lost decades of Japan, was extremely critical even of the good points of the country. What actually inspired me was the review of Japan's aspects that should be protected, in a way that further activates these aspects. The aspects that should be preserved are: the peace constitution, the three non-nuclear principles, and shared growth, which actually is the subject of my research. These could be further activated through: a Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF) that could swiftly and effectively respond to natural disasters; a non-nuclear principle that includes zero nuclear power generation; and a shared growth that extends outside of Japan.   Japan is now embroiled in a domestic struggle about these three review points. This fight is now spilling beyond her borders, and inevitably has reached Philippine shores.   The super typhoon, said to be the world's largest typhoon, that hit the Philippines on November 7, 2013, dealt a heavy blow from which even now the country is still reeling. We are filled with gratitude for the support of many countries. From Japan, we saw the largest deployment for relief efforts in the history of the Japanese SDF to the most severely hit island, Leyte. As is well known in the Philippines, Leyte was actually the island on which Gen. MacArthur led the landing of Allied Forces to fulfill his promise to the Filipinos "I shall return" during the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces. No one would have imagined then that a huge contingent of Japanese forces, aimed at protecting the Japanese citizenry, would be landing on the island to help embattled Philippine nationals. In order to ensure the transparency of overseas assistance, the Philippine government on this occasion created a website (Foreign Aid Transparency Hub), which reported (accessed on December 20, 2013) that Japan was one of the top three countries that have committed assistance for this typhoon disaster. The UK was first at US$96 million, Japan was second at US$74 million, and the US was third at US$ 62 million. This generous assistance is very much appreciated considering that Japan is still recovering from 3.11. It seems that his assistance includes "repayment" for the assistance that the Philippines extended to Japan after their big disaster. In the Philippines, there is a nuclear power plant the construction of which was suspended about 30 years ago by a civil resistance movement. Given that it was suspended, I was imagining that the buildings are now dilapidated, equipment has been sold or rusting, and the grounds have been overgrown with grass. After the SGRA study tour to Fukushima on October last year, I took a look at the recent discussion about nuclear power plants in the Philippines. I was surprised to know that the nuclear power plant is practically new since it enjoyed a maintenance budget all these decades from the Philippine government. On the last day of the Fukushima study tour, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask the Group for Resurrecting Fukushima, one of the co- organizers of the study tour, to lend me their support as SGRA Philippines strives to keep the Philippines a zero nuclear country. Looking further into the matter, I found out that a group of high school students from Fukushima visited the Bataan nuclear power plant. In a newspaper interview, they remarked that the beautiful landscape of the Philippines should not be put at risk by operating the nuclear power plant. Despite the difficulties that the young of Japan have gone through because of the lost decades and the prospect of being burdened with the nuclear program legacy of their country, it is truly praiseworthy to hear such a mature opinion. Even with regards to my research subject of shared growth, thanks in part to the entry of Japanese firms, the DNA of shared grow is being transmitted to the Philippines. As SGRA Kawaraban readers would know, Japan was able to achieve the "East Asian Miracle" wherein the rapid growth of GDP was accompanied by a reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, the Philippines was not able to experience the East Asian Miracle, but through my research, I was able to confirm the existence of the Shared Growth DNA at the level of economic zones, of a group of firms, and of a firm. My research on Shared Growth, which has been shown by Japan as possible, has continued and received much support since the establishment of SGRA. In the early years, I was doing this research through the “Japan’s Identity Amidst Globalization” Team. It was and still is my belief that Shared Growth is supported by Japan’s identity. In order to transmit what I have learned from Japan, I have been holding the SGRA Manila Seminar on an average of twice a year since 2004. The 17th Philippine-Japan Shared Growth Seminar will be held on February 11th (Tues). Those interested, please consult the following link for more details:   But, to think that the fight in these three areas I mentioned is over would be a big mistake.   