SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

  • Mardan Nurmuhammat “My experience of studying abroad in Japan.”

     I am a Uyghur and I come from East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), where is 4,348 Km away from Japan in fair distance. When I was a child, I had great impression about Japanese advanced knowledge and technology because of the popularity of Japanese home appliances and automobiles among us. Furthermore, my interest in Japanese manga and animation which started form elementary school had deepened my impression of Japan and Japanese culture.  We, living in the areas where is the furthest region from the sea in the world, know the world better by expansion of internet at the late 1990s. Since as a young kid in high school, I have had a dream to be a good doctor. And I realized that in order to achieve my dream, I have to learn top and advanced knowledge in medicine, which is the major reason why I chose to study medicine in Japan eventually. Because Japan is widely known by its advanced knowledge and technology not only in the manufacturing and production, but also in medical science. It was the year 2015 that I made my first step to achieve my dream.   I would say that my school life from the school of Japanese language to graduate school in medicine and my <semi-worker life> as a part-timer was overall quite enjoyable. And my imagination about Japan before I came here was mostly same. For example, how beautiful and developed country Japan is. And the manner of Japanese people. I can say that Japanese is the politest people regarding social manner and relationship in the world as far as I know. I was impressed by their attitude of honesty and conscious. The typical Japanese Yamato race as expected, What a people!  Of course, there was a little discrepancy as well. For example, before I came to Japan, I was told that Japanese love readings and they read books and newspapers in trains. Then I found that just only few people still do it especially elderly people. The young people mostly have stick to smartphone instead of readings as imagine.  What surprised me most is the decreasing rate of marriage and population in Japan. It seems the young do not care about their marriages so that population keep dropping. I wonder what would be the Japanese population in 50 years? And this made me worried about existence of this remarkable nation.  During my life in Japan, I have faced many barriers and difficulties such as culture, language as imaginable. And I knew that I have to overcome those difficulties, which I had been prepared to be faced to as a foreign student. I did my best to turn these difficulties and feeling of loneliness to my motivation to learn and accumulate experience. Just like the saying < Endeavor never betray>, from school and part-timer life, I have learned not only about my major knowledge in medicine and also Japanese culture. I also made some Japanese friends during the part-time job. Fortunately, I got my scholarship after trying for several times. Then I stopped doing part-time job and I was able to dedicate my all effort and time to my studies and other activities. I would say that the scholarship gave me opportunity to enjoy my school life more and helped me to finish my Graduate school smoothly.   The best impression I have in my six year’s life of studying aboard in Japan that when you encounter any difficulties, the most important thing is try your best, attain your effort and face it bravely, rather than give up or escape easily. Things do not always work out as we expected. If we could compensate every shortcoming and defect that we had this time, we would be able to do anything next time.  My advice to those who are thinking to study abroad, you may encounter various difficulties in the beginning, such as language, culture, economic even emotional difficulties. But do not give up. If you overcome those difficulties, such experience would become your treasure of life.Try your best! Do not forget your goal.    SGRA Kawaraban 671 in Japanese (Original)  Mardan Nurmuhammat: 2020 Raccoon, The Uyghurs, Graduate School of Medicine, Juntendo University 
  • CHO Sojin Meaning of my studying “Zenkyoto” (All-Campus Joint Struggle League)

     I have always concentrated on majoring in “Japanology” since my undergraduate. It all started when I heard about J-POP in my second year of junior high-school. And I was interested in Japanese culture. I could not catch the meaning of the words of songs, but I was enchanted by its special atmosphere which was different from Korea and started learning Japanese language by self-educating as watching Japanese movies and dramas. When I entered high school, I chose Japanese language as an elective course because I did not want my passion to learn Japanese language remain just as a hobby. I made up my mind to major in “Japanology” when I would be enrolled at a university. I have grown up from a   junior high school student to a university student who have majored in Japanology just listening to J-POP.  When I was an exchange student during my undergraduate period in Tokyo, I could encounter actual “Japan” which I only imagined in my head and wanted to study more about “Japan” at graduate school rather than finding an employment in Korea. As a result, I have encountered “Zenkyoto” (All-Campus Joint Struggle League) which include history of student movement and social movement.  It was the time when I knew a word “Zenkyoto” at a seminar of graduate school in Korea.  Theme of seminar was “Japan in 1960s” which was unknown to me. I remember I studied Japanese history at the course “Japanese early and postmodern history” in earnest at my undergraduate age. But I did not learn the history of 1960s. Framework of “Postwar Japanese History” was fixed to until 1950s. Japan in 1960s was explained as “Politics’ Season” and I had an impression that it was succession of various events. I thought Japan in 1960s was only “past” news which were broadcasted hotly rather than “history” which were stated stiffly. Students who lived in 1960s were distressed in society and Japan started getting problems from their universities. In order to express their opinions, they raised objection in form of struggling and I was interested in such points.  “Zenkyoto” movement, which occurred in the later part of 1960s successively in universities in Japan, interested me.  Above all, Zenkyoyo in Nihon University interested me the most. It differed from that of the University of Tokyo which belonged to the left-wing series. Students in Nihon University were prohibited to assemble and could not have usual student movements and were very naïve in politics. It is said that they did not know strategy nor tactics of the movement.  Despite of such situation, the happening of unaccounted expenditure amounting 2 billion yen by the board of directors triggered Zenkyoto of Nihon University and established their own style which was apart from “sect-like” correspondence.  