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
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
In my life, I had chances to meet two great religions and, in detail, to accept four faiths. Here, I would like to explain the process of my acceptance of four faiths, and I would like to write my conclusion about my present “way of being”.
I was born in Italy and had been studying Buddhism literatures in Japan for thirteen years.
I was very often asked “what is your religion?” or “what is your faith?” The answer isn’t so simple. Because I am not a person who has been lived in one culture or one world only. I had been interested in different spiritual cultures of different countries (Japan) and accepted a different religion and belief (Buddhism).
I was raised as Catholic, and I am a so-called “Born Christian”. Although my wife is not Buddhist, she is a very open-minded person towards all faiths. However, my first partner in Japan was Buddhist. Here I choose to not reveal her personal information, so I will limit myself to explain that in her Buddhism there are a “New Religious Organization” and a “Traditional Community”.
Her family were believers of the “New Buddhist Organization”. I accepted her faith under the consent of my family and the church to where I belong. Then I joined her religious organization from Italy. The consent of the church to where I belong means that my church said : “if you do not deny Christianity and also if you do not get out of the Catholic Church, it is OK for you having had more than on one faith” and “when you go together with a person who believes in a different religion (for example, Buddhism), if you will have a child with her in the future, we only ask you to make all efforts to baptize your child”. I did talk to her many times about it as follow: “if we will have a baby in the future, let the child know about both Christianity and Buddhism and let decide by his/her own”.
As you see, it is not so easy for foreigners like me to get interested in a different spirituality from Christianity and get involved with a person who belongs to a different religion like Buddhism. Since I have no siblings, it was not so easy to live alone for more than ten years in another foreign country (Japan) to study and absorb a different culture and spirituality which my partner had. The Buddhist population in Italy is 0.5% only. Almost of them do not deny Christianity and are still affiliated to the Catholic Church. It is because they do not like to be problematic with the Catholic Church in the country.
You can easily confirm the above content from the people who accepted other spiritualities than Christianity not only in Italy but also in the other Christian cultural areas. Just ask them as follow: “Where you baptized?” “Did you have the First Holy Communion, and did you receive the Confirmation?” “Did you send a letter to the Curial Office in your district to ask for the annulment of your Sacraments such as Baptism (if not, you are still belonging to the Catholic Church)?” “Did you ask your Priest ‘Is it OK to have more than one faith joining a different religious organization for family reasons? (I think your Priest would allow you from his kind understanding.)” Nevertheless, there are many people who joined different religious organizations without asking permission to their church. Of course, this is no good. And the possibility of becoming problematic in Italy or in other Christian countries is not zero.
For me, now, it’s more than twenty years ago. I got interested in Japanese spiritual culture since my young age because I had been accustomed to meditative practices in conjunction with Karate from five to twenty years old. Moreover, there are three reasons I have in common with other people in Italy who can share other spiritualities than Christianism: 1) A sense of impending crisis: The Western world was getting philosophically stuck, and people began to feel that Western Civilization could be regenerated only if they would import something different from outside. 2) Important values (such as the perception of close connections between mind and body or between human beings and their natural environment) remain properly alive in Oriental Spiritualities. 3) Many people in Western world were dissatisfied with authoritarianism of their historical religions. (Clergyman as the center of structure of the religious life or “a priori” stipulation about how human beings should be and should live their life.)
When I came to Japan in 2008 as a research student of the Japanese Ministry of Education, all of my activities except my research (religious activities included) have been limited by the contract with the Ministry until recent years. Religious service which I did with her (whom I dated then), were limited in her house only. However, I have been trying to understand the history of Buddhism and absorb various development of its spirituality in University as my research.
Regret to say, it was not anyone from the “New Buddhist Organization” which she belonged but the “Traditional Buddhism Community” that educated me as a student and young researcher, giving me a lot which I had to do. I’m so much obliged to Professor M.K. (I write here only his initial) who was my supervisor and mentor, universities and persons who belonged to important temples of the “Traditional Buddhist Community”.
People who belonged to the “New Buddhist Organization” seemed to regard as follows: “Is he (myself) concealing or denying his affiliation to us in University or other places for being afraid to be considered as our fellow?” Or “Is he our fellow or not?” My communication and relations with them had been uncomfortable since more than ten years ago. I gave my family and partner anxiety for my relations with them as a young researcher. I think there were a lack of communication at first. In Japan, people do not confide or listen to their personal matters even among Japanese. There is a cultural aspect in the world of Japanese religionists that it is unnecessary to explain their basic positions repeatedly, because it all depends on their “affiliations” which are settled and unchangeable since they were born. However, I think it is inappropriate that Japanese try to understand foreigners’ situation basing on their own behaviors.
“New Buddhist Organization” and “Traditional Buddhist Community” were not able to have good relations historically. However, Professor M.K. and other people from the “Traditional Buddhist Community” accepted me basing on their kind understanding and because I clarified any detail of my situation at my department when I entered my University. People from the “Traditional Buddhist Community” still support my present research life. I understood and accepted also their (Professor M.K. and people from the “Traditional Buddhist Community”) faith and their views as a man who was able to accept a religion that differ from that of my family.