Due to global warming, climate change will continue to be a problem as it causes various damages that we might not be able to fully predict. An organization like the Self-Defense Force, which could respond systematically while putting the lives of their members on the line, will continue to be indispensable. However, the geo-political situation in East Asia is deteriorating, and even the revision of Japan’s Peace Constitution, which constitutes the basic philosophy for the establishment of the Self-Defense Force, has now become a possibility.   Even after the occurrence of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the construction of nuclear power plants in the world has not stopped. In the Philippines, there are powerful parties that seek to push the nuclear power option, despite the huge debt that has been repaid, and the power outages cost incurred by the Philippine citizens.   In the Philippines, shared growth continues to be a La Manchan dream. Income distribution remains to be highly inequitable. The country is mired in a “middle income trap”. Compared to the other Southeast Asian countries, the country is not as popular from the point of view of Japanese investors. Whether within or without the country, growth is not shared with the citizenry.   These three struggles are interconnected. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth incurs a more severe damage from natural disasters and is only able to recover slowly. In such a country, the majority of the citizenry would live in fragile residences, and the social infrastructure would be weak. The machinery and savings needed to recover would be very scarce. A country that is not able to achieve shared growth would be weak against a sweetly packaged nuclear option. There has been a lot of cases where even with a citizenry that has said “NO”, nuclear power plants are constructed where there are decision makers that would benefit from it. These are issues that would be discussed in the February 11th Manila Seminar. Hopefully, this would lead to action that has been thought out.   SGRA Kawaraban 396 in Japanese
  • Max Maquito ” Manila Report Summer 2013 “

    I went home to Manila for about a week for the 14th Annual Global Conference of the Global Development Network (GDN) which was held from June 19 to 21 at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters in Manila. Despite having no paper to present, I decided to adjust my schedule (it was the middle of the summer term) to join the over 400 participants from all over the world, since GDN was taking care of my expenses including plane tickets, and 5-star hotel accommodation, and the GDN theme of "Inequality, Social Protection, and Inclusive Growth" appeared to be related to the SGRA Philippine theme of "Sustainable Shared Growth". (See this link for details of the GDN conference)   In his keynote address, President Benigno Aquino III cited the conditional cash transfer, which was the Philippine government's major program for inclusive growth. There were a number of interesting papers in the conference about this program. (For the President's speech, please see the following link:)   During the conference, as much as possible I took the opportunity to talk with the other participants in search for research and advocacy possibilities. I will be exploring some of them in the future. During the Q&As, there were active discussions, and the session chairs were very busy keeping up with the vitality of the participants, and managing the sessions so as to let as many as possible to ask questions. Due to time constraints, there were some who could not ask their questions, and I was among them. In this case, I tried to catch the presenter during the breaks, and engage them in discussions. Fortunately, I had two chances to participate in the Q&A , which I would like to report here, since I considered these important.   One was in the parallel session where the panel were all ADB researchers, and the theme was on "Operationalizing Inclusive Growth in Asia and the Pacific". Apparently, the audience tended to cluster at the back, so the session chair had to encourage the audience to move to the front so that we could see each other's faces better during the Q&A. As long as space would allow it, I normally would sit towards the front, so there was no need for me to move. But, I think it was a good encouragement from the ADB session chair, given that at an early stage of the conference, I got the impression (wrongly I hope) that the ADB people tended to avoid talking with the conference participants.   While listening to the ADB presentations, I was trying to organize my thoughts on the following: what was the difference between the concept or developmental policy/strategy called inclusive growth, which ADB was pushing, and an earlier concept or developmental policy/strategy called shared growth? I really wanted to confirm this with the ADB panel. "Shared growth" was cited in the World Bank's 1993 "East Asian Miracle" report, wherein the subject of study was the "successful Asian economies" that one of the presenters alluded to in his presentation. Based on its analysis, the report concluded that one of the factors behind the success of these countries, which included Japan, was the strategic industrial policy implemented by the government. While listening to the panel, the two growth concepts or developmental policies/strategies sounded like they covered the same areas, i.e., regional integration through trade, human capital formation, and jobs