SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • LI Kotetsu “The 67th SGRA Forum” (Report)

    The 67th SGRA (Sekiguchi Global Research Association) Forum was held online on 23rd September at the Hall of Atsumi International Foundation under the title “Nobody is left behind and How to head towards materialization of SDGs overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic?” It was planned by SGRA ASIA Initiative Team and it was organized by Atsumi International Foundation and jointly organized by INAF (Institute of Northeast Asian Future). There were around eighty online participants and we had worldwide report about the United Nation’s 2030 Goal on SDGs.   Mya Dwi Rostika (Lecturer of Daito Bunka University and a member of SGRA Asian Designing Team) facilitated the Forum. Ms. Junko Imanishi, Representative of SGRA, made Opening Address and introduced SGRA and INAF and explained their course of joint organization.   LI Kotetsu (myself) played moderator. The first session was a keynote speech. The second session was five reports from the world. And designated debates and panel discussions followed. Professor HIRAKAWA Hitoshi, Director of Atsumi International Foundation and President of INAF summarized the forum.   Keynote speech was made by Dr. SADOTOMO tetsu (Lecturer of Graduate School of Nihon University, Board Member of INAF) at the Hall of Atsumi International Foundation under the title “Awareness reform in the Era of SDGs”. He is specialized in International Relations and held various posts like The Chairman of North-East Asian Academic Conference. He has published “Peace Studies in the Era of SDGs” ( Publisher: Horitsu Bunkasha) in December 2019. In the opening he emphasized that we have to acknowledge the fact that “We are living in the unsustainable world” and the process “acknowledgement → consciousness →  thinking →action” is important. Then, he analyzed the goal of “sustainable development” and the current situation of “unsustainable world” clearly and appealed that in order to achieve Sustainable Development Goals we have to review the present mechanism of the modern civilizations which are in large scaled, centralized and globalized and have to acknowledge that we have to strengthen present circulation-type society.   On  the second session, we had five reports worldwide.   The first report online was made by Dr. Ferdinando C. Maquito, (senior staff member of SGRA) College of Public Affairs and Development, UPLB (The University of the Philippines, Los Banos), under the title “SDGs in the Philippines”. In the Philippines, countermeasure against SDGs were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. He reported front line voices saying “We will not die from COVID-19. But we may starve to death having no jobs”. But there are hopeful signs. (1) Reviewing domestic agriculture, (2) New perception by domestic dominant companies: social role is important as with the stockholders, (3) Universities are evaluated not only by their academic achievement but also their impact on society. His report was very suggestive.   The second report was made by DU Shixin (Research fellow of INAF and Global International Relations Institute) under the title “SDGs in Hungary”. Achievement for SDGs in Hungary is high ranked in Eastern Europe (25th in the world). He reported that Hungary is playing a leading role in development of sustainability keeping good relationship with China in “development of water resources”.   The third report was made by Mr. Housam Darwisheh (Institution of Developing Economies, JETRO, SGRA Member) under the title “SDGs in Middle East and North Africa”. He reported that growth rate of average life of expectancy in these areas has been the highest in the past fifty years. Three indexes of human development (HDI) such as health, education and income and other various aspects of life has improved. According to the report “Sustainable Development in the Arab” in 2020, there would be no countries which could reach to the achievement of SDGs. He reported present situation and analyzed its reasons.   LI Kotetsu reported about “SDGs in DPRK” as the fourth report. He analyzed present situation of the society and economic development in DPRK which are not known in Japan and other international societies. He emphasized necessities of acknowledgement of their achievement of SDGs after understanding of their characteristics that they keep socialism despite being under developing country. He also reported that DPRK is undertaking toward implementation of SDGs despite of their poverty cooperating with the United Nations.   The fifth report was made by Mr. Mohamed Omer Abdin (SANTEN Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd, SGRA member) from Sudan under the title “SDGs in Africa”. Thirty years’ Dictatorial System in Sudan has collapsed in April 2019 and their interim Government started towards democratization. However, six months later, they had to declare the state of emergency including border closure or lock-down by the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained an influence of emergency declaration toward Sudan’s economy and difficulty of execution of infection control measures in a poor country where people’s income is not guaranteed.   Toward those reports, Professor HABA Kumiko (KANAGAWA University and Vice President of INAF) and  MIMURA Mitsuhiro (Board Member of INAF, Chief Researcher of ERINA, Chairman of The Association for Northeast Asia Regional Studies ) extended their comments. Consequential to their comments we had heated panel discussion among keynote speakers and all the reporters. They talked about the present situation and the problem towards achievement of SDGs and countermeasure or difficulties against the pandemic.   Lastly Professor Hirakawa summarized. As to the present situation amid the pandemic, he took up the issue of vaccination of economic disparity between advanced nations and under-developing countries quoting a wealth of data. He winded up the forum introducing appeals by Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization.     Photos of the Day     SGRA NEWS ( Report of the 67th SGRA Forum) in Japanese (original)     LI Kotetsu /Director of INAF, SGRA Researcher, Member of SGRA Asian Designing Team         Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LIM John Chuan Tiong “Why does Beijing refrain countries which have diplomatic relations with China from strengthening their relations with Taipei?”

