SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Ryu Chunghee ”Imagination of difference and Japan-Korea relationship hereafter”- Recollection of my first lecture in university –

    Last year, I was given a chance for the first time to give a lecture in our university about the history of Japan-Korea relationship. Our lesson put emphasis on the history of Chosun and Korea starting from the end of Chosun-era to the colonial period, in other words, the modern history of Japan-Korea from the middle of 19thcentury to the middle of 20th century. This period was a turning point for both Japan and Korea in the sense that both countries had to open to the world under the influence of great powers in Europe.  At the same time, this period was the start of the “modern period” in East Asia. The modern period in Japan and Korea was formed through the period of imperialism based on “empires / colonies” and it was a primary factor that gave rise to the spirit of nationalism of both countries in the fields of diplomacy and education. When I was given a chance to give a lesson in our university in Japan, I had a question, which came across in my mind first, what and how university students in Japan know and understand such past history.   When I start my class, I always asked the students first why they receive my lesson. Most students replied that they like to know more about Korea by the reason of such a boom of Korea wave or they have just visited Korea. There were some exchange students who recently visited Korean universities and I wanted to hear impressions of the student life in Korea.   There was one student who received my class lesson from a different viewpoint  He said “I joined this class because I am interested in a phenomenon of ‘hate-speech’ in Japan against foreigners.” According to him, he cannot understand the logic of people who make a ‘hate-speech’ and he likes to study Korea’s modern history by himself.   There was a Korean exchange student, whom. I asked to give me his written impression or question about my lesson. He gave me his written impression saying that he recalled every time the class of “national history” in his high-school time or he was not fully satisfied with my explanation. He seemed to have attended a class for other foreign exchange students about the modern history of East Asia. One day, he appealed to me that the explanation about modern history of Korea at that class was insufficient and he was afraid of giving other exchange students a false impression. I do not say that I cannot understand him but I was a little worried about what makes him so concerned. I tried to relieve him from his doubts by raising the issue of “image of history” which I have emphasized at my first lesson.   A concept of “image of history” is quoted from a book written by Ryuichi Narita, a Japanese historian. Mr. Narita wrote “When we think of history, we select a certain occurrence basing on a certain understanding, and explain and write it having a certain meaning on it. We call it ‘ image of history’ in this book.” (“Modern and Current Japanese History and Historical Science – a rewritten past” Ryuichi Narita) (Chu-ou Shinsho, 21012) page ii) Such explanation about “image of history” is quite normal for the people who study history. (I did not major in history but I majored in literature and thought adjoining history) Ordinary people think that studying history is to study or to remember historical facts. But a concept of “image of history” gives such people different viewpoints. Especially, I think it is useful for university students in terms of flexible thinking. When people face history, it is necessary for them to realize that selecting a certain occurrence should be based on their own viewpoint. And it is necessary also to have certain appropriateness which can persuade others. Those are presuppositions of a concept of “ image of history”.   Such a way of thinking contains a tolerance of different viewpoints. In other words, there exist, to begin with, various viewpoints and understandings for any occurrence in the world. It makes possible by an image for differences. And such an image for any differences does not come from simple and empty situation. It makes possible first by having definite knowledge about a certain occurrence. By such a knowledge, people can image their own viewpoint and their viewpoints become persuasive. I would like my students to understand, even just a little bit, imaginative power which comes from “image of history” and to suspect their attitude which they try to understand their own history and society, which they are taking part in, having their own viewpoint. This is an ultimate objective of my lesson and task hereafter.   It seemed the Korean student, mentioned above, did not satisfy my principle. He might be satisfied if I could explain concretely referring to persuasive historical documents. It might be possible if I could explain using ample volume of knowledge and refined discourse. However, by only my explanation by concrete knowledge, we might not be accepted each other at ultimate level.  I think there exists only “an attitude and a trial which like to understand each other” amid friction of misunderstanding and different opinions.  An attitude which seemed to come from gloomy feeling of this Korean exchange student may be on the stage of such understanding and trial.   There are certain differences in the writings of impression of the first and the second term.  At first, they raised questions about historical facts or they just summarized my lessons. And lastly, they gave their opinions referring to some materials. For example, a student wrote about cruelty under colonial rule. Another student wrote about economic progress in colonial time of Korea referring to statistical materials. It was my pleasure to have seen such change of attitudes that they have tried to write their own viewpoints basing on some materials apart from its historical meaning.   This year is the 70th anniversary for Japan from the Post-war period.  At the same time, it is the 50th anniversary for both Japan and Korea for their normalization of friendship. It is sure scholars of both countries have deepened their understanding through their interchange during this half century. On the other hand, there still exists strong atmosphere of nationalism at the level of ordinary people. When students of both countries have different and various attitudes and imagination having their own “image of history”, social atmosphere may change after 50 or 70 years later. There may be a different atmosphere which accepts different viewpoint with breadth of mind rather than the present nationalistic viewpoint which tries to unify present thought about not only Japan-Korea relation but issues of East Asia.   (Project Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 459 in Japanese (original)  
  • Xie Zhihai “Blind Spot in Japan:Chilly Houses in Winter”

    All Japanese friends of mine, who are living overseas and travel to Japan for temporary visit, say that it is very cold in winter and hard to live in Japan. Though they are living in countries or areas colder than Japan, they say that Japanese houses (mainly their parents’ houses) are cold. I had assumed that everybody enjoy “Kotatsu de Mikan“ (taking a tangerine at Japanese foot warmer with a quilt over it). But this was not true. The countries where my friends are living are colder than Japan in winter, but they say whole houses there are kept warm. It is different from Japan where once they go out of a heated room, they have to walk through a cold passage and go to a cold lavatory. I remember it is colder in Beijing, where I have been living, in winter than in Japan, but it is too warm inside the room. In Japan, home appliances are developing day by day and new technologies are being applied one after another. Why are Japanese houses kept cold ?   According to my friend who returned from New York for a temporary visit, the owner of an apartment house has to keep his house over 20℃ as ordained by the state law of New York when outside temperature falls below 10℃ in winter (from October to May). And heating cost is included in the house rent. He praised highly that whole houses are already heated by central heating system when he comes home. I was surprised that such systems are ordained by law. I checked other cold areas neighboring New York and found that there are similar regulations for minimum temperature of houses not only in the states of the east coast of America but in Canada and England also. Such laws are passed considering the health of the population. There is no such regulation in Japan.   I thought I have found a pitfall of Japan where infrastructures are well-regulated and everything are completed. We can see television programs on health every-day and people are actually keenly interested in health issues. But it is still cold in houses in Japan.We hear the news very often that an aged person has died of heart attack in the bathroom or in the changing room. The cause of the heart attack is called “heat-shock” which is a physical condition resulting from a sudden change in temperature which happens when, after soaking in a heated bathtub, the bather goes out to the cold changing room. According to a report of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, it is estimated that more than 19,000 people have died yearly while taking a bath.   To avoid such accident, Japanese homes in winter should be changed. A thermalization (insulation) of Japanese houses should be required by regulations as in western countries. As costs of light and fuel are high in Japan, devices for controlling home temperature will be necessary. I guess the aged in Japan are hardy and can survive being cold a little. It is meaningless if they do not use heating appliances despite being provided. Above all, differences in temperature among rooms in houses are dangerous. It is important to keep temperature in each room at certain level. They say ”heat-shock” are scarce in Hokkaido where rooms are kept warm.   I think they should bring in easier style of living in winter and improve their styles. By doing so, the aged in Japan can be protected and decrease of population shall be moderated. There are a lot of health freaks in Japan which is said to be an advanced country. It is regrettable to lose a lot of lives too quick in every winter by such accident which can be prevented.   (A full-time lecturer, Kyoai Gakuen University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito     SGRA Kawaraban 449 in Japanese (original)
  • Yutaka TONOOKA “Fukushima Study Tour Report “Iitate Village, Three Years Past – A Trial by Mr. Muneo KANNO – ”

    I learned a word “Madei” for the first time. This word expresses behavior and consciousness of good-natured farmers who have supported traditional societies, diligently since the Edo period (1603-1868), or earlier. It seems to me a good expression. I, as a scholar of environmental problems, am appealing strongly every day to the general public, as the most important issue, that our objective is a sustainable society.   This objective can be achieved if the whole society would change to “Madei” and, at the same time, if we could outgrow from the use of fossil fuel and nuclear power. In that sense, a trial of Iitate resurrection is an entrance for sustainable society and the Iitate villagers are bearing their role, without being noticed; their example may lead Japan to this direction.   