creation. However, despite the passionate presentation of one about job creation, I couldn't help but get the impression that jobs creation was sort of an after thought. I thought that this was very much evident in the presentation about the evaluation of the ADB inclusive growth program. How you ( ADB) evaluate your program clearly tells me what is important to you. Based on the evaluation presentation, inclusive growth appears to have an emphasis on social protection (= safety net, such as human capital formation and unemployment policies). If we go by this understanding, then we could think of a case such as the Philippines, where we can have more educated nurses, or more educated call center operators, but I for one would doubt very much if this would be good for the Philippines at this point. Such a development trajectory would only aggravate the early de-industrialization problem of the country. I really believe that the Philippines at this juncture should strive to develop its manufacturing sector. (I didn't mention it, but I also feel this way about the agricultural sector)   The ADB presenter who alluded to the "successful Asia", replied that the creation of the right kind of jobs is certainly important for the Philippines, and agreed that it was necessary to deepen the discussions on the early de-industrialization of the Philippines. Another presenter, who seems to be the founding father (apparently not Japanese) of inclusive growth in ADB, replied that the two growth concepts are similar words, but shared growth appears to ignore "equality of opportunity" .   I take this response as confirming my earlier understanding. Providing educational subsidies to those who cannot afford or the rescuing of those who have been laid off from their jobs are important but these do not necessarily provide a solution to the early de-industrialization mentioned earlier, making it more and more difficult for the Philippines to get out of the "middle income" trap.   One more opportunity to participate in the Q&A was in the parallel session organized by the FONDATION POUR LES ETUDES ET RECHERCHES SUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT  INTERNATIONAL (Foundation for the Study and Research on International Development) or FERDI Foundation (see the following link for a write up on this session: ) The presentations were about the allocation of Official Development Assistance (ODA) under a performance-based evaluation system that considered the vulnerability to disasters by the recipient country. The designated commentator criticized the evaluation proposal saying that such a system could be too complicated for the policy makers, so that it faces the risk of reducing grant amounts. He emphasized the need for considering the political economy of ODA. In short, the comment was not to complicate things (KISS).   I also have done research on Japan's ODA from a modern economics perspective during my doctoral work at the University of Tokyo and research fellowship at Nagoya University, so in response to the commentator, I pointed out that, even if we consider political economics, ODA does not end with the appointed officials around the negotiation table but at the final beneficiaries which are the citizens of the recipient country. Consequently, the ODA evaluation system that the FERDI Foundation is developing would be highly appreciated by the citizens of the recipient country, myself included. So, I would like to laud the efforts of the foundation to develop such a system. In this sense, the proposed system could also be used as a tool for evaluating international aid agencies, so I asked the question whether this study of the performance-based allocation was also applied to other aid agencies besides the International Development Assistance of the World Bank.   In response to my comment, the designated commentator gave me a smile and conceded that I have made my point. In response to my question, the FERDI economist replied that they have applied their analysis to other international aid agencies, and basically found that they were allocated based on performance. However, they did find agencies that did not allocate this way, so it would be necessary for such agencies to review their allocation process.   On the morning of the third day of the conference, following the advice of SGRA Chief Representative Junko Imanishi, I slipped out of the conference, and made my way to the office of Kajima Philippines. My aim was to solicit the sponsorship of this company for the SGRA 16th Sustainable Shared Growth seminar to be held on August 23rd at the University of the Philippines. I was kindly received by COO Fusaaki Kato and CFO Yukio Saito. After discussing with them the seminar, they consulted each other briefly and decided to go for the largest type of sponsorship. They of course had an interest on the architecture-related presentations in the seminar, but also expressed interest in the reduction of the urban-rural gap, which is the main theme of the seminar. I intend to manage the future seminars while consulting with them.   My other efforts were to invite the conference participants to the 16th Sustainable Shared Growth seminar and to the 2nd Asia Future Conference in Bali, as well as to search for opportunities for joint research projects (especially with India and Vietnam) . It was really a fruitful three days for me, and for SGRA HQ as well, since I used my affiliation with SGRA Japan in the conference list of participants, in the Q&A sessions, and in the discussions with other participants. Of course, my face gave away the fact that I was not Japanese, although I would like to believe that I simply expressed what I have learned in Japan about her admirable thoughts regarding development.   SGRA Kawaraban 380 in Japanese
  • Max Maquito ” Manila Report Summer 2012 “

    In my visit to Manila last August, I had interesting discussions with educators at the University of the Philippines (UP) regarding the two concepts of “Shared Growth” (SG) and “Inclusive Growth” (IG). In 1993, the World Bank came out with the “East Asian Miracle” report which used the word SG to summarize the economic performance of eight East Asian countries/economies [led by Japan], which were able to grow rapidly while improving their income distribution. As a graduate student then, I was attracted to this phenomenon, and at every chance I had continued to do my research on this concept. On the other hand, IG was adopted as one of the pillars of this region’s economic development strategy when Japan became the chair country for the APEC summit in 2010, and has become a buzz word in the field of economic development. It can be seen that Japan has played an important role in promoting both concepts.   At first glance, the two concepts appear to be the same, since both seek a growth which would eliminate economic disparities. Moreover, as somebody who has emphasized for many years now that Japan should put importance on its country’s peculiar features, I should be happy that a development strategy that seeks to balance efficiency and equity is once again being proclaimed. But, I seem not prone to be so. The Philippine government’s economic planning agency has even inscribed IG in its medium-term plan, and I have encouraged caution in the use of this term among UP educators. This is because that the two concepts have crucial, albeit subtle, different connotations.   The differences between the two concepts are as follows.   1. SG is an older term than IG, but the former still applies to the current situation. In short, the idea of equity + efficiency is not something that Japan has just recently became aware of. 2. The possibility of SG is based on Japan’s experience, which tends to differ from that suggested by mainstream economics. It was because of Japan’s aggressive lobbying on the World Bank that resulted in the “East Asian Miracle” report. 3. The economic strategy of SG is different from the market fundamentalism that is proposed by mainstream economics, since SG considers as important the role of [a more pro-active] government. On the other hand, IG leans towards market fundamentalism.   Based on the differences above, we can confirm that SG is a more powerful economic strategy than IG. When the SG strategy was published in the “East Asian Miracle” report, Japan was in a financially strong position and was, therefore, able to go against the mainstream. At that time, Japan was being told to “put up and shut up”, but instead it commendably took the position of “putting up [the money = Official Development Assistance] as well as not shutting up”. However, right now, Japan is not really in a good financial position, so it is very much possible that her independent proposals on economic development would be taken lightly. Could such a Japan, as in the past, be able to put forward an effective proposal?   I would like to answer “yes, she can!” Despite a weak financial position, the Japanese economy possesses the SG DNA, which I think she could emphasize when making development strategy proposals.   The SG strategy was coined in the 1993 World Bank report, but it was already being implemented several decades prior to the report. In short, SG was a concept that preceded IG by more than twenty years. I think that this tells us just how natural and important for Japan were the economic goals of efficiency + equity. It is in no way like IG, which seems to have recently popped up. The future of about three-fourths of the world’s population should not be treated as some kind of buzz word popularity contest.   The SG strategy is based on the Japan’s own experience. In economics, balancing efficiency and equity is very difficult, but Japan has showed that this is possible. On the other hand, IG has not been actually achieved, and remains an ideal or an aspiration. Some may say that IG is more appropriate to the present time, but this at best could only refer to the lost decades of Japan, where equity + efficiency were lost.   IG leans toward the market fundamentalism of mainstream economics, wherein the government plays the role of a referee. The government decides and implements the rules regarding the game (competition) in the market. In contrast, SG concedes the government’s selective intervention, wherein the government acts more like a coach. Together with the firms in the front line of competition, this government would mourn over loses, rejoice over victories, and burn with intensity over the contest. Such a government has actually contributed to improving the competitiveness of Japanese firms.   