So, I was asked very often “What is your religion?” or “What is your faith?” As you can understand now, my answer cannot be simple. I think I am both Christian and Buddhist. So, my answers are: I have more than one religion and I am accepting more than one faith. 1)My family’s faith (Catholic) 2) The faith of “New Buddhist Organization”, which my first partner in Japan believes. 3) The faith of “Traditional Buddhism” which my professor and mentor, Professor M.K. come from. 4) My wife’s faith. All the above are important part of my present spirituality because I understand and accept all their faith and values fully.
For example, I’m ok with both the Catholic Rosary or Buddhist chanting which way I prayed in morning and evening with the people I knew. I experienced many times that I got feel better after both of these types of the worship. It is possible to rediscover same type of “vitality” many times even when we socialize with different communities. At the same time, I have no intention to mix them up. I speak Italian when speaking to Italians. I speak Japanese when speaking to Japanese people. I think with Italian culture when I am in Italy, and I think with Japanese culture when I’m in Japan.
When I speak to Christians, I think with Christian “language”. And when I speak to Buddhists, I think with Buddhist’s “language”. I can encourage Christians using Christian “language” and encourage Buddhists using Buddhist “language”. I often talk about points in common or similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. I also can advise Christians about the Buddhism viewpoints or advise Buddhists about Christian viewpoints. It is the same with people who get married with a person from a different religion, the multicultural identity of their children or the so-called “half” (people of mixed parentage, half Japanese and half foreigner, actually “double”, because they have more than one mother language, more than one culture and in some cases more than one spirituality).
I sometimes answer that “When I accepted also a different faith, I transcended and jumped out settings like “my faith is only this one and not that one”. I have to say that the questions “What is your religion?” or “What is your faith?” cannot lead people to properly understand person like me.
I prefer the second answer. If I must answer following the categories from Catholic, which I belong since I was born, the “New Buddhist Organization” and from the “Traditional Buddhist Community”, maybe I should say that I come from Catholic Church, I am a person connected with the “Traditional Buddhist Community”, which Professor M.K. comes from, and that I’m also an “understander” of the “New Buddhist Organization”, which my first partner belongs. But those categories are not always fit for person like me.
At this point I often collide with group of people who works in one world only because they could not have the chance to know different cultures and sense of values. In detail, my “way of being” collides their “Position-ism” and their viewpoint about “How people should be”. For example, they often say to me: “Yes but, basically, you are just talking as a member of ‘X religion organization’ right? or “Yes but, after all, which group are you belonging to!?” or “You think too much!” or “You care too much!” So called “half” (people of mixed parentage) often receive the same treatment. Sorry to say, people like me inevitably stay beyond the sphere of “which world are you belonging to!?” I am very sorry.
If someone will eventually force me to select only one world at any cost, I will be left with two choices only. I would like to be open to any other open-minded person, no matter his/her faith or organization is. But, if forced to an exclusive choice, I must select (1) Catholic Church which at the beginning allow me to relate with other religions, or (2) the “Traditional Buddhism Community”, again with the consent of my family and the Catholic Church, because I ‘m so much obliged to person like Professor M.K. who were the only people who understand me, nurtured me, and gave me so much to do to grow as student and researcher. This is no more a matter of faith, but a matter of ethic. I have to choose the only open-minded side which understand my situation and utilize me effectively. In the case of (2) above, Catholic Church says that will give me the same forgiveness as twenty years ago by the reason “for the sake of my job” as a researcher.
Anyway, I was born as a “bridge” between two worlds. A bridge is attached to more than one side. If someone cannot understand my situation or if someone do not have proper knowledge or experience about various circumstances of foreign people, I will say: please do not perceive as a crime of mine what simply is your lacking of understanding and knowledge.
I believe that everyone was born as he/she was born because of his/her innate mission and reason of existence. Some people who have been lived only in their own world for their entire life may not understand it. But there is a way of “jumping out” even for them. I recommend them to study, for example, the historical development of our respective spiritualities and beliefs. If they can emancipate themselves from the present influence of their spiritual heritage, relativize that influence, and become creative toward it, they will also enjoy much deeper all the factors that makes them what they actually are.
That’s what I believe.
SGRA Kawaraban 691 in Japanese (Original)
Emanuele Davide Giglio / 2007 Graduated Student at the top of his class at the University of Turin, Italy, Dep. of Oriental Studies; Winner of the Optimus Prime (Industrial Union of Italy) as best graduated student for his Faculty (Foreign Languages); 2008-2014 Government Student for the Ministry of Education of Japan; 2012 Master degree from the University of Tokyo, Buddhist Studies; 2014 Scholarship Foreign Student for the Nichiren School, Head Office for the Propagation of Nichiren Buddhism, Ikegami Honmon-ji Temple, City of Ota, Tokyo; 2015 Raccoon; 2016 Scholarship Student for Society of Promotion of Buddhism; 2019 Doctoral degree from University of Tokyo, Buddhist studies; Special Foreign Researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Research fellow at the International Institute of Research on Nichirenology, University of Mt.Minobu.
