SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • 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)
  • 49th SGRA Forum “Looking for New Paradigm of Japanese Studies”

    49th SGRA Forum -“Looking for New Paradigm of Japanese Studies”- was held on July 18 (Sat.), 2015 at “The Okuma Kaikan” (Okuma Memorial Hall) in Waseda University.  About 20 researchers in Japanese Studies assembled in a conference room to have animated discussions on how new Japanese Studies should be conducted and presented. They are active at the front of the organizations representing China, Korea and Taiwan. Despite the multi-national attendance the forum was managed in semi-open style, There were nearly 100 participants, a number  which was more than we expected.   Ms.Junko Imanishi, Managing Director of Atsumi International Foundation, representing SGRA, made an opening address. According to her, many people have misgivings about present Japanese Studies and worry about its future at the round-table discussions on Japanese Studies in the Asia Future Conference which had been held two times in the past. Taking advantage of this 49th SGRA Forum, we called out to organizations of Japanese Studies which represent China, Korea and Taiwan and the Japan Foundation and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies . As a result, to our surprise, many of the head or his assistant and researchers,who are active at the front lines, of each organization participated in this forum. We had to revitalize again the importance of the theme of the forum..     “Keynote Speech”by Dr. HIRANO Ken-ichiro    Professor Emeritus, Waseda University and Executive Director of “Toyo Bunko (Museum)” (The Oriental Library)   He emphasized the following two points in his keynote speech, titled “What we seek for New Japanese Studies in Asia”   (1)   When we elaborate “shared space for wisdom” which spans across national borders, we have to consider interdependence, commonality and universality of culture. Specifically, we have to consider“Understanding of Mutual Relations” which means to first understand culture individually and then understand culture as a phenomenon of international common experiences. And we have to go further to “Multi-layer Understanding” of Japanese Studies in the context of Asia and other areas globally; and   (2)   We better add a new theme - “Peace and Security ”in Japanese Studies hereafter. What we take up as Japanese  experience after the War as an issue of peace would give an important suggestion to other countries of not only  wrong consciousness about history. Peace can be built by strong will.  Researchers of not only Japan but also of Asia  can take part in the establishment of peace, in other words, East Asian Community through establishing intellectual  community.   His speech suggests exactly “New Japanese Studies in Asia”.     “Report”   Following his keynote speech, three panelists reported about the present and the future of Japanese Studies in their respective  countries.They are : Professor Yang Bojiang, Deputy Director, Institute of Japanese Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science. Dr. Shing-Ching Shyu, Director, Center for Japanese Studies, National Taiwan University, Dept. of Japanese Language & Literature,. Cheol-Hee Park, Director/Professor of Seoul National University   Mr. Junichi Chano, Executive Director of The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, reported about the present and prospect of their support to Japanese Studies.     “Round-Table Discussion”   In the afternoon, we had a round-table discussion in open style, composed of about 20 panelists including the above speakers. Young researchers in the conference the discussion.   Professor Liu Jie (Graduate School of Social Science, Waseda University) summarized the discussion as follows.   (1)   As a cultural phenomenon, Japan is taking a growing interest and new research for Japan is growing. This is different from traditional Japanese Studies in a field of studies and personalities. Such a growing interest in Japan, however, is not always directly related with the concept of “deepening of Japanese Studies”. It will be important for “New Japanese Studies” hereafter how such growing interest link with “shared” Japanese Studies in Asia.   (2)   “Japanese Studies as a method” in this area are especially important now. It has a meaning that Japanese Studies reflects, like a mirror, how a nation or people ought to be. In other words, it will be a way of self-recognition. We could confirm the importance of “Japanese Studies as a method” through this forum.   (3)   I am sure that “Japanese Studies as a method”would link to reconciliation of East Asia, namely peace of East Asia. An important tool for the stabilization of reconciliation shall be “Wisdom”. By utilizing Japanese Studies as a method, we can establish not only “shared space of wisdom” and “community of wisdom”, but also reconciliation of the area.  In other words, we can contribute to possibilities of peace and stabilization of the area.   (4)   We could reach common consensus that we aim at building “Japanese Studies as shared wisdom in Asia”.   When we discussed how to utilize our network which was established this time, Park, Cheol-Hee, Director/Professor of Seoul National University suggested to hold a “Conference for scholars of Japanese Studies in East Asia”. We decided to form an environment to discuss what kind of works would be needed to be done and how to proceed with such works. We decided also that we send such message to the outside.   After this forum, we had a social gathering. Researchers, lecturers and panelists,  together with scholarship students and Raccoon members (ex-scholarship students) talked and discussed until late at night.   More than 20 researchers and panelists for Japanese Studies in East Asia who are active and are at the forefront of this endeavor assembled at the forum this time.  It was very lively, with an excellent moderator of the round-table discussion, Nam Ki-jeong, Professor, Seoul National University, Institute for Japanese Studies / SGRA member. The forum accomplished its objective despite the limited time.   I am deeply grateful to all the lecturers and panelists and I do hope that the network which has been formed this time would make a rapid progress hereafter.       Aggregate results of questionnaires of the day (in Japanese)   Photos of the day   (Written by Eiichi Tsunoda, Secretary General, Atsumi International Foundation)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA News in Japanese (original)
  • Xie Zhihai “Future of Drone”

      Recently, we have to keep a watchful eye on world affairs because of their seriousness. As in the cases of the economic crisis of Greece, and the Islamic State  terrorist organization, it is also difficult for us to foresee the perspectives of affairs in Asia, like the stock-price-crash in Chinese market and national security bills including the right to collective defense in Japan. As we think this state of affairs may change tomorrow, we have to follow the news all day long since getting up in the morning. I feel strongly that international relations, in economics, politics and diplomacy are related to each other, and I, myself, have to study and analyze everything beyond my own special fields.   During my busy time following events in a changing world, I happened to read an interesting news item in a half page in the Newsweek (Japanese edition) dated July 14.  It says “Don’t shoot down a drone although it may obstruct your view”. This is a story of a man who flew a drone and a man who shot it down.The spread of small drones is very quick and legislation for it cannot catch up.  According to an episode of an article, when a pilot flew a drone in his native town (in California), his drone was gunned down by a neighbor.  It is said that the man who shot down the drone thought that it was a CIA spying drone. It became a legal case and the man who flew the drone got damage compensation.   Until quite recently, it was unnecessary for us to think of a scene that a drone come flying over our houses.There was a news item that a drone landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s official residence. We have to be aware of a possible presence of a drone when we open the windows of our houses in Japan. Yes, this is not a story in the United States. According to an articles mentioned above, it an interpretation of the law against trespass remains uncertain when a drone flies over privately-owned land. There is a boundary like fence on land between houses, but, in there no such boundary in the sky. It is said legislationwill advance in the process of coping with individual cases.  However, another news about a drone came in. We have to expedite its legislation without waiting for the cases.   About the same time that the Newsweek article came out, a picture of a drone which fires its gun is floating appeared in the YouTube.  According to the news on TV, it was a teenage university student in the US who flew the drone.  Drones, which have been developed for the purpose of people’s convenience and defense against danger are taking unexpected direction.  Drones, which have already been flown in the world where there is no legislation yet, seem to tell us ironically that there is no borders in the sky.   An article about drones seems to be suggesting me that I have to make my researches always farsighted, and notconfined to my specialties. And, I have to keep watching hereafter the future of drones.   (Full-time lecturer,Kyoai Gakuen University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 467  in Japanese (original)
  • Kyungnam MOON ”SGRA Café 7th Identities of the young in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the rise of China”

    On July 11, 7th SGRA Café was held at “Terashima Bunko Minerva-no-Mori” in Kudanshita, Tokyo. Lecturer of the day was Mr. Lim, Chuan-Tiong, Assistant Researcher of Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica(Central Research Academy of Taiwan).  Mr. Dele Sonja took the chair and Ms. Junko Imanishi, Director of SGRA, delivered the opening remarks. Then, Mr. Lim started his speech and I report it here briefly. He took up “The Sunflower Student Movement” in Taiwan and “The Hong Kong Umbrella Movement” as the most impressive incidents in the Chinese-speaking world in 2014. Those two incidents which symbolized modern Taiwan and Hong Kong were transmitted to the world with a strong impact by media with photos of students who occupied the legislative offices and the roads. Mr. Lim analyzed those incidents and their meanings for understanding the present situation of the Chinese-speaking world. Basing on this, he proceeded to the identities of the young in Taiwan and Hong Kong. According to Mr. Lim, there are special features in these two incidents. First of all, both movements were done by students who were motivated by their interest in politics and the gaps in societies. And, they took up the ways of nonviolence and democracy as their ideology. Both movements had similarity in using the internet which played an important role in their development. It was another characteristic that students of those movements supported each other strongly with deep interest. Mr. Lim has published a book titled “Identities and Politics of East Asia Frontiers; Okinawa, Taiwan and Hong Kong”. As you can easily see from this book, his key-words to understand those movements are “Distance between the center and the frontiers”. Those movements seem to be the same as the other movements in the Chinese speaking world if we consider that both movements are based on democracy. But there is a big difference.This is the phenomenon of “the rise of China” which is the most important recent change in the Chinese speaking world. The power balance among China (main land), Taiwan and Hong Kong has been changing now in the present Chinese speaking world. Hong Kong is losing its ec onomic centripetal force which they have had in the past. Taiwan is worried about how to maintain their relations with China which has been making an explosive development. We can catch a glimpse of such changes of relations in Chinese counter measures, especially toward the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. According to Mr. Lim, Chinese counter measure toward the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement was stronger than expected. We can say, in a sense, this reflects a situation that the Chinese government is now being superior to Hong Kong because the economic importance of Hong Kong has now weakened. In the face of such realities, what students of Hong Kong now has to ask for is not only democracy itself and its procedures but also their standpoints in such a violently changing social situation. Such position can be applied to Taiwan’s situation too. Chinese counter measure against the Taiwan Sunflower Movement was moderate compared with Hong Kong. If we consider that an economic agreement between China and Taiwan was a cause of the Movements this time, what Taiwan students have been distressed about was not only appropriateness of process of political decision-making but also their anxieties of their standpoint in the era of China’s rising. Two movements this time reflect the instability of relations between China which is being centralized and Taiwan/Hong Kong which are becoming frontiers. So, it becomes  impossible to understand correctly the movements this time as only a movement toward democracy by the youth. Distance between the center and the frontiers connect to an issue of identities which was the main theme of his speech this time.  