Looking back, it was such a picture of Japan that I was enamored to devote my life’s work. My activities in SGRA started with this plea for respecting such aspects of Japan’s identity. [SGRA’s] Manila Seminars are held under the philosophy of SG. The development concept/strategy of SG, which was cited in the “East Asian Miracle” report, requires further clarification, a task that I have been undertaking through SGRA’s activities.   Thankfully, plans are now underway to hold the 15th Manila Seminar on February 8, 2013 at UP, under the theme “Manufacturing as if People and Mother Nature Mattered”. In this seminar, we will be reporting the results of the survey research of Professor Hitoshi Hirakawa of Nagoya University on “Symbiotic Regional Institution Building Towards a Knowledge-Based Economy in Asia”. Together with Prof. Hirakawa, I had a chance to pay a courtesy call on Dean Sale of the School of Labor and Industrial Relations of UP, who was very encouraging in his active support of the SG concept.   Now more than ever, Japan has to be forthright in speaking of the good aspects of her identity. Wavering at this point is not very “CooL Japan” [a movement in Japan to emphasize the good points of her culture] and would only continue to invite widespread confusion.   During my last visit, we also had the pleasure of the company of Professor Toru Nakanishi of the University of Tokyo during our meeting for the 16th Manila Seminar, among other issues, tentatively to be held on August 2013. Despite the media reports in Spring of this year regarding the cancellation of tours from China to the Philippines, the increased stringency on China’s imports of primary goods from the Philippines, and the plight of Philippine workers in China, I was able to confirm in this meeting that “scholars should go beyond the conflicts of governments, and attend the Shanghai conference [Asia Future Conference] for as long as it is possible to do so”. We go for the sake of scholarly exchange. I was deeply moved by the burning resolve of my Philippine comrades.   For photos related to this Manila Report, please see the links below. Visits [SGRA Photo Gallery] Meeting at the UP College of Architecture [FaceBook]   SGRA Kawaraban 353 in Japanese (original)
  • Max Maquito “Manila Report in Waseda”

    The 42nd SGRA Forum was held in collaboration with Kita Kyushu University on October 29, 2011 at Waseda University. I helped in the translations, and was in charge of the panel discussion at the end.   The main issue of this forum was about how to secure energy in order to support high economic growth while protecting the environment. In this connection, enhancing energy efficiency was a common point of discussion by the presenters. In enhancing energy efficiency, adjustment of the energy supply to meet demand becomes possible, while reducing the burden on the environment.   By the way, in the energy field, “3E”, a key term in the forum, seems to stand for Energy Security, Economic Growth, and Environmental Protection. In my field of development economics, I have used 3E to refer to Efficiency + Equity + Environment (please refer to the Manila Report 2010 Spring).   Energy efficiency was such a common point of the discussions/presentations that I prepared a slide compiling the energy efficiency of 120 countries (where energy efficiency = GDP divided by the total energy consumption)—please see slide. Energy efficiency seems to be on average not significantly different between low and high income countries.   Mr. Kritsanawonghong of Thailand and Mr. Ireland of Australia presented an energy conservation method which utilized a market-based mechanism for the environmental evaluation of buildings and electric devices. The actual introduction of such a mechanism led to increasing the environmental awareness of users, and improving energy efficiency. However, even though it is market-centered, the government plays a big role in setting up and diffusing such a system.   Speaking of markets, the correct pricing of energy resources and electricity is important. Ms. Balbarona of the Philippines reported that the electricity rates of the Philippines have overtaken that of Japan as being the highest in Asia. She explained that the distributing company passes all of the cost to the user, and that the Philippine government, unlike neighboring countries, does not provide substantial subsidies for electricity rates. Owing to this, various energy conservation movements naturally take place, such as the project headed by Ms. Gilles, wherein energy conservation was achieved in a Manila building through the creative balancing of daily usage of electricity. Mr. Ireland added that the Australian government’s subsidy on coal has led to the excessive use of this resource.   