A series of their struggle triggered “Student Power” correspond to “the year of 1968” from appearance of unimaginable “mass”-like existence. The struggle became bigger in its scale and was evaluated as “the barricades of Nihon University are the strongest in the world”. Fresh passion in their behavior were pass on clearly to me who live in the present.  “It is interesting!” I thought it was interesting because we cannot find such passion in present Japan at all which is equal to that of Zenkyoto of Nihon University.  Starting with the Japan-US Security Treaty in 1960, student movements were activated in earnest. Zenkyoto movement put an end to the voluntary function of “the youth” or “students” who voiced the democracy. Youths grew up to be adults and students became members of society and formed the generation which could share the memory of experiences of struggles in 1960.  We can say that they have looked back upon the memory of “the year 1960”as their “nostalgy”.  However, present youths have just conventional image on such memory and it is difficult for them to share sympathy. I think it is causing so-called “generation gap”. Moreover, it may be the reason why they were extinguished from communication among generations because they were labeled as “baby boom generation” or “Zenkyoto generation” through media.   Under such circumstances, I think it is important for the present youth to have contemporaneousness same as generation youth inputting the background and values of “the year 1968”. They can imagine and “understand” the things at that time although they may not be able to “remember”. I think it is necessary for them to practice converting their paradigm gradually having sympathy for their framework of “study” “young” and “students”.  SGRA Kawaraban 670 in Japanese (Original)  CHO Sojin / 2020 Raccoon, Graduate School of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies,   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • LIU Yichen Difficulty of Dialogue; the Movie “OUR YOUTH in TAIWAN”

     2020 was the year of big change under the COVID-19. Fate meant for me to join as subtitles translation team of the movie “Our Youth in Taiwan” which was written from book by Film Director FU Yue. I watched the movie and read the book repeatedly to confirm my translation in my inconvenient daily life amid COVID-19. In order to explain to Japanese audiences, I checked its historical background and terminology despite being written in my mother tongue. I realized strongly that there are different viewpoints of Taiwanese recent social situation and its changes which Director FU, editors and myself belonged to the same generation and experienced together.  The documentary movie “Our Youth in Taiwan” starts with monologue by Director Fu which look back the “Sunflower Student Movement” (2014). And the emotions and conflicts of Mr. CHEN Waytien, the leading role of the Movement and TSAI Boye, Chinese student from Taiwan has written about movement. At the final scene Director Fu himself confessed and exposed his contradiction and ineffectuality in front of Mr. Chen and Mr. Tsai.  When Japanese people would see posters and the title of the movie, they may misunderstand that the movie is a success story of the social movement in Taiwan. But the story would disappoint them. Heroine in the movie becomes an iconic character and is drawn as despaired as it is. Director Fu himself felt “wavering” strongly being bewildered or betrayed by those two heroes. His bewilderment was presented into a documentary film.  “Social movement” is not the one which sets an expectation on a hero. We came to know the meaning of “social movement” through this documentary film and we understand things by our actions which throw ourselves out. Movement is not the one with which we ask its promotion. Reflection and action which follow the movement cause to a real change. However, it is not simple to make changes.  Taking a chance when I was a member of the translation team, I read his writings. And I thought variously. I was touched by his repeated saying: “If we like to move forward, we have to start from our consciousness that we were damaged. In Taiwan, a lot of people were damaged, excluded and delineated by themselves because of the present political situation and historical background. We faced a congenital problem for our position, we had a feeling for what you said were distorted and could not reach mutual understanding with a person close to you.”    Taiwan has experienced the martial law for the period of 38 years, which is the longest in the world under Japanese rule age, National Liberation(祖国光復) and the age of authoritarian regime under the Nationalist Party. During this period, “White Terror” were rampant. The Government arrested and executed people, who criticized the current situation of affairs, by reason of anti-communism. At the same time, we experienced diplomatic loneliness after 1970s. Democratization movement in Taiwan built its foundation from the social movement against the anti-establishment. In 1986, we had substantial election under the newly formed anti-establishment party. We took the first step to our democratization.  Adding to democratization, the movement for labor, environmental preservation and women  heightened. However, whenever we had elections, both parties, the Blue Camp (Taiwan Nationalist Party) and the Green Camp (Democratic Progressive Party), repeated controversy for Taiwan ideology. A subject of Taiwan identity was taken up and emphasized very often and it became a reason of quarrelling among friends or family. Taiwanese who came from different hometown were hurt and damaged repeatedly. Confusion and difficulty of interaction became more difficult.  When we talk about ideology, we are labelled for being it sometimes. Such labelling is not limited in Taiwan. People who live in foreign countries experience it very often. It may be a good chance to solve a question of twined emotion or perspective if you pursue reasons why you think so? why you understand so? what is your background of your such thinking? and what kind of factor affects you?    In the process of translation work, we got a recommendation letter from IT Minister of Taiwan Andrew Tang. There was a word “公共事務“ (in English “Public Affairs”) which annoyed translation team. We could not find suitable translation in Japanese. It means non-government people or organizations participate in politics and involved in administration. But we could not find suitable conception in Japanese. It gave Japanese staff members impact. We struggled to confirm the meaning and find suitable translation. We acknowledged first the difference of structure of social system in Japan and Taiwan.      We mastered that it is not so easy to realize, acknowledge, understand and convey the difference to each other before we try to find points in common. In the circumstance of translation of caption, reading books by Director Fu and participation to translation team, such experience was the best present to myself.      SGRA Kawaraban 669 in Japanese (Original)  LIU Yichen /2020 Raccoon, Tokyo Institute of Language,   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala  
  • CHEN Yan SGRA-V Café #15 “Demon Slayer”

     We had the 15th SGRA-V Café on March 20 (Saturday 2021) amid COVID-19 pandemic.All the audiences attended the Café “on-line”, using “simultaneous interpretation and translation” in three languages Japanese, Chinese and Korean. We tried working diversely  for both COVID-19 and possibilities of on-line at the stage of planning, preparation and operation. I think we could satisfy more than 200 participants from all over the world, as “Webinar (web seminar)” by aggressive participation of viewers and efforts of SGRA staff members.  There is a small scale story behind setting of the theme of the Café. I have been thinking to take up a subject “animation” since 2019 when we had SGRA China Forum in Beijing on the theme “movies in Japan and China”. I asked Professor Eiji Ohtsuka (International Research Center for Japanese Studies) to attend the China Forum and talk about “media mix” which is said to be a characteristic of Japanese Manga-Anime Industry. The response was so good, I thought to take up any theme regarding animation at SGRA Café in Tokyo. Firstly, I planned to take up the subject “Research on animation culture” but I could not find “entry(entrance)” to animation research. Although the history of research for animation culture is not old, the way the animation should be is changing rapidly together with the development of the mass media. And the other reason not to find “entry” was too many phenomena of writers, works and era (times) surprisingly.  When I was worrying, there happened to be a much-discussed work “Demon Slayer (Kimetuno Yaiba)”! Its box-office revenue became the top successive ranking outstanding “Spirited Away” (Sen and Chihiro’s Spiriting Away). “Demon Slayer” attracted attention of not only fans of its original story but fans of animation in the world and also from people who had no interest in animation. I asked Professor Nobuyuki Tsugata (Animation researcher, Associate Professor Faculty of Manga, Kyoto Seika University) immediately to give a lecture on the title “Cultural Power of Japanese animation from the viewpoint of “Demon Slayer””. Since his books were translated into Chinese and Korean language. Coincidentally, Professor Tsugata was the most suitable guest as a guest speaker for “Webinar ” which had simultaneous interpretation in three languages.  We prepared slides in three languages and webinars comments on Q&A were also interpreted simultaneously by SGRA Raccoons on-line. SGRA Café started by introduction of Atsumi International Foundation and SGRA by Mr. Sangryul JEON (2016 Raccoon). I introduced Professor Nobuyuki Tsugata and I thank them for such special consideration by organizers of the Café.  Professor Tsugata started his lecture with the analysis of the reason why “Demon Slayer” became a big hit and explained its real image. According to his explanation, “Demon Slayer” was cinematized only for the fun of the original story first. (Cinematize of original story has been established in Japanese animation field since long ago.)  And nobody has imagined such the biggest hit which involved ordinal people. Producer Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli said   10 billion yen of box-office revenue is within the ability of the works. But more than 10 billion yen would be the social phenomenon. Many specialists analyzed the reasons for such “social phenomenon” and Mr. T. Suzuki pointed out two reasons which cannot be disregarded. One is “Demon Slayer” was screened at a vacant time of movie theatres which came from the postponement of releasing movies under the pandemic of COVID-19. There were unusual situations that “Demon Slayer” was screened at every fifteen minutes at four screens of a certain movie theatre.  The other reason: Beautifulness of screen and a story-telling is a piece of art of “Demon Slayer” satisfied fans who went to theatres at beginning stages and the box-office revenue resulted in exceeding 10 billion yen in ten days. And people, who did not go to theaters, thought “Let us go if it has so good reputation” by spreading big through mouth of fans. Such “synergistic effect” resulted in “the all-time top of box-office revenue”. Incidentally, there was a word “Total Concentration: Constant” (Zen Shuuchu) in Demon Slayer and this word is being used in the real world. According to Professor Tsugata, Prime Minister Suga used this word in the Diet. (cf. Prime Minister Suga replied with “Total Concentration; Constant” at the Budget Committee of the lower house of the Diet on November 2, 2020 replying to Mr. Kenji Eda, Acting Leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan)  Then, where should we place the “Demon Slayer” phenomenon in Japanese animation history? Professor Tsugata analyzed its appealing points of “Demon Slayer” following the history of Japanese animations since 1960s.  TV series “Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom)” in 1963, has established “Characteristics” and “Traditions” of Japanese animation after “Legend of the White Snake” (Hakujaden)” which was the postwar first and most famous animation film. The pattern where one story was broadcasted in thirty minutes a week was fixed. There were few TV animations at that time in the world. Even in preceding America, one story was only five to ten minutes and the contents were just short “gag” at most. On the other hand, Japanese animation could depict affection of characters richly taking thirty minutes for one story. A lot of TV animationsare produced now and the pattern thirty minutes for one story has fixed since then.  In 1970s, “Space Battleship Yamato” (1974) and “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979) established a rare genre which valued sophisticated stories and psychological description of characters for “young adult” not for children. It was the time when “theatre version” of TV animation were produced basing on animated feature film of popular works in TV. Popular MANGA (carton) stories are animated in TV first and produced theatre version followingly. Such production style has been fixed and became staple as the new genre and interrelated to “Demon Slayer”.     Animation industry in 1980s went into the golden days by producing series of MANGA in “Weekly Shonen Jump”. “Dragon Ball”, “SLAM Dunk”, “YuYu Hakusho” and “SAMURA X (Rurono Kenshi)” established various boom. It was in 1980s the activities of Studio Ghibli went into full swing. The series of such works by Director Miyazaki Hayao, “Naucica of the Valley of the Wind” (1984), “Castle of in the Sky” (1986), “My Neighbor Totoro”(1988) etc., also attracted attention of the people who were not interested in animation.  After 1990s, both production style of original popular animation and animation movies by Studio Ghibli developed independently. In addition to those two styles, technology of digitalization in production of animation developed in Japan.     Professor Tsugata concluded “originality” and “cultural power” of Japanese animation after marshaling its history as follows: Japanese animation has diversification and aims for young adults. It developed on2D (2 dimension) digital, not on3D(3dimention computer graphic).It caused to the social phenomenon of the world as it was dispatched as a new Japanese culture where Japanese animation were set in and introduced and also Japanese foods which were used in the film became popular.    As Part-2 after the lecture meeting which had a plenty of topics to discuss and we talked with Professor Tsugata about three topics. I, as an interviewer, asked him first about the “Demon Slayer” movie which was not explained precisely in his lecture. The hero in the movie, “growth speed is slow” and “week relatively” comparing with original story. He said there wasn’t big difference and explained that hero is being expressed emphasizing his growth just as a tradition of Japanese animation. I asked him “Who shall watch Japanese animations hereafter?” and “Will diversification of audiences affect Japanese animation?”His reply was that Japanese animation should be planned and produced toward the world on the assumption that the number of audiences in the world will be increasing.  I asked Professor Tsugata as the last question difference between “ANIME” and “animation”which was the point of issue in his Research. He explained difference between commercialized “anime” and artistic “animation” or classification by “for family” and “for adults” or difference of definition of words depending on production style or areas etc. For example, in America or Europe, “pokemon” on family shelves, “Ghibli” is “ANIME” and Disney is “animation” etc.In China, there are words “動画”(douga)and “動漫“(douman). He insisted we understand such differences by analysis of vicissitudes in the cultures of the areas.  In Part3 of the Café, we had questions and answers. Ms. Sonya Dale (2012 Raccoon) picked up several typical questions. Professor Tsugata and I made answers for the questions “Progress of Japanese Anime in overseas”, “starting point of animation research” and “expression for violence in Japanese”.  On-line SGRA Café using “simultaneous interpreters and translators” by three languages finished. SGRA is aiming at the Café “by four languages including English” to dispatch more globally. I am looking forward to up surging of webinars.    SGRA NEWS ( Report of the 15th SGRA Café) in Japanese (original)  Photos of the Day  Recording of the Day  CHEN Yan / 2017 Raccoon, Full-Time Lecturer of Faculty of MANGA(cartoon), Kyoto Seika University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • XIE Zhihai “Hate Crime against Asian American”

     Pestering against Asian American is never ending. But in Japan, it is not regarded as important. America on March 30 President Biden announced to take additional action for discrimination and violence against Asian American. On March 31, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said at press conference “Japanese Government is not in the position to comment on every American policy. But we are in the position that any racial discrimination is not allowed in a society. We watch every situation through the Embassy or Consulate General and strive for keeping safety of Japanese residents.  Discrimination against Asian people are reported often on TV. I saw a news video which was sent from America. In the street corner of Manhattan, New York an Asian lady was kicked by a white man and crouched down. Another white man who saw the lady from inside of the shop shut the door as if to say that “don’t ask help”. It seems there is no mercy. A victim was 65- year-old Philippine lady. It was a violence being said that you shall not be here”.  Last year I had downhearted feeling to know that Asian people became a target of discrimination in America before healing from murder of a black man (George Floyd) who was crushed to death by a policeman in Minnesota. Asian people in America are prepared taking care of COVID-19 and as well as discrimination. I think I am happy living in Japan. All the Asian people, who live in the area except America should understand the situation furthermore Asian people living with us being frightened toward discrimination and violence.    America takes quick action when something happens. Several faculties who study racism at the State University of San Francisco launched jointly a site “STOP AAPL (Asian American Pacific Islanders) HATE”. They tallied data of discrimination against Asian people in America. According to the data, the number of hate crime against Asian people in 2020 increased  2.5times comparatively to the year 2019. It became distinct that victims of discrimination and violence are Asian old man and ladies too.  Another hate crime which is fresh in my memory is a shooting by a white man in Atlanta, Georgia a little while ago, when a senior Asian lady was kicked in New York. Six victims out of eight who were shot to death were Asian ladies. Furthermore, it left an unpleasant aftertaste because a press officer made a statement which seems to have protected prisoner and deprecated Asian ladies. President Biden and Vice President Harris went to Atlanta to convey their condolences to victims. Those two mishaps were made in March and President Biden made decisions to strengthen protection of Asian Americans immediately.         It was March when Japanese Consulate General in America sent an E-mail. The mail was their residence reports to Consulate under title “Reminder of harassment for Asian people”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan is grasping such situation precisely and informed to Japan discrimination is becoming more serious in America. Yes, we are all Asian.  It is said that origin of discrimination against Asian people was the word “China Virus” which Ex-President Trump used for the corona virus repeatedly. We can say President Biden cleared up the mess by Trump. But he did not postpone the issue of Asian people. Asian people themselves demonstrated for eradication of the “hate crime” and shared the position that they report together when the hate crime happened. I think it important not only to report videos by security camera of Asian citizens who fell victims of discriminations but how they face discrimination also. We should report to America that Chinese who live in Japan, like me, do not encounter such discrimination by reason of COVID-19.   SGRA Kawaraban 668 in Japanese (Original)  XIE Zhihai / Associated Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUN Jaeun “Myanmar and Democracy in S. Korea and Asian countries”

     South Korea maintains a democratic relation with other countries. They put priority on the domestic situation and were democratized finally in 1990s. They had a sense of wariness towards the support of democratization by European countries and especially America. When South Korea was under Dictatorship, United States was pessimistic for their democratization the reason of the Cold War and there happened so-called “Korean Gate” when President Park Chung-hee threw money around the United States Parliament to conceal his oppression of human right. Due to the raised situation, they had strong recognition so South Korea got democratization “autogenously” without any external factors.  There is an exception the Myanmar issue. Myanmar has the largest certified number of refugees in few years.  South Korea, same as Japan is understood to be gloomy for the refugee problem. Refugee Certification Rate in South Korea and Japan is 0.4%. It was the year 1997 that branch office of National League for Democracy (NLD) (lead by Aung San Suu Kyi) was established in South Korea and Kim Dae-jung was elected as the President in 1997 supported Aung San Suu Kyi who competed against military dictatorship in International Society. Kim Dae-jung wrote in his autobiography about his special attention.  Under such scene South Korea could not neglect the coup by the Myanmar military at the beginning of 2021. News about oppression against demonstrators by the army were broadcasted in South Korea very often and the Moon Jae-in Administration took actions during March consecutively. Moon Jae-in himself appealed in SNS on March 6 “I denounce violence by the Myanmar army and police and ask release of National Adviser Aung San Suu Kyi and the imprisoned”. On March 12, he imposed export embargo of military supplies against Myanmar army and suggested review of the Official Development Assistance (ODA). South Korea was evaluated to have changed repressively because they had given the ODA assistance to Myanmar on a scale of about $90 million in 2019.  South Korea has refrained commenting on minorities (Uyghurs and Tibet) in China and Hong Kong. As concerned the human rights question in North Korea each administration reacted oppositely. Those questions shall not be handled from viewpoints of “human rights or value” but they are linked with basic foreign policy in other word “the national interests”. Japan criticized China at “the United Nations Security Council (2 +2)“, but they did not follow the sanctions toward China by European Union and America. In Myanmar, correspondence by the Korean Government is evaluated in its own way. There are few comments which asked for the support of the Korean Government and people from Myanmar tweeted on Twitter and Facebook.  Myanmar students in Japan appealed necessity support to Japanese people on the radio program referring to South Korea on March 16. But reaction from Japanese society was lukewarm regrettably comparing the China issue which is intertwined with usual anti-China feelings. I had uncomfortable feelings toward the broadcast done in Japan. On March 2, NHK conveyed expression about Myanmar people in Japan under the title “Very sorry for our demonstration amid COVID-19”. There were demonstrations by Myanmar people in Korea too, but I have never seen such a title like in Japan. Demonstration amid COVID-19 is not prohibited in Japan. (In Korea, there is a limit in the number of demonstrators.) Myanmar students who appeared in radio program in Japan were shocked when they knew the criticism written (they should not have demonstrated) in the comments in Netnews.          There are international organizations for human rights in Europe. But there is no such organization in Asia and the number of countries who has democracy is limited. It is not easy for democratic countries in Asia to raise their voices jointly for human rights. As seen in China and North Korea, their national security and interests are intertwined complicatedly. As many people know, it was Japan among advanced countries that lifted economic sanctions first against China after the Tiananmen Square Protest. It is said that there was consideration for economy and historical issues. I do not think it effects as far as they put priority on economics when they support for democracy. In Cambodia where Japan is assisting positively since 1990s, Prime Minister Hun Sen established dictatorship Government. It is far from democratic country. In Myanmar, we can see news reports “Japan asked self-restraint because Japan has connection with army too”. But Japan did not take any substantial measures.  Any assistance for democratic accompanies “intervention in the domestic affairs”. Under the authoritarianism, some counties are increasing their control over citizens taking opportunity of COVID-19. It is an important subject for Japan and South Korea as, both being democratic countries need to ask themselves “what is the function of democratic countries?” and “how to play a role?” Although we have no choice but to be skeptical, we can cooperate and  considering present tragic situation in Asia.  SGRA Kawaraban 667 in Japanese (Original)  YUN Jaeun / 2020 Raccoon, Associated Lecturer of Hitotsubashi University Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • YUN Jaeun “Victoria Peak in Fog”

     For the people in South Korea, Hong Kong was the only “advanced area” where culture was permissible to import up to the decade of 1990s. Japanese cultures especially video contents were prohibited to import, a lot of movies which were set in Hong Kong were accepted as longings in South Korea. Hong Kong movies were popular and captured hearts of Korean people especially in Chinese New Year and the O-bon period. As Hong Kong has been colony of United Kingdom, various races of people appeared in movies and created exoticism. Movies by Wong Kar Wei (film director), who took the world in 1990s created a cultural sensation. Hong Kong was “Symbol of Freedom” for Korean society which has just democratized.  Hong Kong is intricate from Korean viewpoints. Hong Kong was “victim of Imperialism” and is suppressed by authoritarianism even now. South Korea had the same experiences (colony and dictatorship) as Hong Kong but South Korea broke free from them. Because of this, I think I can talk about Hong Kong more objectively than the media in Europe and America.  In China, Hong Kong is said to be a symbol of “humiliation for a hundred years” by colonialization of the imperialism by United Kingdom. (It is said that it was after 1990s that the Mainland China attracted their attention to Hong Kong) United Kingdom (suzerain) gave freedom to a certain level to Hong Kong people. But they did not guarantee democratic right i.e. voting rights until 1980s. In 1980s, negotiation between U.K. and China for retrocession started.  U.K. began to introduce new election system and the last Governor General Chris Patten, had to hasten introduction of new election systems compulsively. It is inevitable that U.K. is not so “serious” about democratization of Hong Kong. The aspect is not paid attention when we think of the present Hong Kong. especially in the media of Europe and America. As a result of negotiation for retrocession, China agreed to guarantee democratic system “One country, Two systems” for fifty years. Then, is United Kingdom free from obligation of present Hong Kong?  I do not think so.  After the retrocession to China in 1997, there were several demonstrations on a massive scale in Hong Kong. Especially “Umbrella Movement” in Autumn 2014 drew attention from the world. I visited Hong Kong twice in 2013 and 2014. Business trip in 2013 which had no concern with Hong Kong politics and had an impression “it is so warm!”  And I had an impression that Hong Kong was not influenced by U.K.   My second business trip in November 2014 changed my way of looking toward Hong Kong. I listened to the opinion of the youngsters, though it had no relations with my business trip, but in order to know about Hong Kong youngsters more precisely. What noticeable was financial predicament of youngsters. There are three groups in the University of Hong Kong. Hongkongers, Main Landers and oversea students. It is said that finding employment by Hongkongers is difficult because they speak Cantonese and English only. Mainlanders are treated too kindly or generously by companies who comes from Mainland. Finding employment in financial business is yearning by Hongkongers. But it is a “Narrow Gate”. Finding employment in IT field is comparably easy. But salary is low. I realized that resistance by youngsters after 2010s is intertwined with economy problems not political problems.  Such youngsters’ dissatisfactions grew bigger but not resolved and they directed their ire toward amendment of law by Chinese Government conjointly. The Chinese Government took a wait-and-see policy first considering the Trump Administration. But they changed to tighten their regulation under the Corona pandemic. Students and entrepreneurs, symbol of democratization, were imprisoned one after another and nipped in the bud. Moreover, a bill “Representatives of Hong Kong shall be limited to Patriots” was enacted at the National People’s Congress this year. I think there are a lot of ways “How to love a country” and people love their countries variously.  Not only democracy but freedom, which have been protected under U.K. Administration, are in crisis now. It was a snug excuse for China under the COVID-19 pandemic in which worldwide support cannot reach.  In Korea, a lot of people (especially University students) were suppressed and some of them were killed by the Government till 1980s. Military dictatorship kept refusing intervention of NGO etc. by the reason of “interference in the domestic affairs”. There was a reversal composition. The Reagan Administration (U.S.A.) admitted Chun Doo-hwan Administration. University students developed anti-America movement shouting “Stop interference in the domestic affairs (admit dictatorship)!”.  Whenever I visit Hong Kong, I go to Victoria Peak which has beautiful nightscape every time. My last visit was during 2019 and it was just before a big demonstration. I could not see anything due to thick fog. For me, it was the first time to see such thick fog and I thought it symbolize the future of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a key for the future of democracy not only in China but in whole Asia also. We must keep watching Hong Kong.  SGRA Kawaraban 666 in Japanese (Original)  YUN Jaeun / 2020 Raccoon, Associated Lecturer at Hitotsubashi University   Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Franco SERENA “My Realm of Happiness”

     I cannot forget the time when I came to Japan first long ago. I was a homestay student. Although I was looking forward living in Japan before departure, but gloomy life started soon I arrived in Japan. I could not manage miserable life and remember well would often dream homeland during my stay in lodging house. I am still living in Japan since ages and I would like to encourage someone who comes to Japan saying that “You will get used to” or “Something will happen”. Not only such simple words, I advise them giving a word “You had better to have “a realm of happiness” in your mind which can make you feel happy a little.”   Reason why I began to touch Japanese culture and language was not what I was interested in. It was just for being disobedience against my family. During the time from my primary school to high school, I was making efforts just for expectations of my family and I was not curious about learning and working on school subject aimlessly. Everybody has a rebellious period. And I had such period as the first-year college student. I have been caught up in my will against expectations of my family and decided to study Japanese language and culture despite I had no interest in. When I arrived first in Japan, I realized I was not sensible of studying Japanese language and culture. It was just being rebelliousness against my family. Especially for Japanese culture, I had interest but was often misunderstood. I had a feeling being incomprehensive toward meaningless in what I had learned in University. I was discouraged and was thinking of retuning back to my home country.  It was a teacher of Japanese language that saved me. He had enough knowledge in Japanese traditional Arts, especially in KABUKI. One day, he invited me to go to KABUKI and made me upset. At that time, I had negative thinking for everything and felt depressed because I thought it too starchy or bookish and would be difficult to understand if I take a trouble to go to Ginza. However, as I was not good at refusing his invitation, I accepted reluctantly.  The moment when I entered KABUKI theater, I realized the KABUKI world was different from what I thought. Before starting the stage, the audience walked around stalls in the theater and read the overview of program. And the theater started. I realized the movement in KABUKI is not just deliver a performance or speaking strange Japanese language endlessly. But there were a lot of dynamic situations. It was beautiful and emotional. I found myself enthralled by their well-trained performance and words.Before I realize, five hours was already passed.    When the Theater ended, I was filled with a feeling of happiness. And I thought heartily that I like to understand Japan more which has KABUKI “My Realm of Happiness” which makes me forget a daily life. My way of looking at Japan had changed drastically. If I have “My Realm of Happiness”, I thought I can overcome everything even though if I had a difficulty facing problem. I decided to try my best to solve misunderstanding and not regret even if I would be misunderstood. It is not enough to say that KABUKI liberated me.  From such experience, I like to utter my memory that I can come up with any chance in motivation to commence. The possibility may come by chance or I grow my interest gradually. When I garb a chance, I can unroll the new road for my life. Sometimes such new road may be imprecise, it is not necessary to continue. It may not be wrong if I find “My Realm of Happiness” in it and I like to keep walking on this road.  Franco SERENA / 2019 Raccoon, part-time lecturer at University of Tsukuba  SGRA Kawaraban 665 in Japanese (Original)  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala 
  • LAI Sihyu “Drifting Raccoon”

     Raccoon, logo of Atsumi International Foundation, has been drawn by the late ATSUMI Takeo, Chairman of Kajima Corporation.  When I first saw the raccoon logo first, it reminded me of the Ghibli Movie “Battle of HEISEI PON-POKO Tanuki (raccoon)”. The movie is pure and naïve. But it had a marvelous reality too. In this movie, raccoons exerted themselves to live in a city having taken the shape of human beings at the final phase. When I came to Japan as an international student, it was the time I had finished my visit to France and America. When I put myself in a position of nonnative speaker, it makes me feel that I cannot keep myself as it is, despite I adapt to keep going my daily life. Even a raccoon which can take the shape of human being struggled in intercultural society. So, this movie made me determine that I, as an ordinary human being, have no choice to do my best to adapt myself to circumstances gradually.     When I came to Japan from Taiwan, one of my friends in Taipei told me “I am envious of you. People in Tokyo are modest and polite”. When I went to Paris, a friend of mine in Tokyo told me “You are lucky to go to Paris because Paris is romantic and poetic.” In America, each one told me “You are lucky to go to Boston. Students in Boston are bright and confident.” All of them are interested in whether the acquaintances whom I meet are reported in news or on the internet. May be, that they asked me based on articles on SNS.  Everything in my daily life was different from what I came to know by news or internet. Actual conversation with my friends were based on an event at hand or hometown and common contents of our study rather than political issues. I felt disagreeable in current trend that people like to know or understand outer world through social networking. Tokyo in internet is not the one which I know even Paris and Boston is also the same. Recently, I felt firmly that we need to discuss the topic not solely but in large area and look what people worry and think about.    We are forming our ego based on our experiences and as a result, we are living as a multifaced individual. I think difference in experiences of each person is more important than differences of nations and languages. If people have any prejudice based on social networking, they cannot develop real friendship in the external world.  I like to express my interest visiting to foreign countries and study for years as “understanding “friendship” and knowing each other, rather than just visiting “countries”. Because charity and warmth of people is apprehensive, rather than their economic and political development, and has influenced my memory deeply and devised present myself.    I trod many lands and studied various cultures there. Reason why I did not loose sight of myself is I was blessed with lot of friends who helped me kindly.      Since I had such state of minds, I had special affinity for the logo of raccoon of Atsumi International Foundation. Thanks to simultaneous scholarship students and staff members of the Foundation, I could spend this year of my life calmly and safely staring at myself.  During such days, I could sort out my knowledge of study for the few years and wisdom of my life. Now ending my scholarship in Japan, I will remain thankful and came to Tokyo through destiny and all the people who believed in me when I was depressed. Every experience in my life heighten a little seedling, training my heart strongly, absorbing all the nutrition, changing and trying experience into “Better Destiny”.      Scholarship students used to experience partings either long or short successively and I had a feeling of heartrending in the past. However, I think it should be congratulated willingly nowadays because every parting means taking a step forward. In this modern society, everybody (every raccoon), who is trying to live, is like walking on a lonely planet.  When you captivate yourself in walking single-mindedly, you realize advertently anybody, who live far apart and remembers you. Warmth which you feel in your mind in such occasion is a loneliness which is a relief.     SGRA Kawaraban 664 in Japanese (Original)  LAI Sihyu / Researcher of Academia Sinica (Taiwan)    Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala
  • Li Gang Zhe ”Taiwan, as an honor student in COVID-19 (Part-2)”

     How is Taiwan recognized as a “nation” in the world?  I would like to review its history first.Taiwan consists of the main island of Taiwan and the surrounding islands. The gross area is 36,000 km2 which is a little bit smaller than that of Kyushu area in Japan (44,000 km2). The population is 23.6millions (as of 2019). As Taiwan belongs to subtropical and tropical zone, temperature is high all the year round and is called “treasure island” which has plenty of tropical plants and fruits.  To begin with, there has been no such “Nation” like Taiwan historically. The official name of Taiwan is “Republic of China” (ROC). It was the first republic nation in the world which was established after Xinhai(辛亥) Revolution in 1912. In 1949 Taiwan Nationalist Party, which was defeated by the Communist Party, fled to Taiwan to keep their power in Taiwan.It means there are two nations in China.  We can see records of Taiwan in “Record of the Three Kingdom (三国志) and “The Book of Sui (隋書)”.  In the age of Yuan Dynasty (元代―Mongol Empire 13 -14th century)、Penghu Islands (澎湖諸島) have been under the control of inspecting officer (巡検司)of Fujian Province (福建省). In 16th century, a Portugal navigation officer had discovered Taiwan and named “Formosa” (means “beautiful island” in Portugal). In 17th century, the Age of Exploitation, Taiwan has been a colony of Holland (1624 to 1662). Manchurians established the Qing dynasty in North Eastern area of the Mainland and took the reins of Government having defeated the Ming dynasty. The general Zheng Cheggong (鄭成功) of the Ming dynasty fled from Qing and went across to Taiwan in 1661. He fought with Holland and expelled them. He established and governed the Donging Kingdom (東寧王国).  Qing defeated the Donging Kingdom in 1683 and annexed them for 210 years. However, Qing was defeated by Japan at the Sino-Japanese war in 1895 and concluded the “Treaty of Shimonoseki”. By this treaty, Taiwan was transferred to Japanese territory and Japan established the Government-General of Taiwan and governed for fifty years. During the period of Qing dynasty, a lot of Han race (Chinese people) went across to Taiwan from Fujian Province and aborigine assimilated to Han race. Present “Taiwanese” can be said to the same race as Chinese.  In August 1945, at the end of the World War II, Japan was defeated. Chiang Kai-shek (the President) requisitioned Taiwan under the agreement of the Allied and incorporated Taiwan into R.O.C. as Taiwan Province (Retrocession). At the time of establishment of the United Nation, ROC was the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council because ROC was a victorious country. ROC has been keeping its position at the time when it changed its HQ in Taiwan. In 1971, People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Mainland was admitted by the U.N. and became the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council instead of ROC which withdrew from U.N.  International society admitted ROC to be a part of PRC and proceed to normalization of diplomatic relations with PRC breaking off the relations with ROC.  Fortuitously Japan has established its diplomatic relations with PRC September 29, 1972. Although Japan broke off diplomatic relations with ROC, Japan have established “Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association” to keep relations with ROC instead. In the course of the year October 2020, the number of countries which had diplomatic relations with ROC was only fifteen and they are few small countries in the Middle and South America and the Vatican City State in Europe.     Chiang Chin-kuo, who succeeded Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, lifted the martial law in 1987 and resolved quasi-state of war with PRC. After the death of Chiang Chin-kuo in 1988, Lee Teng-hui (Taiwanese) succeeded the Presidency. He proceeded with change in the strong swell of democratization and became the first President elected by the people in 1996. In 2000, Democratic Progressive Party (mainly by Taiwanese) made a regime change having defeated People’s Party. In 2008, People’s Party regained power again through election. But, in 2016, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen, Democratic Progress Party won the election and became the first female President of Taiwan. In the last February, she was re-elected and has kept her position to the present.  In the progress of democratization in Taiwan, national identities are changing gradually from “Chinese” to “Taiwanese”. According to a public opinion poll by National Chengchi University in 1992, 17.6% of the people replied “I am Taiwanese”, 25.5% replied “Chinese” and 46.4% replied “Taiwanese at the same time Chinese”. At the poll in 2020, the figures changed to 67%, 2.4% and 27.5% accordingly. People’s Party, mainly by the people from the mainland, lowered their influences eventually and Taiwanese are soaring their consciousness and powers.  Democratic Progress Party have strong aspirations of independence from China and there have been feud, “independence” or “unification”, with the Mainland. At the time of People’s Party, they considered “One China” is important. But, at the time of Democratic Progress Party, they do not admit or have been keeping ambiguousness. Against such attitude,  Chinese Government established “Anti-Secession Law“in 2005. It means when Taiwan would declare their “independence”, Chinese Government are prepared to use the military force.  Under such political and military threat, Taiwan is maintaining the status quo.  After Taiwan had reopened exchange with the Mainland in 1990s, their relations came closer rapidly. In December 2008, scheduled flights between Taiwan and the Mainland entered service. Taiwan sightseeing by Mainlanders and “Three Linkages” were lifted. (cf. three linkages (三通): postal(通便), transportation(通航) and trade(通商)) ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement) was concluded at summit meeting in 2010 and FTA (Free Trade Agreement) was concluded. 40% of total export amount from Taiwan is towards the Mainland. Total numbers of Taiwan companies which advanced to the Mainland market is about 100thousands and 47.6% of Taiwanese investment amount to overseas is towards the Mainland during the period from January to November 2020. Population of Taiwanese in the Mainland is about one million. Total traffic people who go and come between Taiwan and Mainland a year is more than five million (2019). As to international marriage in Taiwan, 260 thousand people out of 400 thousand are with Mainlanders.  Taiwan economy rely on the Mainland too much. It means there is a risk that Taiwan is caught up in the Mainland economy and exploited politically. China utilizes such status in their “united front” maneuvering to pressurize Taiwan. For example, Minister of Culture and Tourism (China) announced on July 31, 2019 that individual visit to Taiwan from Chinese 47 cities shall be stopped after August temporarily. It is a pressure from the viewpoint of Taiwan.  On February 26, 2020, Chinese Government announced that import of Taiwan pineapple would be banned after March 1 because harmful organisms were detected. It made ado in Taiwan and the authorities reacted against it as political pressure. Ten percent of pineapple production in Taiwan is exported and 95% of this export is toward China. So, it is not influential to Taiwan farmers. Taiwan is promoting domestic sales of pineapple and trying to find other overseas markets other than the Mainland. When Taiwan get pressure from China, they repeated their dissatisfaction against Chinese Government and elevated “consciousness as Taiwanese”. It will be a challenge for Taiwan, how will they nether their dependence on the mainland in economy.  Recently there has been tension between Taiwan and China due to deterioration of relations between China and America. United States do not allow China to “swallow” Taiwan and are giving (selling) a lot of weapons to Taiwan every year on the basis of “Taiwan Relations Act” (in America). Now it is said that U. S. are selling not only defensive weapons but offensive weapons. (The amount in 2020 was $34.5billion dollars) The Trump administration strengthened the relations with Taiwan and the Biden administration followed.  Influx of massive Mainlanders and their bringing in of Chinese cultures (massive books and goods etc.) by Peoples Party have built their governing bases as legitimate Government. As a result, Chinese traditional culture such as Chinese buildings, Chinese foods and clothes, permeated deeply in Taiwan. People say, if you like to experience authentic Chinese traditional culture, you should go to Taiwan.  Many Taiwanese have intimacy to Japan and they are called as “Pro-Japan Tribe”.  According to a Taiwanese scholar, Taiwanese think basically that Japan rule age was better than that of by China because they had long experience being invaded or governed by foreign powers. The number of tourists from Taiwan to Japan increased to 4.89million in 2019. This figure is the third following the Mainland and South Korea. It means one Taiwanese out of five are enjoying visiting Japan. In Ishikawa Pref. where I am living, people have a feeling of “pro-Taiwan”.  There is a direct flight a day from Komatsu Airport to Taipei and it is said they will increase two flights a day.        SGRA Kawaraban 662 in Japanese (Original) * You can read the first part (Li Gang Zhe / Taiwan, as an honor student in COVID-19 (Part-1)) from the link below.Li Gang Zhe / Taiwan, as an honor student in COVID-19 (Part-1)  Li Gang Zhe / Professor, Hokuriku University  Translated by Kazuo KawamuraEnglish checked by Sabina Koirala