    September 10, United States President Joe Biden had conversation with Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party over the phone. Immediately after the conversation, United States announced that they are “considering severely” to change the name “Taipei Economic and Culture Representative Office” (Taiwan’s Diplomatic Establishment in America) to “Taiwan Representative Office”. In July, Taiwan established their Representative Office in Vilnius, the Capital of Republic of Lithuania through their discussions. Taiwan proposed EU (European Union) to change the name “European Economic and Trade Office” to “European Union Office in Taiwan” and the bill passed at EU Committee on Foreign Affaires in September. A series of such movement (changing “official name”) is the new wave in Western countries in recent atmosphere that they like to strengthen relations with Taiwan.   Since the foundation of socialism in China and depression of the presence of Taiwan in International community and prevention of Taiwan’s improvement in their International position have been Chinese ‘core’ issue in their diplomatic policy. The People’s Republic of China took place of the Republic of China in the United Nations in 1971. And in 1972, it was a ‘breakthrough’ for Taiwan that United States and Japan, both have been the most important supporting powers began to promote establishment of relations with Beijing in succession. Due to such sudden change of International situation, position of both sides of Taiwan Strait came to the historical ‘irrevocable’ conversion. Afterwards Beijing asked the Countries or Governments which have diplomatic relations with China to comply the agreement which those Governments should maintain ‘informal’ level with Taiwan inevitably. Against the news in Washington mentioned above, Chinese Embassy in United States developed an attitude saying “China oppose official exchanges between the United States and Taiwan in any style” as before.       “Lithuania Model” in Western countries:   Marking the beginning of 21st century the rise of China became apparent and the position of China in the world kept growing. Beijing aggrandized their International “Discourse Power” (power which makes the other side to accept). At the same time, difference of power at both side of Taiwan Strait increased day by day. A lot of companies in Western countries began to make investments in China and concluded trade relationship. It means Chinese international influence increased. But China could not stop Western and other countries to strengthen their relationship with Taiwan.  Recently, we had a series of “changing name” phenomena in Western countries (including Japan). On New Year’s Day 2017, Japan changed the name “Interchange Association” (Headquarter in Tokyo, Office in Taipei and Kaohsiung) to “Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association”. In May 2017, Taiwan side changed the name “Association of East Asia Relations” which handle administration affairs with Japan to “Taiwan-Japan Relations Association”. Taiwan changed the name “Coordination Council for North American Affairs” to “Taiwan Council for North American Affairs” in June 2019. “Netherland Trade and Investment Office” changed its name to “Netherland Office Taipei” in April 2020. And, as the title of this column shows, Lithuania agreed to establish “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania” this year. They have not decided the name of Lithuanian Office in Taiwan yet, but the name would be “Lithuanian Representative Office in Taiwan”. EU will also change the name “European Economic and Trade Office” to “EU Representative Office in Taiwan”.   Against those phenomena Beijing took actions. Chinese ambassador in Lithuania was called home and Beijing banished Lithuanian ambassador in China who has just arrived at his post. It was a strict and rare measure taken by Beijing to a small country Lithuania which disobeyed. The writer (of this Essay) think that China warned the other Baltic States like Estonia and Latvia not to follow an evil deed as Lithuania and like to avoid the Domino effect in other Middle European countries. However, Beijing has witnessed shocking happenings. EU and America have replaced “Taiwan” as its’ official name. It was clear that Beijing is in a bottleneck that they tried to deter countries which have diplomatic relations from strengthening their relations with Taiwan.   “Lithuanian Model – Taiwan” Supported by U.S. Congress and Whitehouse “Decision”   America was not affected by “Lithuania Model”. Lithuania and other countries were one step ahead of America. They supported Washington’s official naming “Taiwan” thinking of strengthening relationship with Taiwan.   The tendency which American Congress want “Taiwan’s official name” has been nurtured. For example, on December 17, 78 members of the House of Representatives under the Trump Administration made three recommendations about the relations between America and Taiwan by letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In this letter, they recommended to change the name of Taiwanese organization in America to “Taiwanese Representative Office”. In July 2021, United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed the bill “Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act”. It was the most noticeable point that they recommended the Government to start discussion about “official name” of Taiwanese representative. The reason why Whitehouse could say “we are considering seriously” is they had support of congress.   When we think about why they put “Taipei” instead of “Taiwan” to the name of overseas representatives is very rational and complicated. It is a result of their thinking that those countries have considered seriously based on their national profit, not from Beijing “pressure”. Taiwanese themselves, in the era of Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo, sticked to the principle “Chinese and its Traitor cannot exist together”.   After 1949, especially after 1970s when Taiwan have experienced “labor pains” of “the wave of break-off of diplomatic relations”, Taiwan has groped for establishment of “non-diplomatic relations” with the countries which they had diplomatic relations before. When they discussed about establishment of their representative, the choice which “Taiwan” is the name of their representatives was omitted by reason that they did not want the name “Republic of China” to trivialize to “Taiwan”. And they decided to use “Taipei” because it was very usual to use the name of capital for countries in International diplomatic stages. “Washington” is used for America and “London” for United Kingdom.   The rise of China and higher presence of “Taiwan”    Why did Taiwan change their thinking of using “Taipei” for “Taiwan”? There were influences of “struggle for authority of representation” and a change of their consciousness of “International identity”.   In 1970s Sino-Taiwan relations were reversed in their international position as mentioned above and “the struggle for authority of representation since 1949” who represent China lawfully had ended. It became difficult for Taiwan, who had professed itself to be “Freedom China”, to call “China” in International societies. Perception among International societies including America and Japan, which were the most important friendly nations for Taiwan, began to recognize People’s Republic of China as “China”. In such context of transition of the International situation, people in Taiwan, especially the elite of society, began to establish their position as a separate space from Mainland.   There is another reason. In 1990s, Taiwan proceeded to political democratization and developed dynamic image of “Mainland” consciousness (Taiwan is Mainland). Structure of national identity changed rapidly. People in Taiwan began to recognize themselves as “Taiwanese” and agreed to recognize “Taiwan” as the place where they belong to. It led to the movement of “official name” of overseas representatives. “Formosan Association of Public Affairs (FAPA)” has been making efforts for years to pass “Favorable Bills (for Taiwan)” in United States congress promoted the subject of “official name” of Taiwanese overseas representatives.      Why do Western countries and Japan support “official name” movement of “Taiwan”? There are three factors. 1) They thought highly effects of democratization of Taiwan society and can enjoy together universal values in freedom, democracy, and human right. 2) China expanded “Export of autocratic politics” in Hong Kong. Western countries had a sense of danger against such Chinese intention which might expand to Taiwan. 3) Counter measures against the COVID-19 in Taiwan was thought to be relatively high among democratic societies.   We can say China value an influence of America in their management of international relations in an atmosphere that “New Cold War” is changing rapidly. Especially after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, China is bothered with America which develop its strategy about China to stay together with democratic countries. I think Beijing will not step into “New Cold War” with Washington furthermore as you can understand from telephone conversation between Xi Jinping and Biden. If White House would decide “official name” of “Taiwan Representative in United States”, it will be difficult for Beijing to take actions like “punishment” to Lithuania toward America such as recalling Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang in U.S. or rejecting an Inauguration of U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns in China.   China is rising now. Why cannot China stop such movement “the wave of official naming” like Taiwan’s being supported by Western countries which have leadership in international society? It will be an important issue for persons in China who are in charge foreign and Taiwan policies.     SGRA Kawaraban 682 in Japanese (Original)     LIM John Chuan Tiong / Chief Editor of “Min Pao Daily News” (Hong Kong)   This essay was written in the Chinese language. Chinese to Japanese translation by Arata Hirai  Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala
  • MITANI Hiroshi “Dialogue among National Historians under the COVID-19”

     We had the 6th Meeting online for the “Possibility of Dialogue among National Historians of Japan, South Korea and China” in September. Since 2016, this meeting had been held under the support of Atsumi International Foundation for the purpose of dialogue among historians of National History in East Asia. Students who study international relations or histories of neighboring countries continue to have dialogues with the foreign people who are the subject of their research. In contrast, researchers of “National Histories” cannot have such experiences. In order to solve the historical frictions in East Asia that haunts this area since the 20th century, it is necessary to have dialogues among “National History” scholars who have been living in nationally closed circumstances. This dialogue was advocated by Professor LIU Jie, Waseda University, and were held biennially by historians from Japan, China and South Korea under the support of Atsumi International Foundation. The theme this time was “The Migration of People from the Perspective of Boundary, Political Power and Ethnicity”. After keynote speech by Professor SHIODE Hiroyuki, Kyoto University, two researchers each from Japan, China and South Korea gave response arguments.  Then, ten panelists developed their discussion for three hours and a half. In this meeting, the structure of our program was quite different from before. We asked only one speaker to present an organized discussion and let the discussions ride later. It was an adventurous attempt. Yet, we succeeded in realizing lively chain of discussions owing to the deliberate preparation and teamwork of the executive committee: MURA Kazuaki, Associate Professor of The University of Tokyo, LI Enmin, Professor of J.F. Oberlin University, NAM Kijeon, Professor of Seoul National University, PENG Hao, Associate Professor of Osaka City University, and CHONG Soon-il, Associate Professor of Korea University. In this meeting younger historians from three countries played a major role to show their willingness to step into the discussion beyond their specialized fields and nationalities. I think this was a great achievement that illuminates the future of this project. The original aim of the ‘Dialogue by National Historians’ was to resolve the historical friction among three countries in East Asia, especially between Japan and neighboring countries in order to ease the burden on international relations in this area. When the “historical perceptions” appeared as one of the controversial issues at the beginning of the 20th century, historians in my generation began historical dialogue beyond borders. After our numerous dialogues, we reached the common ground where every party tried to understand the background of the other side’s view when our understandings seemed to conflict. Recently, however, the governments in East Asia dare to confront each other by picking up territorial and other touchy issues. As a result, historical issues retroceded. We have lost the field where we can start historical dialogue on controversial period, the first half of the 20th century. It is unbearable to abandon the achievement of historians in East Asia at the beginning of this century. We would like to keep a table where historians of next generations can communicate and cooperate daily at an academic level. It will be more productive for historians to release themselves from nationally limited academies. On the other hand, we slightly changed the focus of dialogue from political deliberation into academic development. It may suit the generation change in participants. A group of younger scholars began to join this project during the former meeting in Philippines January, 2020. They took an initiative to organize the next meeting in cooperation with ex-scholarship students of Atsumi International Foundation. January this year, they took up a thoroughly new subject “19th century Pandemic and its Social Countermeasures in East Asia” having been conscious of the COVID-19. Despite of its epochal theme, they felt unsatisfactory because of lacking enough time for discussion. This was why they set up a new subject “The Migration of People from the Perspective of Boundary, Political Power and Ethnicity”. By doing so, they started to find historical narratives which exceed “National Histories” common in school textbooks in East Asia. We have to admit that we could not fully elaborate the issues during this meeting Yet, there was a session like “Certificates (Passports) for Crossing the Borders” in which the participants argued the theme from ancient to modern times. I think they can continue and develop their discussion to publish a collection of papers on East Asian experience on this subject. Today, we see the worst relations among three countries in East Asia. At the beginning of this century, we could not foresee such hostile relations. Yet, I have found a quite a different stream of cooperation in this meeting. Also, younger generation proved the capability of leading this stream. We witnessed the fact that there is a sphere not being regulated by politics. I wish this bond generated through academic dialogues would grow steadily. May our meeting contribute to start overcoming not only the COVID19 pandemic but also the hostile relations among East Asian nations. The dialogue this time gave me a happy expectation for future.  SGRA Kawaraban 648 in Japanese (Original)  MITANI Hiroshi / Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YANG Sung-Yun “Classic Japanese Literature (Ihara Saikaku) and Myself”

      2020 was the last year of my academic life abroad amid of COVID-19 pandemic. I have been studying Japanese expression culture in classic literature of the EDO period especially literature by IHARA SAIKAKU (1642-1693) and it was indispensable work for me to read source materials. It was a narrower path for me to reach source materials because of COVID-19. There are a lot of classic literature reprinted and we can see on the web site on databases. However, for my studying purpose, there are a lot of undisclosed manuscripts which are possessed by local libraries. If we can read cursive style of Japanese characters, we would be able to understand materials of history of the EDO culture more easily. But it was not easy to access such materials because there are limitations to enter University libraries under the pandemic. It seems we are far from the end of COVID-19 and re-opening of libraries.   I started to have a sense of mission without realizing which I had to search for Japanese literature and culture in avant-garde way. It was neither my impatience with which I publish result of my study nor intention which I grant privilege to SAIKAKU (a great author in the Genroku era). It originated from one big problem.   When I was studying Japanese literature in Korea University, I had an abstract question “Is it possible to think about ‘now and here’ transcending time?” I thought, in order to reconsider our society how it should be? It was necessary to view them by keeping some distance. In some cases, it will be necessary to have an intellectual attitude positively and reflectively. It may seem conflicting at first glance. But I decided to study Japanese expression culture before the Modern period at Graduate School and took notice of the fact that people in the Edo period have been keen to make a record of gossip and rumor.   It was beyond my imagination that Japanese in the Modern period liked strange topics and gossips. We can find various mysterious incidents and gossips in collection of stories (esp. myths, legends etc.), essays, diaries and memoirs starting from local countries’ talk, desultory gossip stories. Those stories or gossips were self-portrait of the Modern society, and they had a meaning of exchange of information. Therefore, I decided to study on the collection of strange talks named “Saikaku Shokoku-banashi (local countries’ talk)” (issued in 1685) and “Futokoro Suzuri (Inkstone in my bosom)” (issued in 1687). Saikaku tilted his attention to contemporary people and their way of thinking and described them vividly in his books. In his collection of strange talks, Saikaku described affairs of contemporary human customs and behavior using anecdotes, folk tales and legends at that time without retaining original appearance. There were a lot of fakes in his strange talks even though he liked to convey actualities in principle (based on actualities). It means customs and behavior or sentimental routine by contemporary people were written in transformed way. In other words, the problem is that when we are impressed by a particular story, it is not so easy for us to have questions why that expression was possible.   It is difficult whether we can think about ‘now and here’ transcending time as mentioned above. It will be an important opportunity to get answer to the question how we can think about ‘now and here’ transcending time. During this ten year, I have been studying how Saikaku produced his works and re-talking how we can share excitement with people at that time reading strange talks by Saikaku. Against such backdrop of awareness of the problem, I wrote my doctoral dissertation “Study of Strange Talks by Saikaku” examining the Talks precisely. I tried to explain strange portion in the Talks clearly as much as possible and made his performing activities (provoking power of expression) reactively. The method of my study was various, but ‘annotations’ were common.   A word ‘annotation’ seems stiff or formal feeling. But I examined each word which predecessors have used and investigated its’ meaning and sources. Annotation is the base of my examination for example of the past and construe or understand works turning back to the time. Every works was bound by institutional thought and sensibility which current people cannot be aware of. Annotation is a procedure which invites us to rich interpretation keeping time and space. At the same time, annotation is positive and reflective attitude against modern expression culture. Attractiveness of classic literatures is a tool for re-talking about our current world newly and give us a chance to enrich our social imagination.     However, classic literature may be forgotten someday unless it would be accepted. Saikaku wrote in his Strange Talks emotion and living behavior by Samurai and town people vividly which have not been appeared in the limelight of the history. It raised the question what was humanity of the people in Edo period? I have been sharing my new knowledge about history of expression culture in Japan through my study of his Strange Talks. The works of Saikaku were good objects of reconsideration in our way of life and how our society should be having a function of ‘reflecting mirror’. It will be my main subject to show to ordinary people and to spin old experiences of people who lived before modern era to new experience. I like to continue my study together with Atsumi International Foundation.     SGRA Kawaraban 681 in Japanese (Original)     YANG Sung-Yun / 2020 Raccoon, Lecturer of Korean University, Faculty of Japanese Language and Literature   Translated by Kazuo Kawamura English checked by Sabina Koirala     
  • XIE Zhihai “Challenge for Plastic Reduction”

     Last year I wrote an essay about “Charging for shopping bags at supermarkets in Japan” and lifestyle where people go shopping with “eco bag” (reusable shopping bag). As Gunma Prefecture where I live is motorized society, people go shopping with both shopping basket and eco bags. It means that it is necessary for them to use shopping basket or eco bags. Situation has changed.However, is it true that the amount of household garbage has decreased by charging shopping bags? We cannot see any change in the amount of garbage a week. I found an article “Contradiction! Buying garbage bags refuging shopping bags” in AERA (weekly magazine issued on June 14, 2021). People, who used to utilize shopping bags as garbage bags or compost bags changed to bring eco bags and buy garbage bags on a chargeable basis. Plastic bags which are used in supermarkets or convenient shops in Japan can be used as garbage bags and a lot of people utilize plastic bags as garbage bags. There was a comment written that people began to utilize their small transparent plastic bags (free) very often not to make their eco bags dirty. I think many people feel disagreement in their daily life for having eco bags. I am annoyed at whether it could decrease the amount of garbage. According to AERA, Ministry of the Environment(England)reported in 2011 that, in order to achieve “Possibility of Global Warming”, it would be necessary to use eco bags 131 times to decrease shopping bags. It is appreciated to have such concrete figure and people may think that they should get rid plastic bags. It is said that a lot of people keep many eco bags now and I realized there are a variety of eco bags in my house too. Reason why we feel denial is we cannot solve our own question whether we are “eco” or not?In other words, we cannot decide whether we should buy chargeable eco bags or bring plastic   bags. Yes, there are a lot of goods beside shopping bags which are made by plastic. AERA raised a question on this point and gave a clear answer finally saying that “it is important for us to be conscious of “eco” in total (not only by shopping bags)”. If people go to shopping by bicycle despite bringing shopping bags, they are considered as “eco”. I had strange feeling when a friend of mine received disposable chopsticks and spoon as a matter of course. He bought lunchbox and yogurt and declined to receive shopping bag. If he was conscious of eco, he should have denied receiving both chopsticks and spoon. If chopsticks and spoon were not free, he might bring them both. I think it’s OK as far as shopping bags would trigger for reduction of garbage. Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Japan) are putting together their new ideas of charging for waste disposal into materialization and are aiming for its introduction in April 2022. It is said that twelve items not only the items for eating but hangers of dry-cleaner’s, toothbrushes and hairbrushes of hotels would be also added. I expect consciousness for disposable would be raised when the new idea is implemented.When people would take care progressively what they can do in their daily life, and which means they participate in “eco” activity.  SGRA Kawaraban 680 in Japanese (Original)  XIE Zhihai / Assortiate Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University      Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala                
  • Borjigin Husel “What has Tokyo 2020 left behind the World?”

     The 32nd Olympiad “Tokyo 2020” came to an end on 8 August 2021 after keen, glorious and impressive competitions for seventeen days. It was postponed first for one year due to the COVID-19 and started on 23 July 2021 in Tokyo under the attraction of world attention.  Significance of Tokyo 2020, I do not repeat it because Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mentioned repeatedly in their opening and ending speeches. On the other hand, there were criticism toward the Olympics even before the opening, during the games and after the closing. There were a lot of opinions for and against Olympics like “tears” “reconstruction” “throb” “unorthodox” “uneasiness” “confusion” “impressive” “too hot (temperature)” “no spectators” “intentional negligence” “liar” “selfish” “refugee players” “unprecedented” and “gold diggers” etc.Tokyo 2020 had number of issues which had conflicts and challenges. Foreign news bulletin reported framework and situation which lead to opening of the Olympics favorably and introduced criticism in Japan too. Generally, there were a lot of praise.However, strange enough, when Japanese media introduced overseas news broadcast about Tokyo 2020, they intended to criticize greatly finding “negative evaluation” by using every conceivable mean. Why are they self-denial or self-deprecated? I visited Olympic Stadium (Japan National Stadium) around 4:00 pm on August 6. It was clear and had mild gentle breeze. August 6 is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony (A-Bomb Day). There were a lot of policemen and patrol cars around Olympic Stadium and were under the authority of Hiroshima Prefecture. There was no festival atmosphere of Olympic and I had a feeling like “any incident has taken place”.   I liked to observe the Olympic Monument which is installed in front of the Japanese Olympic Museum. But the road between the Stadium and Museum were closed. There were many policemen in front of the entrance and there was a signboard “You cannot enter after 4:00 pm”. I asked a policeman why? and got reply that “there will be a demonstration”. As I could not visit the Olympic Monument so. I walked around the Stadium to look for demonstration. But I could not. Around 6 p.m. one dozen scale demonstration started “finally”. They shouted beating saucepans or bowls and holding up dolls like “skull”. As they used a few speakers, their voice echoed. I listened to what they protested and found protested was for Tokyo 2020.They only denounced Japanese Government, Executive Committee of Tokyo 2020, IOC, athletes and medalists rather than “protested”. Outrageous writings which abuse Tokyo 2020 became topics on internet. I read such writings and feel no refinement nor logic.I do not understand them, who slander, smear or insult athletes and medalists. I dare say that this “demonstration” was effective. For boatload demonstrators, a few hundreds of policemen and a dozen of patrol cars were mobilized. Roads were closed and we could not visit the Olympic Stadium and Olympiad Monument. Furthermore, several newspaper companies and TV stations domestic and overseas covered and reported this demonstration. People who did not visit the site and see the news, they will misunderstand “whole Japan” were protesting Tokyo 2020. Demonstrators kept their “close contact” condition for more than an hour and noise echoed around the Olympic Stadium and Olympiad Monument for more than an hour. The Olympic Motto “Faster, Higher and Stronger” should be added “Together” at Tokyo 2020. A lot of people are forgetting this Motto regretfully. I hope either supporters or opponents and who ignore the Tokyo 2020 would discuss or interact under this Motto. It was an ordeal for the Tokyo Organizing Committee and Tokyo 2020. I thought Tokyo 2020 itself was an ordeal. Not only Japanese Government, Tokyo Organizing Committee and IOC but athletes and medalists were also abused. Medalists and their families had to refrain from their delights.   We saw a lot of volunteers around the Stadium. As you may know, many healthcare professionals and volunteers participated at Tokyo 2020 and one of my students participated.  I am proud of him. Japanese mass media ask sometime “what will Tokyo 2020 leave behind in Japan?”I think the Olympism aims for “respect of dignity of human beings” “harmonious growth of mankind”. “The Olympic is the festival of peace of the world”. It will take time to evaluate Tokyo 2020 properly. It was a challenge to open Tokyo 2020 in such unexpected circumstances like spread of COVID-19 and its pandemic.Tokyo 2020 contributed to the world greatly by peaceful opening. Everybody will understand its contribution several years later and Tokyo 2020 would be covered in glory.  SGRA Kawaraban 678 in Japanese (Original)  Borjigin Husel / Professor of Faculty of International Studies, Showa Women’s University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Koo Hye-won “A Tour of OZU”

     Few years ago, during summer, I was on the way to a café in Kiyosumi Shirakawa where I visited often. I was surprised seeing “Fukagawa” which was the address of cafe. Fukagawa is the place where a movie director Ozu Yasujiro was born and brought up. Director Ozu is a specialism my study. I was so excited to have stepped inside Fukagawa town coincidentally where we could find old town atmosphere in Ozu movies. As I was not familiar to geography in Tokyo at that time, it was unexpected discovery because Kiyosumi Shirakawa and Fukagawa were very remote islands in my knowledge. I downloaded the application of geography immediately and visited “the place where Yasujiro Ozu was born”. Large scale condominiums alongside big roads may be different from the scene which Director Ozu has seen. But when I saw the scene standing on asphalt road in hot summer sunshine, l wondered why Director Ozu seems to be, more or less, close to me rather than historical figure. I hit my realization that my study of Ozu started here basically. My unexpected meeting with Ozu went one step closer to. Since then, so-called “Ozu Tour” was a theme of my studying abroad. I followed footsteps of Ozu that a bronze statue of Saigoh Takamori in Ueno Park, the Great Buddha of Kamakura, Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto and railroad in Onomichi. Wim Wenders, world famous German movie director, disappointed saying in his documentary movie “Tokyo Landscape” that there is no landscape like “Tokyo Story” (Ozu works in 1953) anymore. However, I found myself to be connected to Ozu a moment whenever I found something unchanged and felt everything has changed. Such moment, Ozu works in mono-colored changes to natural color in my mind. But soon absence of Ozu touches me deeply. When I come to the calm sea in Onomichi where same as that in “Tokyo Story”, I can share a look of Ozu. And, at the same time, it sheds light on the life of Ozu immediately.  “San-ma no Aji (Taste of Pacific saury)” (1962) is posthumous work of Ozu. There is a shot of vacant room upstairs after daughter gets married. Professor Masato Hase commented that this shot made audiences feel “the time spent together between father and daughter passed in an instantaneous”. This sense of time (passed in an instant) which applies to my “Ozu Tour” was emphasized in Ozu works by intentional omission of essential scene. It comes from blank space in his life where I had no way to go. I had strange and complicated sense of time which immersed in me with sparkling wave in Onomichi. I can express such sense of time with pain or vain only. Ozu tour was a repetition of meeting and farewell for me. Looking back when I entered Ozu world, I realize my curiosity about riddle of Ozu moviesguided me to my research world and his unshakable strength became an index of my research.My tour for Ozu world supported my study abroad life mentally as a source of vitality. When I was tired and frustrated doing my research, I collected my cluttered mind by following the tracks of Ozu which remained somewhere in Japan which made me evoke his existence or absence. Experiential resonance between reading his works and following his tracks colored the figure of Ozu and expanded my field of vision about Ozu. It was valuable experience for me to have studied abroad. Thinking about it now, not only my research but life in Japan for eight years also seems to have been guided by Ozu. How do I inherit his look which passed in an instant? This is an unsolved and lifetime question which impressed deeply in my mind.I would like to move one step ahead, even if it’s just a little.  SGRA Kawaraban 677 in Japanese (Original)  Koo Hye-won / 2020 Raccoon  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • WU Ching-wen I have encoutered Japanese Literature

     I read the Japanese novel “Hukai Kawa (Deep River)” written by ENDO Shusaku which was recommended by Japanese language teacher in my last year of high school. It was just after the year 1987 when we could buy any Japanese literatures translated to Chinese language at bookstores in Taiwan. (The Taiwanese Martial Law was released in 1987.) I, as a non-religious person, have been trying to find connotation in “Hukai Kawa” and it means I was the reader who drifted in the history of long river like Chiang Jiang.   One of these days, when I was going around bookstores with my classmate who was searching for annotation of Chinese novel “Hong Lou Meng” for mock exam, I found “Waga Hai wa Neko de Aru” (I am a cat) by NATUME Soseki as the title fascinated me. It was the beginning of my exam of Japanese literature and read “KOKORO (heart or spirit)” too and I left my hometown where I could enjoy warm sunshine and pleasant breeze and went to a University in Taipei to learn Japanese language.     The more I learn about the Meiji Era which NATUME Soseki lived and about a life in Taiwan which was full of social success and struggle for survive, the more I realized schooling-oriented society in Taiwan. The youth in Taiwan who study at a university in metropolis feel stress about not only high cost of living and bad residential environment but isolated human relations and social expectations also. The number of children who suffered from psychosomatic illness due to muggy climate in Taipei is quite a lot.    Recently TV drama titled “Children are not your possessions” which criticized society became a topic in Taiwan. I think such acceptable drama should be produced earlier. I grew up under the parent who were not concerned about social status and have been keeping strange feeling about educational system in school. Especially when I talk with the youth who comes from metropolis, has increased my awareness that the youth who grow up in utilitarian atmosphere in the society, live up to expectations of “love” by their parents and teachers. The youth are impatient thinking that “being personage” rather than “it is enjoyable to challenge”. Such common issue in the East Asian countries where academic histories are regarded highly should be pursued continuously hereafter in the field of education.    At the beginning of my doctoral course, new educational system which considered practical utility to be important like in the United States started together with promotion of national security alliances between Japan and the U.S. Exclusion movement of social sciences in Japan affected educational system in Taiwan. One of my colleagues who was translating Japanese contemporary novels confused saying that “what is the good of novels?” One junior of mine decided to be enrolled in go to a good college. But he felt frustrated about how he would be considered after taking doctor’s degree. The causes of his frustration are low birthrate in Japan, sharp drop of the post in universities and unstable employment. Tragedy or political failures follows. Unbalance ratio between demand and supply in the field of social science which came from increasing of the number of students of doctoral course, social looking down on the unemployed despite their high educational background, loss of self-identity of postgraduate students etc. I was feeling depressed after coming to Japan. I have been bullied through social media by my senior who came from Taiwan. When I said I would like to attend an academic conference, I was treated inadequately and rumors spread around the people among same field. When I shared my private living on Facebook, snide remarks were made. I was accused falsely saying I have disrupted the future of others. When I made my research presentation, I was told on through teacher. I was introduced to a male who was looking for marriage partner saying that it is difficult to find jobs for foreign students in Japan and Europe and a female should marry. I think they are in the “co-dependency” relations. Desire of others is own desire. The end justifies the means. They betray immediately when they have conflict of interests.        I recall “Hukai Kawa” which guided me to Japanese literatures. A hero in this novel made a long trip to India in search of meaning of life. I have been living in the life of unbelieving and uneasy human relations. I like to ask myself what shall I trust? My world of existence in Japan is quite different, blessed with nature. I was told this area was developed recently but my heart was calm surrounded by big and calm forest at the night before exam. I saw spiderweb was shining in gaslight near a bus stop. At bookstore, there was a section “enjoyable living with forest and birds”. On a clear day, parents and children relax running around fields and feeding fish and ducks. One of my junior studying graduates said jokingly “since many foreign students here purified by nature, they are all gentle and kind”. The reason why we feel relaxed when we read SAIGYO and BASHOU is we travel with SAIGYO and BASHOU in our hearts.By the way, before studying Japanese literature I heard people go travel when heartbroken.I wonder why? In Taiwan, when they are heartbroken, they go to drink or for songs. The world of Japanese culture which I became familiar is too classy and its interesting generation gap among parents and brothers.    SGRA Kawaraban 676 in Japanese (Original)  WU_Ching-wen/2020 Raccoon, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature at National Taiwan University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Slow Living”

     I will start this essay with the surprises that I experienced in Japan as a student studying abroad. I lived in Beijing first and then moved to Tokyo. It means that I moved from the capital of China to the capital of Japan. I was surprised at beautifulness of Tokyo. And it is a safe city. Particularly I was surprised with the politeness and quick response of the   restaurants. Waiters brought me water immediately when sat at a table and it was always iced water. (It took some time for me to get habituated to take cold iced water as being from China.) When I was ready to place an order, waiter would immediately come to take one before I call him. He takes good care of customers and moves around kitchen and table inside. The response remains the same if I order food of Yen 500 only. I thought within “you don’t need to do so much”. I do not care whether a glass of water is cold or not and do not even care also to be left alone. Is it the only me who comes from China and is surrounded by unfriendly waiters?  As the time passes in Japan, I began to have a feeling that even Japanese feels “hard to live” in such peaceful country where everything is perfect.  I was vaguely aware before the pandemic that everybody moved around expressionlessly as if they were chased by something. They could not enjoy peaceful life and were deprived of freedom of moving around the street by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Foreign tourists disappeared and “Mask Police” appeared. They tell each other not to go out without mask or and to citizens who do not cover their noses by mask. It is a shame that people in Japan made their society hard to live by themselves.  I think they can live their life more casually. It will be OK for you, as far as you wear mask and sterilize your hands even if others do not. It would be hygienic enough if you compare with other countries. I remember one of my fellow international students from India told me that he had a feeling that Japan is the most beautiful in the world after returning from academic conference from other counties and his home country. I think Japanese in Japan made their society harder (to live) and hard by themselves.    There is one Japanese who raised the question, why it is so hard to live in Japan? His name is WAKASHIN Yujun. He is the Manager of Company and a Specially Appointed Associate Professor of KEIO University. He pointed out that people in Japan seek “correctness” too much and make themselves harder to live. When people enter restaurant, waiter serve cold water. It is “correct” and common sense in Japan. It is very convincing for me. Now in Japan, everybody wears mask when going out. “Mask Police” came from the reason, why Japanese seek correctness too much. There is no sign to stop seeking for correctness and the society becomes harder to live.    I think it better to change the society which seek “correctness” more.For example, it is quite common not only in China but in Europe and America that, trains delay sometime. There are no announcements made on how long the trains will delay and passengers do not care. In Japan, however, there is an announcement made on how long the train will delay even if the delay would be for a few minutes only. It will be a kind information for passengers who are waiting. I am used to wait in other countries but in Japan and I have a question why station attendants in Japan try so hard to excuse for the delay. I think the stress of station attendants or companies might be relieved if the number of announcements will decrease. The most important thing for passengers is that they should not care if there would be a few minutes delay. Five minutes will pass quickly if you watch the phone while you wait for the train.  Prof. WAKASHIN is researching the communication between people and organizations and likes to establish “allowable society” in the end. He suggests such society that can allow the mistake of consumers by relaxing standards of their daily life.  I agree that we can live our lives in the society more relaxed by allowing others. Such thinking is “effective” in other countries than Japan and it is “necessary” in Japan.  The future of Japanese society will be possible to be bright as far as there would be the people who like to change, and not running away, from the present “hard life”. I do not care to be served lukewarm water or served foods with water at the same time.  SGRA Kawaraban 673 in Japanese (Original)  XIE Zhihai / Associated Professor at Kyoai Gakuen University    Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YU Ning “The unpredictable journey that leads me to Japanese Language”

     I was often asked about the reason why I started studying Japanese. Perhaps it was my destiny to enter the Department of Japanese language, even though it wasn’t my original intention. Or perhaps it might have originated from my mother’s love of YAMAGUCHI Momoe and MIURA Tomokazu.   I did not initially choose “Japanese language” when I was filling out my university application, because I had no intention to major in foreign language. But there was a question in application form that says, “Do you still intent to enter the University, even if the major you desire is unavailable to you?” and I answered yes. I was accepted to the university of my choice, Nanjing University. But unfortunately, I couldn’t get into the major that I wanted. I was instead made to change into Japanese Language major, which was still available for enrollment at that time. I thought about taking a year off, because this switch was quite unanticipated. But it was my mother who encouraged me to enroll in Japanese Language course. She even joked, “when you learned how to speak Japanese, you can take me to Japan, and even interpret for me when I meet Momoe and Tomokazu.” My mother has been a big fan of Japanese movies since her young days in the 80s. During that time, a lot of Japanese movies were imported to China. A lot of Chinese, including my mother, became fascinated by the actors in these Japanese movies. As a result, I would hear about these movie stars’ names over and over again during my childhood. So even though I had no clear idea what I would do by studying Japanese language, at least, in my mind, it might be helpful someday when my mother gets to meet these movie stars. Once I started to learn Japanese, I found myself enjoying language study more than I expected. The more I learned about Japan, the more I was drawn toward Japanese culture. I was grateful to have enrolled into Japanese language major despite not being my first choice. When I was a junior in university, I accepted the invitation from Japan-China Friendship Association to homestay for a week in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture. It was my first visit to Japan. I stayed with a Japanese family, and got to participate in the local town festival too. It was a valuable experience for me to learn about Japanese culture in such intimate way. It made me realized the limitations of learning only from textbook, and as a result, I decided to continue my post-grad education in Japan. Despite having decided to come to Japan, I had a hard time choosing which field of research I should advance. Some of my classmates majored in Japanese language because of their love for anime or Japanese idols, but I had a hard time searching for a field of study that I would be passionate about. At that time, Soushoku-Kei Danshi, or “Herbivorous men” in English, had become the hot topic in Japan and China. Someone in my class joked with me by calling me such term, and through this exchange, I got myself very interested in “Gender study”. Just as I had this realization, I coincidentally crossed path with a lecturer, who was presenting movie analysis from the gender viewpoint, at the annual intensive joint course held by Nanjing University and University of Tokyo. Instantly I made the decision to major in gender theory and film studies, and that lecturer would later become my current academic supervisor. I finished my undergraduate thesis under the title “Herbivorous men” and was subsequently accepted to post-graduate program in Tokyo University, which I am still continuing currently. Every time I was asked about the reason why I came to Japan, I get a renewed understanding of how I get to where I am was the result of series of unpredictable occasion. These unplanned events changed my life course beyond my expectation. Even though these paths were not my initial choices, I believe I am heading the right way. Amidst all the unpredictability, I am grateful to my mother for pushing me toward taking this path. Someday, I would like to bring her to Japan to enjoy the sceneries she once saw in movies. And if by a miraculous chance we get to meet YAMAGUCHI Momoe and MIURA Tomokazu, I would try my best to be the prefect interpreter for her, and convey her love and admiration to the couple as clear as possible.  SGRA Kawaraban 672 in Japanese (Original)  YU Ning / 2020 Raccoon, Researcher of Gender Research Center at International Christian University