Next, some methods were reported for improving energy efficiency, which emphasized the importance of a low-cost and low-income (the poor) perspectives. Ms. Paramita of Indonesia raised the concept of urban optimal density. There is the thinking that for the sake of improving energy efficiency various resources should be concentrated in the city, but there should also be the thinking that, once the urban optimal density has been exceeded, problems such as slums arise, wherein efficiency begins to actually go down. Mr. Faisal of Indonesia emphasized that his country is not an exemption, since it has been promoting a concentrated-type of urban development, but what is really needed in fact is “reversed urbanization”. Incidentally, in the first joint forum of SGRA and Kita Kyushu University last year, I referred to this as “ruralization”. The urban problem should not be considered as separate from the rural sector. In addition, Ms. De Asis of the Philippines shared stories of recycling projects in the field of architecture such as the use of containers and plastic bottles. In the Philippines, there are projects such as largescale wind farms (first in Southeast Asia) and environmentally friendly shopping malls, but these are very costly. It is doubtful whether such technologies are really appropriate for developing countries such as the Philippines. Architecture based on recycling seems to have started in the countryside. Mr. Ireland pointed out that the rural-urban gap is also an important problem in developed countries such as Australia and Japan.   Another method that was mentioned for improving energy efficiency was the development of renewable energy. Unlike oil, coal, or uranium, renewable energy relies on unlimited energy resources; hence, the risk of resource costs going up is practically non-existent. In fact, as technologies progress, it is highly possible for costs to go down. The question as to whether renewable energy could replace nuclear energy in the medium- to long-term, was posed to Mr. Iyadurai of India and Ms. Balabarona of thePhilippines, who reported on renewable energies in their respective countries. The two countries also shared the same experience of forbidding the use of nuclear power plants that were being constructed. They shared the opinion that citizen sentiments against the use of nuclear power would continue to be strong. Mr. Kritsanawonghong added that the situation appears to be the same in Thailand. However, there were also participants in the forum who stated that nuclear power will not completely go away.   The above are some of the examples by which each Asian country grappled with the issue of improving energy efficiencies. Taking one step back, with the objective of promoting the consideration of an East Asian regional perspective, I shared with the forum participants a certain Japanese initiative. This initiative is particularly significant given that for the past few decades Japan has not come out with a compelling strategy for East Asia. I first came to learn about this initiative from a Fuji Television program called Prime News Live, where it was referred to as the “Asia-Pacific” Electricity Network” or “The Energy Version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”. –please see slide   Behind this initiative was the unstable electricity supply situation caused by the Great East Japan earthquake of March 11th. This initiative was proposed by the Japan Creation Council (Nihon Sousei Kaigi), which was headed by Mr. Hiroya Masuda, former governor of Iwate Prefecture (one of the seriously stricken prefectures of March 11th). The issues being addressed by this initiative are the ensuring of energy security, the improvement of the international competitiveness of industries, and environmental sustainability. The ultimate objective is the establishment of a renewable energy state.   This initiative is very ambitious but I think it promotes a balanced integration of East Asia (together with Oceania). I am hoping that it could also be a policy for extricating Japan from its decades of debilitating despair. I refer to such an initiative as regional shared growth, which is a concept based on the Flying Geese Model of Development that I have learned from Japan. For many decades now, Japanese firms going overseas have tended to concentrate on selected countries. This is very disappointing since it actually runs opposite to the diversified-type of division of labor that Japan has earlier espoused. I have actually raised the alarm against such type of division of labor many years ago. No matter how many crises occur due to globalization or climate change, nobody seems intent on learning the lessons.   The current initiative strikes a beautiful image in my mind’s eye: the electricity network flies southward, jumping from one island to another, connecting the three East Asian archipelagoes of Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia, and merging with its sister ASEAN power grid from the western side.   At long last, an East Asian strategy has come out from Japan that is truly Japanese in spirit.   Notes: 1. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Professors Soichiro Kuroki and Weijun Gao for inviting to Kita Kyushu University’s exchange program three graduate students from the University of the Philippines (i.e., Stephanie Gilles, Juvy Balbarona, and Josefiina De Asis) on recommendation by Professors Edwin Quiros (Department of Mechanical Engineering, UP) and Mike Tomeldan (College of Architecture, UP) 2. I would also like to express my thanks to Professors Hidetoshi Nakagami and Hiroto Takaguchi for emphasizing the importance of an energy policy that puts weight on a long-term perspective and traditions.   SGRA Kawaraban 317 in Japanese