I think it is quite natural for the Iitate villagers to have a strong determination to abandon nuclear power generation. We cannot find such determination in other villages. The Iitate villagers have both objectives of establishing a sustainable society and abandoning nuclear power generation. We, who are living in Tokyo where we have not suffered from the nuclear accident, forget completely what the Iitate villagers who live a “Madei”-like life think their suffering is natural. If you listen to Mr. Kanno, it will be a good chance to understand what city-dwellers lost. The villagers’ “Madei-spirit and positive “trial-and-error attitude”, even in a situation where they fall into the bottomless pit or in deadly contamination by invisible radioactivity, will become steady and motivated for resurrection. I am sure that a village where such people are living can recover someday even if its population would decrease. It became clear, from the administrative confusion this time, that many people in governmental offices (Kasumigaseki) or in major companies in a city or in Tokyo lack in the qualifications to deal with such an emergency. We cannot find such reliable person or persons like Mr. Kanno.  Actually it was a serious situation but, at the same time, it was also invisible and dangerous that many people did not consider it seriously. Strangely enough, invisible contamination by radioactivity coincides with invisible irresponsibility in a city. I am afraid such coincidence will compounded the danger.   There is a similar situation in universities. I cannot criticize it, as I cannot do anything anyway in my own organization. As is often the case, we cannot do anything or are not allowed to do anything of a dampening effect, being bound by old set of rules or we cannot make flexible use of them. Teachers and administrative officers escape from such situations by saying that both of them are not the leading parties and do not like to be responsible for results. It was the same in the UK. I do not know how the situation in China is now, though it seemed opposite that of a few years ago.   I have painted in watercolors landscapes in the agricultural countryside since my high-school days. There was a sympathy in my mind with Japanese original life in which people live together with nature being unified and blessed which is symbolized by “satoyama” (rural natural areas). I have been attracted to farmers and their villages and houses as “Madei-like” life places. I, as a specialist in environmental issues, am returning to a world of pictures which I have painted in my youth. I think my sense of values has made a change in my life which seems to have been half- scheduled. It is clear, as my reserve in my mind, that there exists what I can do and what I cannot do as a mission which is given by God.   Owing to Atsumi International Foundation, Sekiguchi Global Research Association, I could visit Iitate at last and have gotten a chance to experience being in the disaster-stricken area at first after three and a half years. I was able, unexpectedly, to meet there Mr. Tao, who is an old acquaintance of mine. I could not help but think that our meeting was due to something beyond coincidence, which was concealed. We studied together at the Ojima laboratory at the Department of Science and Technology, Waseda University around the year 2008.  I understand that such past acquaintance gave us the chance of meeting this time unconsciously. I came to know for the first time that Mr. Tao is playing a very active part there as an NPO activist for the resurrection of Fukushima.  Prof. Ken-ichi Kimura, as my mentor for my doctoral thesis at Waseda University, also participated in this tour. This was another reason why I decided to participate, though I was busy. I also happened to meet Mr.Inoue at the house of Mr. Kin-ichi Okubo in Komiya District, which is said to be an area with a high degree of radioactive contamination. He is taking care of a ninety-year-old lady and working at the Shonan Central Hospital (in Tsujido, Kanagawa Pref.).  According to him, he knows my father Toyohiko Tonooka coincidentally.  I cannot help but feel again there exists something destined behind such coincidence.   I talked with Mr. Kanno of Kahoku Shinpo (Japanese newspaper in Tohoku Area) at his house. He said that the young people who evacuated during the disaster do not intend to return to their own village since the last three years. He also said that their village cannot maintain their administration because only the old folks have remained and their population is diminishing.  Such severe situation is coming. I have to seriously consider again about the special circumstances which have occurred from the nuclear accident and the resulting difficulties. Conversely, however, I might say that people who like to manage agriculture will be able to get a chance to practice their skill even though they are not generation of farmers. And we can see even a possibility of changing this mind-set into a big hope.   If a village cannot be organized without outsiders or the young, they should receive newcomers who transcend conservative habits of the village. It will be a good chance to establish new agricultural villages by outsiders which have fresh disposition and have modern knowledge. We may be able to establish another new Japanese society remote from a bad influence of world economy which is in a dead end.  As implied in a sharp decline of the New York Stock Market for these few days, a Great Economy Crash may happen in the near future. It may lead to a World Crisis whose scale may be bigger than the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. Trials at Iitate may be preliminary and precedent correspondence to avoid such world crisis. Coping with immediate crisis in “Madei-like” and its accumulation would receive unsought divine protection. I think (or rather “I hope”) “Madei-like” Iitate shall be a gleam of hope for Japan and the world.   (Professor of Faculty of Economics, Saitama University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 438  in Japanese (original)  
  • Sim Choon Kiat “A Mission Impossible Made Possible by Mr Lee Kuan Yew”

    The year 2015 is to be remembered in the history of Singapore, not as 50th anniversary of Singapore but as the year we lost the Founding Father.   If I use a word “Great”, I shall be misunderstood to be a guy who worships a dictator of his country enthusiastically like people in some country. But if you know me, you understand easily that I will never be such people no matter what I do. And I dare to use a word “Great” to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew although this expression may be misunderstood.   There are a lot of publications, books, essays and articles of newspapers and magazines analyzing merits and demerits of his results. Please read such publications, if you are interested in his leadership, his oppressive political skills or his dictatorship. As a citizen who was born and raised under one-party dominant regime of PAP (People’s Action Party) , I like to express my faithful feelings here.   Whenever I visit developing countries in Asia, I feel “déjà vu”. I open an album in my memory and remember such scenes like houses in bad repair, electric cables networks laying out on the ground like spider’s webs, a lot of unclean stalls and water channels which dark water flow, all of which I have looked in my childhood in Singapore. I cannot imagine such scenes in Singapore where per-capita GDP is about US$60,000 and it exceeds that of Japanese US$40,000 and we are always ranked in the tenth in the statistics like IMF and the World Bank. No Singaporean has an objection to the opinion that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest person who has made Singapore possible to change surprisingly. I cannot deny this fact no matter what as a generation after the independence who have grown up together with the progress and prosperity of Singapore and have received its favors. However, there is no such thing as perfect in the world.   Perfect people or perfect nation would be an illusion. It is true that even Singapore which seems to be managed well has various issue like other countries. It is rather mysterious to me that, in Singapore where the land is limited and resources are scarce, we are coexisting happily with people whose culture, habit, language and religion are different in such complicated situation like multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-religion, A mosque is built near a church, there is a Mausoleum of Taoism 50m ahead and we can hear prayers from temples of Hinduism. It is very usual in Singapore now. If we recall our history of racial distrust and religious riot, it may be a miracle. Every people in Singapore knows that there was Lee Kuan Yew with no religious faith behind.   Of course, Lee Kuan Yew is not perfect. People who hate him is not a little. As a matter of fact, I also dislike him. He was ultra-rationalist and elitism and has often aroused criticism saying that: ―we should change such tendency that university graduated ladies bear less children     after marriage than ladies of lower-education, ―electoral system which give one vote to one person is not always best and we should     give two votes to one person who has family and children, ―it is quite natural that prime minister or ministers and high government officials who     are responsible to the government and its future, which has no natural resources,     should be paid the highest salary in the world, ―opposition parties will be unnecessary if they would oppose always and have no     abilities to propose better policies. Sometimes I feel pleasantly when he expressed his opinion straightforwardly without hesitation which ordinal leaders would never put into words even though they have in his mind. If we think it calmly, we can feel freshness and boldness as there is a point in his creative idea. I do not like him, but I respect him profoundly. He was, so to speak, a strict father.   This strict father was, at the same time, an affectionate grand-father. Lee Yee Peng, one of his grand-children and a son of Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister and the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, and his late wife, was “albino” and has visual disturbance and in “Asperger’s syndrome. Lee Kuan Yew has wrote in his memoirs that he loved Yee Pen most. When his coffin was brought to the House of Parliament to receive calls of condolence of the people, Yee Peng lead the row holding a photograph of his grand- father. The row was so long as it took eight hours which was longer-than-expected and the Government recommended the people to refrain from calling of condolence.   A few years before he has passed away, he replied to an interviewer “Are you asking me what I have got? It is a success of Singapore. Are you asking me what I lost? It is my life”, acknowledging there were some who opposed to or dissatisfied with his difficult political decision. A bronze statue of Lee Kuan Yew may be built somewhere in Singapore in several years later. A portrait of bills may be changed from Yusuf bin Ishaq to Lee Kuan Yew. Anyway, his name will be remained forever in the mind of Singaporean, even though there would not be a statue or bills.   (Associate Professor of Showa Women's University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 454 in Japanese (original)          
  • Chan Kuei-E “Coming back to Iitate-Long way for Resurrection -”

    I joined the “Iitate Study Tour” for three days and I became aware that it is irresponsible and simply whitewashing to say lightly, three and half years after the horrendous Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station 1 disaster, that “let’s go for resurrection as we are behind you” to former Iitate villagers who lived in government-declared “difficult-to-return zone” where they spend sleepless nights.   There was a good reason, though it was not entirely clear in my mind for joining this tour, all the way from Taiwan. I wanted the Taiwan people, particularly university students to know the extent of damages from radioactive contamination wrought by nuclear accident and to share the feeling of pain and suffering of the surviving victims – from which they have not yet recovered. The “scenery” which I saw with my own eyes just after I arrived in Iitate was entirely different and completely tragic, from the scene which I have seen in beautiful Tohoku where I visited very often when I was studying in Japan. There were lot of empty houses, alongside otherwise remarkable streets, weird shadows of loose black vinyl bags in what was erstwhile a beautiful rural “SATOYAMA” (undeveloped woodland near populated area). Even under such dire circumstances, I noted that autumnal color was starting to bloom. However, also noticeable were stumps of dead “Igune” (grove of trees surrounding a residence) which should have been rising now into the blue sky of early autumn; corpus of bugs on spider web in deserted cowsheds, and other evidences of death and destruction.   I came here to Itate, though I am foreign to this area, recalling the past when I visited Fukushima as a tourist, but I could not stop suffering from the dreary and tragic scene in front of me. And I was at a loss for words, imagining the pitiful and helpless heart-rending cries of the victims in the midst of the disaster. I also thought of how to give comfort to the inhabitants whose ancestors settled here since a few hundred years ago, and who had continued to keep their land and dearly oved dense forests I also pondered how these venerable ancestors would consider the total loss of their homeland which was their proud legacy to their descendants. I was utterly overwhelmed by such scenes. In my musing, I regretted and blamed myself for not being able to do anything and of my thoughtless arrogance for not clearly understanding the purpose of my visit here.   However, in the midst of such a whirlpool of self-hatred, I was able to meet the heroes who risked life and limb in the post-disaster rescue and resurrection effort and who provided a lot of dazzling lights of hope.   These heroes include members of the “Fukusima Saisei no Kai (Resurrection of Fukushima)” team, headed by Mr. Yoichi Tao, who are undertaking head-on the fight against radioactive contamination, with persistent challenging spirits using the latest available high-technology; Mr. Muneo Kanno who leads an activity of resurrection communities, with a cool and collected judgment and strong leverage, though he has been irritated at the situation whose ending nobody can predict; Mr. Hideya Terashima, journalist, who runs the media front in order to send messages to the world global network about the progress of the effort at radioactive contamination control/eradication in Fukushima. It is noteworthy that the contamination is fading away with the passage of time. Other noteworthy heroes are: Ms. Yuiko Oishi who embraces people around her with affection, keeping the faith of “Madei” which is originated in the Soma area and means “slow life”, by which men live together with nature, wholeheartedly; and Mr. Kenta Sato who has a youthful spirit and keeps up his thoughts and memories of home lands even as he despairs of his loss. Not to be forgotten are the volunteers who frequently visit the contaminated areas, at the risk of their lives, to render moral and physical labor support to the grief-stricken folks. This compassionate outpouring of support for the people of Fukushima will be long-remembered for the next fifty or hundred years.   As I watched the volunteers and the villagers doing their resurrection and rebuilding tasks calmly and vigorously, I began to think what I can do to help, instead of whining uselessly. Seeing such brave effort and determination by these people to confront difficulties even with possible tragic consequences, and overcoming personal fears, I was filled with the feeling to join and go with them and help in whatever way I can.   I might have joined this tour without fully understanding the situation at the Itate village and relied mainly on my emotion. But, when I saw the sincere and courageous effort of the villagers and volunteers, I got a chance to face my own weakness, especially the fear of radioactive contamination. I came back to Taiwan with a big issue, as a small gift to myself, that I cannot help anybody in their resurrection project in Iitate if I cannot get over my personal weakness. At that time it was still difficult for me to say what I could do specifically. But, after returning to Taiwan, I took every opportunity to speak to university students about what I saw and experienced in Iitate and I shared information with interested people about how the Iitate villagers were going about their resurrection activities.   There is a long way to go to continue sharing the pain of the people in the Soma area and the Iitate village. But we cannot and must not give up. It is important to dispatch to the world a cry of the soul of the Fukushima sufferers. I deeply realized in this tour that we have to shift our eyes to their down-to-earth activities and support their effort for resurrection. Taking advantage of a little change in the minds of each participant, including myself, I hope that our activities would lead to practical results.   (Assinstant Professor, Department of Japanese Language and Culture, Sooohouw University)   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Mac Maquito   SGRA Kawaraban 435 in Japanese (original)      
  • 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)