According to his research, most of the inhabitants in Taiwan and Hong Kong consider themselves as Taiwanese/Hong Konger. We cannot judge now a meaning of the consciousness of Taiwanese/Hong Konger and what such consciousness would suggest to the Chinese speaking world hereafter.  It will be true that changes of social situation may change a phase of the problems in the Chinese speaking world and such tendencies will be accelerated hereafter. I analyzed this issue as above, but it will not be easy to show the way which the people in the Chinese speaking world should follow. On this point, Mr. Lim explained that it will be a key to how the Chinese government, who should play a leading part, recover reliance of the frontiers.  Overall, I think his pointing this out will be a right direction, though we have to discuss concrete solutions one by one depending on the issues. An issue on identities of the young in the Chinese speaking world reflects realities of the areas directly.  His speech was very exciting in the meaning that, by focusing on actual phenomenon, we have to think of how the Chinese speaking world should be.  Photos of the day (Doctoral Course , the University of Tokyo)   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Mac Maquito SGRA Café transmitted on July 23 in Japanese (original)
  • Liu Jie “Japanese Studies” as “Shared Wisdom in Asia”

    Japan, China and Korea, three countries in East Asia, are facing difficulties since 1970’s in regard to ‘understanding of histories’ and ‘territorial issues’.  While Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was being established, we can expect economic cooperation utilizing financing power. Japan, however, remains wary of transparency and publicity of AIIB in which China took an initiative.  70 years have passed since the end of the war, but a lack of mutual ‘’trust’ in Asia has greatly undermined political relations and cast dark shadow over people’s sentiments. In order to establish stable relations in this area, it is indispensable to bring about mutual trust, and we have to work out common ‘wisdom’ as a prerequisite. What is asked of intellectuals who have important responsibilities in these countries is to build a cross-border ‘shared space of ‘wisdom’.   In East Asia where people are not yet released from restrictions of histories, it will not be easy to build ‘shared space’ in the field of studies like “Chinese Studies” , “Japanese Studies” and “Korean Studies”. It is very important that each country is studying other countries in their own context. For example, the gap between an image about Japanese modern history by Chinese and Korean scholars and that of Japanese scholars became bigger in these 30 years.  Chinese Studies are now very active and the stagflation of Japanese Studies in East Asia badly affects international relations in this area.   The problem exists in the Japanese side. First of all, in Japan, Japanese Studies in Asian studies were excluded and were shut in “Japanese Space”. It affected also Japanese Studies in the world and “uniqueness” of Japan resulted in being strongly emphasized. Needless to say, it is quite obvious that Japan has concerned with every fields in the development of Asia starting from wars and revolutions, modernization of society and economy, and cultural spread and development since the 19th century. Real Japanese Studies should broaden their horizon and step into Asian Studies .   There are problems too in Japanese Studies by China and Korea. For example, in China, many students have studied abroad in Japan, America and Europe since the end of the Qing dynasty to the age of the Republic of China. What they studied were courses that would be useful for the modernization of China. They tried to find what historical factors prevented China from achieving modernization. And they concentrated their efforts in re-explanation of Chinese histories, thoughts and cultures using the study system of the West. On the other hand, Chinese intellectuals have greedily absorbed a concept of modern ‘wisdom’ through Japan.  They have never shown any interests in the studies of Japan and the West. Due to this, “Japanese Studies“ or “Asian Studies” in real meaning, have never been accomplished.   The second wave of Chinese scholars to study abroad which started in the 1980s followed these traditions. Students who specialized in social science were interested in modern history, politics, societies and economy of China. The number of students who intended to take up Japanese Studies were very few.  Chinese studies in public organizations for education and researches in Japan were sufficient and offered good surroundings to foreign students.  There was a tradition in Japan called “Sinology” (Chinese Study) led by Konan Naito and Naoki Kano before the War, which became “Chinese Studies” after the War. “Orient Academy” which was established in 1947, as a nongovernmental society, is still playing an important role in the development of Asian Studies in Japan and the civilization of countries of the East. Most of the scholars of the Japan Association for Asian Studies (JAAS) are researchers of Chinese studies.  It is an urgent issue for universities in Japan which are positive in accepting foreign students to encourage Chinese and Korean researchers of Japanese studies.   Power of “shared wisdom” is necessary for the realization of reconciliation of the histories in East Asia and, at the same time, for restoring confidence among people to establish a stable cooperation. We cannot ignore the significance of encouraging Japanese studies that would lead to “shared wisdom”. Modern Japan has pursued a complicated way, together with Asian countries. Success and failure which Japan has experienced shall be sublimated to common property of Asia and it would result in overcoming of history. After the War, Japan experienced such a lot of problems as environmental issue, issue on aging population, energy problems and natural disasters.  Japan have accumulated ample knowledge. It goes without saying that it is meaningful to direct such experience toward Asian common property. What Asia is asking for now to the present Japanese studies are “Experiences by Japan” both of failure and success.   Then, how to establish “Japanese Studies” as “Shared Wisdom in Asia”?   1. We have to overcome ‘histories’.  In order to do this, first of all, conversations among researchers of ‘National Histories’ of China, Japan and Korea would be necessary. Interchanges among researchers for ‘National Histories’ contribute to ‘Asian histories’ which they can share, and to create an environment of ‘Asian Studies’ in Japan that would result in adopting Japanese studies in it.   2. Japan, as a leading part, has to establish a platform of Japanese studies and bring it up to be shared in Asia. A lot of materials necessary for Japanese studies are surely gathering in Japan. A base for Japanese studies which aims not only at ‘Japanese Culture’ but for merging humanities and social science will be necessary. Though it is necessary to cooperate and tie up in various fields, it will be important to start from utilizing existing results of researches.   3. We have to aim at owning information jointly. A study by “Japan Center for Asian Historical Records” is contributing to Japanese studies in the world. Not only historical records but also outcomes of Japanese studies which have been accumulated until now would be necessary to be translated into multi-lingual versions and be distributed in various ways.   Building of a network for Japanese studies in Asia. There are many organizations for Japanese studies in Asia. But there are no systems which provide international cooperation among them. To provide such networks and bases for joint researches, Japan has to exert effort to play the role as focal point and provide leadership for it.       (Professor, Graduate School of Social Science, Waseda University)   *This essay was prepared for the SGRA Forum #49 “Searching for New Paradigm of Japanese Studies” held on July 18.     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 466 in Japanese (original)
  • Guk CHO ”SGRA Work-shop No.4 ’Creation of Intellectual Space’ ”

    SGRA Work-shop No.4 was held in Tateshina, Nagano Prefecture, for three days starting from July 3. I participated in this trip feeling uneasiness whether it is just a trip to Tateshina or a so-called “Work-shop” (which has a very serious meaning). This is my report of my personal impression on this “work-shop”.   July 3 (Fri.) It rained heavily since this morning. We were supposed to leave Shinjuku at 9:00am, but due to heavy rain and unexpected circumstances, we left Shinjuku one hour later. Luckily, there was no traffic jam on the way, and it stopped raining by the time we arrived at Suwa.   We had lunch at a restaurant looking at the lake of Suwa, in “Garasu-no-Sato” (town of Suwa Glasses), It seems a standard practice that we visit the museum and shops of Garasu-no-Sato after lunch. I was impressed by a lacquered box with gold foil work which was expressed in glass. It is exactly the same with hexagonal lacquered box, but actually it was foiled by gold on the surface of the glass. I could not understand why it was made of glass. (There was a cabbage also which was made of glass!) Anyway, it was so beautiful.   Next destination was the Suwa Grand Shrine. It was raining on and off and the old shrine seems to me very mysterious being enveloped in a fog and rain. I tried to pass through a thatched circle which is a Shinto purification ceremony of to ensure a peaceful summer. I could not pray for anything since my attention was on how to pass through the circle. I should have prayed for everybody who are in the same class of the Raccoon as me to complete their doctoral thesis.   We arrived a little late at our final destination “Certo (Italian) no Mori (Forest)” in Tateshina Heights. We had an ice-breaking time after dinner. We discussed in small group that “my strong point is ~" or "my weak point is~”which are seldom discussed even among close friends. At first, I did not understand that such talking is good for ice-braking, but our discussion got really lively. I am also interested in watching some people around me discussing seriously and positively or staying absent minded or feeling easy. At the get-together meeting after this, enjoyable conversation, even listening only, continued.   July 4 (Sat.) On the second day, a real workshop started. In the morning, we had talk shows by Dr. Liu Jie and Dr. Jun-ichi Chaya. Starting from a definition of the concept of ‘intellect’ and ‘space’, we could hear from both doctors their thinking in depth, for example, the relations between intellect and politics. Both speakers pointed out clearly that, between intellect and political power, there are delicate and tense relations. Dr. Chaya referred to American think tanks and political policies. Dr. Liu referred to Japanese studies (or scholars) in China.   Tateshina Workshop, as being called Tateshina Trip, was planned originally for scholarship students, who are tired from preparation of their doctoral thesis, to give them a refreshing time. It is a consideration of AISF and has a meaning of enjoying with ease. But, it is serious activity and a theme this time with heavy meaning. Due to this, everybody seems to be serious and earnestly accepted the theme.. At the questions and answers part after the lectures, we had vigorous discussions from various aspects and viewpoints. For example, possibilities of East Asian community in an “intellectual space”, relations between ‘intellect’ and ‘power’, establishment of relations of ‘specialty’ and ‘intellect’, connection of academic ‘intellect’ and regional ‘intellect’ etc.   I am living in such a very narrow field as Japanese history, especially modern and present history, but it was certainly an exciting and enjoyable time for me in itself. On the other hand, pressure for sectional meeting of the workshop and presentation of the next day increased. But, it was utterly groundless. I could enjoy light-heartedly a sectional meeting, as per original plan, which started in the afternoon. At the five sectional meetings, each team had a time for freely discussing their topic, while enjoying fully the nature of Tateshina about color and shape which can image ‘intellectual space” like a treasure hunting, and finding themes necessary for, or prohibited in intellectual space.   After this sectional meeting, each team began to work on their presentation next day on the basis of today’s discussion. We, in our team, decided to combine various images which symbolize ‘intellectual space’. We started our work at first, not knowing what shape our result would be. But, our work took shape gradually by finding out proper image giving our idea little by little. As a result of our good team work, we could finish our preparation work for the presentation next day before dinner. We could forget about our presentation for the time being and enjoyed our dinner, after which we continued our meeting, though it started rain again outside.   July 5 (Sun) This is the third and the last day of the workshop. The time has come for the presentations. Each team is getting ready for the presentations. Every presentation had their individualities and they were interesting in contents and style. Our ‘collage’ expressed a shape of human beings based on an order of the universe. Other teams expressed their works in various ways. One expressed intellectual space and its birth, using egg shaped lighting effects; another expressed intellectual space, like baking a chocolate cake as shown in cooking programs on TV; and some seriously explained connections and diffusions of intellectual space using paper handicrafts. The last team expressed links among people in intellectual space letting all the participants hold each other’s hands which demonstration was calculated accurately up to the last minute. I thought the last presentation was the most suitable one for the theme of the workshop. I thank all the organizers of the workshop for not letting only new scholarship students but also OB/OG students, staff members concerned and lecturers participate through discussions, as well as in conducting the presentations. This participation was rendered enthusiastically.   There was an award ceremony which satisfied everybody . We left for Tokyo by bus after lunch. I think everybody had spent valuable time enjoying a nature (we could see deer twice); and becoming more intimate with each other.   (Photos of Tateshina Workshop)     (Doctoral Course (History), Waseda University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA NEWS on July 30 in Japanese (original)
  • Li Gangzhe “ ‘Chinese Dream’ which bounds for the West and the Future of Asia (No. 1)”

    The 48th SGRA Forum (the 14th Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum) was held at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Yoyogi, Tokyo on February 7. This forum was co-sponsored by ‘SGRA Research Association for Asia Initiative’ and ‘Japan-Korea Asia Future Forum’.  I like to report the status quo and the problem of the dynamism of rapid economic growth in Asia from a viewpoint of building of logistic systems.   The writer reported about dreams for the future of Asia and the present under the title “Asian Highway Network and Regional Integration” – its status quo and problems – “. Ten years ago, I, as a member of National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA),  a Japanese national think tank which has been participating in research and policy recommendation about the “North-East Asian Grand Design” which is a joint project among NIRA, Korea Research Institute for Human Settlement (KRIHS), and National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).  KRIHS and NDRC are think tanks of Korea and China. I have been studying for a few years now about the future, the present and the problems of the integrated logistics in North-East Asia, especially the Asia-Highway Network, Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel Plan and “North-East Asian Logistic Network Plan”.   “Asian Highway Network” which aggregates Asia into one has been proposed and promoted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).  Thirty-two countries from Asia and Europe have already signed the participation agreement among these countries as of the year 2004. Starting from Nihon-bashi, Tokyo (AH1) at the east end to Istanbul at the west end, Asian countries will cooperate and together develop and realize their dreams of peace and prosperity. Of the total length of 141,714 km, 26,699 km in China were designated to the “Asian Highway Network.” The traffic network is planned to expand through the continental region of China, to Southeast Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, North Asia and Russia.   An important idea which provides a strong impact for materialization of the Asian Highway Network was proposed by China’s General Secretary, Xi Jinping .  It is called “One Belt, One Road” (一帯一路).  China would utilize the “One Belt, One Road” idea as a new axis for the growth of its present economy, so-called “New Normal” (新常態), developing together with the Asian countries as a new developing “Belt”.   In China, they call the present situation which shows a slowdown of its economy since the spring of 2014 as “New Normal” and the Xi leadership calls for the realization and acceptance of the actual situation of the Chinese economy. Based on such situation, the leadership announced economic strategies and reforms. In the economic and diplomatic relations with other countries, they announced “New Asian Grand Design” (newly coined words by the writer) by the “One Belt, One Road” slogan and are putting it into practice.  This is a new economic and diplomatic strategy of the Xi Jinping Administration. If this plan will progress as planned, the power composition of Asia would change significantly.   The phrase “New Normal” was first proposed to show a new direction of the Chinese economy for a soft landing after a slowdown. But, as long as I have watched the economic and political diplomacy during the latter half of 2014, “New Normal” has been used as new diplomatic strategy of international relations which exceeded the original meaning of just new normal economic condition. Together with “New Normal”, General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed “One Belt, One Road” when he visited countries in Central Asia and South Asia where he appealed for the realization of these ideas..   “One Belt, One Road” is considered as a strategic turning point in the new Asian order from the strategy of “Look East” to “Look West”.  In other words, relations with the advanced countries like Japan and Korea and their strategic value, which China has regarded as important until now, have lowered in importance. And India, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, instead, will be targets of strategic development by China. India and China are now the two “Elephant and Dragon” in Asia in the sense  not only of economic development but also politically and diplomatically. They think “Elephant and Dragon” will be the center of the future world.   I think such Chinese changes in diplomatic policy and the strategies for the world and Asia would cause negative impact in international relations and economic cooperation in North-East Asia. This is a big change for me – a “North-East Asian” - in the sense that it casts a shadow over my “Dreams and Hopes”.   Mr. Takao Kubo, a scholar of international relations, pointed out in his mail magazine  (“Orta” No.133 dated January 20, 2015) “A sign of reversal of North and South / East and West which progresses simultaneously – thereby accelerating the diastrophism of the world –“, signifying that “American hegemony is declining, the reverse of the North and the South (Advanced countries vs. Developing countries) and the reverse of the East and the West (Asia vs. America and Europe) in the world politics are developing.” (to be continued)   (Li Gangzhe / Professor, Hokuriku University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 451 in Japanese (original)
  • Xia Zhihai “Regional Revitalization”

    Does “Regional Revitalization” go well?  I do not know exactly what they are doing?  What crosses my mind are “Yuru-kyara” (heartwarming characters) and promotion videos for “Machi-okoshi” (revitalization of towns).  However, by such means only, how do people who are living in central Tokyo know about people who are living in regional towns? Are there any people in central Tokyo who like to visit regional towns? Does the population in regional towns increase?  Regional revitalization is not an issue of regional towns; rather, it is a national issue. The national government sets up “Headquarter for Revitalization, Town, People and Job” (Headquarter) and local governments are also working out their own plans for revitalization.   For example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is promoting a policy which expedites moving the young people to regional towns, naming the policy “Cooperation Units for Regional Revitalization”. It helps people find jobs and houses in regional towns. If they like to start a business there, they shall be also supported financially. Usually, such scheme is implemented for a few years only, but according to the data of the Headquarter, as of the end of June 2015, about 60 percent of the people , especially the young, who have been moved, continue to stay in the same towns.  I think this project is successful since there are actual results already.   Another scheme called Continued Care Retirement Community- (CCRC) was announced by the Expert Committee, according to the data of the Headquarter.. This scheme supports the aged retirees who are living in the Tokyo metropolitan area or big cities when they voluntarily move to regional towns. It is great that the program provides life-supports to the aged even after their relocation. Thus, the aged can stay healthy and keep an active life in their new community. The scheme also aims to maintain a system that will provide medical and personal care to the aged when needed. I think the scheme is helpful and can give a chance to the aged who, after their retirement, are hesitating to decide to live peacefully in regional towns.   Despite a lot of such good programs for regional revitalization, why do I feel a big gap between big cities and regional towns? I am now living in a regional city and I very seldom to go to Tokyo for my job.  During my going to and returning from Tokyo, I feel a big difference in temperature (not in climate but in feeling) between Tokyo and regional towns. Tokyo is an energetic city.  We cannot feel any dullness there, having a lot of visitors for sightseeing and anticipating the Olympic Games five years later. On the other hand, I do not feel in my town, any atmosphere that people like to revitalize their home town.   It is not so effective when programs for regional vitalization or revitalization are worked out by the government alone. It is important that inhabitants of the region are living happily, able to extend their life-span, and invite, by themselves, outsiders move into their region. For example, if regional residents ask advertising agencies in Tokyo to prepare promotion videos for local revitalization and upload these in “YouTube”, they have to pay certain fees to the agencies in Tokyo. That is reversing the logical order of things. This would not be the case, if the residents, themselves, had prepared the promotional materials. The advertising agencies should, at least, return whatever materials have been prepared by the residents. In this case, the residents should customize those programs, which the government has prepared for them to meet the local situation. Vitalization or revitalization starts at the place actually being operated. There are already differences between areas which are being vitalized/revitalized and areas which do not have this program. It may be my selfish supposition that successful regions for revitalization may be those places where are conveniently accessible to/from Tokyo, as a result of the residents’ efforts.   A sense of urgency is required for regional revitalization hereafter.  I am afraid that if regional residents fail to keep up with the current revitalization movement, the  depopulation of their regions would advance immediately.  Regional revitalization will depend on whether the residents of these regions shall take the initiative or not..   (A full-time lecturer, Kyoai Gakuen University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 464 in Japanese (original)
  • Kim Taehee “Change of Japan-Korea Relations”

    I remember well about a week when the former President, Lee Myungbak, visited “Takesima-island” in August 2012.  There were three incidents at that time:(1) a visit to “Takeshima” by President, Lee Myungbak; (2) his statement demanding an apology from His Majesty, the Emperor: and (3) a Korean soccer player holding a placard saying “Takeshima belongs to Korea” during the Japan-Korea match at the London Olympic Games. I had the impression that news and public opinion in Japan about Korea changed a lot after these incidents. I also remember well that I was surprised at such a rapid change.  Relationship between Japan and Korea worsened thereafter up to the present day.   Many people asked me if there were no such incidents like the Takeshima visit by President Lee Myungbak, the relationship between Japan and Korea would be different, not like the present. I do not think so. I think there were fundamental issues which both countries have had as pending for a long time and the visit by President, Lee Myungbak was just the turning point. Moreover, I think it is public opinion in Japan, rather than in Korea, that changed a lot. .   Public opinion in Korea has been taking a critical attitude toward the Japanese Government on an issue on the History (historical perceptions) since the founding of the Republic of Korea. It is an old issue. The presence of Korea in Japan was not so significant before the “Korean-wave” and the Japanese media did not report much about news in Korea. Korea was called “NIES” (Newly Industrializing Economies) by the 1990’s and its economic influence was not so strong as we have experienced during the IMF Financial Crisis.   However, the situation changed in the 2000’s by the “Korean-wave” - with the rise of international enterprises like Samsung and the development of internet media. Interest in Korea has increased at the economic and public levels. Volume of information about Korea has also increased drastically. We can say the presence of Korea in Japan increased in the 2000’s because of economic and cultural exchanges between both countries.   As a result, many people have come to know that public opinion in Korea has taken an opposing attitude toward an issue on the History. In Japan, the year 2015 is the 70th year since the end of World War II, but, in Korea, many people do not understand yet the problem in the Colonial Time before the War were solved. Such “time difference” of recognition between both countries about an issue on the History was latent and deepened as the primary factor of conflict in the relations of both countries.   In order to improve such relations between the two countries, various measures are considered. For example, improvement of diplomatic relations at the governmental level, close cooperation at the economic level and increasing exchanges at the public level. But these ideas do not always improve public opinions of both countries. I think it is necessary, in order to improve fundamentally, to have mature discussions on an issue on the History or on relations of both countries before such exchanges.   In Korea, domestic discussion about Japan-Korea relations are not yet mature. Especially, an issue on the History is very delicate and it is difficult to say we had various discussions. So, I think we cannot yet find any settlement of the discussion on how to improve Japan-Korea relations concluding the issue on the History. For example, there is difference of opinions domestically about the concrete demand for Japan’s apology etc.. First of all, it is necessary to have a common discussion base in Korea where we can discuss about the various aspects of Japan-Korea relations. It is necessary also to make efforts to discuss calmly and to find a mutually acceptable common solution by ourselves about the issue on the History.  It is also necessary for Japan to understand how Korea recognizes and interprets the issue on the History and what kind of “time-difference” was brought about between both countries. In Japan nowadays, it is becoming possible to revise the constitution which might be a turning point historically in terms of national security. I think Japan is also in the turning point in its recognition of history or in diplomatic policy. Needless to say, these factors are basic and important problems to decide, as a nation ought to do.  We should not leave the discussion at the political level only, but it is also necessary to have a thorough discussion involving the general public.   After the deterioration of relations between the two countries, there have been anti-Korea demonstrations or “hate-speeches” against Koreans living in Japan. This situation came to the surface after diplomatic problems arose between both countries, but it was mainly a Japanese domestic incident.   Discrimination or violence against nationality or race would be possible not only against Korea but also against other minorities. We are now promoting internationalization and introducing labor from foreign countries. In such circumstances, I think it is necessary to study how we should confront such discrimination which is possible in diversified societies.   Please refer to the public-opinion poll by the Cabinet Office survey about Change of Attitude toward Korea.   (Assistant Lecturer, the Law School, Keio University)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 461 in Japanese (original)
  • John Chuan-Tiong Lim “The 5th Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum ―120 years’ Japan-Taiwan Exchange through Japan Study ―”

    On May 8, 2015, the 5th Japan-Taiwan Asia Future Forum was held under the title “120 years’ Japan-Taiwan Exchange through Japan Study” at National Taiwan University.   When we look back at the Japan-Taiwan relations over the past 120 years, how shall we reconsider our past experience before the War and legacy of the past?  What are  the characteristics present in the process of the reconstruction of Japan-Taiwan relations which met a lot of difficulties? What keywords will be necessary when we view the next 120 years? Basing on such awareness of the issues, we had 13 lectures and paper presentations and also had lively discussions.  Mr. Li Jia Jin, Chairman of the Association of East Asia Relations and Mr. Mikio Numata, Chairman of the Interchange Association, Japan addressed the Forum, which was a great success with more than 200 participants,   The forum was composed of three sessions: “international relations”, “study of languages and literatures” and “change of societies”.  We invited scholars who are active at the forefront in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and China, and they developed hot discussions from their innovative viewpoints.   Keynote speech was made by Mr. Yasuhiro Matsuda, Professor of Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo on the subject of “Japan-Taiwan exchange:characteristics and change of its ‘double structure”’. He mentioned first that the relations of the first 50 years were on a suzerain state and a colony system. He pointed out that the  characteristics of “double structure” developed during the latter 70 years whereby two countries became independent of each other from a viewpoint of a manifestation of independence of Taiwan. The relations of Japan and Taiwan in the colonial period had such “double structure” as “the central government and the government-general” and “the society of Japan and Taiwan”.  He emphasized that it changed after 1952, through several years of transition, to “double structure” of “Japan-China relations on the governmental authorities concerned” and “Japan-Taiwan relations between societies”.  He ended his keynote speech with a question: how does the rise of China affect the Japan-Taiwan relations and it will be a key issue how the Taiwan people understand the independence of Taiwan.   The first session was held on the theme “Japan-Taiwan relations under the change of political circumstances and international relations” by adjunct Professor, Wu Mi Cha,Department of History, National Taiwan University, as Chairperson. We discussed about “120 years’ Japan-Taiwan relations” from three viewpoints; Taiwan, Japan and China. The following three essays were announced in the session: “From “Colonial Mother Country” to “International Relations” – Change in the Cultural Independence in Taiwan and Japan-Taiwan relations – “ by Mr. Li Cheng Ji, Assistant Professor, Department of Literature of Taiwan, National Cheng Kung University; “Japan Study in Taiwan and Taiwan Study in Japan in the early days of the post War by Professor Makoto Kawashima, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo; and“120 years’ Taiwan-Japan relations from the viewpoints of China” read for Wang Jian, Researcher of Institute of Modern History, Chinese Academy of Social Science.   Every essay was exciting and it was an epoch-making event for scholars and researchers of Japan, China and Taiwan to have convened in one place to discuss about “Japan-Taiwan relations”.   The theme of the second session was “Review and View of Japan Study – Language and Literature –“ and was divided into (A) “Literature / Culture” and (B) “Language / Study of Language”. Chairperson of the first session was Professor Fan Shu Wen, Head of Department of Japanese Literature in Japanese Language, National Taiwan University. Three essays were presented: “A Study of Japanese Modern Literature” by Huang Cui E, Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Language, Fu Jen Catholic University;  “A Study of Japanese Classical Literature in Taiwan – the past, the present and the future“: and “Japan Study in Taiwan – about its thought, culture and history –“ by Lan Hong Yuen, Assistant Professor, College of Humanities and Social Science, National Chiao Tung University. The session was very various. We studied Japanese literature from remote ages to modern ages by “an axis of time” and put our thoughts together by “an axis of field”.   In the (B) session “Language / Study of Language”, Professor Lin Li Ping, Department of Japanese Literature in Japanese Language, National Taiwan University, was the chairperson. Mr. Lai Jin Que, professor, Department of Japanese Literature and Head of Foreign Literature, Soochow University presented his report “Study of Learning Japanese Language in Taiwan on data”.  Ye Shu Hua, Dean of Foreign Language, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, discussed “the present and the prospect of Study of Japanese language in Taiwan – at an international symposium –“(study of Japanese language and learning by Japanese language by use of a keyword, data and symposium).  Professor Shin Chung Kyun, Department of Japanese language and Japanese literature, Chunbuk National University (Korea) made an interesting report under the title “History of the study of Japanese language in Korea –Study of old time Japan in Chosun (old Korea) time and now- “   The third session, “The change of societies in Japan and Taiwan and an aspect of their exchanges”, focused on “the change of societies” and “an aspect of cultural exchange” in the history of Japan-Taiwan exchanges. Three essays were reported under Chairperson, Mr. Zhang Qi Xiong, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica.   Mr. Yukihito Sato, Ph.D. Institute of Developing Economics – JETRO, clarified the dynamism of reproduction of cooperative relationship among enterprises of both countries  from economics viewpoints under the title “Reproduction of trust and cooperation among enterprises in Japan and Taiwan” referring to several examples.   Mr. Zhong Shu Min, Assistant Researcher, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, from a viewpoint of identity, reported his reconsideration of an exchange between a Japanese who was born in Taiwan and Taiwan society under an interesting title “Foreign land where I took root becomes my homeland”.   Mr. Wu Rui Ren, Assistant Researcher, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, analyzed, from a viewpoint of historical sociology, a phenomenon of linkage of right-wing nationalists of Japan and Taiwan by means of manipulation of historical ideology of realists.   The theme of the last general discussion was “A view on Japan-Taiwan relations of 21st Century”. Under chairperson, Professor Xu Xing-ging, Department of Japanese Literature and Chief of Japan Center, National Taiwan University, six scholars, Fan Shu Wen, Masashi Tujimoto, Yasuhiro Matuda, Makoto Kawashima, Wu Rui Ren and myself who represent each fields, attended.  Each of us spoke about our Japan-Taiwan relations and the way of Japan studies during this 120 years first and indicated a direction hereafter.   Starting from Professor Yasuhiro Matsuda who rated this forum as “High level”, many participants also rated this forum high.   I hope our discussion this time will contribute to build a new “Japan-Taiwan relations”.   As to the result of survey, please refer to   As to photos of the forum, please refer to     (Adjunct Professor, National Taiwan University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA News in Japanese (original)