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koilara
I got a mail from Producer of KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) in Summer, 2021.
“Hello, sensei (myself)！I am a KBS producer working for a special documentary program. This year is the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK). We look back to soldiers who were sent by United Nations for the Korean War and died. We cast our light on the meaning of UNMCK. Recently, I read your thesis about the possibility of inscription of UNMCK in the World Heritage Site. We would like to have an interview with you, if possible, on the change, meaning and evaluation of UNMCK.
According to our Director Y., you are on the last stage in completion of your thesis, and we know you are busy. But we shall be very pleased if you would accept our request.”
When I received this mail, my head was full of doctoral thesis and my future. And, somehow, I accepted their request by something unidentified power. It was an encounter of my fateful start for “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” for four months. It was a special documentary program by KBS Pusan, and I joined as an academic supervisor.
This documentary program had another title “The Forgotten War and its Afterwards”. I did not know it at that time. The direction of this program seems nothing special. But I am proud of having contributed to suggest “Memory” as the basic concept of this program. The title of my doctoral thesis is “United Nations Cemetery in Korea as a memorial place: War cemetery as cultural heritage” and as you can see a close relevance in the title of program and my thesis.
I gave authentic advice using ZOOM as an academic supervisor in August and September. Responsible producer sent me various questions or opinion reading my argument on UNMCK. I answered on ZOOM meeting and gave her historical documents and pictures as supplementary data if required. When I gave her pictures or images of the year 1950s, KBS asked original authors for their license or bought copyrights.
Documentary program started from present stories (though 71 years has passed after the Korean War) of excavation of the remains of the War dead and their personal identification works by the Ministry of Defense. Protagonists of this documentary are not only the War dead (United Nations soldiers) themselves but surrounding people of the War dead also.
All of them made up the dramas.
Mr. James Grundy (90 years old) collected bodies of his comrades-in-arms which have been left in battle fields in the year 1951 amid the War and buried them in the UN Cemetery.
Mr. Vincent Courtenay (87 years old) UN soldier from Canada and Mr. Brian Hough (88 years old) UN soldier from UK proposed International Memorial Ceremony for the War dead under the title “Turn toward Pusan”. Mr. Michael Hockridge (the War dead) passed away at the age of 20 he was young and was buried in this cemetery. Mr. William Speakman was honored with the Victoria Cross (the most prestigious award for soldiers in the UK or the Commonwealth) for the Korean War. Their bereaved families made up the dramas too.
We cast our light on unknown soldiers or missing soldiers who were embroiled in gigantic and unknown violence “the War”. When I advised in ZOOM, producer told me “This drama would bring those people (who tell the story) instead”.
Her saying means “if we meet fortuitously, it would be our destiny”. When I started my doctoral course, I crossed my mind many times as I was at a loss for finding the theme of my doctoral thesis. Various stories in “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” overlapped co-incidentally with my present situation as storyteller about UNMCK. In that sense all the people who are the War dead who rest in UNMCK regaining their names and the War dead who could not regain their names, Producers of this documentary program and scholarships of Atsumi International Foundation may be my destiny which I should meet in my life.
Story of UNMCK does not limit to the past War which is far from “present” and “here”. UNMCK, whereabouts of the dead, is the pace of memory and oblivion. We confront the War dead and ex-soldiers alive who went boundaries back and forth of dichotomy between life and death or peace and war. Whereabouts of death and traces of war, both came from confrontation of ideology, are showing us a vision which we should aim as human beings who live in 21st century. Such reflection of documentary “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” is a legacy, which should be bequeathed to the postwar generation, as “Living Heritage”.
“My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” (photo album)
YouTube link “My memorable place – United Nations Cemetery” (trailer)
SGRA Kawaraban 694 in Japanese (Original)
LEE Chung-sun / 2021 Raccoon, Postgraduate student at the University of Tokyo
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
Mongolia has stopped foreigners to enter the country from China at mid-February 2020 because of CORONA pandemic. At the end of February, flights from Japan and South Korea stopped their operations. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health have changed their immigration rules very often. On the other hand, New Uran Bator Airport, which was postponed for opening many times, has opened on July 4, 2021, as Japanese mass media reported. New Airport is run by “New Uran Bator International Airport Company” which is joint venture by Mongolian Government and Japanese consolidated companies such as Narita International Airport, Japan Airport Building, JALUX and Mitsubishi Corporation. The 32 kilometers highway, which has six lanes (three lanes on each side) and connects between the new airport and Uran Bator City, has also opened. Flights between Japan and Mongolia reopened at the end of last year and the number of flights has increased.
I departed from Narita Airport on August 25 by Korean Airline. After one night stop at Inchon Airport in South Korea, I arrived at New Uran Bator Airport on 26th. Immigration at Narita Airport was very severe. I was asked three times for Vaccine certificate, PCR negative certificate and two times for certificate for hotel reservation in Mongolia for seven days after arrival. I was measured for temperature many times. Comparatively at Inchon Airport it was so easy. I could finish the procedure without documents and questions. At Uran Bator Airport, it was not so “severe” but took long time. It took me two hours for temperature checking, Immigration, submission of health check report, PCR checking before receiving my baggage.
It took only thirty minutes to arrive Uran Bator City from the New Airport. There were no congestion on highway because the number of flights and users of highway from the airport were less. However, in the city, it took me more than one hour to reach hotel due to road congestion. There were no change in the city of Uran Bator without a scene that everybody wears mask.
Many friends of mine in Japan, who knew my arrival at Uran Bator, asked me various questions. “How did you go to Mongolia?” “I would like to go to Mongolia. But it does not seem to be easy.” Departure from Japan, connection at South Korea, Immigration at Mongolia etc. It took me a week to reply to all of them by mail.
On September 4, we had 14th Uran Bator International Symposium “A hundred years of relations between Japan and Mongolia–History, Present situation and Prospect” at Multi-purpose room, Building２, Fourth floor, at Mongolian National University on-line basis under the joint sponsorship of Showa Women’s University (International Culture Research Center), SGRA Sekiguchi Global Research Association of Atsumi International Foundation, and Mongolia National University (Social Science/Asia Research) and sponsorship by Atsumi International Foundation, Showa Women’s University, Research Association of Mongolian History and Culture and Association for “Heritage of BARGA”. Ninety members of researchers and students participated.
The year of 2021 is the 110th Anniversary of National Foundation Day of Mongolia, the 100th Anniversary of the Mongolian Revolution and the 40th Anniversary of Democratization of Mongolia. And it is the 40th Anniversary of Reopening of Grant of Financial Aid from Japanese Government. When we look back on achievements of exchange between Japan and Mongolia for a hundred years and summarize present situation and problems of countries in East Asia, there is a special meaning which based on the relations between Japan and Mongolia.
We invited representative researchers from Japan, Mongolia and China. And we found and thought about new knowledges basing on historical records which were discovered newly and research results of academic societies from our friendship between Japan and Mongolia which surmounted “love and resentment” of history.
The Symposium started with the opening speech by Professor Sh. Egshig, National University of Mongolia (Asia Research Section, Social Science Division). We got congratulatory speeches from Ms. Junko Atsumi, Representative of Atsumi International Foundation, Sekiguchi Global Institute and Professor D. Zaya Baatar, Director of Social Science Department of National University of Mongolia. After their speeches, we had reports from researchers from Japan, Mongolia and China. Their names are: Ex-Japanese Ambassador SHIMIZU Takenori, Ex- Mongolian Ambassador to Cuba Ts. Batbayar, Honorable Professor NIKI Hiroshi Tokyo Foreign Language University, Professor D. Tsedev Uran Bator University, Professor MATSUKAWA Hitoshi of Ohtani University, Professor J. Urangua of National University of Mongolia, Director Mr. KUBOTA Shinichi, Japan-Mongolia Friendship Organization, Mr. B. Punsaldulam Chief Researcher of Research Center of Mongolian Academy for History and Anthropology. Ms. Imanishi was welcomed for participation after long time though it was online.
Mongolian newspaper “Soyombo” reported this symposium. In Japan, this symposium will be introduced in “Japan-Mongolia Academic Conference Bulletin” No. 52.
After the symposium, from September 9 to 20, I carried out on-site survey about “The Wall of Genghis Khan” in Dornod Province under the research project “Creation of the Base of International Joint Research for ‘The Wall of Genghis Khan’”. Members are Professor J. Urangua Department of Archaeology of National University of Mongolia, Professor U. Erdenebat, Professor Ch. Amatuvshin and Chairman Ts. Tumen of the Association of “Heritage of Barga”. We could get good results more than our expectations and I let you know the details later.
I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. ITO Yoriko, Embassy of Japan in Mongolia for giving me idea about PCR testing and others.
Photos from the symposium and research trip
SGRA Kawaraban 693 in Japanese (Original)
BORJIGIN Husel / Professor of Showa Women’s University (International Department)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
When I was writing my dissertation, I had a phone call from Mr. Sasamoto of the Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro City (Nagano Prefecture). I had not been in touch with him for a while as I got busy with the in the dissertation. On that day, he had some event of movies and gave me a call having recalled I am specialized in Chinese film history.
I met him when I was a University student. The Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro have a close relationship with Nanjing University, my alma mater. They sponsored “Toson (Shimazaki Toson : a famous Japanese novelist) Literary Prize in China” at Nanjing University. They organized also homestay activities of Nanjing University students. I came to Japan first as a homestay student in Komoro City and Mr. Sasamoto was a father of my host family.
I spent a week with Mr. and Mrs. Sasamoto. But it influenced my life a lot. As I was accepted to be a member of Sasamoto family, I could have a precious cultural experience assimilating into Japanese daily life. I danced in Yukata (an informal cotton kimono) at festival of Komoro citizens. They brought me to a spa on the top of mountain and famous sightseeing spot “Kaikoen”. I helped “mother” (Mrs. Sasamoto) to harvest vegetables which she cultivated at her groves. I could experience rich nature and culture of Komoro and perceive charm point of Japanese culture. I cannot learn it from textbook.
During my stay in Komoro, I have enjoyed various fresh experiences. What, I felt most impressive was a passion of Mr. Sasamoto toward Japan-China friendship. On the first day of my arrival at Mr. Sasamoto’s house, he gave me a book about histories of normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China and talked passionately that we should get along friendly, and we should never have war. And he asked me (I was major in Japanese language at that time) to be a bridge between Japan and China. He devoted himself to project for the Friendship between Japan and China after retirement from winery. I did not ask his motive of the project, but I conjectured there are some connections in his motive that he has been in Shenyang (ex-Mukden) in his junior high school days and experienced the Sino-Japanese War. I was impressed with his eagerness to develop the relations between Japan and China through public exchange activities as a civilian.
We have been communicating after my returning to China and he was very pleased for my studying in Japan. When I was studying for entrance exam, he sent me apples from Komoro to encourage me. At the entrance ceremony, he kindly attended coming from Komoro purposely as my family. When he attended the Shenyang junior high school reunions in Tokyo, he met me. He invited me to Komoro also and the “Chinese Film Week” in Tokyo. So we met almost every year (except the period of CORONA pandemic). He was keeping his Japan-China Friendship Project. He visited China as a head of group which visits China or invited Chinese University students to Japan. Not only his friendship with me but his attitude working hard for the Japan-China Friendship also encouraged my life of studying abroad.
I saw a movie in 2015 “Yamamoto Jisho, boukyou no kane, Manmou kaitakudan no Rakujitu” (The Bells for Homesickness /The Sunset of Reclamation Group for Manchuria and Mongolia) This movie is for Japanese orphans who were left behind in China after the World War II. During the War time, reclamation group have been sent to the Northeast of China (Manchuria and Mongolia area) and was left behind after the War. After I saw this movie, I could deepen my understanding of Japan-China Friendship project which Mr. Sasamoto performed with all his heart and soul. Yamamoto Jishou, protagonist of this movie, came from Nagano Prefecture same with Mr. Sasamoto and sent to the Northeast of China as a head of reclamation group three months before the Defeat. I learned from this movie about the history of Nagano Prefecture which sent the largest number of reclamation people to China and could get another or different understanding about the meaning of home staying in Komoro and friendship with Mr. Sasamoto.
I was surprised at the number of the Japan-China Friendship Society in Japan which was shown as sponsors in the ending roll of the movie. I did not know there are so many societies in agricultural areas especially. Establishment of so many societies in Japan may have some connection with confronting the history of “Reclamation Group for Manchuria and Mongolia” during the War time as “a negative legacy”. Mr. Sasamoto’s personal experience (he went to Shenyang and was repatriated from Northeast China) may be different from the story of the movie. But I think his motive power which he offered himself to Japan-China Friendship projects and face to the history of the War time came from his experience.
It became difficult to meet Mr. Sasamoto after the COVID-19 and the pandemic caused to his difficulty of his exchange activities between Japan and China. This year is the 120th anniversary of founding of Nanjing University and scheduled to have an award ceremony for the “Prize for Toson Literary in China”. He told me about his concern whether he could go to China during that phone call. There were other difficulties. He is ninety-one years old, and he is active now. He apprehends there is few young fellows in Japan-China Friendship Society in Komoro.
It is true that the exchange became difficult due to the COVID-19 and the matter of his successor is important. However, various activities in various field for the exchange between Japan and China are executed continuously. For example, Atsumi International Foundation has contributed for better understanding among the East Asia through academic events like “Dialogue among historians in Japan, China and South Korea” or “China Forum”. Those events showed me a direction as a researcher and gave me a feeling that there is a possibility in my research. I like to accelerate mutual understanding among the people in Japan and China through my research in the exchange in movies in Japan and China so that I live up to expectations of Mr. Sasamoto.
SGRA Kawaraban 692 in Japanese (Original)
YU Ning / 2020 Raccoon, Researcher at International Christian University (Gender Research Center)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
On August 15, Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) was strike down by Taliban. It showed me “the end of one era” for twenty years, we been watching what was going on there from the media of Europe and America like “CNN”. However, we can share the information now from moment to moment through SNS account of Afghan individuals. It was a change of twenty-years’ time and, at the same time, I feel something unchangeable. “Change” means technical change and “unchangeable” means fragility of political system in Afghanistan. I know Taliban has been expanding their influence rapidly through news reports of Japan and America. However, the collapse of Afghan society was too early. I did not expect drop back of America so early. Kabul has disappeared from our memory imperceptibly and Taliban has got “legitimate” Governing power.
I got into university in 2003. It was “the time of terrorism” back then. Influence of “Afghan-Iraq War” which was resulted from the impact of “9/11 Terrorism” (2001) and retaliation by United States led to South Korea. I was one of person who watched 9/11 terrorism through broadcast live, I was shocked by “the unexpected scene” which was unimaginable. Attack to United States was considered as inevitable and the world supported it. Even North Korea blamed terrorist-group and delivered its statement expressing their condolence for victims. American army has been winning at battlefields which we do not know the name. We thought Taliban would be cleared from Afghanistan soon. It was said as a pretext of the war, that Taliban sheltered Osama bin Laden, a ringleader of terrorism. But American army could not attain their object all the way to the end. (He was arrested in Pakistan neighboring country.)
It was the year 2003 when American army has invaded Iraq on the pretext of allegation “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Destruction). At that time so-called “the power of students movement” at universities in South Korea was immense. We came across banners in campus which were against Iraq War. Public opinion in South Korea has been supporting American military operation so far. But there were pros and cons arguments against Iraq War because they could not find any justification in it. And the War was drawn into a quagmire despite American President George Bush had declared “the End of the War” in May 2003. When I look back, I had different viewpoint on the War although I was against the War. It was the time of my military service of two years and three months since 2005.
The Government of South Korea have been worrying whether they should dispatch their troops at American request. There were repeated demonstrations which were against dispatch. The feelings in South Korea became worse gradually against the United States and there were a lot of criticism against the Bush Administration. Not only progressive citizens’ group but a lot of people also had feeling of rejection against American “Unilateralism”. Even after the decision of large-scale dispatching of army, controversy changed to “where is the place which is safer?” Incidentally there was a similar argument in Japan. They carried their argument in more tranquil atmosphere than South Korea. It may be a cause that Japan had abduction issue by North Korea. I skip the detail.
It was the time when the War turned into a quagmire that “My Daily History” came across Iraq War. Notification of “Recruiting of soldiers to Iraq” was propagated in whole army. It was for army basically, but air force was planned too. Average salary at that time was 10,000 yen a month and our thinking “We can get tens of times money” became as it was topic among soldiers. If we go to Iraq, we can get $2,000 a month. In a mail-magazine of Intra-net of army, the photos “Soldiers who live with inhabitants happily” were published often. I did not apply. But the War became close to me. Afterwards, North Korea carried out nuclear testing first (October 2006) and “security situation” at that time became “My issue”. Because of this, I am interested in the era around that time scholarly.
Stabilization in Afghanistan and Iraq seems failure in end. In Iraq, so-called “ISIS” (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) cannot be said to be stabilized. The fall of Kabul and disastrous accident at airport were its symbol. United States have made military assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan financially and technically for the purpose of their reconstruction and democratization. But I think evaluation of the Afghan War is not high in America now.
After the fall of Kabul, I was impressed personally with a speech by Ms. Barbara Lee, Democratic Party Congresswoman as one of the domestic movements in America. She disagreed with the Afghan War all the way to the end. She insisted “we cannot prevent further terrorism by military operations” and “somebody have to appeal suppression of terrorism at any decisions concerning bills”. But the decision was passed at 98 to 0 at the Upper House and 420 to 0 at the Lower House. Despite of this result, her adverse opinion has remained as “precepts or negative example” even now, twenty years after.
This “twenty years” seems to me quite short to lead to “a change”. Even in South Korea and Taiwan, both are simple racial composition nations, they took more than forty years to get democratization after dictatorial system in cold war era. If there would be any changes, it would be a decrease of “patience” of United States. It is “the end of one era”.
SGRA Kawaraban 689 in Japanese (Original)
YUN Jae-un /2020 Raccoon, Specially Appointed Lecturer at Hitotsubashi University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
Recently, it is not uncommon in Japan to use personal computer or mobile phone for bullying among youngsters. “Cyberbullying” means writing or sending offending or libeling on website using mobile phone or personal computer. On the contrary there happened an instance when a child got bullied and tweeted “SOS” online and committed suicide as the worst case.
Furthermore, it became clear that, if we can advise on bullying or suicide to youngster using LINE on SNS the number of consultations was increased more than that of by telephone. A lot of people said that “it is necessary to utilize SNS more because SNS is the most familiar means for the young”. At junior high schools in Chiba Prefecture, they started their efforts in the year 2016 using student handbooks on how to treat when students get bullied or watch bullying and information about help desks. Both are written in students handbooks. What is a primary factor to decrease cyberbullying? What is a necessary factor to resolve cyberbullying? It is an urgent issue for educators.
Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China showed clearly about definition of “bullying” in 2017. However, it’s measures are not clear yet. It is quite recent that people in China are concerned with the issue of bullying. They were considering bullying among children is inevitable. There is a report that there are 250 students in one grade and this large number is considered as a reason for the issue.
At this situation of bullying, there are many bystanders. In China, they think children who bully others are wrong and children who are being bullied are poor fellow. However, they cannot understand how to do. It is said that, when students are asked by school for their recognition about bullying, they report everything they know. Pupil who stands by bullying are the key to solve bullying issues. In China where bullying is not apparent like advanced countries, it is important and effective to establish good atmosphere to involve bystanders when they establish a class. It is effective way too to decrease bullying.
Establishment of good atmosphere classes lead to preventive education on bullying. It is pointed out in Japan that as an ideal teacher their early detection and response for bullying are necessary. At the same time, teachers should be reliable from students and alter their state of consciousness. They should not communicate with students on the assumption that there is no bullying. It becomes possible for teachers to take proper response if they can assume there is possibility of bullying. It will be a research task from now on how teachers grasp bullying and how they establish atmosphere which lead to prevention and repression of bullying.
SGRA Kawaraban 688 in Japanese (Original)
YUAN Xiaoyu / Part-time teacher of Tamagawa University, Private researcher at Tokyo Gakugei University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala
I am a teacher of Japanese Language at Canakkale University in Canakkale in western Turky. “Trojan Horses” is a legend of this city.
Scholars in Japanese Language Faculty begins with its preliminary course and undergo master’s degree if they can finish four years’ undergraduate program. I am a person- in charge of the class of “Japanese Literature” for the third year (Junior).
I, as a teacher of Japanese language, expect them to graduate. But they do not care about “Japanese literatures”. There are only five experts for Japanese literatures in Turky. I do not know who the sixth expert would be. Under such situation, the class of “Japanese literatures” for the junior were just enumeration of the names of writers and their works.
I cannot forget the first week of my class when I was transferred to Canakkale University and met the junior firsts. It was a day in Autumn two years ago. I said “Hello! I am a person in charge of Japanese language” in quiet classroom in front of thirty-three students who opened their eyes wide. They did not say anything “As we are busy at teaching practice, we do not care your talking”. But I understood from their faces, that they would like to say so. However, I cannot lose them.
I used Japanese only during my classes. Students were surprised. Afterwards I heard students talked about “Teacher Melek” (myself) a lot saying that “How long does she can keep speaking in Japanese?” after the class. In fact, for the first year we did not speak Japanese so often after finishing the preliminary class of Japanese language. When they become the junior, they had to attend educational courses from Japanese language teachers and did not study Japanese language. Japanese language was recognized as “dead language” which is used in theoretical class only. I noticed it from an atmosphere of the class.
I thought Japanese literature was good for thirty-three students from 21 years old to “live pleasantly the world which is not-interesting”.
I did not give an ordinary lesson for Japanese literatures like authors arguments, representative authors of naturalism nor the names of female writers in the HEIAN Period. I did not ask students to memorize when BASHO was born.
I distributed MANGA (cartoon) version of “Wagahai wa neko dearu” (I am a cat) and I imitated “Kushami-sensei” (sneezing teacher). Students who got lessons in Japanese laughed. It was a goal of lessons of “Japanese literatures”. In the case of NATUME SOUSEKI , the class was excited by its protagonist “CAT”. When I told students “Look at the classroom by cat’s eyes and explain in Japanese”, students were excited. I heard they discussed afterwards about and laughed at “Lesson of Japanese literature which is described by cat’s eyes”.
When we read “Kumo no Ito” (spider’s thread) by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, I asked Aicha-san (female college student) to continue the sentence “if I would be ‘KANDATA’ (protagonist of Kumo no Ito)”. She replied “Perhaps, I may survive kicking others down to the nethermost hell thinking only about myself would be helped”. The number of “Akutagawa Fans” increased. When we read “Hana” (nose) by Akutagawa, I asked students “Have you ever been pleased with weakness or disparagement of your colleagues?” Discussions heated up imperceptibly and continued with full of nervousness.
In case of “Rasho-mon” (Gate of Rasho) by Akutagawa also, we went astray much where “Ge-nin” (man of low birth), who was drenched beneath the gate would go. Good or wrong? We discussed about inner part of human beings which is grotesque and fishy setting up a scene where Ge-nin pull out hairs of dead body. I asked students which they would select. Death from starvation or pulling out hairs of dead body to make wigs for sale. I realized “we can discuss in Japanese!” about feelings of human beings and the bottom of their hearts. The twenty-one years old young in Middle East might feel an affinity with dark-side of Ge-nin’s heart. I do not know why. They talked very often in my class about their dreams of oversea or places very far. I was interested in what they had implication about Ge-nin’s acne which he had been cared. When I made an analysis of textbook, I did not explain about an acne biologically. I analyzed in textbook that “an acne has a meaning of movement of body of protagonist”. Students concluded that Akutagawa wrote uneasiness of human life using Ge-nin’s acne”.
Surprisingly students were divided into “Dazai-person” and “Akutagawa-person” thereafter. Coy and shy students are Dazai-persons. I gave them an assignment that they read “Ningen Sikkaku” (“No Longer Human” in English) in Turkish and Manga version. Akutagawa was an idol of talkative students. I am translating his collection of short stories into Turkish with the aid of third year students.
“Japanese Literature Class” for the third year was the class which they could communicate in Japanese from their bottom of heart. We do not know where did “Ge-nin “go after getting out from “Rasho-mon”. But I think the third-grade students can watch human beings in Japanese language through Japanese literature.
SGRA Kawaraban 687 in Japanese (Original)
KABA_Melek /2009 Raccoon, Assistant Professor of Japanese Language Educational Faculty at Canakkale University.
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabona Koirala
I raised our individuality issues on environmental “Eco-bags” in SGRA Kawaraban (Essay 680). But I strongly feel that it is not easy to stop global warming only by individual effort.
At the “Climate Change Summit” this April, Japanese Government announced that Japan will decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 46% in 2030 compared with the figure of 2013. Japanese Government raised the figure significantly compared with the one which they submitted to United Nations after the Paris Agreement (in Climate Change) 2015. At the Summit, United States will reduce emission of carbon dioxide by 50-52% in the year 2030 comparing with the figure of the year 2005. China will reduce more than 65% in 2030 per GDP comparing with the year of 2005 and realize “carbon neutral” by 2060.
Frankly speaking I do not know how and to what extent we can change our daily living in order to realize the Japanese figure. Japanese big target figure is not linked with their framework for disposable plastics. I suppose big framework like environmental issue as SDGs are being tackled seriously by students through garbage separation etc. But for adults who are busy in offices, environmental issue is secondary importance.
There are two reasons. Firstly, the trend of working adults now are “less-TV” and “less-newspaper”. They are attentive in only what they are interested. If they are not interested in environmental issue, eco-information would be meaningless. The second reason is there are many people who take out corrugated cardboards and pet bottles on garbage day and we can see home waste every day. I know there are different understanding for waste separation by areas. I understand people in urban areas are keeping rules for waste separation properly caring what people think. It is difficult for me to presume reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 10% or more in 2030 even if people would take actions accepting environmental issue seriously.
However, “Japan is great!” Japanese private enterprises are working hard despite there are gaps between the Government and citizens in their thinking. They are undertaking environmental issues by their own reasoning. I expect Japan would attain some level and which is very close to its goal. It may not be a dream and there is no ending if I take up examples. I would introduce a few companies whom I was impressed.
First, I take up Mitsubishi Corporation. They constructed recycling business of PET bottles.
What I thought “Great!” is “Chemical Recycle Technology” which was imported from Switzerland. PET bottles to be recycled are not only cleaned without caps and labels but also are being attached without having leftovers in bottles. Mitsubishi established recycle PET bottles business in Thailand collaborating with Taiwanese company which have long relationship. I think it a good example which solved environmental issue utilizing strength of SHOSHA (trading company). Furthermore, they established another business in Japan using the same approach.
What I am concerned now is “Energy” which is used for operation of factories. It gets nothing if factories use electricity discharging CO2 for “ECO”. In 2020 Mitsubishi Corporation purchased a company which is developing integrated energy business in Europe together with CHUBU Electric Company. Mitsubishi and CHUBU Electric Co. are trying to build business model of electricity in carbon-free society towards next generation. In Europe, offshore wind power generator which utilize their shallow beach topology is more advanced than Japan and they are undertaking new business of small sized solar photovoltaics near consumption areas.
If Japan can introduce the business of production and consumption of energy, they would suppress carbon emissions in Japan to some extent.
Do SHOSHA undertake environmental issue multidirectionally? The answer is “No!”.
ORIX Corporation, known as financial services industry, is focusing on renewable energy business. The great point of ORIX is their monitoring power as a group. ORIX group has emitted 1.3million tons of CO2 in domestic as of March end, 2020. On the other hand, they decreased 3million tons of CO2 emission through their global renewable energy business. Main breakdown of their renewable source of energy are wind power, geothermal and solar power. Especially in solar power generation they established hundreds of large-scaled solar power stations and mega-solar plants in Japan. They invested in wind power and geothermal plants in Europe, the North America and Asia too.
I admire not only those two companies but other Japanese companies also for their management which they are conscious of carbon-free society. They are combining other business within their companies successfully. What I was impressed with is they exploited foreign companies which preceded in renewable source of energy and collaborated with them as partnership. They developed new technology for offshore wind power generation which is unsuited for deep sea in Japan basing on such knowledge. They installed windmill being floated on the sea. They did not deplore topography in Japan. It was “great”.
It was very interesting to watch undertakings of Japanese companies one by one. And it became distinct what we can do.
Anyway, I swear here that when I empty the contains, I peel off a label from PET-bottle first and throw away in trash cans. As to cap and bottle, I segregate them and throw away to recycle box.
ORIX Sustainability Report 2021
SGRA Kawaraban 686 in Japanese (Original)
XIE Zhihai / Associate Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala