SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Mohd Hafiz Hilman Bin Mohammad Sofian “Deep Work”

      SNS (Social network system) is becoming universal and changing our human life now. Needless to say, there are lot of things which change for the better. SNS can spread information quickly and make possible to communicate persons in long distances. On the other hand, SNS has a lot of wrong points which are overlooked in society. Above all, what distract SNS is paying people’s attention recently. I think it unnecessary to explain to you who are reading this essay. You can understand for no particular reason. If people use SNS too much, you cannot bring out your real potential. There are not much-people who like to solve this question to change their lives. I recommend such people to read a book “Deep Work” written by Professor Cal Newport, Georgetown University. I think it is essential to read this book if you would like to increase your production rate.   “Deep Work” is defined as “an activity which enhances cognitive ability to the limit and is executed in concentration with no inattention”. Author says that we must develop our ability to execute “Deep Work” to survive successfully in present world. As SNS make distracts, we must be distant from such situation as much as possible, not to say completely. By doing so, we can get concentration. Reason why “Deep Work” is important in many cases as we are requested to do our works using our brain. If you look around properly, everyone can understand easily.   Needless to say, the world is going toward future named “Automation systems”. Starting from self-driving cars, smart-houses and robots, the most advanced technologies and services are prevailing now. And ordinally people can get easily now because cost of such technologies and services are being reduced. As almost all the companies at present are involved in such technologies, they have department named “Software Department” which will grow gradually and become an important deployment. In future, software jobs will increase, and job-chance related to software will increase also. In order to get skill and knowledge concerning to complicated software, concentrated power is required. And, for this purpose, “Deep Power” is considered as important.   Now, I hope you could understand an importance of “Deep Work”. However, you may be confused how to get such skills. Author explains in detail in his book. However, I would like to explain my personal and recommendable way of getting such skills. Change your way of using Facebook and Instagram. At present a lot of people are using SNS for 24 hours a day at ones convenience. They check SNS as soon as they wake up in the morning. When they are waiting for their turns at restaurants, they take cellphones out of their pockets to check SNS. It is a bad habit. Your brains do not grow accustomed to “trivial matters” and seek for stimulus.   If so, when you tackle complicated and important tasks, you cannot concentrate and quality of your works will deteriorate. In order to solve this problem, you fix a time of checking SNS and follow. For example, you check your SNS for 45 minutes at noon and after 8:00 only and refrain from checking except those two times. By doing so, your brain will be trained against “triviality”, and you can be a strong person. As a result, your concentration will improve, and you can execute important tasks.   After I read “Deep Work” my life has changed 180 degrees because I have tried to include its’ contents in my daily life as much as possible. When I was at the third year of our faculty, I had to research programing and image processing. I had trouble to solve the complicated and difficult problems in a short time. At that precise moment, I found a book “Deep Work” and was absorbed in reading it. I implemented what I learned. It was tough at first to change my habit to utilize my time. But I got used to such change gradually. After a while I could get the skill for difficult programing too.    I recommend all of you to read “Deep Work” and include what the book has written in your daily life. I hope your life would change to the better.      SGRA Kawaraban 705 in Japanese (Original)     Mohd Hafiz Hilman Bin Mohammad Sofian /2021 Raccoon, Doctor of Function Control System, Shibaura Institute of Technology   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LI Zhaoxue “Understanding by things”

    I am writing this essay in flight back to Tokyo after all these years.   In 2019, I went to National Taiwan University from Japan, where I had been studying, as an exchange student to research Chinese art history. I could not imagine at that time it would be my two years’ farewell from Japan. I could not return to Japan after March 2020 by pandemic of COVID-19 and kept waiting at Tianjin, my parents’ home, writing my Doctoral dissertation. In March, immigration to Japan was deregulated and I was allowed to return to Japan. However, in Beijing, they fell into a predicament of lockdown by public housing basis as soon as they find infected persons. I came back to Tokyo feeling uneasiness for future of the world.   Since it was not easy to get air ticket, I thought it was sold out. But there were only tens of passengers in Boeing 777-300, and I was surprised. Before COVOD-19, flights to Japan were always full. I remember a funny story where a return flight from Japan could not take off due to heavy cargos with too many souvenirs. The “shopping spree” times have passed already and seems to be the past.   When I met people from my home country who made shopping at Ginza or Odaiba in the “shopping spree” times, I had a feeling of embarrassment. Recently I became comprehensible   for their behavior and mood. It may be reasonable to consider their fondness for the way of thinking or design of people who made things. There is an admire for their wisdom behind things. Through distribution of things which are called as commodities, Chinese people consider Japanese as people who made tools which are easy to use and designed beautiful package of commodities.      I had a similar experience. A designer taught me a few years ago that aluminum can like “Hyo-ketsu” (cocktail in a can) use a technology called “Miura-fold”. It is a way of folding paper devised by Mr. MIURA Koryou, aerospace engineer. It can fold big sized paper in an instant. Using this technology, folded solar panels can be opened smoothly in universe. It is also used in forming technology of reinforce structures by giving regular crease. By these reasons, “Miura-fold” technology is important in NASA’s space exploitation. Once I know a history of “Miura-fold” technology, it became my habit to observe cans in convenient shops. It can be said that it is a power of researchers or designers. “Miura-fold” is used widely now from beverage cans to space exploitation. I understood now that an idea by Japanese people is very simple and useful.    By the way, old Japan experienced long National isolation and they understood China through things. Understanding through things is a research theme in Japan-China long history and in art history which is my research theme too.      When Chinese dynasty changed, survivors who could not serve to new dynasties (of Ming or Qing Dynasty) evacuated to Japan. And it was “things” of art such as calligraphy, paintings, sculptures and handicraft that contributed to survivors’ understanding. They could understand each other in writing because they had common perception of Confucianism and Chinese writing culture. But there is a limit to popularity of Chinese characters and Confucianism. It is not that everybody understood. Commoners in the Edo period imagined China through UKIYO-E in, Sangokusi -Engi or Suiko-Den.   It is obvious that not only theme, but expression style of UKIYO-E also came from wood engraving printing culture of Suzhou civilian. At that era, Ukiyo-e artists who produced Ukiyo-e after a model of Suzhou civilian printing might be a connoisseur of China.       Since for a long time, Japanese people have admired the things from China and called them as “Kara-mono” (things from China). They were chinaware called “ten-moku chawan” and textile called “kin-ran” in Kamakura and Muro-machi Era. A sense of beauty for “Kara-mono” has spread together with a culture which enjoyed tea-ceremony. Japan has a long history of National isolation. But they have never stopped exchange of things.   What human being make and exchange commodities to each other is the most simple and important trade. By this reason, the West use a word “china” as Chinese wares and “japan” as lacquerwares using small letter ‘c’ and ‘j’. Such relations are not limited between things and country names. We can see very often such relations between things and company names or store names also. It is an expression of identity by things.   However, main measures for understanding changed to imaginary information exchange in mass-media or online due to the influence of COVID-19 in these two years. As a result, public opinion poll in Japan shows Chinese popularity toward Japan decreased much. I think main reason of such change came from one-dimensional understanding by words or data from quadratic understanding by things and words.  What we lost in this change is the things which we actually see, touch and use. We can understand the other country through daily necessities, article of taste and works of art despite we cannot understand language of other countries. I think quadratic understanding through things, not through discourse is ideal.     SGRA Kawaraban 703 in Japanese (Original)     LI Zhaoxue /2021 Raccoon     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Unicorn Enterprise in Japan”

    On March11, KEIDANREN (the Federation of Economic Organizations) announced their goals that they will increase the number of Entrepreneurships and start-up revel of successful model by ten times by the year 2027. At the same time, they proposed establishment of “Start-up Agency”. I was surprised at this announcement because it was KEIDANREN that will increase “Unicorn” enterprises. I think it is very innovative for Japanese economy. Since it was announced officially, I think it is better to materialize quickly. I like to watch a birth of new type of IT companies like GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft). Actually, “Unicorn” enterprises in Japan are very few. According to the data of CB Insight (America), the number of unicorn companies in Japan is the fifth position in Asia. Of course, the first in the world is the United States.   It is South Korea that support “Unicorn enterprises” nation widely. Regretfully I do not have the right to introduce such position. Because I have been thinking Zaibatu enterprises like Samsung, LG and Hyundai lead South Korean economy. However, once I know dynamic mechanism of Korean unicorn enterprises, it brought me endless surprises. South Korea was a market which investors in the world have been keeping their watchful eyes. According to statics of unicorn enterprises, South Korean is the fourth in Asia.   Initially, in order to startup as unicorn enterprises, it is important to be an enterprise which exceed one billion dollars in company’s value before stock listing. Investors are keeping concentrate on finding promising startup companies. Yet, Silicon Valley in the United States is famous as starting up place. We must watch globally from now on. Especially for venture capital enterprises, they must keep their watchful eyes worldwide if they think startup is a kind of vein of ore. According to “ECONOMIST” (English magazine dated 2021/11/27-12/3), seven companies out of ten were supported as venture businesses. Then, how to raise fund for startup in South Korea?   South Korea supported much for creation of fertile unicorn enterprises. It is said that formal support for starting up began at the Park Geun-hye administration. And the Moon Jae-in administration followed. They did not end up their support and showed their potential power. The Government laid out their targets and policies one after another. In 2017, “Small and Medium-sized Agency” was promoted to “Medium-sized Department”. Investment program toward venture capitals were unified also. Private companies increased their investment chances by deregulation. We can say that it is a completion of endless “echo-cycle” which we can expect further investment.   What kind of unicorn enterprises are there in South Korea? It is a smart phone business that became popular among people. “Coupang” is a big company in E-commerce field and is called as “Korean Amazon”. It has been already listed in the New York stock market and is getting oversea’ investment as a famous Korean unicorn company. “Socar”, car share service company and “Kurly”, quick delivery service of perishable food became unicorn companies too.  Startup of those companies are not always new business style. E-commerce or car sharing services existed already in other countries. Then, reasons why they (Korean three companies mentioned above) became unicorn companies are they could offer the services which Korean people wanted timely. They have grown up by establishing their own distribution networks systems which can deliver the goods timely when customers want. Japan must emulate such sense of speed.   Speaking of startup business in Japan, there are many niche marketing strategy. In other words, they take innovative items which have no roots still in the market. This point differs from Korea. According to Toyo Keizai (Japanese weekly magazine) special issue “Great 100 venture capital”, startup industries are varied much. It is interesting when we see such promising startup, Japanese Government should arrange new system for fundraising and prepare for echo system which can encourage unicorn enterprises. And Japan can change to a nation where people can startup easily and quickly.   What Japan is lacking now is a sense of speed and an appeal to overseas’ investors. When I read “Great 100 venture capital”, I noticed one thing which Japanese do not recognize. Japanese people keep making an effort steadily and finish their works or business models meticulously and politely. There are not so many in other countries which can follow such Japanese stile. Japan should promote this point which is the one and only and make state level changes in startup like in Korea so that the founders can concentrate in innovation, not fundraising. At the same time, we can expect increase of investment chances by private sectors in domestic market. As mentioned in KEIDANREN’s recommendation, variety of capital investors to VC (venture capital) in Japan is poor comparing with the West. In South Korea,    Zaibatu enterprises and startup companies are supporting creation of chance of startup together far from being rival. By the Governmental deregulation, private companies can make investments to startup directly.   It was the KEIDANREN’s suggestion that I was convinced that there is a base which Japan can compete equally with South Korea. KEIDANREN is supporting for increasing and making bigger the number of startup enterprises. Business startup in Japan which is niche now may become a world standard in near future. Lastly, I would like to point out that it was a female Vice President (of KEIDANREN) that announced the suggestion. Is it only me who see a ray of light in the future of Japan?     SGRA Kawaraban 702 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai /Associate Professor of KYOAI GAKUEN UNIVERSITY     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUE Qu “Fragmentary Impression of Studying Abroad in Japan”

      I have only one week left before I leave Japan. It is difficult to summarize my four years’ studying in Japan. Nothing is vaguer than memory. Memory is changing with the times. When we seek for past truth, it may be certain that we look back the past record rather than we rely on our vague memory.   I have continued to write a kind of memoirs as a training of Japanese language since my arrival in Japan. I chose three memoirs as the epitomes of my study abroad life.   ◇ September 27, 2017 (Two weeks after my arrival in Japan) It seems rain outside. NO! It is raining already. Window glass of my room was echoing “Kara-kara” by wind all day. The air was thick and hot.     A book by Shuichi Kato is too difficult. So, I went to a fish store for a change. The store was good. Their prices are far from cheap, but quality is fresh always. They have variety of choices.  I cannot indulge in luxury. I cannot spend much money because I must spend a more days. But I yielded to temptation and ended up buying a lot of ingredients.   I wrote down about today’s “Bakugai (overspending)” for the future. Snapper head, red prawn, club croquette, large clams, mussel, autumn salmon, deep fried sardine   In my fridge, there are clams, chicken wings, sweet shrimps, pork steak which I bought yesterday. It seems I can enjoy another one week but I could not make any progress in my study regardless of my rich eating habits. I have only four months left before entrance examination. I must get my daily life back on track as soon as possible.   ◇ March 2, 2018 (One month before starting doctor course) I finished translation of today’s part (I was translating “Collection of Kenji Mizoguchi). I have already spent more than one month for translation of Mizoguchi literature. But I have no improvement in my translation. If I keep present pace, I wouldn’t be in time for manuscript deadline. I will increase my time for translation.   I have read manuscript copy of “Makura-no-Sosi”. I do not know how many hours I spent for the reading. It is too long though it is written in cursive style characters. I will re-read because I have got an annotation of Shincho Classical Japanese.    By the way, it was fine today. It was nice sunny day without a single cloud and suitable for taking a walk. However, I could not go out comfortably because I had a lot of things to be completed. I wish I could go to mountains and lakes when I finish everything.   ◇February 12, 2019   What is a meaning of academics? It is meaningful to seek for the truth without profit and loss. And it will be important to utilize it for peoples’ daily lives by scholars’ efforts. In order to make efforts to people, sensible approach is more effective than logic of sentence. SUZUKI Daisetz (Japanese American, Buddhist monk, religious scholar) tried to explain spirit of Japanese and everything which configure the world by one word “spirituality”. Furthermore, he increased his sensibility using his sensitive expression integrating “spirituality” with “Daichi-sei” (take roots on earth). There are such treatises at that time. He conveyed attractiveness of Buddhism (especially Zen Buddhism) to the world through this theory. As far as we can reach our goals, accuracy or logicality is secondary issue. I understand scholar like SUZUKI knew already. Come to think of it, subjective (sensible) academics have decent meaning. _ _ _ _ _   I have enjoyed shopping, studying, thought and natural features of the season. Four years have passed in an instant and I have confidence in my future research and my life itself despite I repeated trials and errors. When I leave Japan, I have one wish. I hope this farewell would become another beginning not ending.     SGRA Kawaraban 701 in Japanese (Original)     YUE Qu /2021 Raccoon, Full-time Lecturer at School of Chinese Language and Literature of Beijing Normal University (in September 2022)     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • BORJIGIN Husel “Defensive Stonewall against the Mongol invasions”

      I was in Fukuoka from 24 to 29 December 2021 to research “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall against the Mongol invasions)”.   Khubilai Khan, the fifth Khagan-Emperor of the Mongol Empire, sent his envoy to Japan  requesting “Friendly Relations” after his conquest of Goryeo (dynasty of Korea: 高麗) in thirteen centuries. However, Japanese Kamakura shogunate rejected the request and Mongolian forces including Goryeo forces attacked Japan twice in 1274 and 1281. Against such invasions, Kamakura shogunate ordered their Gokenin (shogunal retainers) in Kyushu areas to build 20 kilometers stone wall along Hakata Bay from Imazu to Kashii. We can see a part of such archaeological site now. It is so-called “Genkou Bourui (defensive stonewall in preparation for an attack by the Mongol invasions)”.   I arrived at Fukuoka on 24th of December in a Christmas atmosphere and went to Sawara district on 25th of December 25 to research stonewall there. At Nishijin station, I asked station attendant for the place stonewall against Mongol invasions. But he did not know about stonewall exactly and asked me “Is it a building or archaeological site?” I replied, “It is an archaeological site which have been built against the Mongol invasion”   I used the words “the Mongol invasions” instead of “stonewalls” because the words “Mongol invasion” are being used in Japanese textbooks popularly. Station attendant said, “I understood”. He entered station attendant room and confirmed with other attendants. He brought a map and showed me the way to the stonewall saying, “You can go there using No. 1 exit then walk along “Sazae-san street” and turn to left at the first crossroads and so on”. It seems people do not know exactly about stonewalls against the Mongol invasions. But everybody knows “Sazae-san street”. On a direction board at No.1 exit, we can read “Archaeological site of the Mongol invasion at 3,6,7-chome of Nishishin” or “Monument of Sazae-san (Sazae-san street)”.      One of the stonewall of Nishijin 6,7-chome exists in Building No.1 of Seinan-Gakuin University. I did not know we can observe the wall from Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00 only. It was written on direction board. I walked around Building No.1 for a few minutes. But I did not see anybody around Building No. 1 because it was Saturday and the University was closed  for winter vacation. I went to other stonewall which can be seen at South of University Gym.   The Mongol Invasion Shrine came into my view first. The commemorative pillar of the shrine showed me, “Historic site: Stonewall against the Mongol Invasion. Built in October 1931”. I saw excavated stonewall beside of the pillar. I saw three trees which were planted by “Empress Nagako”, “His Highness Kuninomiya” and “His Highness Kaiinnomiya Haruhito and Prince Nashimoto Morimasa”. According to a material which I read later, October 20 festival at this shrine is a customary event.   Stonewall against the Mongol invasion was designated as National Archaeological site by Japanese Government in 1931. Excavation and restoration of the wall in early Showa era and construction movement of monument in Meiji era which I will write later have close connection with Japanese advancement to the (Chinese) continent at that time.    I visited stonewall at Iki-no-Matsubara in Nishi-district next. I got off at Shimo-yamato station and confirmed the place of stonewalls with station attendant. He knew about stonewall in the area and explained me the way to the stonewall on map. A roadside board “Iki-no-Matubara stonewall against the Mongol invasion” (including a board which was built by board of education of Fukuoka city) was very helpful. There is a monument of the stonewall in woods of Iki-no-Matsubara and shows us that “Archaeological site of stonewall against the Mongol invasion: Built in March 1931 by the Natural Monument Preservation Act designated by Ministry of Education”. Along the coast, stonewall are piled up at two meters height and there was a notice board apart from the stonewall by a few meters. On this notice board, there is a reproduction of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. Stonewall was reproduced. But it was very impressive and made me think about the Mongol invasion fully.   On December 26, I went to Genkou (Mongol invasion) Archives on the second floor of two-stories building in Higashi-Park (on the first floor, there are ramen shop and yakitori shop only). There is no full-time staff in the archive and a staff of concession stand works in double hat. It is necessary to book in advance by telephone to visit this archive. Finally, I could contact them two weeks before my visit after making many telephone calls. When I arrived at the archive, the entrance was locked and found hand-writing memo “You are requested to contact stand”. So, I went to stand to explain myself. A staff confirmed that I was surely booked and opened a door. He explained that taking photos are prohibited and visiting time is limited to thirty minutes. I paid entrance fee and walked around.   In exhibition room on the first floor, I saw armored, stirrup, pot, bow and a part of “Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion”. On the second floor, there was another spacious exhibition room (more spacious than that of the first floor). There were various special corners like the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, the First World War and the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. According to a book which I bought in archives, it was established as a memorial hall of the Mongol Invasion in 1904 first. And it was reopened in 1986 as Genkou archives after being moved and rebuilt in the area of the association to preserve Saint Nichiren.   There is a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren next to the archives. The height is 10.55 meters, and the weight is 74.25 tons. In 1888, there was a movement in Japan for establishment of memorial statue of Genkou. According to a poster which called on an establishment of Genkou monument in 1887, they have planned an establishment of an equestrian statue of Houjyo Tokimune first. However, it was a bronze statue of Saint Nichiren that was completed in 1904 taking 17 years. It was the year 1904 when Japan went to the Russo-Japanese War. Over the years, people lost interests in a movement of establishment of Genkou Monument which was heated up all over the country nearly a hundred years before. Although I say the Genkou archives, the exhibited on the second floor is not so many. Together with precious and historical Genkou records, the records of the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War are mixed. Adding to those records, there are Ramen-stand and Yakitori-stand on the first floor. It is very indecisive. How ironic it is!   During my stay in Fukuoka, I researched the Genkou stonewall in Nagatare Kaihin Park and Chigyou (Chuuou-district). But I could not research the stonewall in Taka-shima. I am looking forward to visit Taka-shima and Matu-ura City (both in Nagasaki Prefecture) next time.     SGRA Kawaraban 700 in Japanese (Original)     BORJIGIN Husel / Professor of Department of International Studies, Showa Women’s University     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUN Jae-un ”Six Years’ Training, the Second Determination as a Working Adult”

      I decided the theme and approach of my doctoral course to be “How to minimize chances to meet others”. During my five years’ working before coming to Japan, I realized how it is important to meet others. The number of name cards which I got from people inside and outside South Korea became more than one per day on average. Sometimes it was meaningful but there were some which I could not recall. There were cases which I could not imagine how the meetings would go until the time when I have met. Sometimes, validation of my interview itself became my works. And I decided to proceed my Japan-research basing on literatures avoiding talking with others.   Accordingly, I managed to complete my doctoral dissertation. Dissertation writing under the epidemic of COVID-19 was “fight against myself”. The reason why I could finish my dissertation was an obsession “I will submit it absolutely”. At a defense(oral examination)in February, interviewers gave me various and severe indications which I had to admit. I am thinking to amend now. Doctoral dissertation is not a completed thing but a starting point. I started my real research life now.   I spent these six years as a post graduate student, and I am asking myself whether it was good or bad. I am a person who grasp things critically. So, I must say frankly “I have seen real Japan”. Recently, Japan-Krean relationship is getting worse and I have a feeling of uncomfortableness. Especially this year, I realized strong peer pressure in Japanese society in the COVID-19 countermeasures. Various aspects which are lurking usually were exposed by COVID-19. I am thinking now that I got another assignment as a Japan-researcher.   I have walked on “Mainstream” in South Korean society as a “Majority”. In this meaning, an experience as a “Minority” in Japan for six years was good for me. I have been always concerned with “minority issue” in Soth Korea. But there were limitations as far as I was not put at minority position. Thanking to many foundations, I could have relationship with foreigners who were in similar positions. It gave me a good chance to consider “minority”.   “What is Japan?” “How do we consider Japan?” These questions have been always underling in my research life. I thought I found an answer. But the answer receded soon. My research life has been repetitions of such questions and answers. But quantity of my knowledges increased definitely over these six years. In my research life, I was conscious of “academics” exclusively and controlled “journalistic” statement or outbound as much as possible. I intended to be coexistent “academy and journalist” seriously. Frankly speaking, I had a feeling that status of postgraduate student is suffocating, especially in Japan where the number of working adult/University student is not so many. I kept feeling that I wanted to get out of such feeling as fast as possible.   In the end, let me say one thing which I felt strongly in my work. What I like to say is that people do not imagine when and where they meet afresh. You may say it is quite normal. But I have a lot of experiences which I met people unexpectedly whom I have met them earlier. before. And these unexpected meeting led to various destiny. It may be a precept “Do not do something wrong against others”. Human relations are very momentary. But we may have any relations in future. It may be a fortune. Under the epidemic of COVOD-19, the number of scholarship students of Atsumi International Foundation whom I have met will not be less. But I hope I could meet them in near future somewhere. Now, I am ending my six years’ austere trainings and going back to working adult. I like to keep it in mind     SGRA Kawaraban 699 in Japanese (Original)     YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, Project Lecturer of HITOTSUBASHI University       Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Victor SHISHKIN “What I learned from my Doctoral Course”

      I came to Japan having hundreds of productive ideas and a big passion “how to realize those ideas”. And I had a question “which ideas are worth focusing?” After entering to doctoral course, I could choose any directions and anything which I had interest as far as it would have novelty and challenging. Such freedom gave me a lot of possible directions. At the same time. it gave me uncertainty also. I thought “How to spend those three years hereafter?”   It will be the easiest way to find a theme of my doctoral course that I combine my research and “The New Laboratory”. A theme of doctoral course should be possible as far as it would be challenging and have novelty. So, I proceeded to this direction for the first one and half years.   However, I was confronted with my self-questions which many doctoral course students have experienced. “Are there anybody who think it necessary?” “For whom am I proceeding?” Answers from my pondering did not satisfy myself. I know there are few companies which understand my technology and the number of people who like to use such products which use my technology is few. As I have been working for a business world for years, I was accustomed to the works which respond to customers’ needs. In other words, it became difficult for me to work for technical development which may have no customers’ needs.   I realized my doubt. It was very important period which is one year and half before the thesis defense of the first semester and start of doctoral thesis. I know I would suffer a hardship or lose my motivation if I spend my remaining time being unable to trust how my research would be useful. I could not cheat myself anymore. I thought “How can I write doctoral thesis where I do not have confidence? I will have questions which I cannot answer from examiners or others.”   I think it necessary to trust myself from bottom of my heart what I am doing now in order to continue my long doctoral course and to have a power which can overcome my difficult time and setback. I must find honest answer to myself to questions: “For whom and for what am I doing? Is it useful?”     During the period which I was looking for the answer, I recognized a new thesis. I recalled a customer’s dissatisfaction which I heard when I have been working for Russian company. When I talked with potential customers of my technology at an industrial exhibition in Tokyo, I could confirm their questions. I discussed with CEO of a company of my research field to make clear about difficult point and after this discussion, I could grasp a trend of technical development of my research field using ‘big data analysis tool’. When I attended international meeting, I could understand future of this technology after talking with a top of academic conference and technical scouts. I studied about process of political decision for the purpose how the Japanese Government support research field and analyzed the Governmental data at GRIPS (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies).            I concluded that the most important factor for customers is the price of goods. What customers are unsatisfied is not performance of goods but the price. There are a lot of potential customers who know about our sensing technology but cannot afford to buy although they like it. So, I put my effort into affordable price and came up with an idea that the most precious parts of sensor system would be made on the photonic chips.   Now I understand that I have been working for customers who could not afford optical fiber sensing technology and I am convinced customers would buy and use the products if we can decrease the prices.      I repeated unsuccessful efforts for the first year when I started toward new direction. Nothing went well. Design of chips, production process and setting up of testing etc. I could not find what was wrong. However, I did not feel depressed. I thought it would go well next time. I trusted myself thinking that my research would be useful and it gave me a power of inspiration, motivation and endurance for failures.   What I learned from my doctoral course is an importance of trusting myself from bottom of my heart when I proceed long term projects. It is necessary to have not only logical understanding but emotional connection also. If I can do so, it will be useful for getting better, being encouraged and encourage others in my daily life.   Principle mentioned above can be applied to a lot of occasions in daily life. 1) When we learn new languages, it is necessary to trust the languages and necessary to trust ourselves. In my case, the reason why I can speak English is I have stayed in America for six months where nobody could understand Russian language. 2) As I was afraid of getting fat, I keep on doing exercises every day. 3) Everybody knows early riser is efficient. But it is not enough to know what is early riser.  It is necessary to believe their feelings truly. In my case, I started my early rise because I liked to see sunrise.   Hereafter I will keep finding honest answers against my question “Why?” for what I am doing.      SGRA Kawaraban 698 in Japanese (Original)     Victor SHISHKIN /2020 Raccoon, Project Researcher at The University of Tokyo     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LEE Sujin “My challenge as a Researcher and an Educator”

    During my doctoral course period of three years, I put my efforts into activities in academic conference and writing theses. And it made me think of “Assignment as a Researcher and Educator”. In the field of special support education, the number of researchers who are active in this field was small. Many people are active as University instructors and at the same time as researchers. Under such situation, I became a part-time teacher of the subject “Special Support Education” for students who aim to be teachers in future.    I have accepted a class keeping my conflict of feeling and I proceed the class without any experience as a teacher. However, I read various comments of participants like “I attend the class to become good teacher” or “I attend the class to correspond to the students who have various needs”. And I realized gradually “I, as a teacher, like to give participants knowledge of special support education and those students would teach children in future”. As a result, I could explore how educator should be after I become one. would be an educator. I liked to guide students as an educator hereafter through trial and error.   When I worked in University as a teacher, I realized it was not easy to balance the position of researcher and educator. I, as a university staff must devote myself to both teaching and University assignments. At the same time, I must write essays and prepare conference presentation as a researcher. Now, I was swamped with preparation for class and meeting and unable to make any prediction when I started my research activities. I had an uneasy feeling if such situation would continue indefinitely. In the dizzying pace of my daily life, I would like to continue both educational and research activities without forgetting my first resolution as educator and researcher.   The point, as a researcher was how to communicate with teachers who were active in the educational sites which was my research field. I got a chance to accept a workshop which has theme of researchers and educators. And I realized my position as a researcher and an educator. At this workshop there were many teachers and graduate students who were working at elementary schools and special support schools. I got to know that they were asked to proceed their classes aiming for not only their own research results but supporting students’ needs in future also. I was researching “Career Education” at special support school for the mental retardation and was not aware of present situation and thesis of researchers at their educational sites. I could listen to their opinions was a good result. I think I, as an educator decreased communication gap between researcher and educator of students who aim to be teachers in future. When I was listening to teachers, I understood there was no change in what they were thinking of the students regardless of their positions as a researcher or an educator. However, there are researchers who consider pupils as a data. I realized an importance of ethical education   Especially, as the target of clinical psychology is human beings, human right is very important. I am always asking myself how I am aware of responsible research activities (RCR) and what I can do for such activities. I am reconsidering a goal of good research. Target of my present research is mild dyslexia. I have a feeling of necessity in my research activities in which I care about “Well-being” adding to present research ethics which are biasing to “informed consent”. Above all, I am keeping “Meaningful Life (contribution to the others)” in mind which is emphasized and like to continue my research which contribute to rich life of dyslexia and their supporters and parents.            SGRA Kawaraban 697 in Japanese (Original)     LEE Sujin / 2020 Raccoon, Assistant Professor of Hamamatsu Gakuin University     Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Yun Jae-un “COVID-zero” measures expired

    Two years has passed of COVID-19 pandemic. I was spending Chinese New Year in Thailand and Korea at that time. When I heard news from China (unidentified infectious disease are spreading) in Thailand, I thought it was someone else’s problem.  However, when I entered South Korea the situation changed. Passengers who entered from Wuhan (China) were proved to be infected one after another and the Government sent transport airplanes. I thought “the situation will calm down soon” and left for Inchon Airport to Japan. I little dreamt such situation would continue for two years.   During this period, the world hasn’t return to the time-“before Corona”. And, we had technical and cultural change which were thought to be a few years later. We could have many lessons. Especially, anti-COVID-19 counter measures varied by countries and showed characteristics of their directions. Basing on such situation, I like to write here that “COVID zero measures are being expired in the epidemic of the Omicron variant”     During these two years, people in the world witnessed a variety of anti-Corona measures. Some countries took limited or isolated measures like lockdown. Some countries relied on self-motivation of people rather than compulsory measures. There were countries which utilized IT (information technology) and personal information proactively. Based on such situation, a diagram “Democracy vs Authoritarianism” for the COVID-19 became the subject of discussion in social science field. In short, authoritarianism can suppress spread of infection easily. In the Western countries, they had travel restriction which is one of violation of human rights successively and wearing masks and vaccination were politicalized excessively. They took measures like mandatory vaccination or compulsory wearing masks in some areas. It seems to be a regression of democracy.   “Blockade of Wuhan” gave a huge impact in the World. But it is important that China could return to “Normal Life” by measures so-called “China Model” which based on areal blockade and huge number of inspections. It could not be a world model because it was difficult to have such model in other countries than China. The measures against corona virus in the United States in their deteriorated relationship with China affected much. American pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer and Moderna) developed new vaccines but the vaccination rate in the United States is sluggish (60% for the second vaccination as of January end).  There was little progress in support of developing countries by the United States. We can say the Western countries are “loser” in terms of the number of infected persons and the dead.   However, such situation is changing in the spread of Omicron variant. “Introvert and exclusive measures” are becoming meaningless because of its strong infectious capacity and low severity. Western countries which experienced the spread of Omicron variant first are asking minimum quarantine to “essential workers” who support infrastructure of communities. Even in Japan, which is criticized for its severe border rules, quarantine period was shortened to “seven days”. (FYI, immigrant to Japan must stay at isolation facilities in the spread of infections. It shows slow change of direction in Japan.) South Korea, which has given up containing the virus to spread, will shorten the period after February. World-wide consensus that “COVID-zero measures have no chance against Omicron variant” are being formed now.   The reasons for policy change came from the fact which the number of inpatients is increasing but it is not the same with the peak period. The U.K. Government took the lead in such change and did not request immigration inspection for the people who took vaccination twice. They will loosen quarantine measures for infected persons and close contact persons. It may be possible to have a new variant. But almost all countries will take the same direction.   Under such situation, the counter measures by China in Chinese New Year and Winter Olympics are gathering attention. In January, Eurasia Group, American famous research firm, announced their interesting report “The Top Risk 2022”. It emphasized that “COVID-zero Countermeasures” by China are not sustainable saying the measures are the biggest risk in global economy.   According to this report, “mRNA vaccine” by Pfizer and Moderna are very popular in the world, and it reduces a danger of Omicron variant. On the other hand, these vaccines are not used in China, and it caused to weaken immunity of Chinese people in the “COVID-zero measures” circumstances. (In this point, scientific proof is insufficient.)   It seems difficult for present countermeasures by China to contain Omicron variant from spreading. The report anticipate the Chinese Government will be forced to change their countermeasures. In other words, Omicron variant pinpointed the weak points of countermeasures by the Government which have achieved success and the low immunity of Chinese people backfired. If we will consider political schedule of the Government hereafter, the past successful experiences might be a hindrance of political leaders and repeat lockdowns.   Under such circumstances, we must worry about adverse effects of global supply chain where China played a part. There were its “harbinger” in many places in China actually. In Xi’an, they had lockdown for 33 days which was the longest since Wuhan’s case, and people had problems in distribution of foods and medical systems. Semi-conductor manufacturers Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology (USA) were forced to shut down. Toyota Motor Corporation suffered a blow in Tianjin by similar measures. In Fengtai District, Beijing where the Winter Olympics are being held, infected persons were confirmed one after another.  People in China began to go out actively in Chinese New Year despite they could not contain Omicron variant. In some local Governments, they requested the Government to announce the order of refraining from going outside. Stealth Omicron (BA.2) (it is difficult to classify with other variants and have stronger infectivity than Omicron) is confirmed now and COVID zero measures entered crucial stage.   After the COVID-19, various “model of measures” was tried and failed (lost) one after another in South Korea, Japan and Australia. (It is true that the number of the death in Australia was small.) And China may follow. The point is “How to coexist with Corona virus?” It is very difficult to contain the corona virus. In other words, it is an “obvious lesson” which human beings should be humble in front of the nature.     SGRA Kawaraban 696 in Japanese (Original)     YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, specially appointed lecturer at Hitotsubashi University        Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala   
  • XIE Zhihai “How to end the chain of disparity?”

    Disparities are spreading in the world. There are a varieties of disparities such as income gaps, disparity in education, regional disparities and “vaccine disparity” also. We like to avert our eyes from such disparities narrowing such gaps. What’s worse, disparities would chain.   We can see disparity chains especially in income and education. First, in case of income gaps, people will lose chances to receive education at cram schools. It leads to disadvantage in entrance exam and become difficult to enter high-level Universities. Consequently, it leads to difficulties to start at high salary and stable companies or find lifetime employment and start as normal working adults. When people cannot enjoy higher education means negative chain of disparity. If such negative chains would continue for generations, it will be terrible. It is regarded as a problem not only in Japan but in China and South Korea also. Points in common in those countries are flourish industries of entrance exam and it is unavoidable for Universities to have entrance exams.   When we talk about university entrance exam, pressure for candidates in Japan would not be so serious. In China, all the candidates must take the only one exam called “高考(GaoKao)” and its result decides new school. In South Korea, everybody like to enter prestigious Universities, but the number of such Universities is limited. It is because everybody knows that only the graduates of such Universities can find employments in prestigious Zaibatsu companies which can pay good salary. Yes, everybody does not like to be in position of low disparity level. However, competitions are becoming harder, and disparity are being bigger.   Consequently, you can easily imagine enervation of young generation who are living under such disparity of education. Theme of Korean drama “IKA Game” which was distributed by Netflix at early 2021 was just “disparity society” and it became very popular not only in Korea but Japan and United States also. Its theme was not educational disparity, but protagonists of this drama were the people who live at the bottom of Korean disparity society. They challenged themselves to children’s game at the risk of their lives. It means the death, if they drop-out. Background of popularity of this drama did not come from cutthroat scenes of drama. Challengers in this drama were depicted thoroughly about their darkness in their life and the process which they went down to the lower hierarchy of the society. I think such depiction grasped the heart of viewers.   South Korea is good at stories which ask a question of sympathy strongly to disparate society. Before “IKA game”, they have enjoyed a film “Parasite” (2019). In this film, there were only two families. One is rich and the other is poor, and there was no middle class. It shed light on the disparate society in South Korea clearly and completely. It might make you feel appalling. I think similar works would be made under the theme of disparate society changing a way of produce and would hit greatly.   Let’s go on to China. Recently, the words “Lying flat people” are becoming popular in China. The background of this popular words came from fierce disparate society. “Lying flat people” means that if the young do not work hard and lie flat, they cannot keep up with competition and cannot narrow the gap. In order to change such disparate society fundamentally, Chinese Government took drastic measures for overheated industries of entrance exam putting up a slogan “共同富裕” (common prosperity).   In July 2021, the Government announced, “Prohibition order of Cram Schools”. This order reduces burden of learning of elementary and middle school students and do not allow cram schools of their business for profit. Cram schools suppress households’ balance sheet and connect to aggravation of declining birthrate. For example, in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, cram school fee cost about 100,000 yen a month mostly. It is not exaggeration. Students who cannot go to cram school have little chance to enter prestigious Universities. The number of students who come from agricultural areas and enter prestigious Universities like Peking University is decreasing year by year. In other words, it shows clearly that entrance exam industry is prosperous only in big cities. It is serious that not only regional disparity between urban and rural area but income gaps in urban area are becoming bigger. We cannot say the prohibition order of cram school will solve disparity of education.   The chain between income gap and disparity of education should be cut. In the proceeding of inflation, it is not easy to settle income gap. Then, educational disparity should be settled first. Besides education at schools, easing of examination ordeal which require a lot of money for cram schools will be necessary. And the young should be given chances so they can work at any prestigious companies regardless of their universities which they enter. Especially in South Korea and China, the system which their lives after universities are decided by entrance examination should be changed. In Japan, the number of universities is big, and they have rich individualities in their faculties and curriculums. China and South Korea should learn from Japan where they do not attach too much importance to ranking (deviation).   Then, how to adjust disparity in Japan? It is important to increase the number of choices of scholarship for high school students and information about scholarship should be made understandable clearly. When I was writing this essay, I found a poster at the store by chance. It was a scholarship system of a foundation of big company. Oh dear! They are supplying scholarship to junior high school students. This scholarship can afford monthly tuition of cram school. Don’t give up saying “it is impossible to get scholarship”. There may be a chance to get scholarship. It will become more important for not only private companies but Government or Municipalities also to thicken compensation of single parent families which show high poverty rate. I do not say the poor and needy family should be paid more. It is enough for municipalities which hire vacant space in towns and dispark at free as study rooms. Increasing of chances to get education and equalization of chances of entrance exam would raise disparities.     SGRA Kawaraban 695 in Japanese (Original)     XIE Zhihai /Associate Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala