2017 General Election and Japan’s True Agenda

   General election will be held on October 22 in Japan. Calling a general election is the sole right of the prime minister.

  Prime minister Shinzo Abe asserted as the reason for calling general election as follows. Japan plans to increase consumption tax rate from the current level of 8% to 10% in October 2019. It is presumed that out of 2 percentage points of increase of consumption tax, 80% is to be used to reduce the outstanding government fiscal debt, and the rest is to be used to enrich social security and education. Prime minister Abe wishes to change this balance of using the increased tax revenue accruing from the 2 percentage point increase of tax rate. He means to spend greater proportion of increased tax revenue to enrich social security and education. Since he proposes to change the pattern of use of the increased tax revenue from the planned pattern, he would like to get agreement of people by general election.

   While his formal reasoning has a certain cause, his real reasons behind seem more or less evident. There are two reasons.

   The first is the reason to seek great victory by choosing a timing when the opposition party which just changed its top is not yet ready. Since the largest opposition party, Democratic Party of Japan, has just elected new head, Mr Seiji Maehara, at the end of August, and the party is not yet quite ready to act full-fledged way partly because of suffering from some problems as a scandal of prospective executive member, Mr. Abe judged it a nice timing to call a snap election to gain a larger turf for the parties in power, namely, Liberal Democratic Party(LDP) and Komei Party. And with this strengthened political basis, seeks to empower the drive to change the constitution, primarily to add the name of Self Defense Force along with the oft cited no war promise prescription of article 9.

The second  is the reason to recover sharply dropped popularity rate by the general election. The approval rate of Abe cabinet has been dropping sharply in recent few months. While Abe administration has been achieving appreciable results in major policy areas such as economic policies, international relations and security policies, its approval rate has been dropping sharply by a series of minor scandals such as providing special benefits to Mr. Abe and his wife’s close friends who are running schools, inappropriate expressions of some inexperienced cabinet members and scandals of some new members of LDP. While Japanese public do not appreciate or care about Mr. Abe’s contributions on major policies, they are very keen to individual and minor scandals. They are so curious to know whether Mr.Abe himself is involved in providing benefits to close friends which the cabinet has kept denying.

   On Sept 28, the first day of the new diet session, prime minister Abe declared at the beginning to dissolve the Diet without having any policy speech nor debate, the action which is unprecedented in the recent history of the national Diet. It was announced that the election will be called on October 10, and voting day will be October 22. Opposition parties criticized that this dissolution has no legitimate cause, and denounced that this dissolution means to hide and erase the scandals which Mr. Abe must be involved by the election.

   Opposition party politicians criticized that Mr. Abe’s dissolution of the assembly has no due cause. In stead, they accused Mr.Abe that he called for the election in order to hide or nullify his political scandals by the election.

   Given the circumstances, many expected that parties in power represented by Mr. Abe will easily gain a major victory. However, the situation changed dramatically toward the end of September by an unexpected bold action of Mr.Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo.

   Let me explain a bit about recent actions of Mr.Yuriko Koike. In July last year, 2016, she dared to run for Tokyo governor in spite of a strong opposition and criticism of the top executives of LDP against her. By that time the relationship between Ms. Koike and Mr.Abe has become one of the worst. Ms.Koike has been given earlier an important position of Abe’s administration such as minister of defense. She quitted the position shortly and later ran to support the campaign of  Mr. Ishiba, Shigeru, an apparent contender of Mr.Abe of prime ministership. Since then, Ms. Koike has been left without any meaningful role within LDP. With this background, she opted to run for Tokyo governorship.

   LDP accused Ms.Koike and nastily disturbed her, for example, by ordering all the members and their families of Tokyo district LDP not to support Ms.Koike in gubernatorial election with even punishments. This kind of order could not have been issued without the endorsement of Mr. Abe himself.  Even under such circumstances, Ms.Koike dared to run for election keeping her LDP membership without formal recognition by LDP. And she won the election by the land-slide victory against the LDP supported candidate. After the victory she gave her LDP membership away.

  She started Tokyo metropolitan administration faced with the assembly which was dominated by LDP. LDP members have been antagonistic against Ms.Koike.Ms. Koike kept criticizing the untransparent behavior and behind the scene deals of old assembly bosses of LDP. Preparing for July 2017 Tokyo Metropolitan assembly election, she established a new party entitled “Tokyo Citizens First, “ and achieved a land slide victory occupying the majority of the assembly by this new party. In contrast, the so far majority party of LDP tumbled down to a minor opposition party.

   Some of her close supporters in the national Diet have been attempting to create a national level party, temporary called “Japan First Party.” This campaign attracted a few Diet members who included members of Democratic Party of Japan. Ms. Koike participated to the campaign as an advisor. On September 24, Ms.Koike arranged a press conference and gave a surprising declaration saying that “I will reset the movement for the new party. I will establish a new party, named “Hope” and will be the leader of the party.”

   Her declaration gave a powerful impact to political community, particularly, DPJ. Following her abrupt statement, Mr. Seiji Maehara stated in general meeting of DPJ that DPJ will join the movement led by new party “Hope” and asked the members to agree the resolution to join. The resolution was unanimously agreed.

   Ms. Koike welcomed the resolution of DPJ. But said that she will not necessarily welcome all the members of DPJ and added that she will only accept those who will agree with the basic policy stance of “Hope” party. She said she will prepare a “rejection list” and will reject those DPJ members who will obviously not join the basic policy stance of Hope party. The rejected members are known leftists. Because of this distinction or discrimination, DPJ had to dissolve automatically.

  This action of Ms. Koike shocked not only those DJP members who were discriminated against, but also the general public. The leftist members, having lost the place to go, decided a few days later to establish a new party entitled “Constitutional Democrats,” led by Mr. Edano Yukio. Within the following few days,  some 50 Diet members got together. The new party declared to go together with Communist party and bring together those who oppose against conservatists and change of the constitution. The new party of leftists has reportedly attracted unexpectedly broad attention and sympathy of the public.

   Toward October 10, the opening day of election campaign period, Ms.Koike attracted nation-wide attention as to whether or not she will run for the national election. If she does, she will have to give up the governorship. She kept saying that she will continue to serve as the governor. But some observers have kept predicting that she would run for the national election on the ground that she saids clearly the critical motivation for her current campaign is to terminate “Abe only one politics.”   

   Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi, a young leader of LDP and a son of legend ex-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, criticized Ms.Koike saying that she is irresponsible in dual senses in either way. Irresponsible to run for the national seat because she will have to abandon Tokyo, and irresponsible to remain as a governor because she will keep the position of national party leader to split her energy.

   I have a view that Ms.Koike did a great job to give an awakening shock to members of opposition parties because opposition politicians and parties have been only criticizing for years Abe administration for very low level personal scandals or trifle drawbacks of politics, and have never proposed substantive and creative alternatives. As a result of the blow by Ms. Koike, DPJ has been virtually cut into two parts: more conservative and more left wing. In Japanese media, left wing politicians are called “liberals,” which is totally inappropriate. They are not liberal in any sense of its true sense of the word. They are simply outdated leftists.

   Thanks to Koike’s impact, the land scape of Japanese politics has changed drastically. It used to be the bi-polar structure of a single overwhelmingly powerful segment led by LDP together with Komei party and a group of weak and small opposition parties. Now, the picture consists of three groups: one is the group of parties in power consisting of LDP and Komei, next is the second conservative group consisting of “Kibou” and “Ishin” parties, and the third is the leftist group consisting of Communist party and Constitutional Democrats. The real landscape will be determined by the result of the forthcoming election of October 22.   

   I would like to discuss here about a very important challenge that Japan will be faced especially in the aspect of economic policy.

   Abe camp claims that, after the victory of the election, the administration will make use of increased tax revenue of additional 2 percent of consumption tax, which is estimated to be about 5 trillion yen a year, enrich social security and education. More specifically, enrich the social security system to cover not only the traditional beneficiaries of aged people but also to take care of basic needs of all the generations of the society, and provide free education for those who need financial assistance covering from kindergarten up to high schools, including private high schools, and provide grant-type scholarship to college students. Such policies are certainly meaningful and necessary for Japan for the years to come. However, these are only parts of more comprehensive policy system which needs to be constructed for the future. I will comment on this point later.

  The second conservative group consisting of “Kibou” and “Ishin” parties claim that they will freeze for sometime the increase of consumption tax rate because people are not confident enough to accept such increase of their burden, instead of increasing consumption tax, they propose to levy tax on huge amount of internal reserve of business companies which is estimated as much as 300 trillion yen,  abolish nuclear power generation for obvious danger, and introduce “basic income” system.

   These proposals look certainly catchy and may well attract attention of voters. However, the critical question is how to finance such policies. Postponing consumption tax increase will cost huge amount of increase of fiscal debt every year. Imposing a tax on internal reserve may not yield desired tax revenue, and if imposing a very heavy tax, businesses may shift their resources out of the country. Introduction of basic income will also cost a lot. In addition, although I personally agree to abolish nuclear power generation, the abolishment will also cost a lot both the abolishment itself and generating alternative energies.

   Even though the time for planning policies this time has been extremely limited, the problem is that there seems to be little effort to locate all these policies in an integrated system to examine the total feasibility and outcomes of operation of all such policies. Lacking the check of internal consistency and cost accounting, voters may not feel confident to rely on such catchy policy proposals.

   Leftist group criticizes political posture of prime minister Shinzo Abe harshly, and oppose any changes in Japanese constitution. However, they criticize the administration for the sake of criticism and offers no positive alternatives.

   Let me get back to the point that the outstanding new policies proposed by parties in power of LDP and Komei are just a part of policies which need to be located in a more comprehensive social system of Japan in the near future. All the generational social security system and free education are certainly useful and necessary policies. But they are part of an integral total societal system to support life of entire people in the near future.

   Let me explain why it is so. The current social security system composing of old age pension, medical care, unemployment benefits, and poverty support system was constructed in the early 1960s. It was the time when Japanese economy was growing rapidly, it also was enjoying rapid population growth, a large pool of young labor force, most of families were composed of parents and a few children. With rapid economic growth and a abundant supply of cheap young labor force, corporations increased production by employing young workforce, train them within the firm and increased productivity. Such practices gave rise to de fact life long employment for all workers and length of service reward system, known by “Japanese style” employment system.

   Under such circumstances, earners of families were full time employees and wives are basically concentrated in raising children. To support such a society, the conventional social security system which comprised of old age pensions for the retirees, and medical care for those who need it, and unemployment benefits for whom just lost jobs temporarily, and poverty support for those who are disadvantaged for some reason does just suffice.

   The structure of Japanese economy, society and families, however,  have changed drastically, particularly during the 20years lost decades for 1990s and 2000s when Japanese economy has not grown in any substantive degree. Business corporations, which were not vigorous enough to keep all the employees full time increased proportion of part-time and subcontracted workers. The proportion of non regular workers was about 10% of total workforce in 1990 increased up to nearly 40% in 2010s. The proportion of families with parents and children was about 2/3 is now less than 40%. Since house wives of most families now have to work to earn the living, they cannot take good care of education of their children. In other words, Japanese society is suffering from serious weakening of the capacity of reproduction of population.

   Given such circumstances, the new type of much more comprehensive social security system covering not only aged retirees, sick people, unemployed but such phases of people who badly need help such as young males and females who wish to marry, those who want to have children, those who need child care, those who foster and educate children, those workers who need to have employment benefits and protection. Election slogans of LDP such as all the generation social security system and free education need to be located, examined and discussed in these contexts. Unfortunately, almost no serious policy discussion of in such context has ever been heard in this election.

   On the top of this, the most critical question to be discussed in election is how to finance such a system. The new comprehensive social security system will need at least twice as much budget to run the system compared to the conventional system. How to finance it? 

   Japanese administrations including Abe administration have been relying on issuing ever greater amount of government bonds, which mushrooms accumulated government debt as much as 242% relative to GDP, an unprecedented level in the human history. Such a monasterial accumulation of government debt may well incur fiscal and economic destruction with any external shock. Moreover such debt created by a massive borrowing by government bonds is an extremely unfair burden on future generations. Sadly and curiously, no serious discussions were heard of these issues in the policy debate, if any, in this election.

   In order to reduce the unfair burden on future generations, we may think of increasing income tax, social security premiums or consumption tax. Increase of income tax will squeeze ever shrinking working population, increase of social security premiums will also suppress declining work age population, which will end up weakening and wrecking Japanese economy. Perhaps the only less damaging means is to increase consumption tax which is fairer than other taxes  and also increase tax base widely for inheritance tax. In my judgement, Japan needs to increase consumption tax up to 20% and keep it there for half a century to finance such a comprehensive social security system and reduce government accumulated debt. People may accept such tax burdens only if they can trust the government, country and community that they provide complete care and security of their lives for free in turn for their tax burdens.

   Abe administration’s tax scheme is much too much meager relative to the need of the nation. The “Kibou” ’s proposal to freeze consumption tax increase is reckless in this context. Am I the only one who feels very sorry that discussion of the most serious and pressing issue which the country will face is lacking in the policy debate of this election?

 
 
 
 
 
 

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Report of Shimada Sonjuku Visit of Germany

  We, the members of Shimada Sonjuku visited Germany for the period of July 15 to 23(including the trip between Japan and Germany). This was a wonderful, spectacular trip in which we learned a lot and received many and useful stimulus.

  This splendid trip was organized by an incredible effort of our respecting friend, Dr. Franz Waldenberger, director of German Japan Institute. Thanks to his effort and well thought out arrangement, we were able to visit important places, business corporations, public organizations, and met important and highly knowledgeable people.
 
  Since this report is going to spend many pages, I will focus mostly on what we have learned by visiting people and organizations. Since we have learned a lot by listening to presentations and discussion with German people such as statesman, business leaders, organization officials, I will try to summarize the gist of such exchange of information and discussion in a rather detailed way. 

  On the other hand, I will cut explanations of historical background, economic and political background, on the spot impressions which I usually describe in detail in this kind of report of Sonjuku trips. It partly because Germany is a highly developed economy and society representing the most developed country in the world so that much information is available elsewhere.

  However, my basic understanding of Germany particularly in comparison with Japan is expressed in my speech manuscript which I presented in the morning of July 19, 2017 at “Asa no Kai”(morning meeting) of German Japan Business Association which is attached at the end of this report.

  In this report, I try as much as possible to describe the discussion of meetings. In it, I refer to the nickname of sonjuku members. In order to identify who is who, I attach here the list of names of sonjuku participants with their given names.
1. Mr. Shimada, Haruo: "School master of Shimada sonjuku. President,
      Chairperson of the board, Tokyo metropolitan university."
2.   Mr. Yamada, Yu Yipsilon Co.Ltd. CEO
3.   Mr. Yo Yamagishi Miyakezaka Sogo Law Office. Lawyer, Managing Partner
4.   Mr. Kuramochi, Shigemichi Eisei Co.Ltd. CEO
5.   Mr.Suzuki Tomoya Lead Capital Management Co.Ltd. Partner
6.   Mr. Isono, Ken Natural Electric Power Co.Ltd. CEO
7.   Mr. Tatsuno, Mitsuhiko Tatsuno Co.Ltd. Board member in charge of management
8.   Ms. Matsuda, Rina Kowa Manufacturing Co.Ltd. CEO
9.   Ms. Matsui, Mayuka Free-lance business planner
10.  Mr. Azakami, Masahiro Investment specialist
11. Mr. Jinnai, Yuhta GI Co.Ltd. CEO
12.  Mr. Iwasaki, Kenjiro Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. Life plannner
   My report is made in a chronological order from the Day one to Day 9. Please enjoy the report of our trip to Germany.

Day 1(July 15, 2017 Saturday)

  Most of the members of Shimada sonjuku left Haneda International AP at 12:30 by NH 217.  The flight was good. I slept about half of the flight and the rest kept awake to read b
ooks and materials so that I would be tired enough when we arrived at Germany.

  At 17:20, the same day, we arrived at München Franz Joseph Strauss AP. Airport and the
streets are clean as typical in Germany. We were welcomed by Ms. Mihoko Kokubo, a Japanese guide. She introduced herself as “old fox.” She has lived in München just about 40 years. She knows a lot. She told us many useful things. Unfortunately, I have no space to introduce them here.
 
  We arrived at Maritim Hotel München. After taking some rest, we went to a popular beer hall, Augustines Keller. The hall was crowded with many customers. We stepped down to the cozy basement room where we were met with Franz and his friends, Beer, food, atmosphere were all good.
Day 2( July 16, 2017 Sunday)
 
  We left hotel at 9.15 and drove to the city of Dachau by bus. In Dachau we plan to visit the notorious Dachau concentration camp. On the way, Ms. Kokubo told us many stories about the city of München and the back ground of Dachau concentration camp such as Hitler and German political situation at the time. Unfortunately, I have no space to introduce her stories.

Dachau Concentration Camp

  We arrived at Dachau concentration camp at 10:00am. At the gate we were received by a guide, Lucia. She is a Chile young lady. She came to Germany as a student 14 years ago. She started introducing to us Dachau concentration camp earnestly.
 Dachau concentration camp was built as early as 1933 when Hitler’s Nazis party became the party having the largest seats in Federal Assembly. The objective of the  camp was to enroll all of the undesirable kinds of people for the “Third Empire” proclaimed by Hitler. He wanted to establish his Germany “the Third Empire” purely by the population he believes to be qualified people to consist the nation. They are pure Germans with white skin, blue eyes, blond hair and firmly believe the propaganda of Hitler and support earnestly his empire.

 The people, according to Hitler, who should be eliminated or excluded from the Empire were Jewish, Communists. Socialists, political prisoners, namely, those leaders who criticize or opposes against Hitler and Nazis both within and outside the Germany, handicapped people, homosexuals etc. 
   The camp was built 3.5km away from the station. Those who were arrested were forced to walk from the station to the camp with heavy burdens to make them realize that the hardship was waiting for them.The first director of the camp was Himmler,  the Muncher Police head. The camp was originally used as the training school for SS(Schutz Staffel) special force. 
   The number of prisoners increased from a few thousands to 42000 at its peak. There, prisoners were forced to work heavy labor, tortured, insured. Many prisoners suffered from such hardships and lost their lives. Common tortures were hanging from the ceiling or pole for a long time, hit by canes harshly for dozens of times, and squeeze in a very narrow walls which press the victim’s body from both sides and the prisoner was kept in such conditions for several days without food or water. Many of them died because of such cruel treatment and hardship. At times, prisoners were used as objects of live experiments such as surgery, test of endurance against deadly cold or burning hot conditions etc and many of them died as a consequence.

  This camp is said to have become the model for many such camps within or outside of Germany such as in neighboring countries like Poland. The camp kept victimized  prisoners until it was liberated by American troops at the end of the war, namely, April 29, 1945. This operation of American troops is said to include Special Force 442 consisting of 2nd generation Japanese born in the US who and whose parents have been obliged to stay in American concentration camp in California at the beginning of Pacific War in 1941.
   Lucia brought us around and earnestly explained what have been done in every building where prisoners were kept and a large empty ground where prisoners were forced to stay overnight in a freezing winter. She explained us about many cases of tortures and murderous treatments. We spent about a couple of hours.
    I usually feel not that much affected by explanations or guide of uncomfortable and dreadful treatments of victimized people as in various incidents which took place during the time of WWII. But this time, perhaps because of Lucia’s earnest explanations trying to convey to us the most cruel treatment of victimized prisoners by Nazi officers, I felt extremely uncomfortable and asked her to stop her explanation. She understood my request and stopped her explanations toward the end of the camp tour.
   We left Dachau concentration camp around 12:30 and drove to a beautiful lake side Stamberg resort. The weather was fine. It was indeed a beautiful environment. The bus stopped at the entrance of lake side trail. We walked a while and arrived at a cozy nice restaurant in the wood, Gasthaus Sum Fischmeister. We were welcomed by Franz friends, Mr. Walter W. Sawallisch and Mrs. Tomoko Sawallisch, a pianist,  and their boys. We enjoyed beer, late lunch, relaxation and above all nice conversation. When we left the lake side the sun was already half down to the west.

  We arrived at the hotel late, and went to the reserved cozy Italian restaurant in the residential area. We were still pretty much full. But once dishes were delivered we enjoyed the meal. One of our members, Masahiro, having overslept and joined us about an hour late. It was amazing that he walked to the restaurant following the  smart phone guidance.

Day 3(July 17, 2017 Monday)
Visit of Munich Re
 We left the hotel at 8:30 and arrived at Munich Re, a world second largest re-insurance company at 9.00. The headquarter building of the company in the business district looks distinguished and calm. We were welcomed by Mr. Christian Kraut and his colleagues. They guided us to various parts of the building, which was a very impressive tour. The walls, ceilings, collidors are all artistically designed and illuminated. And there were good pictures at right places. The whole interior of the building is just as dream like art museum which makes people feel relaxed and viable. They invited us to a conference room and a serious presentation and discussion started.
Part I: Lecture by Dr. Peter Hoppe
   Dr. Hoppe is a renowned specialist of natural disasters. He is head of Geo Risk Research on Current and Future Natural Disaster Risk and Risks of Climate Change.  He gave us a very comprehensive and systematic explanation of natural disasters in terms of historical and regional incidence throughout the world. He analyzed such disasters by types and reasons of occurrence, and estimates of damages to society and economy, and how insurance industry try to insure against such losses.

  He described critical aspects of climate change and commented on strategic topics for insurance industry such as represented by Munich Re. For insurance business, there are three major pillars: 1. risk assessment, 2. risk transformation, and 3 asset management. He pointed out that less developed countries lose more by such disasters partly because of lack of insurance coverage. This underlines the basic relation that higher insurance coverage actually lead to better economic performance.

  He pointed out that from the viewpoint of re-insurance, insurance coverage of different types of disasters makes a lot of difference to the efficiency and stability of global insurance. For instance, a major disaster like serious accident of sea-bottom oil wells makes re-insurance business inefficient. In natural disaster prone areas like Japan and east Asia are well insured, the efficiency and stability of re-insurance is enhanced and contribute to increasing control of losses in the world.

  I asked what about the effect of denial by Mr. Trump of Paris climate accord of 2016. He responded that the decision of Mr. Trump certainly disturbs global efforts of reducing emissions gases and enhancing the global capacity to control climate changes. However, the effect of his negative attitude will not be much. The global community can endure for some years while Mr. Trump will be in office.

  Tomoya asked about the effect of AI on insurance. Dr. Hop pe replied that AI will have little effect on climate change itself but is a big thing for Munich Re. Someone else asked if experts like Dr.Hoppe could use AI for research. He replied they  will not use AI. They will use Intelligence. 

  Yo asked how insurance business deal with terrorism and cyber attacks. He replied that terro is not quite insurable because it is difficult to assess the psychology to forecast is difficult. Cyber attack is an important object of insurance. Japanese language may probably be a big natural barrier against cyber attacks.
Part II:  How to enhance SME earthquake insurance.
Part lll: Discussion on Earthquake Risk Management  and Japanese SMEs
 
Dr. Franz Waldenberger: Now that we have learned about facts of natural disasters and insurance business against them. A peculiar phenomenon is that in such an earthquake prone country as Japan, SME coverage is very low. They are most vulnerable to such disasters. Why not they insure themselves to such hazards ? How can we increase their insurance. The US hurricane damages are too big. Munich Re actually not want to cover the damage. Japan has many midsize disasters such as typhoons. If Japanese insure themselves more, they will even out the global insurance coverage. It is not only good for Japanese people and business but also contribute a lot to the world.
Yuhta: Japanese SMEs many not know about earthquake insurance?
Tomoya:  Japanese SMEs are well organized by industrial associations. If association leaders join earthquake insurance, many of the members will follow. This is a typical behavior of group oriented Japanese.
Yo:  I have been associating with many SME bosses as a lawyer. They do not logically calculate. When they encounter hazards, their natural response is to keep as much  cash as possible. When the economy is damaged, say by earth quake, production goes down, supply goes down and trade goes down. 
Shimada:  In such situations, the government supplies cash as in the case of East Japan Earthquake.
Franz:  When Japan is hit by next alleged super earthquake as Nan kai or Kanto earthquake, can Japanese government take care?
Kenjiro pointed out that on the basis of his experience of having worked in SONY insurance. SONY insurance is a commodity to save taxes. Why not making earthquake insurance a type of tax minimizing commodity? Life insurance is purchased by customers thanks to effective and powerful sales by “sales ladies.” Question is how to foster such sales ladies for earthquake insurance.
Yo:  SME do not trust insurance companies.
Shimada:  In the case of fire insurance, I know many cases that small shop owners do trust insurance companies.
Franz:  How about making the guideline of FSA explicitly adopt insurance clause as saying insuring your company with earthquake insurance is highly recommended.
Shimada:  The current president of FSA, Mr.Mori, is dedicated to help SME develop. To get the thing move, we need politicians. Why not write names of relevant  government officials and influential politicians? We need an action plan. And It is important not make Mr. Mori stand out alone.
Mr.Kraut:  Insurance businesses and FSA leaders are closely tied and worked together.

  After intensive learning and discussion at Munich Re, we walked for a while to reach a nice and cozy garden restaurant at the side of English Garden. We enjoyed a typical German dish with sausages, salad and potatoes. Munich Re kindly invited us to this  nice lunch. Then we drove for a while to visit BMW Research Center.
Visit of BMW  Research and Innovation Center
   We visited BMW Research and Innovation Center for 15:00 to 17:30 in the afternoon of July 17. We were welcomed by Mr. Felix Zimmerman.  Mr. Zimmerman is a young leader of BMW  research and innovation section. He was a student of Professor. Franz Waldenberger at University of Munich. He then studied at London School of Economics.
There, he majored macro economics. He then went to Japan to gain work experience in Matsuda, particularly in production management. He joined BMW  in 2004. He experienced various areas of auto business such as production management, R and D, sales and corporate strategy, market research etc. These are necessary to become an executive of the company.
   Mr.Zimmerman guided us to a conference room and gave us a systematic and informative briefing about the current as well as a future perspective of auto industry from the view point of BMW  . He first explained the current state of technology and then explained the next generation technologies, which BMW is developing partly cooperating with Toyota.

  He emphasized that the future car is an ultimate driving machine which provides a seamless mobility to users. BMW  is currently produce 2.3 million cars in Germany and 4 million cars worldwide which covers 150 countries. Currently, China is the largest market and is growing rapidly. Trend of car purchasing is changing significantly reflecting demographic changes of customers. Younger people are no longer interested in large expensive cars.

  Future cars will be increasingly digitalized and autonomous. We need to develop a completely different product. Another development is SUV, which has been developed mainly in the US and is now spreading into Europe and China. Younger people are reluctant to buy their own cars but they need mobility. Consequently care sharing services will develop. Digitalization and electrification will develop to provide “seamless mobility” to  consumers. Energy efficiency and anti-pollution technology will develop greatly.

   Having given to us a comprehensive and systematic briefing about the future of auto industry he guided us to a newly developed R & D center where work is organized  flexibly by projects rather than traditional demarcations. In the center, he said that some 10000 people are working.
Networking Dinner with Young Potential Leaders
   In the evening of July 17, We were provided with a unique opportunity of a networking discussion with a group of young potential leaders who were organized by Dr. Herbert Henzler, former McKinsey head of Germany. He is a “legend” in a management community in Germany. One of his recent publication is Herbert Henzler “Pushing the Boundaries: Recollections of a McKinsey consultant” 2016, LID Publishing Ltd.

  The discussion forum was held in a recently increasingly popular Kafer Shenke in the evening of July 17 for 18:00 to 20:00. On their side, 8 young potential leaders of heterogeneous careers such as McKinsey consultants, financial specialist, insurance  planner, journalist, graduate student, etc attended organized by Dr. Herbert Henzler. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Savallish joined the discussion whom we had a wonderful lake side lunch yesterday afternoon. On our side, 9 Shimada sonjuku members and myself.

  The forum started by the introduction of Dr.Franz Waldenberger, who kindly organized this whole event, by introductory remarks by Dr. Herbert Henzler, and myself. The common topic suggested by the organizer was “leadership.”  At the beginning, all the participants are asked to introduce themselves by a few words. Then, a couple of members from each side are solicited to make a few minutes speech on their experience or thought about leadership.
  First, Sara, working for Aliens, introduced three types of leadership whom she encountered during her career, 1. what may be called “energy management”, i.e. to lead people with a lot of work, 2. leadership by “trust” and 3. leadership by care and honesty.

Sophia: a journalist, talked honestly that there is a serious leadership problem  even in an intellectual world in the sense that the leadership positions are defined by hierarchical structure and occupied by “silver heads.” She emphasized that major changes are necessary in established  organizations.

Mitsuhiko talked about leadership on the basis of his experience of spending three years in high school in Germany, his sport life and business life in Japan that important for leadership are three elements: showing direction, having a vision, and lead people with trust.

  Ken spoke about leadership on the basis of his experience of receiving education in the US until high school, and his career as a venture business experience in Japan. He sees Japanese society as being led by Silver back people. Witnessing Fukushima nuclear accident, he was shocked by the lack of responsibility. He plunged then into the business of renewable energy. He realized there to make use of “silver back” people who have a lot of experience. Their experience is useful in a highly structured and organized traditional power industry.
 
Dr. Henzler pointed out that organizations can change only slowly, and so are people. He suggested that one needs to choose the organization to work for and the people to work with.
 
   He also pointed out that in a gathering in a famous Japanese hotel, women never talk, only men talk. He said that Japanese society is men dominated society. I commented that this is a scene you observe only in formal side of the society. In an informal and more substantive aspects of society, say, home life and SME which occupies major part of Japanese industry and society, women have dominant roles and power.
  Herbert asked what the effect of Mr. Abe’ leadership who advocates earnestly the importance of female roles. I commented that Mr. Abe talked beautifully his slogans. However, in reality how much he really respect women’s role is somewhat mixed as in the case of having disturbed the challenge of Ms. Yuriko Koike in Tokyo gubernatorial election.
 
Joe Eisner, a young McKinsey consultant who basically planned this networking discussion, asserted that Japan is much delayed in terms of the progress of female roles in society, which has been internationally recognized. I commented that it is true in a formal part of the society. However, one needs to understand the major roles played by women in SME which occupies a large part of Japanese society in order the  understand Japanese society.
   Herbert asked about Japan’s relations with China. I commented that there exist a large vacuum of non-communications between China and Japan particularly on the question of how to recognize contemporary history, particularly, the early half of 20th century, of Interactions between China and Japan, most symbolically, Japan-China  war experience. To promote mutual understanding and foster constructive relations between the two countries, I emphasized that Japan should learn from the wisdom and courage of German experience in an attempt to foster constructive relations with  Israel and many Nazi invaded neighboring countries after the war.

  Following this interactive discussions, both German and Japanese young entrepreneurs who are or wish to be leaders informally get together in small groups  to enjoy eating and talking with each other. This stimulating and enlightening session of networking discussion continued till about 21:00 at night.

Day 4 (July 18 Tuesday)
Invest in Bavaria
 
   We visited Invest in Bavaria office in the morning of July 18, for  9:30 to 12:30.
Ms. Huber cordially welcomed us and started explaining the activity of Invest in Bavaria. The office is light with large windows through which we can see woods even thought this is located in business district.

  This Invest in Bavaria office is under the supervision of Ministry of Economic affairs. The office provides one stop total services to those who are interested in making investment in Bavaria. Services cover such areas as providing information, site search, contents consultation. The office has a support team also in Japan in order to solicit Japanese companies invest in Bavaria.
   Bavaria is a large state in Federal Republic of Germany. It occupies 1/5 of the land of Germany. Population is 13 millions. GDP is 170 million Euro, which is no. 7 of EU. Thinking of the economic conditions of Bavaria, which is a highly advanced industrial area where wages are already quite high, I wondered what would be the incentive or motivation for potential investors like Japanese companies to invest here. I asked if the state of Bavaria would give some special incentives such as tax exemption to  invite foreign companies.

  Ms.Huber answered that state of Bavaria does not provide tax incentives or other pecuniary incentives. She emphasized that attractiveness of Bavaria are (1) employability, namely,  in some areas of Bavaria, employees are relatively more available than other places. (2) technological development, namely, those incoming companies can learn from or can jointly develop technologies with local German companies, and (3) innovation possibilities.
   They pointed out that currently already many good Japanese companies are operating in Bavaria as the cases of foreign direct investment. Japanese working  in Bavaria are as many as 9000.

  They then invited Mr. Engelman to explain to us the German system of vocational education and training which is well known by the symbolic name of “Dual System” of vocational education and training. This system is a multi-tier system of different levels of vocational education and training run by the close coordination of schools and businesses. 

  There are currently 327 training programs. Such programs provide vocational education and training for about 15000 professions covering wide range of industries including manufacturing to various service industries. Trainees of manufacturing industries are about 60% of all the trainees, handicraft 27%, liberal professions such as accountants and legal jobs 8%. 

  In Germany, schools are stratified as primary, secondary, intermediate and Gymnasium(Grammer school). At these levels, opportunities are openly provided to take vocational training. Much of the training on the job is provided at business companies. Business companies provide some 80% of the cost of training. After taking training, while quite a few students take a job  at the company where they are free to choose any professions. Companies’ financial contribution by bearing the cost of OJT may therefore be interpreted as social contribution to public investment in human resources. SMEs are relatively more reliant on this dural vocational training. 

  The origin of this dual vocational training goes far back to the era of Bismarck who established the base of current Federal Republic of Germany in 1871. The modern vocational training system was developed on the basis of traditional training system of craftsmen such as guilds and mei ste rs. In the early 20th century, German industries developed remarkably which became the industrial leader of the world. This remarkable industrial development has been vouched by wide spread  development of capable SMEs. Public vocational training has been an important instrument to support such  industrial development.  The substance of such public vocational training has been constructed by 1920s. However, the current system of dual vocational training was formalized by national training act of 1967.
 After the session at Invest in Bavaria, we visited a historic district of the city of München. Dr Franz Waldenberger left us there. We were so much indebted to him for his well planned arrangement of the trip and very careful guide for us. After seeing him off while he was walking to the station with knapsack on his back.   we dropped by a popular restaurant in the basement to have a typical German dish. 

  We spent sometime to walk around the old town of München, and then drove by bus to see around some historic sites and buildings of the city. In the evening, we  left  München AP at 19:00 via LH2030 for Berlin. In Berlin we arrived at Hotel Intercontinental Berlin where we planned to stay two nights.

Day  5(July 19 Wednesday)
 
“Asa no Kai” in Berlin
   In the morning of July 19, Wednesday, we joined the study meeting of what they call  “Asa no Kai(morning meeting)” which was held in hotel Intercontinental Berlin where we stayed from the previous night. The meeting was planned to go from 8:00am to 10:00am.
   This Asa no Kai has been organized by DJW(Deutch Japanischer Wirtshaftskreis)which provides an opportunity and place for Germans interested in Japan and Japanese working in various ways in Germany to meet and share information together and develop networking among them. I was supposed to give a speech in this morning to provoke ideas and questions to be discussed for the meeting. When we arrived, we were cordially welcomed by Mr. Wilfried Schmidt, and Ms. Julia Münch, Mr. Schmitdt is member of the board of DJW.

  The topic I chose was ”Economic Development and International Leadership: A Comparison between Germany and Japan.” It was our honor that Japanese Ambassador in Germany, Mr. Takashi Yagi kindly jointed our morning meeting.

   Having taken light breakfast bringing by themselves meals from the neighboring cafeteria, the meeting started. At the outset, we all listened to ambassador Yagi’s opening remarks. Mr.Yagi emphasized that Germany is a very important country economically, politically and in security. On the sphere of security, Germany sends military to critical areas of conflicts in the world to promote and keep peace. Japanese may have been somewhat biased to look more to UK and France, have not paid much attention to Germany. We, Japanese, need to pay more attention to Germany.  Sonjuku people visited Germany in a good timing in the sense that the weather is fine, G20 summit held in Hannover is just over, and the social turmoil there was over, G7 summit held in Italy has been concluded successfully recently and we will soon have Bundestag election in September. There will be many interesting discussion in Germany particularly at this timing. I hope sonjuku members will have accurate image of both Germany and German perception ofJapan.
   After his introductory remark, I had to start my speech. When I was asked if I would be willing to give a speech in Berlin by Franz a couple of months ago, I gladly accepted his solicitation. The time allocated for my speech was at most 30 min. Starting to prepare for my speech I realized that I wanted to talk many topics under the title as noted above. I wrote up as briefly as possible those topics in my manuscript. Not unexpectedly, it was long. If I were to read all of it, it would take easily 1 hour. Franz warned and advised me to focus mostly on Abenomics for (1) this is the topic most Germans are more interested than other topics, and (2) I can speak within the limit of 30 minutes. I accepted his advice. 
   On the day, I concentrated  much of my time to speak about Abenomics but also mentioned most of the topics I wanted to discuss such as politics and security. The full text of my manuscript can been seen in my blog or DJW net newsletter which is linked with my blog on this theme. And I was able to conclude my speech in about half an hour. I was impressed by the serious attention of audience to me all through my speech.
   After the speech, several participants raised their hands and asked me interesting and important questions. Let me introduce  briefly three questions and my response to them.
(1)What about relation of Japan toward Korea and Russia.
    I commented that Korea has had unfriendly attitude against Japan for most of the postwar period for some understandable and other non understandable reasons. I said Japan can learn from Germany the wisdom in the postwar era in fostering friendly and constructive relations with Israel and Nazi invaded neighboring countries.
   On the question of Russia, Japan and Russia historically has had rather futile relations including the question of Japan’s northern territories(four islands). Prime minister Shinzo Abe is earnest and hopeful to get those islands returned to Japan. His enthusiasm may reflect the conviction of his father. I personally thinks hoping to get the islands back is hopeless and not very meaningful although Japan should continue to insist.  Currently, Japan and Russia seek to find areas where both countries can cooperate for economic development of North-east Russia under the hopeful thoughts of Abe administration. Japan can contribute only to the extent such cooperation will provide profits, if any, to Japanese businesses who participate.
(2) Why Japanese government debt is a problem?
   I explained that the government debt is increasing as much as 240% of GDP,  a dangerous zone where it will exceed the total amount of net financial assets of the household sector. This means that the government can no longer issue JGB. Another worrisome phenomenon is that given the current pace of BOJ’s purchasing of JGB, the existing stock of the JGB will be totally absorbed by BOJ within a decade or earlier. Under such circumstances, Japanese economy may well suffer from financial crisis, economic crisis and possibly national collapse. This makes a sharp contrast with German fiscal situation where the government has been reducing the outstanding debt to GDP down to 60% of GDP.
(3) There are many areas where Japan and Germany can cooperate such as trade, technology and cyber security etc which will bring about merits not only to the two countries but also to the world. The fact that Japan and EU recently basically agree to have FTA is highly appreciated. Will and can the two parties agree on dispute settlement scheme using tribunals as attempted by EU-Canada agreement?
  I responded that Japan and Germany can cooperate in many areas such as trade, technology and even the global politics particularly after the emergence of Trump administration which basically denies global cooperations both in economy and security, and the eruption of Brexit.
On the question of dispute settlement mechanism, I wish you ask directly honorable ambassador Takashi Yagi who has a professional understanding and authorized judgement.
Berlin Partner
 We visited “Berlin Partner” which is located in Federal Ministry of Economy, and listened to lecture of Mr.Christian Treichel and enjoyed Q &A for 10:30~12:00.In Berlin Partner, it was planned originally to listen to the lecture of Mr. Stefan Frantzke, COO, and then to listen to the lecture of Mr. Treichel. But since  Mr. Frantzke was unable to join us for emergent reason, we listened to a more  detailed explanation of Mr. Treichel about activities of Berlin Partner.
  Mr. Treichel is a program manager of international service. He had experience of working in Gulf area and Turkey. He travelled to Japan in 1992 to visit JETRO.  The main activity of Berlin Partner is to appeal Berlin to prospective investors and provide necessary services to help such investors to promote business in Berlin. Berlin city alone is one of the 16 states of Federal RepublicBerlin Partner wishes to develop network with strong partners to make Berlin strong city. The objective and activities of Berlin Partner resembles that of JETRO, Japan External Trade Organization. Incidentally, Berlin and Tokyo are sister cities.

Berlin Painter is interested particularly to assist future oriented businesses with high skill and technology contents. Currently Berlin Partner supports 6000 projects, help assist networking venture companies and people.
   Mr. Treichel spent some time explaining the historical background of Berlin after WWII. Sometime after the end of the war, Berlin was subdivided between East and West. East was controlled by Soviet Russia, while West was supported by the US, Uk and France. While West Berlin was assisted by Western allies, East was not. Therefore there developed a huge differential in post war development. Many people fled from East to West Berlin. To stop such exodus, the wall was built in 1961. Many companies moved from Berlin to other places where they can take advantage of free environment such as Munich. 
   Recently, Berlin has become a completely different city, where venture people come in and get together from various parts of Europe and other areas. Berlin became the center of cross cultural communication. From such communications, seeds of innovation develop.
   Mr. Treichel emphasizes that Berlin Partner distinguishes new companies and “start ups.” Recently, some 40000 new companies were created. They are just new companies. Berlin Partner recognizes 2400start ups. Start Up companies are those who grow fast. They grow fast and within 5 to 6 years, 90% of them create  new products or services. Berlin currently provides a place for 5th largest employers in German cities.   
  Berlin accommodates many Eco Systems. Its ranking was 70th in the world in 2014, and is 7th in 2017, only next to Tel aviv, London, NY, Silicon Valley, and Shanghai. etc. Berlin accommodates more than 50 incubators and accelerators, provides more than 100 co-working spaces, and foster more than 7500 start ups.

  Mitsuhiko commented that Berlin had almost nothing in 2000 when he was studying as a high school student in Leipzig.He asked what made Berlin change as much. Mr. Treichel explained that conditions of Berlin today which attract many ambitious people from the rest of Europe and the world are: cheap living cost, cheap housing  cost, openness of the society, using English as a common language, relatively high quality of life, rents are much cheaper than, say, in London. Recently critical mass of ventures are concentrated, therefore, both incumbents and new comers can enjoy cross cultural interactions and stimulus.

  Mr. Takeda who knows a lot about ventures in Berlin said that the city is very  young. For instance, 25% of city population is younger than age 25. English is  certainly a second language in this German city. However, it is the common official language. Berlin initiated recently a global “Start Up Alliances” soliciting  Tel-aviv, Paris, NY, London, Shanghai and LA.
Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy.
  We visited Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy for 13:45 and 15:00.  We were welcomed by Dr. Malte Hauschild and other officials who kindly gave us comprehensive lectures on major issues which EU faces ranging migration,  terrorism, and economic performance and its challenges.

  On the question of migration, in 2016 some 160000 migrants entered Germany. In 2017, the number of migrants was reduced remarkably. This decline reflects some considerations behind the general election in September 2017. Although the  number of migrants was reduced, social pressures remain high. The main route for migrants to come to Germany or other European countries is through Turkey. Recently,  migration through Mediterranean sea. 

Terrorism is still an increasing threat. Paris, Berlin and London have suffered from it. In two years, EU nations develop stronger border control. Pre-registration ESTA system like US is being prepared.
  Economic performance: For this past year, economic performance has been improved in many areas of Europe, EU and Germany. ECB’s financial policy is costly. Unemployment is still high. EU areas as a whole suffer from 10% unemployment, although it is much lower e.g. 3% in Eurozone. Youth unemployment reaches 20% in  Spain. Debt crisis is still serious in Greece and Italy.


Brexit:
    The second round of negotiation started last week. British side is not prepared. Here, the office staff circulated around a picture reported in FT in which negotiators of both sides sit around the table. While EU negotiators have a bunch of materials, UK negotiators had no paper at hand at all.    Problems and Challenges:    On the question of migration. EU has been pursuing a special arrangement with Turkey. EU is searching for strengthening border control. Economy is moving fast in the wave of “digitization.”
   EU is celebrating 60th anniversary since Rome Treaty which initiated the formation of EU. However, in recent years, in many countries like France, Netherlands, etc, political parties which accuse EU increased their influence although they were unable to get the support of majority people. The US is inclining to protectionist under Trump administration. EU should stay together. Togetherness is power. We also need to reform EU for stronger integrity and prosperity.
  Mitsuhiko asked about debt problem of some EU members such as Italy, Greece.
  Dr Hauschild , having explained a complex structure of European banking system and the  complex processes to improve the situation, emphasized that the decision to create EURO was political that the creation of a single currency would strengthen EU, and added that there have been exceptions like Britain and Norway.
  Mr. Schultz added that EU banking system can be more resilient with improvement of deposit protection system.

I commented about Mr. Macron and the burden reduction of Greece. Mr. Macron seems to propose a Euro fund or even to promote federalism in EU.  In fact, federalism has been earnestly proposed by one of the founders of EU, M.Jan Monet, at the time of formation of EU. This was not realized because of a strong opposition of Charles de Gaulle. The question of reducing the fiscal burden of Greece has been proposed by some people as the suggestion of “hair cutting.” However, parties involved such as Germany and other major members of EU and lending organizations have been of the  position to ask Greece to do their homework of reforming its fiscal and structural  reforms.
 
  Mr. Schultz pointed out that EU members fully appreciate integrative process. However, Germany may be somewhat different. Although Germany makes full effort to cooperate with other EU countries for European integration, German attitude is more inclined to maintain nation state.

  Germany suffered a fatal defeat in WWII. Japan’s cost of the defeat was Okinawa and northern small islands. Germany lost a large territory east of Eder River currently added to Poland. Because Germany fully recognize the guilt during WWII, It worked for European integration and establishment of Euro zone. Eventually Germany found again a place in European community. EU integration carries on, but the idea of nation state still prevails strongly in Germany.

  Yo asked about the cost of receiving migrants.
 Dr.Hauschild responded that to keep the country open is important. After the WWII, many  Germans fled to other countries and they were accepted. It is the time for us to return such benefits to Syrian refugees.  In the aging of society, accepting migrants may help supplement the supply of labor force. We will see. However, we need recognize that we have cost now. We don’t know what the end result would be. Receiving young generation may help, but we don’t know. We close some routes of migration but open others to keep some balance.
  On the question of Brexit, Brussels are all worried.  As we have shown in the picture of negotiation, British negotiators come without papers. What we worry is that we lose the ability to foresee the future. Brexit is a “wake up call” for Europe. Unpredictability of the course of Brexit as to where it would lead us is a serious concern.
 
IXDS visit:
   We visited IXDS, Io T related industrial design and engineering lab for 16:00 to 17:15. IXDS is a pioneering venture company developing its activity in I or T and  various types of designing. We were welcomed by Mr. Retto Wretch, the CEO of  IXDS. 
   The office itself is designed in an unique fashion. It is open, just like a cafeteria. Staff are working anywhere they like. They work under flexible time arrangement.  The office often provides open house day with interested visitors. Any people who are interested in activity of IXDS can participate.
   Mr. Wretch emphasized that their design is user experience oriented. They provide service design and solutions.

  Mr. Wretch has worked sometime ago in SONY design center. It was good but the problem there was that the center was not quite open. Openness is the key. IXDS often holds open house where anyones can join and exchange ideas openly.
  We emphasize “service design.” We believe technology provide service. For instance, selling a car essentially should mean selling “mobility.” This is the essence of user experience service. What is important is to provide “good experience” to users. We promote “user centered approach.”

  We will face in the future shortage of skills. We need to make use of skilled and  unskilled workers together. Here, machines and IT should be integrated. Huge  business opportunities behind B to B services. Manufacturing organizations can  now provide new services using IT.

  Start up is important. We encourage them to exit as soon as possible even though  their businesses are not complete. Providing new services is important.

  The process of innovation may be explained as consisting of three stages of  development : 1. Understanding, 2. Systematization, and 3. Creation. We work with partners. They are ambitious companies, teams, individuals. They all share values with us. BMW for instance attempts to change society by mapping facilities. Block chains, self inspiring entrepreneurs provide constant challenges.
   Education should be user centered. Need evangelize creative design. SONY was unfortunately not open. They thought that design should be kept secret. Why not open? We should seek “open innovation.” 
   In our lab, staff work 4 days a week. We need rest, We need change of pace for concentrated work. 
   We then met a venture entrepreneur who came from Japan and has been working to construct Ecosystem to build new business communities. He  combines large companies, research institutes and start ups to create innovative incubator. Currently, 9 companies of electric power, water supply, gas supply, public transportation, etc are organized together trying to create a “smart city.”

  Dialogue among the companies which have expertise of providing infra-structure facilitates important synergy among them. They are integrated together by I o T.  Digitalization is critical. Integrating electricity and mobility creates “e-mobility.” 

  He has been for long in the field of real estate business. He wished to create a smart city with the taste of Japanese traditional culture.   
 
  His basic objective is to creative “incubation hub.” Germany is extremely stimulating in the sense of providing environment for ventures to create “start ups. Berlin is a highly conducive place. Land prices, and rents are cheap. In every weekend, some 15000 youngsters get together who come from all over Europe and other areas to enjoy  free atmosphere, cross cultural communication and play.   
   Brexit will accelerate this phenomenon. The importance of UK market will decline. European continental market will be much more important. Germany will necessarily be the center. Prices are cheap in Berlin. Many talented young people come together in Berlin. 
 
   After this meeting, I and some members went back  to our hotel to have dinner and rest. But the rest of the members continued to enjoy other venture capitalists for further conversation, and they went to join gathering of young and resourceful ventures who gathered together in Berlin from various parts of Europe and other places of the world till late, as late as even early morning. The Sonjuku members who took part in this night meetings and gatherings told me that I missed an important part of real business life of Berlin. I am glad to learn that young and vigorous Sonjuku members actually experienced a part of exciting life of young ventures in Berlin. 

Day 6(July 20 Thursday)
Mr. Mark Hauptmann MP Meeting
  We visited Mr. Mark Hauptmann at the Deutsch Reichstag(German Parliamentary) Bldg. Mr. Hauptmann is a young and active CDU member. He is currently 33 year old, and is looked after as the most promising young political leader of the country. We had a meeting with him on July 20 for 9:50 to 12:00. 
  Mr.Hauptmann kindly received us at the busiest moment for politicians when general election is only two months ahead. He said that most of his colleagues are now devoting themselves in grass-roots campaign for the forthcoming election, but he kindly spared his most precious time to see us in the Reichstag Bldg.   

  He has been a parliament member for four years. When he was young, he spent time in Japan staying Osaka and studied at Kannai Gaidai(Kannsai College of Foreign Language). He has been interested in politics since much younger age. His home town is Turing, green heart of Germany, where you can enjoy skiing all year around. 
   He said that German-Japan relations are good. Mr. Abe and Ms. Merkel have good relations. Mr. Abe attended Hanover IT convention where 120 Japanese companies displayed their products.  Recently, Japan and EU agreed basically to have FTA agreement, which will boost mutual trade remarkably. EU-Korea FTA has increased trade between them as much as 55% in 2years. one plus one is three. This is the merit of FTA. 
  If Japan-EU FTA is put into practice, SME will be particularly helped. Large companies already have knowledge and experts which SME do not have. Japan can take advantage of fully enjoying the merit of large EU market having 500 million people. 

  Germany and Japan are closely tied up by advanced technologies and entrepreneurship such as robotics, I o T, auto drive, start ups, young entrepreneurs. Berlin is start up hub of the world. After Brexit with relative decline of London, Berlin will be the center of Europe. Under Ms.May, soft Brexit will not be pursued. Hard Brexit will have huge impacts. Germany will be ever more important.   

  Currently, economic figures are excellent for Germany. Employment is increasing. Unemployment is lowest in decades. one million open jobs are unfilled. Large companies’ performance is excellent. SME is strong. There are approx. 1600 SMEs leading the world business in their area. In Germany 1/4 of jobs are related to export. We have global export companies in such areas as machines, cars, chemicals etc. 

  Germany and Japan have similar challenges. Perhaps the largest is aging and declining population. We need to cement the gap between demand and supply of workforce by robots. We are impressed by a Japanese company, Cyberdine, to enable older people to be good workforce by their device. 
   Social networking is developing rapidly as seen in the development of Facebook,  Amazon or e-Bay. Digital technology links between parts of traditional industry to create new industry. The 4th industrial revolution facilitated by digital technology is amazing.  Autonomous driving is developing remarkably. We look forward to see its progress and achievements in Tokyo Olympics.  We can drive autobahn at a speed of 170km/H. In a mega city like Tokyo, this is difficult. While autonomous driving is developing, we need to legal regulations and also insurance protections. 

  Germany and Japan are partners rather than competitors. We share similar values such as democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech. Japan’s neighbor, China, has a great economy but in some aspects they have problems such as unfair business and trade practices, regulations on foreign investors as always they need to accept 50% partners, hidden subsidies in many aspects of business activities etc. 

  US role of agenda setting in global trade is diminishing especially they walk out of  TPP. Now Germany and Japan need to work closely together to keep the order of the global market.   
   Berlin is fascinating for ventures and venture capitals. Businesses grow rapidly, particularly, start ups are vigorous. Venture capital funds, private investors are  gathering to invest into start ups. State provide matching funds up to 20% of start ups. High tech funds, investment funds abroad are gathering more in Berlin. Berlin is becoming an European and global center for start ups. It attracts sophisticated IT specialists even from such countries as Ukraine and Russia. 
   Berlin is becoming the center of creative minds, creative thinking people in Europe. It is easy to come and join such community of Berlin. Rents and land prices are cheap. 
   Tomoya asked that in Berlin living cost and hiring cost seem to be much cheaper than in Tokyo thereby attract young ventures. Mr. Hauptmann responded that Berlin attracts young and creative people. We take advantage of free labor mobility thanks toSchengen agreement. We need skilled labor force. We welcome them. 
   Yo commented that he has been watching and accustomed to the German conventional political scene as symbolized by the rivalry between CDU and SPD and asked if there are any changes in the scene and also if German capitalism different from Anglo-Saxon capitalism.
   Mr.Hauptmann commented that Germany is of social market economy, that is a capitalism with social conscience. 51% of government budget is spent for social matters such as education, pensions, childcare etc. Companies have freedom to make money but at the same time need to take care of those who need assistance. We think social benefits are important even though they are not productive. In this sense we are different from US.   
  On the question of rivalry between CDU and SPD, we admire that Ms.Merkel has been Chancellor for 12 yeas. Her approval rate is high. In Hamburg G20, many world leaders  trust her. There have been many problems such as migration, Russian aggression to Ukraine, Libya issues etc. Merkel handled them well. SPD emphasizes social equality, benefits to workers etc. There are three major wings in German politics: namely, conservative wing, Social Democrat wing, and Liberal business friendly wing. 
  Yuhta said that he has been impressed by flourishing activities of ventures and venture capitalists in Berlin and asked if Berlin will become a venture hub like Silicon  Valley. He also asked Mr. Hauptmann’s view on Berlin new AP.
  Mr. Hauptmann responded that Berlin will not be the next Silicon Valle. We will not copy others. We try to provide the best place for start ups. In US and UK, huge money come from pension funds etc. We have not yet come to the stage.   

  Referring to the influence of Brexit, he said that Singapore has been investing heavily in UK, and only low in Germany. Singapore now has to diversity its strategy.  London, living cost is high. Today, good human resources move increasing away from London and move to other European countries and Berlin.  UK’s economic power and influence will decline. Europe will lose too. British global service will decline. Germany will also lose partner. 

  Refering to the question of AP, he said Berlin is not the perfect place. AP is a disaster. Hope right decisions will be made to open AP as soon as possible. Local government invest in education and social infra-structure.  400000 Turks live in Berlin. They have a big potential. Berlin is a global city. We would like to make Berlin more attractive. We would like to make investors more easier to invest. In Berlin, no need to talk in German. Everybody talks in English. 

  Mitsuhiko asked two questions: 1. what is the effect of aging on small and large cities, 2. how is the industrial progress.
   Mr. Hauptmann responded that we are trying to enhance attractiveness of local towns. While workers tend to move from rural small cities to urban large cities, with the development internet connectivity, people can explore whatever they wish. The birth rate has been declining in Germany after reunification. In addition, we experience of a second wave for even lower birthrate since females born after 1995 have tendency not to have babies before age 25. The most critical industrial progress, namely, digitalization seems to fill the gap between small and large cities. 
   Ken asked a question about mindset of Germans. He argued that while German people seem to adapt to 4.0 industrial revolution, he suspects that established corporate managers in Japan cannot change their mindset that easily. He also  asked the role of decentralization in Germany. 
   Mr.Hauptmann commented that he does not think that Japanese established companies’ managers do change. Robots, for example, are far ahead in Japan relative to other countries. I know many excellent Japanese companies which  adapt to new technology. There is a tendency in Germany that Germans love data protection. 
   As for decentralization, there are some 1600 SMEs in Germany which have high shares in the global market, and many of them locate in various cities and local towns. German strength stems partly from its decentralized structure of federalism and local initiatives. For example, Dusseldorf is famous for Japanese community, Frankfurt is  a financial centre, and Berlin is a start up city, etc.
   I asked what will be his plan to develop German-Japan relations. He replied that he has many ideas and plans. However, the most important is to get elected in the forthcoming election.

  After the meeting with Mr. Mark Hauptmann MP, we took a nice lunch at a restaurant “Offennungszeiten” on the roof floor of Deutsch Reichstag Bldg. After a leisurely dinner we went to Berlin Central Station where we planned to take a long distance train ICE no. 693. Shortly before we got on the train our Japanese guide, Mr. Ryo Kawanabe gave us some cautions not to miss the train because train sometimes starts from unreported platform. He gave each of us paper strip telling us this is a ticket.

  The train ride was cozy. In the train there was a dining car which now does not exist any more in Japanese bullet trains. I enjoyed typical German dished on the train with one of the members, Shige. After relaxing in the dining car I went back to my seat in the designated car. Then a problem happened.  A conductor came to me and asked to show her my ticket. I showed the paper strip given to me by our guide. She was puzzling. She said it was not a ticket. I insisted that this is the only paper I have. Then several conductors came to me a few times and insisted that this is not a ticket. They said that this is simply a reservation certificate.

  One of them ordered me to come to the conductor’s room. I rebutted saying “on what capacity can you order me to do so” I argued strongly that we are honest travelers and I show them all I have. They insisted that since we do not have legitimate ticket we need to pay all the cost of the tickets at the railway station and then we could reimburse them when we find legitimate tickets somewhere. I rejected to do so. We had some debate. After a while, one of the conductors came to me and gave me a signal that we can go without saying a word. This was a terrible experience.  A few days after our arrival back to Japan, we learned after our strong inquiry to Japan Travel Bureau that it was due to the mistake of our Japanese guide in Berlin. He in fact failed to give us legitimate tickets. 
 
Upon arriving at Frankfurt Central Station, we sat on benches in front of the station and enjoyed beer because it was so nice and cozy in the early evening of the town. We went to our hotel Steingeberger Frankfurter Hof. This is a traditional and quite distinguished hotel.

Day 7(July 21 Friday)
 
In the morning we met in our hotel lobby our guide Ms. Yayoi Aihara. She said she has been living in Frankfurt more than 15 years. She is very knowlegeable and told us many things about the city of Frankfurt am Mein and neighboring area in our bus on the way for us to visit the natural renewable energy company Juwi. Unfortunately, I have no space here to introduce her interesting stories.
Juwi visit
   We arrived at the gate of  Juwi at 10:00 am. Juwi is the world second largest renewable energy company with its headquarter located in the neighborhood of Frankfurt, Germany, and has offices and operation sites all over the world. Ju wi was introduced by an active member of Shimada sonjuku, Mr. Ken Isono. Mr. Ken Isono is a highly prospective venture leader who manage a renewable energy venture “Natural Energy Corporation.”  He successfully made a remarkable joint venture contract with “Ju wi” recently and solicit our group of Sonjuku to visit them when we  visit Germany this time.  Mr. Isono told us that he is contributing significantly this year to increase the business income of Ju wi by promoting jointly construction of solar energy plant in Japan. When we arrived at the entrance of Ju wi, we were welcomed by the top executives of the company: Mr. Stephen Hansen CEO, Mr. Michael Harr, and Mr. Mike Class. 
   Mike started his comprehensive explanation of the policy environment of renewable energy business in responding to the question of Ken on EU policy for renewable energy industry. He said that it is in the process of major transformation. It is a change of a highly complex interactions of EU member states, competition in energy markets, involving power generation, power distribution and grid technology etc. Pricing of energy is the result of such highly complex political interactions of the players of the business taking advantage of constantly evolving technology. Having learned and discussed this complex structure and processes of energy policies of EU and in Germany for about an hour, we shifted our focus to learn about what Juwi has been doing.
 
Juwi was founded in 1966. The name of the company, Juwi, was taken after the names of the two founders of the company, Mr. Fred Jung(Ju) and Mr.Matthias Wilenbacher(Wi). Currently, Ju wi is operating with the capacity of 4300 megawatts using 2500 systems. It produces 7.2 billion KW/h which is good enough to supply power to 2.3 million households. The company has about 1000 operating sites in the world. The sales was 777 million Euro in 2016.

  Following the comprehensive lectures, we enjoyed a lunch at a nice cafeteria. Foods are highly healthy oriented and much of it is produced in farms nearby run by the company. 

  We then made a site tour of power generation of solar panels and wind mills. This  was a highly useful learning experience to see an important example of renewable energy production of Germany which is shifting rapidly to conventional fossil and nuclear energy to natural renewable energy.

  After visiting Ju wi, we went back to the central area of city of Frankfurt to visit the oldest bank in Germany, Metzler Bank.
Metzler Bank Visit
   We visited Metzler Bank for 15:00 to 17:00 in the afternoon of July 21, Friday.
Mr. Gerhard Wiescheu warmly welcomed us. He told us that he is a good friend of
Dr.Franz Waldenberger and offered this opportunity responding to the request of Franz.
He is one of the 5 partners of the bank.
   He started his presentation by telling us the history of Metzler bank. Metzler bank  was founded in 1974. Ever since it has kept its business for 340 years. It is rare that the banking business lasts this much. We have 800 employees, 5 partners. Metzler family was running a trading house in early years, trading of spices, clothes etc. and served the needs of King and Dukes.
  Frankfurt was a free city. There was no boss at the top. People played the role of parliament. People decide their fate. Frankfurt geographically was the center of Germany and Europe. All come here form other countries. Most of them are merchants and in finance trade. Many coins of many countries were traded in Frankfurt. Metzler evaluated the values of the coins. It developed step by step to investment bank. Proisen led by Friedrich the Great needed money to expand its power. Metzler served them as bank. Then Metzler expanded its business from handling money to bonds.
   In 1750, Metzler family had no male successor. Christina, female CEO,  took the office as early as 250 years ago. Metzler family is flexible. Napoleon conquered Frankfurt. He controlled almost entire Europe. We went through WWI and WWII. We survived all such major changes. Why Metzler survived? We believe because Metzler never exposed to excessive risks. We were good at risk management. 

  Metzler family continued to the current 12th generation. We have good people, good technology, we can compete in evaluating businesses and advisory business.

  We have 5 partners. They all have liabilities. If the bank has any problem, we all lose assets.  50years or 100 years ago, there were businesses of such type. Now such institution is very few. We cannot even insure the loss. We need to be very cautious.
   In 2007, Deutch Bank appealed to target 2.5% of ROE. Metzler did not need to take risk and stayed away from such solicitation. Metzler is interested in long run business. Even though return may not be high, if interesting, we do the business. We need not depend on anyone like “analysts.”
 
In 1945, mayor of Frankfurt said it would take 100 years to reconstruct. Metzler did much earlier, like Japan.  We do business of pension management. Of 800 employees, 198 are programmers. We do modern banking. We invest a lot in ICT and computers. We have programs working with financial professors of Goethe University.
 
  We trade on behalf of clients. We trade not on our own book. We conduct corporate finance business and M&A. Germany and Japan have many things in common, for example, the role of SME. We have powerful SMEs in Mittelland. Many of them are not listed but globally strong. German and Japanese companies will have much merits by working together. We wish to promote Japan-Germany business.
 
  In October 2, 2017, we hold German-Japan symposium on Hydrogen and Energy industries at Kogyou Club in Tokyo.  We have German Japan center in Berlin initiated by the agreement of PM Nakasone  and PM Helmut Kohl in 1985. I am chairman of the board of the center.
   Now, take a look at European situation. German worked hard with France and others to create Euro zone. The common word is “Let’s do it together.”After UK joined EU, both UK and EU member countries benefited a lot by increased business with UK. The complaint behind UK which led UK to choose Brexit is EU has no favorable treaties for UK. In the Brexit negotiation, UK seems too optimistic. UK will not get favorable result. Many financial businesses will come to Frankfurt. 
 
  Japanese banks and financial organizations cannot wait until EU and UK reach some sound agreement. Daiwa, Mitsubishi, Mizuho, Nomura all decided to come to Frankfurt. Others may go to Paris  and Dublin. 
   Brexit was the result of Cameron’s wrong decision to call for national referendum. Timing was wrong. After the Brexit decision, there arose many demonstrations against the choice of Brexit in the referendum. Many young people did not go for referendum voting because they believed that the result of the referendum should be “stay.”
   I asked how he views Macron’s reform proposal.  He was wondering what kind of  reform Macron really seek to realize. To him, the picture is not clear enough. And it is hard to expect French will work together to realize such reform. 
 
   ECB’s dilemma. ECB realizes that it should increase the policy interest rate. However, many EU member countries still need low interest rate for economic recovery.
  It is not clear what UK really wants to pursue. Canadian or Norway model? Whichever the case, Brexit will make everyone lose. This is the disaster in EU history.
  Ms. Merkel comes to Metzler Bank once a year. She listens to 7~8 people. I accompanied her to China and Japan. Mr. Abe gets along with Ms. Merkel very well. They talk in detail international issues. Japan and Germany share common values. We can cooperate well.

Ms. Merkel needs Mr. Macron. They discuss Brexit profoundly. It is obvious that Mr.Trump does not care of Europe. Europe needs common military to defend themselves. Decision making process of Europe will change. This is the first chance for Europe that Europe decides its own fate. Ms.Merkel is determined. Mr. Macron has a good sense of economy.

  French labor market is inflexible. Macron needs to reduce military spending. He needs to pursue military reform, labor reform and pension reform. If you do not press more, you cannot attain results. Germany will help Mr. Macron’s effort by increasing fiscal spending.
 
   Hard Brexit is a major problem. Take a case of BMW. BMW bought Rolls Royce, and Mini Car. They are mini-assembled in UK. After hard Brexit, that assembling is  taxed every stage. Then, BMW will not be competitive.
   Ms. May is zombi. She is politically weak. She cannot be a good negotiator.
One could pursue some scenario. If it does not work, you can have another option.That is, ask the public to vote again. There could be a second referendum. UK is a country which always has had problems. Referendum for Brexit. Scotland wish to be independent and remain in EU. Ireland has also a conflict. There could be another referendum.
    This was an incredibly fantastic meeting. We were so much impressed by the knowledge and experience of Mr. Wiesheu and his warm hospitality and kind care. After this wonderful session with him, we went back to hotel. In the evening we had a nice dinner at a cozy restaurant at the river side Main Nizza. Again we fully  enjoyed the typical German dish of meat,  sausages, cabbages, potatoes, beer and excellent German wines. This is the final German dinner in this trip.
   After the dinner, most of Sonjuku members continued to enjoy beer and also had nice time in night clubs. This must be a good and learning experience for them.
Day 8(July 22 Saturday)
  I enjoyed a  nice breakfast in an outdoor table of the hotel restaurant with Tomoya, and had some walk to take a look at a business district of Frankfurt, we left the hotel to go to Frankfurt AP. We left Frankfurt AP at 12:10 heading for Japan via NH204.

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Economic Development and International Leadership : A Comparison of Germany and Japan

This paper is the manuscript for my speech which I will deliver in Berlin in the morning of July 19, 2017 for the audience of German-Japan Business Association. My presentation is a part of our program of visiting Germany by a group of Shimada sonjuku who visit Munich Berlin and Frankfurt for the period of July 16 through 23 to meet various people and see various places to learn about current situation of Germany. This trip was arranged by our friend, Dr. Franz Waldenberger, Director of German Institute for Japanese Studies. I would like to thank specially for his effort.

Economic Development and International Leadership: A Comparison of Germany and Japan
Haruo Shimada

Chairperson of Board of Trustees
Tokyo Metropolitan University
July 19, 2017
German-Japan Business Association
Berlin, Germany


Ⅰ.   Introduction
  It is my great honor and pleasure to have this special opportunity to share views and enjoy frank discussion with distinguished members of Berlin business community interested particularly in Japanese economy and German-Japan relationship.

     I visit Germany this time with some members of Shimada sonjuku, or literally translated Shimada village school, which organizes some 20 active and resourceful young business entrepreneurs for two year study program. We learn together histories, religions and cultures of major cultural zones of the world with a hope to equip themselves with relevant knowledge to become global business leaders. We make it a rule to visit a few countries in a year which are particularly interesting to understand the prospect of the world. We chose to visit Germany this time for this reason.

   Taking advantage of this opportunity I would like to thank particularly Dr. Franz Waldenberger, Director, German Institute for Japanese Studies, for his earnest support and careful and comprehensive arrangement to make our trip possible.


Ⅱ.   Historical Similarities and Differences

  1. Historical similarities

     Germany and Japan have many commonalities such as diligent people, industrial  state, strong family ties and so on. To single out perhaps the most important is our common historical experience of fighting in WWII, completely defeated, but reconstructed their economies remarkably, and are now facing many complex challenges in international community.

  2. Differences

(1) Defeat and reconstruction:

   Germany:
    Given this commonality, there are some important differences. After the defeat, Germany was governed directly by the four powers, the US, UK, France and Soviet  Russia. And consequently, the country was sub-divided in accordance with the  jurisdiction of these ruling powers. With a creep of the cold war, the division of the country between Western bloc with is governed by US, UK and France alliance,   and Eastern bloc governed by Soviet Russia grew increasingly sharp and rigid.   Disliking the Soviet way of control, many German citizens escaped from Eastern  bloc to Western bloc through Berlin. However, in August 1961, a wall was built in  Berlin which rigorously separates between the East and West making it impossible  to escape from the East to West until the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989.
 
  Japan:
    Japan surrendered by accepting Potsdam declaration, and luckily was able to  reconstruct the country with the existence of Japanese government although it was  entirely controlled by SCAP, General Douglas A. MacArthur. Since almost all the  urban areas had been thoroughly destroyed by air raid, the economy was chaotic  and suffered from acute inflation. The US government sent economic advisors to  redesign and recover the economy. In order to suppress acute inflation, they forced  the government to adopt balanced budget which drove the economy into serious  depression. The economy eventually escaped from this pitfall thanks to a wind fall  demand due to Korean war in 1950.

(2) Economic Recovery and Reconstruction:

  Germany:
     Under the incredibly difficult conditions, German(West) economy started remarkable recovery. There were several helpful reasons: there remained  in many places workable industrial facilities,  economic aid by Marshall plan, and diligent German workforce. In contrast, the recovery of the East bloc was   much delayed largely because Soviet Russia’s merciless deprivation of remaining   productive capacity which was sent to Soviet.

   Japan:
     Japan achieved remarkable industrial recovery from 1950s in the wake of  Korean war. In addition to the boosting war demand, the 180 degree change of US strategy to deal with Japan from a possible enemy to an important ally in the face of rapidly growing cold war confrontation with the Soviet Russia. With the  strong support and aid, Japan developed rapidly industrial capacity. By the end of 1950s, Japan was equipped with the most advanced productive facilities in basic industries such as steel and shipbuilding. On this basis, Japan exhibited two decades of rapid economic growth which attracted international attention.

 
Ⅲ.   Postwar Economic Development

1.  Remarkable development of Germany and its problem

    (1) US pressure on exchange rate
     In 1960s West Germany became a growth center of Europe. Powerful manufacturing companies led vigorous development of German economy.  Disturbed by increasing trade and fiscal deficits, the US forcefully demanded Germany and Japan in mid-1980s to raise exchange rate. Unlike Japan, Germany kept its policy stance solidly and avoided erratic confusion.

   (2) Re-unification of Germany and the birth of EU
     In 1989, dramatic mass movement took place in Eastern Europe to criticize the pressive governments and go beyond borders. That wave reached East Germany in November and people broken the Berlin wall. Taking advantage of this epochal change of world history, Chancellor Helmut JM Kohl dared to propose a long desired plan of re-unification of Germany. The reunification was admitted by European countries, most notably France, together with a mega-transformation of Europe, namely, the formation of EU. The reunified Germany pledged that it will belong to EU and contribute to the development of EU.

    (3) Schroeder reform: Agenda 2010
      While Germany has grown to be a major economic power, it began to suffer in 1990s a social symptom of what may be called “German disease.” Workers enjoy high income, long vacation, good pensions and well protected employment security, German economy began to suffer from rigid labor market and high labor cost. Germany was often called “sick man” of Europe. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who succeeded office from Chancellor Kohl challenged this deep-rooted structural defect courageously. His challenge is known as “Agenda 2010.”  He altered dramatically rigid rules of employment to flexible and efficient system,  for example, shortened eligible period to receive unemployment benefits, a new scheme to reduce pension payments by raising eligible age to receive benefits and fixed term employment etc. These reforms had been proposed in the past by CDU and business friendly political leaders but not realized. It is amazing that Mr.  Schroeder, the head of SPD, the social democratic party, dared to propose such policy package which would strengthen business competitiveness by making labor cost burden more flexible, and realized such reforms. While Mr.Schroeder was unpopular because of such reforms, German economy revived thanks to such  flexible system of labor market and welfare payment.
 
   2.  Remarkable development of Japan and the lost decades

    (1) Industrial development strategies of the government and business
       The postwar rapid economic growth, which was admired as “Japan’s economic miracle” has been promoted by industrial development strategies of the government as well as of businesses. The government constructed a  hierarchical structure of financial system by which the scarce financial resources are effectively mobilized to export oriented industries, and an industrial structure which constitutes an effective input-output structure to by combining basic input industries to those of final outputs, thereby empowering export competitiveness.
       Businesses developed intra-company systems of training, career development, and quality control. While they learned QC from the US, Japanese companies developed QC further by creating quality control circles utilizing the merit of team work at the workshop. Large firms developed multi-tier supply chains organizing small and medium sized companies. All this helped Japanese industries develop export competitiveness.

   (2) US pressure and the Plaza accord
     Faced with increasing competitive pressure from trading partners particularly of Germany and Japan, the US government represented by Treasurer Mr.James Baker urged those countries to raise exchange rates. They somehow agreed to the  US demand in the form of the Plaza accord in 1985. In the wake of the accord, Mr.Baker further requested Germany and Japan to expand their domestic demand to reduce their trade surplus to the US. Germany responded to it following its basic policy stance. Japan swallowed the US demand. However, worried about the depressive effect on its export revenue by higher exchange rate, Japanese government adopted drastic expansionary policy by both fiscal and financial  means.

(3) The bubble and the lost two decades
      Since Japan adopted a much delayed policy to dump the bubble which had emerged by the preceding expansionary policy, Japanese economy started  to suffer a long stagnation, which later has been called as the lost two decades which lasted until Abe administration launched “Abenomics” from 2013.


Ⅳ.  Current Economic Performance: Germany and Japan

  1.  Germany:

    (1) Remarkable growth of German economy
       German economy has been enjoying a powerful growth recently, particularly since around 2010. Germany is currently seen as Europe’s power center. While the economic policies of Ms.Angela Merkel’s CDU government is certainly  appreciated for the success, much of the success should also be credited to the courageous and thorough reform conducted by Chancellor Gerhard  Schroeder. By the name of his reform, “Agenda 2010,” Mr.Schroeder meant  that the effects of the reform would be real by 2010. Thanks to his drastic reform  to increase labor market and welfare flexibility, German economy revived its vigor since around 2010, 5 year after Mr.Schroeder’s stepping down from the  office. 

   (2) Advantages of expanded EU and joining EURO economy
       Looking more broadly and with a longer perspective, the formation of EU and its development to include many central and eastern European countries as its members, and constructing and joining the Euro zone economy contributed importantly to facilitate powerful development of German economy. By utilizing relatively low wage members of the expanded EU as Germany’s supportive  production basis, and taking advantage of the common currency EURO which  should be much lower than “would be Mark,”German economy secured strategic advantages for remarkable development even with the heavy economic burden of  reunification of the country.  Noteworthy is that these great strategies were adopted and carefully promoted by the courageous and sensible political leadership of Germany.

  (3) Two speed economy and widening differentials.
      Recent performance of German economy is outstanding. Growth hit a five year high in 2016. Exports are flourishing which resulted in a biggest trade surplus in the postwar era. Unemployment is lowest since reunification. Chancellor  Angela Merkel described the situation saying, “you have never lived as good.” This is, however, a shining aspect of booming sectors of the economy. At the  other end, low wage workers are increasing significantly who have only sub-standard employment conditions. Great influx of refugees and immigrants since particularly from 2014 largely from middle east amplify worries, anxieties or even fears of less protected workers in the society, which result in instability and disintegration of the society possibly having important implications for politics of Germany.
 
2.   Japan:  Abenomics and its performance

    (1) Attempt to get rid of deflationary economy
        Having been annoyed by the prolonged deflation without any substantive growth for more than two decades, the new administration led by Mr.Shinzo Abe was organized toward the end to 2012. The principal objective of the new cabinet was to get rid of chronic deflation. To get out of the spell of deflation and to initiate substantive growth of the economy, Abe administration launched a new policy package which later became known as “Abenomics.”

   (2) Launch of Abenomics: three arrows
        Abenomics consists of three arrows: (1) arrow of monetary policy, (2) arrow of fiscal policy and (3) arrow of growth strategy. These arrows have been launched one after another successively. 
 
     (3) Mixed success of the first arrow: monetary policy
         The gist of the first arrow, the monetary policy, has been that BoJ increases the base money as much as 130 trillion yen within 2 years so that the stock of base money would increase to 270 trillion. With this “extra-dimensional”easing, BoJ governor Mr.Haruhiko Kuroda promised to increase prices by 2 percent within 2 years. Incidentally, the stock was planned to increase up to 350 trillion in the subsequent year, and is now expected to reach to 500 trillion, just as much as the size of GDP.
        Expecting  a huge increase of base money, the yen devalued by 20% in a few months, which in turn drove up stock prices by 80% within half a year. Namely, stock prices increased from 8000 yen in December 2012 to 15000yen in May 2013, which has increased less rapidly to reach the current level of 20000 yen.  Thanks to a large increase of stock prices, corporate profits increased sizably  which changed the business climate visibly. In this respect, the first arrow can  be evaluated as an appreciable success.  On the other hand, the genuine objective of this monetary policy, namely by increasing prices by 2 percent alter price expectations of people from deflationary to inflationary was not achieved as expected. Except for the first half a year, price increases have been negligible or stagnant until recently. While prices began increasing only modestly recently, its pace is far from what was expected by the “extra-dimensional” easing.  Thus, the first arrow as a whole may not be evaluated as “success.”

    (4) Active fiscal policy: the second arrow.
          Abe administration declared to adopt active fiscal policy, namely, the government does not hesitate to resort to large spending whenever necessary. In addition to unprecedented large amount of regular annual budget, the  government also injected extra-ordinary supplementary budgets almost once a year, for example, to help reconstruct devastated northern region by earthquake or to offset the negative reaction in the wake of an increase of consumption tax  etc. Although such active fiscal spending has been useful to prevent the economy from down swing, it made the government difficult to restore fiscal  balance by 2020, the international commitment. Thus, the second arrow may not be evaluated positively.   
 
    (5) Growth strategy by structural reform, the third arrow.
          The most important of Abenomics is growth strategy because Abenomics after all aims at achieving steady growth of the economy in the long-run. Abe  administration has been issuing a package of growth strategy every year since 2013. The 2013 package was a set of largely wishful ideas. The 2014  package, in contrast,  focussed seriously on many critical issues of structural reform such as agriculture and labor practices. However, the reform met  strenuous resistance so that unable to reach the core of the issues. The 2015 package was discouraging because it is abstract and not substantive for some reason.
           May it be the result of this or not, the overall performance of the economy has been rather disappointing: growth has been minimal and real wages have  been declining since shortly after the onset of Abe administration until very recently. Growth strategy of Abenomics, therefore, may not be viewed as success.
 
    (6) The second stage of Abenomics: inclusive growth for all
        Since from the end of 2015, Abe administration began to advocate a second stage of three arrows under the new umbrella slogan of “100 million all active strategy.” The new first arrow is strong economy which attains 600 trillion yen GDP by 2020. The second arrow is a hopeful society by which much more young mothers can work while leaving their kids at nursery. The third arrow is  a secured society where the aged can work more with greater care services for their helpless old family members. All this means is to enrich social infra-structure to help increase labor supplies in order to increase the growth potential of the economy, which has been dwarfed by the declining trend of population. It may be too early to judge success or failure of this new strategy.

    (7)  Labor shortage but sluggish wage increases.
        The growth performance of Japanese economy has been improved modestly since about a year ago in a conducive environment of global economy. The annual average grew to low 1%, which is considerably higher than the estimated growth potential. The labor market is extremely tight. Strangely, however, wage increases have been incredibly sluggish, perhaps reflecting increasingly polarized labor market structure with full-time high payed workers  vs. increasing proportion of part-time and low wage earners.
 
    (8)  Mushrooming government debt and possible fatal bankruptcy.
         A serious risk is sneaking into Japanese economy in a medium term. It is the issue of mushrooming government debt and a risk of possible fatal bankruptcy of the economy as its consequence. Currently, the accumulated  government debt is 240% of GDP, the ratio much worse than the worst EU member such as Greece. The aggregate net financial assets of households  has ceased to increase while the total government debt has been increasing. Within 10 to 12 years, the government debt will be greater than the aggregate household net financial assets. 
         Such an economy is very vulnerable to any external shocks which trigger catastrophe. Once triggered, bond prices fall down, interest rates jump up, which makes the government difficult to organize budget, difficult for business to borrow and invest, leading to catastrophe of the economy. The government  debt has been mushrooming due largely to rapid increase of social security  expenditures since mid-1990s. The most effective way to minimize the catastrophic risk is to decrease the social costs of aging. Abe administration  is timid to address itself forthrightly to this serious issue because it seems to recognize itself as very susceptible and vulnerable to the demand of aged  voters like many other countries. We need to learn from the wisdom of German  courageous Chancellor Gerhart Schroeder.


Ⅴ.    International Leadership: Issues and Challenges

   1.  Can Germany lead European integration?

     (1) Greece:
        Germany faces many challenges in international relations. Debt crisis of Greece has been a headache for Eurozone for the last few years and still is.  Germany has worked hard to facilitate financial arrangement with other member countries, ECB and IMF to lessen consequent damages to financial organizations,  but the fundamental debt problem of Greece still remains serious. The problem  potentially can develop to collapse of Euro zone.  The new French president, Mr. Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for reforming Euro system addresses on this issue. The world is watching how Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts to his proposal, and    offers her own positive plan for the zone.

    (2) Brexit:
         Brexit is another serious challenge. Prime Minister ○May declared “hard Brexit,” but at the same time requires Ms.Merkel and other EU leaders to provide special treatment to UK considering its unique importance to the  rest of EU. Many, many questions are yet to be negotiated and resolved including the issue of break away payment. Since the way Brexit is treated  by EU and its economic consequences are the matter of serious concern for the global community, here again the judgement and leadership of Mr.Merkel is keenly watched.

     (3) Eurosceptism:
         Not only UK, but also in many other EU countries such as Austria, Poland, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, France and even Germany, Eurosceptic and  nationalistic political parties and social movements have aroused rapidly partly reflecting popular resentment and fear against dramatic increase of refugee immigration and terrorism. This is a serious challenge against the basic motives for integration and cohesion of EU itself. The role of Germany, which has  founded and defended EU working with France is watched seriously by pro-EU countries and people in international community.

      (4) Trump:
         In addition, Mr. Donald Trump has been posing problems against Germany and EU. He denounces Germany for imposing intolerable trade deficit to the US and paying much less than it should to contribute to NATO. Without knowing the history and understanding the roles of EU for global economic development and security, he dismisses its importance. Perhaps, disgusted       with his outrageous attitude and ultra self-centered assertions at G7 Summit held in Taormina, Sicily, Ms. Merkel said a few days afterwards in a beer tent in Munich that “the times we can fully count on others are over.” “Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.” This statement called forth broad repercussions in international community.

    (5) Leadership for  European integration:
         The critical question is whether Germany can and will take leadership in Europe. Whether it can take leadership, the answer is obviously yes. Germany  is certainly capable both economically and politically, leadership in Europe. Whether it is willing to take leadership is another question.  Historically, Germany has been very cautious on this question for various  reasons, particularly, of historical liability of WWII. Under this constraint,  however, Germany has worked well to integrate European community working patiently with other partners such as France.  However, given the current extra-ordinary happenings to alter political alignment of the world, perhaps, it may be time for Germany to think more positively to take leadership, recognizing that it will require Germany to bear due burdens as a European and necessarily a global leader.

   2.   Can Japan lead regional cooperation?

     (1) Trump, North Korea, China, South Korea
          Mr. Trump kept criticizing during the presidential campaign that Japan is free-riding on security arrangement with the US saying that if Japan does not pay enough, the US would withdraw its troop from Japan. He also declared that the US will pull out of TPP(Trans Pacific Partnership) on the first day in  his office. Mr. Trump’s accusation against Japan’s free-riding was groundless because  Japan pays 73%, the highest among US allies,  of staying cost of US military on Japan’s territory. General James Mattis, Defense secretary, quickly corrected the wrong image faked by Mr.Trump when he visited Japan as early as in   February. General Mattie even praised Japan’s burden sharing as “the model”  for other allies.

    (2) TPP:
         On the question of TPP, Mr.Trump ordered to pull out on his first day in the office. He did it inspite of the fact that it was his predecessor, president Barack, who solicited Japan to join. Japan now is seeking to start TPP working with 10  other countries without the US. Instead of TPP, the US wishes to have a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. Since TPP is the most advanced agreement of trade rules encompassing not only trade of goods but also a wide range of items including services, investments, government interference and intellectual property rights. The content of Japan-US bilateral agreement will in large part have to depend upon TPP agreements.

    (3) North Korea problem:
        Continuous and escalated experiments of long-range missiles and nuclear  weapons by North Korea led by Kim Jon-Un began to give substantive threats to the US. Mr.Trump reacts with stern will not hesitating to resort to military  means to denuclearize North Korea. After his summit talk with Xi Jinping,  President of China, US requires China to put pressure against North Korea to refrain from such dangerous and provocative actions. In return, Mr.Trump dropped all accusations he had been directing loudly against China, as a “deal.” Some argue that pre-emptive attack could be effective to make North Korea powerless. This argument is extremely reckless and unrealistic because North Korea would certainly destroy Seoul, Tokyo and US base in Okinawa quickly before they are fatally attacked. What is needed is close cooperation of China,  US, Japan and South Korea to persuade North Korea. However, North Korea so far has shown no sign to listen to such voices, and contrary kept developing catastrophic weaponry earnestly. At the end of the day, North Korea may well be equipped with the most advanced and powerful destructive weapons. To protect from such threats, countries in this region including Japan may have to arm     themselves with nuclear weapons.

   (4) China :
      While China and Japan are closely tied together in trade and investment, political relations have rarely been close. In recent years, particularly after the  incident of Senkaku islands, the relationship has been tense and often hostile.  China has been accusingly Japan more fundamentally as having wrong  interpretation and consciousness of history. Their criticism has a certain    elements of truth, although their propaganda and education often exaggerate historical incident too much. More regrettable, in my judgement, is that  Japan has not educated its public the basic facts of the relationship between  Japan and China and other Asian countries during the war ridden period of  early half of the 20th century. Without sufficient education of modern history     of this era, we could not cultivate reasonable mutual relations among neighbors.

   (4) South Korea
        Korea has been continuously hostile and antagonistic against Japan throughout the postwar era except a few cooperative instances at the level of government and business. With newly elected president, Mr. Moon Jae-in, an alleged Japan critique, the relationship will be unfortunately more hostile.
         This makes a sharp and curious contrast with German relations with Israel and some European countries. Japan has annexed Korea for about half a century after Japan-Russia war. With this experience, Korea hated Japan even since and and has kept been accused intolerably as exemplified by the case of “comfort women.”  In contrast, Nazis killed more than 6 million helpless Jews in Europe and destructed and destroyed many parts of neighboring countries during WWII,  but Germany has successfully cultivated mutually understandable relations with them. Japan may well need to learn wisdom from Germany to handle this issue.
 
   (5) Regional leadership issue:
       The problem and challenge Japan is faced on this question is quite common with Germany. Because of historical liability of wars, Japan has been very cautious about the regional leadership. While Japan has much industrial, technological, educational, cultural capabilities to contribute to the region, Japan is severely limited politically. So far, Japan has earnestly contributed in     the form of official development aid using its capability, but refrained from any  political leadership.
         The Japan-US defense alliance, which Japan has been totally reliant for more than 60 years since the beginning of the cold war, adds another factor of dis-trust from countries like China and its regional allies. Japan is often accused for not clarifying war responsibility. Unlike the case of Germany, which was led by Adolf Hitler to wage the war, Japan was crowned by Emperor Hirohito who officially headed the country but has had very limited leadership so that the  issue of war responsibility cannot be clarified as evidently as in the case of  Germany. Besides, it was General Douglas MacArthur, the SCAP, who protected the emperor system as an instrument to administer his occupation, which makes it difficult to clarify the issue of war responsibility.


Ⅵ.    Lessons and  Mutual Learning

   1.  Lessons for Germany

       Let me point to some lessons for Germany in the current and foreseeable  future which emerge in my mind by comparing experiences of the Germany and Japan.

(1)  Leadership to strengthen EU integration and stabilize EURO zone
      Given various events which took place in Europe recently such as fiscal crisis in Greece, Brexit, drastic influx of refugees and immigrants from Middle East, uprising of nationalistic political parties and movements in many European  countries, and also antagonistic attitude of president Trump against EU, EU seems to be suffering from instability and possibility of disintegration. It seems that it is primarily Germany which can and should take leadership to work together with other European countries to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation for the direction of strengthening European integration.
        Of many tasks and challenges which Germany and other cooperative European countries are faced to work for this direction, I would like to point to the problems of Greece and Brexit. Problem of Greece seems to be more of fiscal than financial. Although the problem was created largely by the lack of fiscal discipline of Greece, it seems to be meaningful and useful for lending  side as led by Germany gives some fiscal leeway such as lessening Greece fiscal burden for a certain limited period so that they can reform their system which they have been living with for a long time thanking the tentative rescue  of the lending side led by Germany.
       Brexit is needless to say the problem which UK is fully responsible.  It is hard for outsiders like us, though, to understand where UK is heading at by  sticking to the principle of hard Brexit as Ms.Theresa May advocates and  also claiming to create an entirely different set of relations with other countries and regions including EU. UK seems to be trapped in an unfortunate confusion.  We hope EU led by Germany and UK facilitate some new format to promote discussion with more open and mutually deeper understanding to find a constructive breakthrough.

(2) Construct fiscal federation or Euro bond.
        It is recognized by many experts that Euro zone is structured in a hampered way, meaning that the economic zone with integrated single currency but without integrated fiscal relations. Given this hampered structure, it is basically unavoidable that the system cannot have self-reinforcing momentum to keep strengthening the integration of the system as in a single country or a federal system.
        The proposal of new French president M. Emanuel Macron is well taken to  find a fresh breakthrough to redesign the precious system of Euro zone to foster self-reinforcing momentum to keep integrating the system. Currently, M.Macron  is reportedly suggesting to create a new Euro bond or design a quasi federal system. Germany has a unique and historical role to work together with  France to design and construct a more robust Euro system for Euro members  as well as the rest of the world.

   2.  Lessons for Japan

     (1) Learn German fiscal discipline
         Japan is suffering from by far the largest fiscal debt relative to major economies in the world. The outstanding government fiscal debt is as  much as 230% of GDP, which is much higher than that of Greece.
         In contrast, Germany has been reducing fiscal debt remarkably in recent years. From 2009 to 2014, Germany has successfully reduced federal fiscal debt as much as 96%. Germany is steadily improving its fiscal balance to satisfy  Maastricht agreement, namely, confining the debt ratio to GDP less than 60%,  the only country in EU.
         Extra-ordinarily large debt of Japanese government may well suffer from a fatal fiscal collapse in the sense of drastic reduction of JGB prices and  hence abrupt sharp increase of interest rates which makes it difficult for the  government to organize annual budget and for businesses to finance themselves.  Given the ever increasing abnormal debt burden, the fiscal condition is vulnerable to any major shocks to trigger the collapse of the economy.
          Germany has attained this remarkable improvement in its fiscal balance by successfully increasing its economic growth rate in recent years which increased tax revenues in spite that tax rates themselves for businesses and  individuals have been reduced. Germany achieved such improvements during the last decade by committing firmly to the fiscal discipline by even stipulating in its Basic Law to prohibit public borrowing greater than 0.35% of GDP. Japan needs to learn much from the wisdom and the determination to restore and  maintain healthy fiscal balance of the country.

       (2) Learn from Schroeder reform: Agenda 2010
           Although Schroeder reform seems to be not very popular in the current German society where people are getting increasingly nervous about increases of low wage workers and widening income differentials among social strata, it is undeniable that his reform has been a prime force to change the rigid social structure of Germany and gave economic flexibility for German  businesses to regain their vigor and competitiveness.
 
             Indeed, this is the type of structural reform which Japan badly needs to promote. Prime minister Shinzo Abe has been advocating to promote  structural change as a means to materialize the growth strategy of  “Abenomics.” However, labor reform to increase flexibility of payment and employment has not attained substantive progress, and Abe government has failed to reform public pension system to reduce the fiscal burden by means of, say, increasing the eligible age to receive benefits which Chancellor Schroeder forcefully attained. Japan needs to learn from Germany the wisdom, courage and the determination to execute necessary reforms.
 
       (3)  Learn from German education of history of wars with neighbors.
           Since 1939 to 1945, Germany led by the Nazis invaded many neighboring European countries, destructed the economy and society and killed many  people. German massacre of more than 6 million Jews is the most dreadful and shameful deed which should be remembered eternally in human history as a lesson not to ever be repeated again.
           After the war, German government and schools kept teaching young people of this sad experience. German attitude to share historical facts open with  both German and other peoples acquired some understanding among the  countries and peoples who were victimized by the Nazis aggression. With this effort, Germany somehow secured understanding by European partners and  even Israel to construct new cooperative relationship such as EU and Euro zone.
           Compared with such German experience, Japan has not successfully gained good understanding from some neighboring countries as China and Korea.  They keep criticizing that Japan has not learned from the history, and has not apologized the sin Japan has committed during the war. When it comes  to the question of war responsibility, German and Japanese experiences can  not be compared easily. It is because Adolf Hitler and Japanese Emperor are  totally incomparable even though they are formally top leaders. Hitler is a  cruel and greedy dictator who obviously and substantively ordered his military to invade and destroy victimized countries. Emperor is a highly respected holly leader of the nation, and his life and rein has been saved and protected by  the supreme commander of allied forces himself, General Douglas MacArther.
           However different the question of war responsibility of the top leader of  Germany and Japan, an undeniable fact is that Japan has not taught well to the people about Japan’s wars against other countries after the war even until  today. In contrast, in China and Korea, aggressions and destructions by Japanese military during the war are in many cases are taught in schools and broadcasted by media broadly and persistently in much exaggerated and distorted ways.
            Although there have been ample research results compiled by serious Japanese scholars and experts on facts of war, very little of such knowledge  and findings is shared by the public because of absence of serious education  in the postwar era. This non symmetry is a pity. Japan needs to learn from Germany at least to educate and keep educating the public about the facts of  wars in Japanese contemporary history particularly with neighboring countries.
 

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Work Together to Prevent a Second Korean War

The heightening tensions between North Korea and America has generated significant analysis and debate about what is at stake for the U.S.  Yet the interests and concerns of citizens in Japan have not been adequately entered into policy discussions to date.  That is why I recently led a high level delegation of Japanese business and civic leaders on a discussion and learning tour in the United States.  Our goal was to both learn how the policy options are viewed by US experts and to communicate our concerns about the consequences of pursuing different options.  

 What we learned only increased our view that Japan’s interests are not well understood nor getting adequate attention, despite the fact our country is in the immediate crosshairs of any hostilities that might occur.  Moreover, the opportunity to draw on Japan as a direct player in helping to deescalate the immediate tensions and put all parties on a mutually beneficial path has not yet been recognized.

 Our biggest concern is that leaders in North Korea and the U.S. are taking mutually reinforcing and provocative actions that edge each other toward a military confrontation.  Korea continues to test increasingly powerful ballistic missiles and might soon test another nuclear weapon. U.S. Vice President Pence says “all options are on the table” and the Administration demonstrates it resolve by sending more naval power into the region.

 The joint effects of these actions have raised tensions in the region to a higher level than any time since the end of the Korean War. Threatening messages by the US and North Korean leaders sound like both will not hesitate to attack if further provoked. While none of the U.S. experts we met with endorsed further escalation, they recognized there is a real possibility that this escalation could continue until either President Trump or North Korean President Kim is provoked into taking military action.  If this happens, Japan and South Korea will be the first to suffer the devastating effects.

 But our discussions with American experts suggested there are at least two other options that need to be considered in addition to escalation toward a military solution.

 A second option is to ask China to take actions to control the situation by diplomatic warnings, economic sanctions, and military pressure if necessary.  To some extent this is already happening and could be intensified.  China shares the interests of its neighbors in the region in avoiding further escalation of rhetoric.  If it played a leading role in brokering a de-escalation of tensions it could emerge as an even stronger leader and power in the region.  China could further strengthen its hand if could guarantee the support of the US, Japan, South Korea, and perhaps other allies in helping North Korea develop deal with the severe food shortages, develop its economy, and address its related domestic problems.  Under this scenario, China’s miraculous progress of the past three decades could be a model for North Korea.

A third option is to pursue a more multilateral solution through diplomatic negotiation to make Mr. Kim, Jon Un realize abandoning reckless challenges and to instead denuclearize is the way for him to maintain his regime, address his domestic challenges, and save face.  History suggests this would require the help of quiet behind the scenes or back channel diplomacy by trusted intermediaries.  The Japanese public was encouraged by the extended amount of time President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe spent together recently at the President’s Mara Lago resort.  Our hope is the personal relationships built up during their visit might have helped the President better understand Japan’s interests in this matter and increase his willingness to ask the Japanese Prime Minister to do whatever he can to help broker a peaceful path forward.

Whatever mix of these options is chosen it is important to understand that Mr. Kim, Jon Un is an extremely self-centered and unpredictable personality.  All interested parties outside of Korea need to work together very carefully to not provoke him act on impulse. Further incremental escalation should be avoided for this reason. The China option is a more workable and realistic way to minimize the risk of the war. The third option requires President Trump and Chinese leaders to recognize the legitimate stake Japan has in this conflict and to see Japan as a potential diplomatic channel for forging a longer term solution that benefits all the parties.

 The US, China, and Japan must take all these possibilities and their likely consequences into account and closely and carefully work together to avoid an irreparable catastrophe.

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Report of Shimada Juku Visit of US to Study Trump Administration

「Mr.Trump, The Trump Administration, Their Implications to Japan」

   Ten members of Shimada-juku and myself visited the US for the period of April 8 to 13, 2017 to study the current situation of Trump administration and its probable prospect. The list of the members and the time table of our trip are attached below.

    We planned this study trip shortly after Mr.Trump was elected as 45th president of the United States. We planned to visit the US sometime in April mainly because the nature of Trump administration and its policies will be more or less evident 3 months after the inauguration of Mr.Trump.

   The basic motivation which drove us to study about Trump administration by visiting the US is that this administration could and would have unprecedentedly critical impacts for Japan to choose its course for the future.
   The choice of American voters of Mr.Trump as the president was a great surprise for us. This is because his statements, rhetoric and attitude during the election campaign were so unique, rough and outrageous that he simply did not seem qualified to be the president of the United States, the largest and most powerful country in the world and in view of its historical role of constructing and managing the global system which has governed the security and economic prosperity of the world since the end of WWII.

   His sales point was “America First” and “get jobs back to American workers,” which was not surprising. But his policy proposals to achieve them were incredible. He asserted that in order to protect American workers from intrusion of Mexican illegal immigrants, put up a wall at the border of Mexico by their money, impose high tariffs as much as 45% on imports from China and Japan, pulling the US out of TPP on the first day of his office as president, make Japan and other allies pay much more to cover the staying cost of American troops on their lands and if they do not pay as much as he wants he will withdraw the troops from those countries. 

   He denounced NATO as an outdated and useless organization. On the other hand, he praised Vladimir Putin as a powerful leader, and even hinted a “grand bargain” with Russia. Not only his “policy” is too radical and unrealistic but also his rhetoric was outrageous such as “putting Hillary into prison once I become the president.” 

   He is particularly unique in the sense he has absolutely no experience in politics nor in public service or even military service. Perhaps this is the very reason that his supporters who wanted him to destroy “Washington establishment” and “Washington politics” voted him. His only experience has been a real estate business man and is good for trading “deals.” He asserts to use this method of deals through one-to-one negotiation in international trade negotiations. Astonishingly, he does not seem to have knowledge or necessary understanding of the meaning of collective international agreements on trade, nor international security cooperation, or of history of the world.

   If he really pursues these policies he advocated during the election campaign, it will be a serious nightmare for a country like Japan which has been enjoying the peace and prosperity largely based on international cooperations. If Mr.Trump will stick to his assertions during the campaign, Japan may have to rethink about its strategy of collective security and trade based on international cooperation. 

   Therefore, whether the Trump administration will be the same as his radical assertions during the campaign or grows to be modified through learning by doing to become a more reasonable, reliable and conventional administration which have been practiced by the United States as the leading power of the world.

    The basic motivation of our study trip is therefore to learn on the spot through hearing and discussions with think tanks, experts, and opinion leaders about the real situation of Trump administration with a hope to get some clues to judge which would be a reasonable choice for Japan to take for coming years.

   From the end of 2016, Mr.Trump hastily started to appoint critical members of his team to work in the White House like Mr.Steve Bannon, Mr.Mike Flynn etc. Peculiar is his choice as the closest advisor Mr.Jared Kushner, his son in law. His choice turned out to be limited to close circle of his family, extremists and retired military men.

   His inauguration address was disappointing. It simply did not sound like the first memorable public address of the president of the leading country of the world. The address did not contain any elements of noble philosophy as a world leader nor memorable expressions or encouraging statements for the American and the world public. Rather his address was the repetition of the same old radical, rough and vulgar words to blame trade partners and allies and self centered assertion of egoistic nationalism.

   After the inauguration, Mr.Trump rushed to work in his office of the White House. On day one, he declared to pull the United States out of TPP. This action was symbolic of his ignorance of the meaning and importance of international agreement of trade to improve global economic conditions by collaboration, and also his deep-rooted antagonism against the direction of his predecessor, president Barack Obama. He then issued an executive order to stop entry of Moslem people from 7 Moslem countries into the US. He issued executive orders one after another based on some relevant laws such as IEERA(Internal  Economic Emergency Act). In a couple weeks, he issued a few dozens of executive orders. He probably meant to do things as quickly as possible which he promised to his supportive voters during the campaign.

   His order to prohibit the entry of Moslem people into the country called forth criticism and oppositions both within and outside of the country. Judges of regional judicial courts issued temporary injunctions to suspend the effect of presidential order. Mr.Trump rebutted and modified the order, but then judges of other courts suspended the new order. Mr.Trump also ordered to build a wall at the border with Mexico, and said that he will have Mexico pay for the cost of the construction. Mr.Trump solicited Mexico president to come to Washington to discuss this matter. Having felt insulted, Mr. Emroque Pena Niter, the Mexico president refused to come. Mr. Trump also required or even threatened individual employers in manufacturing industry such as auto and electric appliances by Twitter or by direct contact not to build plants in Mexico and maintain domestic employment. Some of them compromised with Mr.Trump’s pressure.

   During this turmoil, General James Mattis, Secretary of Defense and the most experienced and respected military leader, visited Japan, Korea and NATO Hq swiftly and confirmed the importance of defense allies and the security agreements of them with the US. In Japan, Mr. Mattis praised Japanese defense partnership with the US is a model. His statement in Japan relieved the Japanese who were much worried about the earlier antagonistic criticism he made against Japan during the campaign. Mr. Mattis’ confident statement in Brussels encouraged European allies to work for NATO with the US.

   Unlike the White House team, Mr.Trumps appointments of government officials do not work smoothly. While he was able to nominate the key personal in the cabinet, namely secretaries,  and some of them approved by the Congress, most of the political appointees of the government have not been approved nor even been nominated. As of mid-April, only 20 or so of high officials have been approved out of some 500 necessary to operate the government organization effectively. For instance, Mr.Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, does not have his staff at the level of deputies, assistants and directors. He works alone to conduct important national negotiations. One of the reason why the approval process is delayed unprecedentedly is the fierce and persistent opposition by the Democrats, but another disturbance is that Trump camp denies to recommend capable and experienced personnels of traditional Republicans who signed “Never Trump” declaration during the election campaign. Mr.Trump apparently choose people not by ability but only by their faith to him.

   Handling the Congress seems to be an inexperienced challenge for Mr. Trump who has had no experience in politics. One of his important commitment to his franchise which he promised to accomplish early in his agenda is to replace Obamacare. In mid-March, however, he had to withdraw his alternative plan from the Congress even before voting. This was because he had to realize that his alternative plan drafted by Mr.Paul Ryan, the majority leader,  would not pass if voted because of opposition of hard headed “Freedom Caucus” of the Republicans. This withdrawal gave the public an impression Mr.Trump failed to get job done in the Congress, certainly a damage of his image.

   In mid-April. Mr.Xi JinPing visited Mr.Trump at his winter “White House”Mala lago. After a talk, they did not announce a joint communique. Either side released their own interpretation of the content or agreement of the summit talk which are mutually contradictory, meaning there was no substance in the talk. Toward the end of the talk, Mr.Trump told Mr.Xi that the US shoot 59 Tomahawk toward Syria, government military base. Trump side announced that Mr.Xi understood and agreed to work with the US to control the dangerous challenge of Kim Jong Un. We will see. Incidentally, Mr. Trump did not mention at all about China’s currency manipulation or unfair trade practice which he shouted loudly during the campaign. Did Mr.Trump change? It seems that Mr.Trump began to learn the real politics of the world a bit. This is also the development we need to wait and see. 

   Now, there wait major policy plans to be debated and passed by the Congress in order for them to be executed as policies to change the US economy as Mr.Trump wishes. There are four major policies.

(1) tax reform. Mr.Trump proposes a drastic reduction of highest tax rate both for corporations and for individuals. The plan is yet only a preliminary stage. This will have to be a major item of political debate in the Congress and other places,
(2) major fiscal spending particularly to replace and enrich infra-structure. Mr. Trump advocates that the volume of spending will be about one trillion dollars. Neither the details of the spending plan nor the ways to finance such spending are as yet shown
(3) Budget.Mr. Trump indicated that his budget plan will increase military spending by 10% while other discretionary items such as diplomacy, environment etc will be reduced by 20 to 30%. He has not touched on non-discretionary items such as social security as yet. Since politicians are deeply involved in local budget politics of their constituencies, Mr.Trump’s radical plan will stir up extensive debates in the Congress. It is suspected that the debate will take a long time and disturb budget formulation. To the extent, the decision will be extended beyond the time limit for budget formation, a temporary measure of continuous resolution will be applied to buy time. But the entire fiscal plan will be crippled, (4) trade. Trade is the focus point of Trump administration. He indicated the possibility of introducing border adjustment tax to discourage imports and encourage exports. The serious discussion on this idea has not yet started.


  Given the current situation of the Congress with fortified opposition of Democrats and internal confrontation and conflicts of Republicans, and the lack of necessary personnels in relevant departments of the government, the process of formulating the policies, examining and debating on them, and securing approval on these policies is likely to be delayed for a long time, which also means to hamper the functioning of the Congress. This implies that Trump administration will give an impression to the public that it can not determine policies which the president committed to his supporters.

   And even if these policies could be realized with much delay, the economic consequences of such policies are almost entirely opposite of what his supporters wished to gain. For example, the drastic decrease of highest tax rate will only benefit rich people and large companies and the burden of financing the cost of tax reduction will have to be born by ordinary workers. The huge fiscal spending also needs to be financed either by increased tax or long-term bonds which will eventually be born by working class anyway. Exclusive trade restrictions will make the imports more expensive and hurt the workers. The question is when and how the public who supported and voted for Mr.Trump will realize that they will be betrayed by Mr. Trump’s policy not because of his intention but because of the result of the working to the economic system.

   Mr.Trump also has potentially dangerous or even could be fatal problems: One is conflict of interest. Even though the president himself can be immune from impeachment by the Senate, his choices and decisions could not be completely detached from his management interest of huge fortune located throughout the US and the rest of the world. Family members of his political team such as Mr. Jared Kushner and Ivanka will be susceptible of this issue. Conflict of interest could be a huge political issue in the course to come. 

   The other is his suspected connection with Vladimir Putin. It is alleged that Russia interfered the presidential election by cyber attacks against his opponent Hillary Clinton. The Trump camp has denied and has been trying to turn the social attention away from this by even attempting to take harsh attitude against Kremlin. But if it turned out that Mr.Trump or his team indeed had ties with Kremlin, this issue could be a fatal scandal of Mr.Trump which is bad enough to be prosecuted in the Congress and indicted in the Senate.

   Opposition party, Democrats, and many other segments of people who are critical against Mr. Trump, accuse him, in addition to the demerits, short comings and problems noted above, such prejudices innate in Mr.Trump such as racism, discrimination. intolerance and exclusive nationalism and self-reinforced biases against free trade and international economic and defense cooperation. These characteristics of Mr.Trump has a worrisome risk of destructing the global systems on international cooperation to protect human rights, promote economic prosperity and maintaining peace which the previous administrations of the United States itself have worked hard to establish, develop and maintain in the postwar period.

   On the other hand, when we study the history of American politics, it is more of a rule than exception that the new leader or the power denies the rein and the thoughts and the guiding principles of the previous power. Such changes have been repeatedly experienced. In this regard, Mr.Trump is not really an exception. He certainly stands out as peculiar and seemingly unprecedented president, however, he may be regarded as one of those paradigm changers who emerged many times in American history of politics. 

   The change he represents is to try to destruct the conventional power structure represented by Washington establishment. He obtained the presidential office by the momentum of  absorbing, siphoning and reflecting the grass roots voice and demand of those people who recognize themselves as left behind and victimized by the powerful wave of “globalization” which Washington establishment and Wall street gangs admitted and promoted for the recent decades. And this may be the viable expression of American dynamism and the energy of American democracy.

   Interpreting Mr.Trump and his administration in this way, we, Japanese may get an important and valuable insight as to how to view and deal with the Trump administration and the United States under this administration. We were astonished, shocked and deeply worried by watching and listening his outrageous propaganda, radical assertions, rude rhetoric, discriminatory attitude and hopeless lack of knowledge of the world history and international relations exhibited during the election campaign. No matter how strange and outlaw he may be, once he becomes president he will lead the policy and strategy of the US in his own way, which looks to be a detrimental night mare.

   However, once he actually started as president, he immediately faced many obstacles, resistance and pressures. The primary policies he committed to the people during the campaign which he rushed to achieve to show to his supporters such as prohibition of entry of Moslems, building a wall at the border of Mexico by Mexico money did not proceed as he proclaimed. Staffing his government took incredibly long time and the administration cannot operate as it should. Criticizing defense allies has been de facto nullified by his well experienced Defense secretary. 

   His promise of replacing Obamacare was blocked by the resistance particularly of a group of his own party of Republicans, showing his incompetency of handling the Congress. His major economic policies such as tax reform, fiscal spending, trade policies, and the budget stay and wait outside the doorway of the Congress. No one including the president himself can have foresight to get them passed in the political process of the United States.

   Mr.Trump had to step back from his initial stance against China. He kept accusing that China was manipulating its currency, conducting unfair trade practice, threatened to impose high tariffs as high as 45% against Chinese exports to the US and even tweeted that he won’t be constrained by so-called “one China” doctorin. He withdrew all of such careless statements. 

   Japan was astounded by his declaration of getting out of TPP. Japan was astounded because it was the US which solicited Japan to join it. Japan was shocked because serious efforts for structural reform to meet the requirements to join TPP now may turn out to be in vain. Trump administration proposed instead bi-lateral economic dialogue. In bi-lateral negotiation, both sides have demands and reasons to ask for. The result should not be one-sided. The substance of such interactions will not be much different from conventional international negotiations such as TPP. Mr.Trump indicates, perhaps instigated by an eccentric nationalist Steve Bannon, that his administration will rewrite the rules of WTO which were written by the previous American administrations. This will probably be infeasible. Mr.Trump and his administration in this way failed to attain what he promised to his supportive voters one after another because his inexperience, hopeless ignorance about the world, lack of sound thought and strategies.

    It seems that the worry we have had shortly after the victory of Mr.Trump in presidential election diminishes week after week by observing the factual developments. While his peculiar characteristics such as impulsive temper, self-centrism, discriminatory biases may remain with his life, the course of the facts that the administration follow is increasingly reasonable and not much different from the conventional direction of many of the previous administration of the US not because of Mr.Trump’s intentional choice but rather because of disturbances, criticisms and oppositions of politicians as well as public, pressures and international interactions.

   Viewed in this way, the choice of the course for Japan is more or less obvious. We do not need to react discontinuously even though Mr.Trump may look discontinuous. We choose the way respecting the conventional wisdom the conventional US and the rest of the world have been working together to achieve economic development and maintain world peace by international cooperation.

   Mr. Shinzo Abe did a great job to try to be and work together with Mr.Trump as close as possible. He is the first national leader to have met Mr.Trump in person as early as November 2016. In February 2017, he spent more than two days together with him including playing golf of 27 holes and dine together formally 4 times, and informally once more, which is unprecedented in the history American diplomacy. He did it on careful study of Mr.Trump’s personality vouched by implicit interactions with his close advisors. Some leaders of the world look down on him, but I support his action as serving the national interest to deal with this outstandingly peculiar character, Mr.Trump.

   Putting this anecdote aside, there are three basics which Japan should follow: Maintain and strengthen ties and cooperation with the US both in economy and defense. Work more closely with good balance with many major powers and important countries to develop and maintain good and cooperative relations. Make Japan much stronger particularly in economy both in terms of maintaining competitiveness and to restore good fiscal balance.

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Sonjuku Trip to Cuba: 2017.3.4ー3.8

Why Cuba? 

   We, some members of Shimada Sonjuku alumni of class of 2016, two Shimada juku members and myself, visited Cuba briefly for a few days in March 2017. This trip was planned responding to strong requests of class of 2016 members. Shortly after they have finished our last study trip to Budapest, Hungary, they insisted that they would like to go for a special trip celebrating the graduation of Sonjuku. They unanimously wished to visit Cuba.

   Cuba certainly sounded a very interesting place for us to visit. This is because Cuba was a country which was not easy for ordinary Japanese to visit under the sanction imposed by the United States. But since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the US thanks to the historic decision of Obama administration, Cuba is now considered to be one of the final “frontier” for investors and travelers of the world.

   Cuba reminds many middle age and older Japanese of the horrifying event which broke out in October 1962, known as “Cuba Crisis.” The incident might well trigger the nuclear war between the United states and Soviet Russia on the issue as to how to handle a bunch of possibly nuclear missiles settled in Cuba by Soviet Russia directing toward the United States. After this event, the US terminated the diplomatic relations with Cuba regarding it as a hostile enemy country.


Cuba: a New Focus of the World

   It is amazing that Cuba somehow survived under the severe economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Moreover, Cuba is supposed to have maintained its unique national culture of loving music, dances, traditional liquors such as Rum, the best cigar known as “Habana” etc. It is widely known that Cubans still drive old American cars built in the 1950s and enjoying peaceful life under the socialist policies of equal economic and social status of all people, free education, and free medical services even in spite of general low income of the country.

   When the rest of the world witnessed the historical resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US in July 2015, many people predicted and somewhat worried that the unique cultures of the traditional Cuban society would quickly fade away by being overwhelmed by the intrusion of powerful American capitalism. If one wants to enjoy watching and feeling the virtues of traditional Cuban society and cultures, perhaps this is the last time to visit. These are some of the motivations which drove us to visit Cuba this time. If we wait for another year, we may not be able to see and feel much of the traditional nature of the Cuban society.

   We planned to visit Cuba in March because it is relatively more convenient than other timing. We started to arrange the trip since later in the fall of 2016. We soon learned that it was not early enough to start. It was quite hard to secure rooms of the hotel for our group of some 15 members. It was not quite easy to secure the seats in the flight at reasonable prices. With considerable effort, we somehow secured rooms and airline seats eventually.


Arrival at Cuba

   In the afternoon of March 4, we departed from Haneda/Tokyo International AP.Some members and myself took an Air Canada flight. I usually make it a rule to fly by business class, but the price for B class turned out to be extremely high this time as much as 8000 USD. I therefore took a premier economy class. This is the first experience for me in the recent decade.The seat was not expandable for flat bed like an usual business class seat. I worried if I could survive the flight of taking more than 12 hours. Fortunately, it was not as bad as I worried. I was able to sleep for a few hours. After changing the flight at Toronto, we arrived at Havana AP of Cuba. It was already late at night. The clock indicated a half past 10. 

   The process of getting into the country seemed smooth up to the moment when Mr.Ken Fujita, our member, was caught in a trouble. He was not allowed to walk through the examination counter. The officers checked many of his stuff. They eventually focussed on his portable Wi Hi. The rest of us were waiting in the hall near the turn table. Since more than half an hour has passed, I walked to the examination counter where Ken was being checked. We first thought that they did not know what the wi Hi was. Soon we realized that Yi Hi is not unknown in Cuba. Then,  why Ken was not released? The officers asked many questions to Ken. They called other offices to check something we never knew.

    After a while, a young female officer started to write many things in several sheets of papers. She at almost every step asked her supervisor to check something. I was standing beside Ken. They asked many trifle and seemingly non relevant questions such as the department of the university he graduated. I felt even somewhat sorry about this young female officer. She is apparently innocent. Something is wrong about the system or institutional intent. Eventually, they filled in all the documents and said that the portable Wi Hi will be kept for a month at Department of Communication. Ken is advised to pick it up by himself at the Department after one month. Everything was absurd and incredible.

   The process was unbearably slow and inefficient. Ken was released after one hour and ten minutes. The rest of our members had to wait outside of the examination office. This was ridiculous experience. This experience certainly made our impression of Cuba not favorable. However, our bad impression of Cuba at the AP was somewhat mitigated in the nice and relaxed atmosphere of the hotel.

   We arrived at the hotel, Hotel Melia Cohiba just about mid-night. The facilities and services of the hotel were quite good except communication by telephone and other IT devices  which was virtually impossible. After checking in, we spent sometime in the bar to take a night cap. Some members and I ordered the Rum, which is well known for Cuba. It was fabulous. I did not know until then the Rum was such a nice liquor. The liquor, music of the small band, and our conversation made us feel quite at home. When we stood up and left the bar, it was already some minutes after 2 o’clock in the morning in Cuban time. It was a long day. We had to leave early next morning. 


Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum

  I got up early because we had to leave the hotel at 8 o’clock. The breakfast in the hotel was good. The bus left the hotel punctually. All of us were quite sleepy because we were able to sleep only a few hours. We were heading to Santa Clara, where there was the mausoleum of Che Guevara. This was a long drive of 3 and half hour one way.

   Outside of the bus, there spreads fields for sugar canes, woods and scatter of houses. It was cloudy and windy. Quite unexpectedly, Cuba was not as hot as we anticipated. It was rather cool or even cold. Thick clouds indicated that it might rain on the way. We were guided by tourist guide,Elaine. She is small, cute, but quite diligent and efficient. She spoke good Japanese. She said that she learned her Japanese only in Cuba. Amazingly she spoke good Japanese even though she has never been to Japan. After finishing school of Japanese language, she did not have a job for 5 years and obtained the current job only 5 years ago.

   The drivers were faithful and reliable. Two drivers were dispatched because the driving was for a long time. The bus was well equipped. This was made by a Chinese car maker. Indeed the most of the bus we saw on the highway and in the town are made of the same Chinese maker. The road was good, better paved than we expected. The driving was monotonous and tiring, but we felt relaxed by their cordial reception.

   After having driven 3 hours and a half, we entered the city of Santa Clara. This is the country side city some 300 km away from Havana. The city, however, has a symbolic importance in the contemporary history of Cuba because this was the battle field where the revolutionist force led by Che Guevara finally won against the American coopted Cuban president, Mr.Batista. Because of this historic victory of revolutionists in this place, the mausoleum of Che Guevara, the revolutionist hero, was built.

   Shortly before we entered the city, it rained lightly for some minutes. Elaine warned that the mausoleum might be closed. She explained that the mausoleum keeps some bones of Guevara in the best condition. If it is open in the moist air of the rainy day, the bones may be unfavorably affected. For this reason, when it rains, the mausoleum is often closed. When we arrived the mausoleum, we found unfortunately that the mausoleum was closed. It looked that our long drive using almost the whole daytime was in vain. We took some pictures of the 6 m statue of Che Guevara on the roof of the mausoleum.


A Brief Modern History of Cuba

   Since the revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara seems so important for  the country of Cuba, let me spend some space to review what happened to the country before and after the revolution and until today.

   Cuba is a rare and unique country which survived for more than half a century under the severe economic sanctions imposed by the US even though its size is small in terms of land, economy and population and it is geographically very close to the US. The diplomatic relations with the US was cut and economic sanctions have been imposed after the new administration was established by the revolutionists led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and particularly in the wake of the execution of land reform by the new revolutionist government.

   Let me explain why the land reform was critical. We first need to understand the history of US-Spain war which took place toward the end of 19th century. Since the tropical Island of Cuba was well suited for sugar production, the US wanted to have sugar industry in Cuba which was then colonized by Spain.

   In those years, native Cubans together with immigrants from Spain have been increasingly motivated by “Cuban nationalism” partly resenting against the colonial policy of Spain, which gave rise to Cuban independence movement. This movement was led by a poet and philosopher, Jose Marti, who has been highly respected by Cubans as the father of Cuba. Jose Marti led the independence war waged by Cubans against Spain in1895. Watching this turmoil, the US government sent a US navy vessel, “Main” to Cuba claiming that the US needs to protect American companies, mostly of sugar industry, and American citizens. 


The US-Spain War and American Control of Cuba

   One day,  the US vessel “Main” suffered from explosion in Havana port. The US government determined that this was executed by the espionage of Spain, and the US government declared war against Spain. Taking advantage of this incident, Mr.Jose Marti organized civil soldiers, starting from some 2500 which eventually increased to 25000, and fought against Spanish rulers working together US military troops. Spain sent navy vessels and huge militiary troops amounting to 200000 to suppress this uprising and attacks by the US force. Within 2 months and a half, the Cuban independence force and the US military won against Spain.

   Having been defeated by the war, Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam to the US. After the war, the independence force led by Jose Mar ti declared the independence of Cuba and they established temporary government of Cuba Republic.

   However, the Cuba representative was excluded by the US from the participants to the peace making conference between the US and Spain. The United States changed its attitude to the Cuban independence campaigners from supporting and assisting to suppression. Even after the independence force declared independence of Cuba, the US militarily occupied Cuba for 3.5years and even after that the US continued to substantively occupy the area of Guantanamo for use for American military base for an unlimited period by formally paying a minimum rent of 2000 gold coins in those days and currently 4085 US dollars, which is roughly 1 cent per 1 square meter. In fact, the US treated the Philippines the same way after the US obtained the country from Spain. 

   American companies occupied or obtained large portion of land in Cuba where they used as sugar cain farms, and built many sugar refinery plants. Because of the difference of scale and efficiency of sugar production of American firms having mobilizing large amount of capital investments and employing Cuba farmers and producers, most of Cuba farms and sugar refinery plants have collapsed due to incomparable competitiveness.  As a result, more than half of entire production of sugar was monopolized by American businesses, and more than 60% of sugar workers were employed by American companies. 80 percent of Cuban export has been Sugar, which was almost entirely shipped to the US. It was a common custom that president of Cuba has to obey the orders of American ambassador to Cuba.


Exploited Cuban Workers

    And in 1942, a military general,  Fulgencio Batista, tried a coup d’etat by the assistance of the US to topple the government, but the cue at this time was not successful. He challenged a second coup d’etat with even a stronger support of the US and succeeded to topple the existing government and made himself a president of Cuba Republic. Since Mr.Batista has been supported by the US, he promoted policies which all result in profits for American businesses such as raising telephone charges which mostly end up in the revenue of American telephone company providing monopolistic telephone services in Cuba. In fact, 90% of electric power supply and telephone services, 50% of railway services, and most of tourism services were provided by American companies. 

   Cuban workers, who are employed in sugar farms owned by American companies, had to work hard from early morning till evening. Since the sugar harvesting period is only for January to April, Cuban workers employed by American companies had to borrow money from American sugar company which employs them to support their life for the rest of the year. They are obliged to live almost in a slavery life.  In most of Cuban farming villages, water supply system was available at most 30%, more than half of family households had  no toilets, more than two thirds of children were unable to get school education. 


Castro’s Attempt of Revolution

   It was under such circumstances, young Fidel Castro felt a strong mission to save the life of suppressed workers by toppling the dictator government of Mr. Batista. Fidel Castro was born in 1926. He graduated from law department of Havana University. Since the graduate of law school was able to practice law as a lawyer, he started working as a lawyer largely to help unhelpful clients. At his age of 26, he attempted a “revolution” with his fellow members by attacking Mongada and Bayamo military camps of Batista government. Their attempt unfortunately turned out to be a failure largely due to the lack of training and experience. Fidel was arrested and put in Jail for a few years.

   Fidel Castro has a large body but because of his personality and dedication to serve  the people, he was much cherished by people throughout his life. Even after he became the highly respected leader of Cuba and even among other socialism inclined neighboring countries. he was loved by people. People called him “Fidel” and very seldom used his family name, Castro. When he died in 2016 at the age of 90, people followed his living will of not leaving any form of monument and the like. As a consequence there remain no statute of Fidel Castro in Cuba for the real hero of the country.


Che Guevara Joined the Revolution

   Another important person who joined Castro’s revolution attempts was Che Guevara. Let me explain briefly how Guevara has come about to join Castro’s revolution movement. Ernest Guevara Delaserna was born in 1928 in Argentina. The name “Che” is a nickname. “Che” in Spanish stands for a very colloquial expression meaning “well” or  “hi” etc. Since Mr.Guevara used this expression frequently in his daily conversation, this becomes almost like a pronoun to describe Mr. Guevara. 

   He has had an asthma since his childhood. He was physically not mighty. Because he had a strong will to overcome such weakness, he practiced sports a lot.. He joined a medical department during college years. He visited many countries of South America by riding a motorbike. Through his experience he had a keen sympathy to poor and helpless people in many of the South American countries.

    He joined revolution activities of a few countries including Guatemala where the US government toppled the previous government and established a puppet government. He joined the revolutionist anti-government force to fight the government in power. After such attempts, he fled to Mexico to protect himself. There he met Fidel Castro who was preparing for revolution in Cuba. After having spent hours discussing their own views about suppressed countries and people and revolutions,Che Guevara became a genuine friend of Fidel Castro.

   They agreed to prepare seriously for another revolution in Cuba to topple Batista dictatorial government. They practiced military training and acquired comrades and weapons. In 1959, Castro, Guevara and the comrades of 82 got on a sailing boat, entitled “Gran Ma” heading at Cuba. During the sailing they suffered from such hazards as storms, but somehow arrived at the shore of Cuba. They were attacked by government soldiers but kept fighting against in the forest. 

   16 days afterwards, the survived members met at a point they meant to meet. The survivors were only 12.However, as they kept fighting against government soldiers, local farmers began to join their camp to fight agains government force. The size of the revolutionist troop grew large and their power grew strong. They won against government troops at various battle fields around the central hilly areas including the city of Santa Clara. One day they obtained information that Mr.Batista would dispatch from Havana a train of heavily armed cargo cars on the rail toward Santa Clara station. Che Guevara prepared quickly and carefully to attack the armed train. The revolutionist troop of only 18 attacked the train when they came close to Santa Clara station.


Victory of Revolution

   Because of highly effective fight, the revolutionist troop led by Guevara won the battle and controlled 408 soldiers and acquired many weapons and munitions. Having heard this news in Havana, Batista fled away from Cuba. It was found later that Batista took a huge amount of national financial asset with him to take an asylum. In the wake of this victory of the battle of Santa Clara, the revolutionists declared independence. It was 1959.

  Incidentally, Che Guevara injured his left arm when he jumped from the roof of the  cargo train down to the railway. His wife and comrade, Iruda, gave him her black scarf to hang the arm. Che liked the scarf so much that he kept using the scarf to hand his arm even after the arm was healed, and Che with black scarf has become his style. The statue of Che Guevara on the top of the mausoleum therefore hangs his left arm with this scarf while holding a rifle on his right hand.

   After having lunch in a nearby restaurant where we enjoyed nice Cuban style lunch and hot rum because of unexpectedly cold weather for this season of Cuba, we visited a cite of the battle of revolution force led by Guevara and the government soldiers dispatched by armed train. Several cargo cars of the train were left there, some lean and some fell sideways. The scene was somewhat deserted and lonesome. After taking a look at this historic site, we drove back a long way to Havana. Let me continue the story of Cuba and aftermath of the revolution.


Land Reform of Cuba

   Having established Cuba Republic working closely with Castro, they started to create the new country which provides equal opportunities to all the people particularly to help workers in farms and industries. One of the major policies was the land reform by which the new government takes the huge farm land away from the American companies such as “United Fruits” and distribute it to Cuban peasants. They declared that the new government promotes the “socialist” revolution. This policy angered the US companies and the government. In retaliation, the US stopped buying sugar from Cuba. While Cuba suffered a huge damage by losing most of export income, Soviet Russia offered to purchase Cuba sugar.

   In April 1961, The American CIA organized 1500 anti-revolution troop including some Cubans who fled to Florida away from Cuba after the revolution. The Cuba revolutionist government organized 25000 civil militia to counter their attack. Castro and Guevara themselves stood on the top of a tank at the front of their militia force to lead the fight against the CIA force. After the severe battles, the Cuba side won. 

  Having been defeated in this war, American government then planned in February 1962 to conduct a full-fledged attack by comprehensive military force encompassing navy, army and air force against Cuba. In this process,  a memorandum was found by Mr. MaCorn, the head of CIA, that a large number of missiles were set in Cuba heading at the US. The photos of some 100 pieces of Soviet missiles, of which some are possibly nuclear headed,  set in Cuba targeting the US taken by the US scout plane was disclosed on October 16, 1962. The scout planes also found that many Soviet vessel were approaching Cuba loading still more missiles on their decks. President John F. Kennedy decisively ordered the blockade of the sea around Soviet fleet and the  coast of Cuba. On October 22. 


The Cuba Crisis: A Possible Nuclear War

   President Kennedy disclosed this information to the world. This news horrified not only American people but also most of people of the world because this incidence could well trigger a full-fledged nuclear war between the US and Soviet Russia, the most serious nightmare for the human race, if any or both sides fail to handle the case wrongly. I was a sophomore student of Keio University at the time. I clearly remember that we were watching TV, listen to the radio and read seriously the head line news of every morning and evening. 

   President Kennedy declared to Soviet leaders that the US will not hesitate to attack Soviet vessels if they do not stop approaching Cuba. On October 28, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, the first secretary of Soviet Communist Party and the leader of Soviet Russia, compromised to the decisive ultimatum of President Kennedy and decided to withdraw Soviet fleet from the Caribbean sea. The rest of the world gave a sigh of relief. The world was relieved from the danger of nuclear war.

   After this event, the US strengthened its ties with and control of various countries in  South American continent making use of the OAS(Organization of American States), which was established in 1951, and excluded Cuba out of this organization. The US strengthened economic sanctions by not only the US but also these neighboring countries. Cuba survived this hardship partly with the support and assistance of Soviet Russia. However, after the dissolution of Soviet Union in 1991 in the rein of Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev who promoted Glasnostch and Perestroika which later triggered a coup de tat leading to the collapse of Soviet Russia.

   Even under these hardships, Cuba somehow managed to survive miraculously, and kept providing free school and free medical care services with minimal income differentials which are the ideals of socialism. 

Guevara Dedicating for World Revolution

   Coming back again to the story of Che Guevara, while he was working with Fidel Castro to build the Socialist Republic of Cuba, the difference between the view and ideals of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro have become increasingly apparent and grown large. Guevara increasingly sharpened his thought about what the man should be like. He advocated the concept of “New Human Being.” By which he means the man completely free from any restraints imposed by old societies. Man should be liberated completely. The best and only way to liberate the man is to pursue revolution.

    He thought that revolution is the most desired and noble way of living for a courageous man. Looking around the world, he thought that there are ample cases where revolution is needed. Revolution was needed to liberate the people. With this thinking, the difference between Guevara and Castro is so obvious since Castro is devoting fully to create and maintain good socialist Cuba, while Guevara thinks that he should devote himself to lead the world revolution to save the suppressed people in the world.

   Castro realized that he could no longer keep Guevara in Cuba, and Guevara left Cuba to challenge revolutions in various parts of the world including not only South America but also even as far as Africa. He went to Congo trying to help victimized people. He then came back to South America. He joined the revolutionary force in Bolivia who were apparently trying to fight against the dictatorial government. However, he was betrayed and captured by the government soldiers. Since he was disguising himself not to be identified by his enemies these years, the soldiers who caught him cut off his wrists to test really he was Che Guevara. The body was berried aside the street. It was 1967. He passed away at his age of 39.


Guevara: an Eternal Hero

   In 1997, namely 30 years later, his body, in fact pieces of bones, was found. Fidel Castro decided to carry his body back to Cuba. When the body arrived and was carried by a car to the city of Santa Clara, which is the memorial city where the final battle was fought by the revolutionists led by Guevara to defeat the troop of Batista sent there by armed train, which is some 300 km away from Havana, it is said that the citizens and villagers stood uninterruptedly along the road side to dedicate sad parting with their praying. While we were driving back from Santa Clara to Havana by a bus, we imagined that memorable scene of final farewell of Cuban people to their adorable hero, Che Guevara. 

   At the side of the mausoleum, where bones of Che Guevara are kept carefully, there stood a stone monument which is engraved, “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” meaning “until the day of eternal victory.”

   While driving, I thought of the things which happened to Cuba and the global environment around Cuba. Having lost the support of Soviet Russia in the wake of the collapse of Soviet system, and having been squeezed by the US with much  harder economic sanctions, and has been isolated in the community of South  American countries by means of ousted from the OAS(Organization of American Countries) by the initiative of the US, Cuba worked very hard to survive.


Resumption of Cuba-the US Diplomacy

   From around the change of the century, however, the geopolitical picture of South America began to change substantively largely by the emergence of socialist inclined and anti-American leaders in many countries, which resulted in the dramatic change of the political inclination of the OAS. They welcomed back Cuba into their organization. With this change, the US turned out to be somewhat Isolated in the  international community of this area.

   There have been changes even in the United States. Demands and requests from business circles to open business relations with Cuba have been rising and increasing stronger. It is because the merits of having business relations with Cuba are so obvious. 

    It was under such circumstances that President Barack Obama finally made a historic decision to terminate economic sanctions against Cuba and resume diplomatic relations with Cuba. President Obama obviously wished to create the legacy that he is the political leader who finally took the symbolic action to terminate the unfortunate period of “Cold War.” 

   President Obama visited Cuba in April 11, 2015 to meet chairman Raul Castro, for the first time to have the summit of the two countries in 56 years after the cut of diplomatic relations, and in July 2015 asked the US congress to cancel economic sanctions, and reopen diplomatic relations by opening embassies again mutually in both countries. 


Great Show in Tropicana

   The bus drive was long and tiresome. Finally we reached our hotel, Melia Cohiba. Spending a little while in the hotel to refresh ourselves, and had a dinner together, this time in the hotel. It was partly because to save time for dinner since we plan to enjoy a grand show at the famous cabaret of local dancing and singing, “Tropicana.” For dinner, we were told that our seats were reserved at a cafe terrace type restaurant where we used have breakfast. When we went there, we were told that our seats were  not reserved. In fact, the seats were fully occupied already. We looked around and went into an Italian restaurant where a waiter was so eager to welcome us. The food was good and wines were reasonable. We learned later, though, the price was quite high..

   We got on the bus to go to Tropicana. The theater was already quite crowded. Each one of us was given a piece of famous Havana cigar at the entrance, which reminded once again that we were in Cuba. The theatre is open sky style. Luckily it did not rain. Our seats were reserved in a good location. Rather, there was a moon in the sky. Seats were all packed by people, presumably mostly foreign tourists. We took some cocktail and the rum. 

   The show started. It was splendid. Dancing and singing were very good. They danced and sang Cuban songs together with popular songs of Latin American countries. Dancers danced very well. Apparently they are well trained. I’ve heard that there are good dancing schools where they are trained rigorously. Dances are speedy, rhythmical, and some times even acrobatic. With songs, dances, cigar and the rum with high tempo rhythms of drums and other instruments, we were getting highly motivated and excited. It was a wonderful night. After a long drive to visit Guevara’s mausoleum in vain and thought rather deeply the unique and moving history of Cuba spending a whole day, this wonderful show made us excited, stimulated and relieved.


The Revolution Museum

   Next day was fully packed by visiting various tourists’ spots.  We drove a bus to visit the center of the old town of Havana city where the National Assembly Hall, the Cathedral, Revolution Square, Havana Club Rum Brewery, the Revolution Museum etc were located. Since we missed the timing to visit the brewery, we changed our plan to visit the revolution museum first.
 
    Outside of the museum, several old planes the revolutionists used were displayed on the lawn. Aside from them were pieces of wreckage of some plane. They said that this is the wreckage of an American military plane which was shut down during their attack to Cuba in 1961. At the corner of square in front of the building was an old tank. It is the tank which Fidel Castro used to lead the citizens’ soldiers to fight against the US force during the critical war of 1961. The museum even exhibits the boat “Gran Ma” at a big show window aside the street, which Fidel Castro and Che Guevara used to sail from Mexico to Cuba in 1959 to fight against government force to obtain independence of the country .

   Inside the museum, there exhibited many photos and leftovers of the battles fought by the revolutionists. Because they were not fully equipped nor trained as the government soldiers, they had to fight in many cases in the jungle of mountainous areas. Our guide, Elaine, explained every piece of exhibits earnestly and added her own interpretations. Watching her, I was keenly impressed by her passion, dedication and  enthusiasm. It was somewhat beyond her duty as a guide. She seems to be deeply identifying herself with the story she was telling to us. 

    I felt a kind of envy for her for being able to have such a story of her country to tell foreigners with such a pride and passion. For her, the experience of the revolutionists and the recent history of the country must be indeed very special. I wondered if Japanese young people have their own stories of their country which they can tell with such a pride and passion. I thought that Japan has many great stories which young  Japanese should be able to tell to foreigners or even among themselves. However, I have never seen such passion among young people recently.


Music Loving Cuban Hospitality

   We visited the rum brewery. After seeing the brewery plant, we went downstairs where a band of musicians were entertaining the room full of tourist visitors. Songs and musics were so joyful, rhythmical and tempting, I went to a small open space in front of the band and danced, and then brought with me a four year old boy, Sosuke, to dance together. Sosuke is very well behaved for only four years old. The audience were excited and joyfully clapped. This is a son of Ms. Mariko Kasai, a member of our team. She works for a large advertising company, Dentsu, which is famous for making employees work hard. It is amazing that Mariko somehow carves out her time to join this kind of trip and even with her very young son.

   We left the brewery and walked along the street where many very classic cars were parking along the road side. We took many pictures for memory. We then proceeded to walk through a narrow path in the old town. People walking and sitting along the street, whether tourists or locals, looked all quite relaxed and easy. There we felt a nice smell of some cocktail. There was a small but very well-known bar serving people the famous “Mojito.” Beside the bar counter, there also was a band singing joyful songs with nice musics. I joined them to sing a few Latin American songs which I liked to sing many years ago. They welcomed me. This is a splendid, perhaps a genuine Cuban hospitality.


Legacy of Ernest Hemingway

   Since it is close to noon time, we got on a bus to drive to a famous sea side fisherman’s village, “Kojimar” which Ernest Hemingway cherished and lived. He had a large retreat and a good sailing boat. It is this fisherman’s village where he wrote his famous book “The Old Man and the Sea.”  When he began to live in this village, he was already a famous writer, particularly for his monumental work, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” This is a story about the civil war in Spain between General Franco’s force and civil revolutionists force during late 1930s. It is known that Fidel Castro learned a lot from this book about how to fight guerrilla battle.

   We took a nice lunch at a sea side restaurant which exhibits a few oil painted portrait of Hemingway. He is said to have liked to come to this restaurant for lunch. There also was a band who played joyful songs and musics. I again joined them to sing a few songs. They welcomed me to sing songs together. After lunch, we drove back to Havana. On the way we dropped by Moro Fortress to take a look at the famous historic site and also buy famous Havana cigars at the cigar shop there. 

   In the evening we meant to take dinner at a famous sea food restaurant “La Floridita.” Planners of our trip arranged several taxi cabs, all the very classic American cars of the 1950s. Since Cuba and the US cut diplomatic relations since 1959, all such American cars must have been built during or prior to the 1950s. The line up of such cars looked as though we were watching the exhibits of very classic car museum. The cars were  apparently repainted and in bright colors such as red, blue, yellow, green and gold etc. They said that it has been quite difficult to find parts to replace old ones. Cuba people are ingenious to use parts of quite different types of cars to make them run. In fact such very classic cars ran well as taxi cabs. We enjoyed driving on such cars along the sea side street where big waves hit street side banks and explode huge splashes.


The Joyful Night in Havana

   We arrived restaurant, “La Floridita” The restaurant was filled with tourists and guests. The room was bright and gay. A wide table in the back carpeted space was reserved for us. The dinner was nice. At the corner near the entrance was located a bronze sculpture of a bust of Hemingway. We took picture of the sculpture together with us.

   Mr. Yo Yamagishi, a lawyer, a world traveler, and a member of Sonjuku who did not join us this time and a great lover of Cuba, strongly recommended us to visit two more  places after the dinner. One is a well known dance and music hall, “Cafe Taverna” and the other is “Casa de la Musica Miramar.” Since it was already near 9 o’clock in the evening, we went first to Cafe Taverna. It was also packed with people. With some drinks, a fairly large band kept playing Latin American musics joyfully. People were tempted to dance and were excited by dancing. We all danced even a four year old Sosuke. He became a small star of the night. Since it was already quite late at night we were unable to visit another night club. It was because we had to leave the hotel at 4’ clock in the next morning in order to ride a plane leaving Havana AP at 7 am to fly back to Japan via Toronto to arrive at Japan in the evening of still next day, Japan time.

   This is a brief report of our very short visit of Cuba. During this trip I was much impressed by two things: One is the image of the United States which looked much different from the view point of a small country just aside of the US located in Caribbean sea, and the other is a joyful, optimistic, open and hospital culture of music loving Cuba people, which was perhaps their strength to survive through incredible hardship imposed on them. 

   And I was tempted to visit Cuba again together with some wishing volunteers of Sonjuku, spend a week or so in Havana city, live in a shabby room of the old town, stroll around the streets, chat with people in Spanish, join music bands on the street to sing songs together, drink and dance in commoner’s tavernas in the evening. This is my dream emerged in my mind having been attracted much by Cuban way of living.

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Shimada sonjuku trip to Sri Lanka

l.   Why Sri Lanka?

    We, some members of Shimada sonjuku and myself altogether 14, visited Sri Lanka from Feb. 9 to 13, 2017. This is an optional trip as part of the annual program of Shimada sonjuku. It was a wonderful trip in many aspects, which I will write in what follows.

   I would first like to write as to why we chose to visit Sri Lanka this time. The story goes back for a few years when our cherished friend and a member of Shimada-juku, Ms. Suzuki, Katsura, brought with her her friend Mr. Mark Danjel, a Sri Lanka businessman who conducts a broad range of businesses including investment, family office, real estate business, consulting etc both in Sri Lanka and Switzerland. Incidentally, Katsura also provides family office business based in Switzerland as well as research and consulting.

   They earnestly talked about the attractiveness of Sri Lanka both as sightseeing spot, leisure land, and as object of real estate investment. They visited me at my office in Tokyo twice and as a result, I was increasingly interested in Sri Lanka.I finally determined to visit Sri Lanka with interested members of Shimada sonjuku after the class of 2019 of shinjuku started. It was because I got acquainted with Mr. Hayakawa, Ryotaro, as a member of the class.

   Mr Hayakawa(hence forth let me refer to him by his first name, Ryotaro) has quite a unique career. He is a young business man of age 33. Having finished high school,he went to the US to joined University of Kansas as a student. Since he was well trained in base ball as a pitcher he joined the base ball club of Kansas University. His recorded the ball speed of 148 km per hour. Some of his club mates are now playing baseball as professional major leaguers. 

   Upon graduation he returned to Japan and joined Orix Co. where he worked for 6 years and then engaged in hotel and real estate business which his father has been running. One day, his father’s friend solicited them to visit Sri Lanka. Ryotaro went to Sri Lanka with his father and was increasingly interested in Sri Lanka. Sometime later, he secured a land to build a hotel working jointly with Sri Lank businessman, and he also participated to credit and cashing card business based on a Japanese model as a board member of a company named “Smart Metro” run by Sri Lank businessman.

   Acquainted with Ryotaro, I proposed him to organize a tour of Shimada sonjuku to Sri Lanka. He worked earnestly to arrange a trip for us, which turned out to be excellent, enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling. When I solicited the sonjuku members to  participate to the trip, Mr. Yamagishi Yo opted to join. He is a senior member of the sonjuku, a well established lawyer and notably an incredibly devoted world traveller. Since he has visited Sri Lanka once and is deeply in favor of culture, scenery and above all people of Sri Lanka, he kindly prepared a long essay and  photos to give us kind introduction of Sri Lanka. We can learn about Sri Lanka with his deep affection to it.


ll.   Brief Introduction of Sri Lanka and its History

   Sri Lanka literally implies a shining island. It used to be called Ceylon, which means a lion island. Because of the beauty of the island, it has often been called “a pearl of Orient.” Because of the shape and location of the island, it is sometimes called an eye drop of Indian sea.

   Sri Lanka is a small island as a country. Its width is slightly smaller than Hokkaido, and yet inhabited by 20 million people. It is respected by Buddhists as holly land of Buddhism. Among Buddhists, often Buddhism calendar is used, which starts 544years earlier than Christian calendar, commemorating the end of Buddha’s life in the human society. According to Buddhism calendar, this year is 2567 rather than 2017 of Christian calendar.

    Inhabitants are consisting largely of Sinhari tribe who compose the majority and came from northern India and of Tamil tribe who came from southern India. Sinhari people tend to be relatively tall, white and with sharp nose, while Tamil people tend to be short, brown, and round nose. 

   Sri Lanka has been colonized for a long time since 15th century. For about a century and a half, it was colonized by the Portuguese, and since about the mid- 17th century it was under the control of the Dutch. And from 1815, it was governed rigorously by the British. During the colonial period of the Portugal and the Netherlands, not the entire Sri Lanka has been colonized. The kingdom of Candy kept its independence. However, the Candy kingdom surrendered to England in 1815 under strenuous attacks by the British.

    The British launched coffee plantation since about 1850. However, the coffee plantations were caught in a serious trouble of diseases of coffee trees and quickly diminished. It was about this time, Mr. Taylor, a young British entrepreneur experimented to grow tea trees in those plantations. He is often called a “father of  black tea.” Since he died early, his endeavor has been succeeded by Mr.Lipton who developed tea plantation and tea processing to have achieved a great success, and is often called as a “king of black tea.” Thanks to his effort, Sri Lanka, then called  Ceylon, has become a major producer of black tea in the world and made black tea drinking a cherished custom of the British.   

   The tea plantation business by the British, however, brought to Sri Lanka a difficult racial problem. It is because the British introduced massive number of Tamil people particularly from southern India, and later treated them with much  favorable conditions in social hierarchy relative to the original majority inhabitants of Sinhari people, which gave rise to bitter confrontation between Sinhari and Tamil and eventually resulted in harsh domestic war since 1980s.

    In 1948, Sri Lanka obtained the independence as a member of British commonwealth. Since Sinhari people occupied the large majority of the population, and also reflecting the frustration of Sinhari people during the British control which favored the minority Tamil tribe, the newly organized  Sri Lanka national government has been dominated largely by Sinhari people, and Tamil people has been subordinated. This attitude of the national government in return gave rise to increasing anger on the part of some radical Tamil leaders.

   After having experienced a few decades of “democracy,” anger and frustrations held by Tamil group exploded in the form of violent resistance against the Sinhari dominated national government. Since Sinhari people are Buddhists while Tamil people are Hindus, the conflicts appeared as religious confrontations. But the strife reflects also the deep routed confrontations between the two tribes which had been stirred up repeatedly by insensitive treatments of British controllers during the colonial age. 

   The domestic war broke out in 1983. The war did not take form of apparent major battles. It continued in the form of sporadic attacks of radical resistants against common citizens. While the daily life of the society looked more or less terroristic attacks against citizens and students gave the society dark and uneasy horror, which persisted a long time. A friend of Mr.Hayakawa told his observation to Mr. Yamagishi that schools had to change the time of classes in order not let the  terrorists attack the students going home from schools. This kind of uneasiness  must have given irritating and painful psychological burden on citizens.

   Mr. Rajapaksa, the leader of Sinhari dominated national government, fought  sternly and thoroughly to overcome such violent resistance movements. It took  more than two decades and eventually in 2009, the resistance forces were terminated completely. The domestic war took as long as 26 years. While the  domestic war gave much destructive impacts within the society, it also gave serious negative effect upon foreignors’ image of Sri Lanka. Some people point to the fact that still somewhat reluctant attitude of Western countries seem to reflect this negative image of social stability of Sri Lanka even though the Sri Lanka society is  completely safe and stable since the end of the domestic strife in 2009.

 Having settled the na uty issue of domestic strife, President Rajapaska launched  major initiatives for economic development of the country. Such initiatives included:

 1 infra-structure investment and development service industry,
 2 agriculture development such as tea, rice, rubber, coconuts etc,
 3 light industry development such as textiles, weaving etc,
 4 logistics investment particularly port facilities,
 5 solicitation of foreign direct investment into Sri Lanka
 6 natural energy development particularly untapped energy sources in Indian sea
 7 tourism as a strategic industry to lead economic development.
 
   While we were traveling by bus visiting inland world heritage one after another, we were impressed by well paved not only highways but also local roads. Much of this pavement is said to have been done during five years since the end of the  domestic turmoil thanks to strenuous effort of President Rajapaska.

   We were impressed by a feeling of emergence of people’s energy and unfolding of  enormous opportunities for economic development for the coming years. This feeling reminds us of the powerful energy which many Japanese people embraced in the wake of the defeat of the Pacific War to rebuild their country.

   Sri Lanka certainly seems to have great potentials for its new development in the areas such as tourism, sea and beach resort, cultural world heritages, good preparation of infra-structure such as roads, ports, hotels and communication. We were particularly impressed by cordial and friendly attitude of local people. Whenever they meet, they first normally greet with each other by putting their laps together under the face saying “Ayubowan” meaning wish you a long life. What a nice expression for greeting!. 

   Sri Lank people seem to be well equipped with mathematical talents useful to be engaged in computer and IT businesses. Indeed, the proportion of IT workers in the UK is reportedly quite high for Sri Lanka workers only next to British natives.

   Japan has been providing ODA for Sri Lanka for a long time, which is highly appreciated by Sri Lanka government and the people. Recently, China has been  making large scale investment particularly in port facilities. China’s aggressive investment in Sri Lanka obviously has strategic intention relating to their major project of “One Belt and One Road,” by which to develop grand infra-structure of pair of ocean naval routes and pair of inter-continental roads. And Sri Lanka is perhaps the most important strategic pivot of the “One Belt.”

   In fact, this aggressive Chinese initiative into Sri Lanka seems to have had a grave impact to Sri Lank politics. President Rajapaska, who has ended the long lasted internal strife and promoted energetically and successfully development policies of Sri Lanka, lost his position in the election last year vis a vis the current president Siricena largely due to his and his family scandals relating to China money. 

   Because of its critical geopolitical positioning of Sri Lanka in the center of Indian sea and just at the edge of Indian continent, the island is being targeted by such major powers of China, India, and even the US and Russia. The leaders of Sri Lanka, whether they like or not, are bound to be involved in this international game, and required to handle carefully and skillfully for their national interest. While investments from major western powers have been somewhat slow so far largely because of the negative image of Sri Lanka due to long lasting internal strife and terrorism, Sri Lanka seems to offer tremendous potentials for Japanese businesses. In this sense too, Sri Lank appears to be a land of huge and attractive possibilities.


lll.  Episodes of Our Trip

 1. Feb 9, Thursday:

   We took off Haneda AP taking UL(Sri Lanka Air) no.455 leaving 11:20 heading for Colombo. This was a long flight taking nearly 10 hours. I got on board carrying a bunch of materials and books to read to understand Sri Lanka. At the UL counter at Haneda, I was given a leaflet of questionnaires which turned out to be several pages of questions I had to fill out on board. However, accommodation of the plane, food and services were all excellent. I read much of the materials I brought with me, and enjoyed the flight very much. We arrived at Colombo AP shortly before 18:00 Columbo time. Landing the country where never visited before is always exciting. I was excited in the forthcoming excursion of the island with 15 members of sonjuku team. 

   Ryotaro was already in Sri Lanka and waiting to welcome us at the airport with his partner and interpreter, Mr. Sumedha Wimalarathna. He is a Sri Lanka native and spoke perfect Japanese. Mr.Sumedha got interested in Japan when he was young and  went to Japan to study Japanese in 1999. Since the life was not easy, but he told me that he was well supported by many Japanese and continued to learn Japanese  while earning money by casual jobs, and returned home in 2009, when the nasty domestic warfare was terminated.

   Having driven for a while, we arrived at the prestigious “Galle Face Hotel,” well known for the most traditional hotel of colonial era where many world celebrities stayed. A banquet was organized by Ryutaro. He invited his local friend, Mr.  Sujeewa Wijayanayake, who is currently an area manager of a hotel management co. located in Kyushu. He became a good friend of Ryotaro with the baseball connection. He worked as an only foreign judge in 2015 Koshien high school baseball tournament, and wish to work as a judge in 2020 Olympic games. Ryutaro also invited his close friend, Mr.Perera Rowan, who knows a lot about Japan as  having worked in Sony as an engineer for development of an electric card system, and also studies in University of Tokyo. He serves as the most knowledgeable and experienced expert to bridge Sri Lanka and Japan. He met Mr. Yamagishi during the daytime, but unfortunately unable to join us in the dinner.

   Ms. Katsura Suzuki and Mr.Mark Dangel also joined us in the dinner. While I was sufficiently tired because of the long day, I enjoyed the dinner and conversation. The dinner table was set in the broad dining space supposedly facing the ocean. While we felt a good breeze once in a while, we were unable to see the sea because it wascomplete darkness.

   Late at night, which was perhaps around 3 am in Japan time, I went to my room. The room assigned for me earlier was changed to supposedly better room by request of Mr.Sumeda. It was because I was somewhat disappointed the quality and location of my room when I first brought my luggage when we arrived. The layout of the old hotel was quite complex. Since the numbering of the rooms was not systematic, it took time to find it. The room I found was not comfortable due to creaking sound of wooden floor uncovered by carpet etc. The room Mr. Sumada secured for me was better. But I was disturbed for a few hours by noises and voices leaked from the next room. I thought I would need to adjust to the life of a century ago.


2. Feb. 10, Wednesday:

   I got up early and went to the dining room where we dined last night. Now,we were able to see a widely extending Indian ocean directly from the dining room. Between the broad dining room and the seashore, there extended a broad garden covered with lawns and equipped sporadically with comfortable tables and chairs. We enjoyed walking leisurely and chatting.During the early morning, the sea was not clearly visible due to the morning fog. As time went on with the rise of the sun, the scenery began to change minute after minute. 

   When we started dining, fog was away showing us clear sky and shining broad Indian Ocean. The scene was magnificent. I realized that this is the Sri Lanka beach which ease people’s mind and give joy to them. In the room at the side of the dining, there hung many portrait pictures of famous people including Japanese Emperor Hirohito when he visited here in the early 1920s, a famous revolutionalist, El Che Guevara(Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna), and many pronounced political leaders, actors and actresses and novelists etc. These pictures show us how distinguished this hotel is. This hotel must be a great cultural asset for Sri Lanka.

   After taking photo of us together in front of the hotel, we got on a  bus to drive to the famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The driving was expected to be two hours and a half. The first half of the driving was on a highway, but the rest would be a country road. We thought the driving along the country road would be rough and tough. Quite contrary, the road was well paved and driving was quite  smooth. Since the driving was long, I spent time with talking with team members particularly Mr.Yamagishi. Mr.Yamagishi gave us well organized introduction of Sri Lanka history, cultures and politics on the way.

   At around 9:20, we arrived at the elephant orphanage. Many elephants were either walking or resting in groups. The elephants who are in this orphanage have some problems of disability so that they cannot get along together with wild elephants. While the day was hot, many of them were relaxing in and around the river going through the orphanage. The guide told us the elephants commute almost every day from there they to the riverside. While they are walking along the street of commuting twice a day, shops along the street close their shutters. Indeed, elephant is regarded and treated in Sri Lanka as a sacred animal as often shown as sacred figures in Buddhist temples and pictures. They also help life and activity of people everywhere. 

    We went to a restaurant nearby and had a good lunch. After the lunch, we drove to Dambulla Cave Temple, which is often called “Golden Temple” because many of the temple buildings such as Pagoda, and more importantly, the buddha images are covered by gold. The temple is famous for its five caves in which golden buddha sculptures are kept. The caves are on the top of the hill. It was quite a labour to walk up the hill under the hot sunshine. At the top of the hill, we are asked to take shoes off and have to walk with barefoot. There are five caves. They were built to contain Buddha images at different historical stages from 2000 to 200 years ago.

   From the top of the hill, we were able to see in far away Sigiriya Rock, which we will visit and climb tomorrow. We drove the bus to Habarana Village where we will stay over the night.  As we approach Habarana Village, the Sigiriya Rock grew large as though it dominates the whole space nearby. The hotel is just at the foot of the Rock. It exciting even to think of climbing the steep rock tomorrow.

   Since we arrived there a few hours earlier than our dinner time.Having unpacked our luggages in our rooms, we had some relaxing time. The Habarana village was made largely of country side cottages surrounded by trees, bamboos and welcomed by small animals such as birds and monkeys. The whole area, the complex and the cottages were well designed where we really can feel relaxed. Mr. Asano, a participant, and myself enjoyed swimming in a cozy pool in the garden. Many of other members took Sri Lank style body care to relax.

   We planned to have dinner at Hesitance Kaldalama Hotel. This is a worldly well known hotel because it was designed by a pronounced Sri Lanka architect, Mr. Geoffrey Bawa. It took an hour or so to reach his hotel from our hotel. The hotel was located in the mid slope of mountains. The road to reach the hotel was not really smooth. However, once we stepped in the hotel and started having dinner, we were completely overwhelmed by the magic space of great Mr.Bawa.

   The entrance of the hotel does not really look like the entrance because it is to go through huge rocks. Take a look outside from the lobby which is really open to outside air, we realize that we are in the natural space rather than in a man-made so-called room. Looking the hotel from the garden, we learn that the hotel with 2 to 3 stories high spread widely in the slope of the mountain. The day we visited the hotel was the day of full moon, which is called “hoya day.” Incidentally, it is prohibited to drink alcohol in hoya day. People make it a rule to visit temples to pray. We were able to enjoy a beautiful full moon from the table prepared in the garden in front of the hotel building where we also can enjoy a great view of  woods extending to far out Indian Ocean.

   Food was nice. I was particularly impressed by the way food was prepared and served. Preparation of food was done in the center of wide dining space. The whole dining looked as though the joyful market of down town. People walk whatever way they like and pick up foods and chat with others. A famous Japanese architect, Mr. Kengo Kuma, wrote in his book entitled “Tropical Architect: Adventure of Geoffrey  Baw a” that in the history of modern architechture where the main role shift back and forth between the garden and the building, Mr.Bawa created and represents the most contemporary world of architecture which newly interprets the role of the nature or garden in the total space of architecture making creative use of the splendid nature of Sri Lanka.

   What impressed me most here is that the hotel in the mountain which is not conveniently located attracted visitors and tourists from all over the world. Mr. and Mrs. Yamagishi told us that they stayed in this hotel earlier and advised  Ryotaro to try to make us stay there. Ryotaro worked hard but was unable to reserve rooms so that we ended up dining here. I asked myself if we can think of a hotel in Japan to attract such attention in the  world and filled up by global tourists simply by its charm of creativity of an unique architect. I thought I have learned something very valuable by our visit of this hotel in Sri Lanka.


3.  Feb. 11 Thursday:

   The morning in the country side cottage was quite comfortable. Trees and bamboos send us nice breeze, and birds were singing. We, members of sonjuku, had a nice breakfast occupying a large table facing the garden and trees at the side of the main dining room. After breakfast, we got on a bus and left the hotel early, around 7:30, heading at igiriya Rock. As we approach the rock, it stood high in front of us just as though trying to reach the sky.

   It took a while to climb up the rock. In fact, there are well carved steps along the wall of the rock so that walking up the staircases was not quite hard. Mr.Yamagishi and myself, the old pair of our team, went much ahead leaving the younger ones behind. Somewhere at the midst of the rock wall, there is a side way which leads us to the famous painted figures of “Sigiriya Ladies.” It is amazing that a dozen or so of figures of ancient ladies painted on the rock wall were preserved perfectly for 1500 years. These ladies looked slender and with modest smile. People hypothesize the models of these figures such as lovers of the king or lady servants at the palace.

   We took some rest near the rock carved out in the form of huge lion nails. They say, there was the head of the lion. I was watching the area where they say the lion head existed leaving a plastic bottle of water. When I look back, a monkey is seizing it firmly and angered fiercely when I reached my hand to take it back. He was trying to drink water from it without knowing how to open the cap of the bottle. We again walked up to the top of the rock, where there was a rock palace once upon a time. We enjoyed a nice view from there and walked down. It was wise that we climbed the rock early. On the way back, rock stairs were filled with people while leaving a long line waiting even to reach the stairs. As the sun rose high and shining, we were wet with sweat.

  We drove for an hour or so to visit Spice Garden and the restaurant nearby. At the spice garden, we were welcomed by a sales guide. He is a very slender nice young guy. He spoke good Japanese yet fast. He told us that he learned Japanese in Sri Lanka. After showing us a dozen or so trees and plants of spices, nuts for oil, and  seeds for drugs etc, he guided us to a room where a table of pile of such items for sale. He explained each of several dozens of such items fluently in Japanese. 

   Amazing was that several groups of foreigners who were visiting the spice garden at the time were all given the similar campaigns in their own languages. I can not think of a sales shop in Japan where attendants explain sales items in so many foreign languages with this level of proficiency. Since we became sufficiently hungry by this long sales campaign, we ate lunch well now with wines. 

   When we got on a bus, many of us fell asleep fast. This ride takes supposedly a couple of hours, but because of heavy traffic jam caused by road constructions, it took a couple of hours more. Sri Lank trip was coming close to an end and only a day left before we leave Sri Lanka. I was reminded of the homework to prepare for my task after returning to Japan.  Taking advantage of this prolonged bus ride, I spent time to prepare notes. 

   As we approached Kandy city, the land scape began to look increasingly hilly. Many houses are on the slope of rather steep or mountainous hills. The scenery looks as though a cozy mountainous resort town. This is the area where Kandy kingdom prospered prior to the colonization by the British in the early 19th century. 

   The ride delayed nearly a couple of hours relative to our original timetable. We originally planned to visit Temple of the Tooth Relic and then to see the Kandy Dance show. Ryotaro made a wise decision to visit the temple early tomorrow morning when it would not be crowded.

   Skipping the temple, we went to the theatre where Kandy Dance was to be presented. The Dance was a traditional folklore dance with traditional instruments. It is the show consisting of dances of 10 or so of themes. Some dancers used also fire. It was fun. Impressive was the shape of female dancers. They all have rather fat belly. I was reminded of the shape of CAs on the UL. They were also of similar shape. Since these ladies are well trained and prepared to show us a performance or provide service with their best shape. Their shape may be thought to be the best shape for these professional people. If it is, it is a lot different from the norm of Westernized Asia such as Japan.

    The hotel we stayed this night was a good westernized hotel “Earl’s Regency Hotel” which is of the kind we are used. I was relaxed with a westernized bathroom accomodation. We took a nice dinner together within the hotel.


4.   Feb.12 Sunday:

   I got up early in the morning. I felt comfortable not only in the room, in the hotel but also in the whole setting of surroundings of the hotel which is located in a resort like atmosphere of hilly Kandy city. Early birds of us got together around a large tale outside of the kitchen enjoying a clean air, nice views of a broad lawn garden in front of us and surrounding hills in addition of course to nice breakfast.

   We left the hotel early to visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Again, we learned that it was a sensible decision of Ryotaro to visit the temple early morning where it was no so crowded and not hot. We spent an hour or so taking a look around the  temple buildings and showings.   

   Sri Lanka is regarded as sacred land of traditional Buddhism, partly because of the existence of this temple. It is believed that Buddha visited three times this island some 2500 years ago. When he passed away, some of his tooth relics were brought to this island where they were preserved carefully and respectfully. Whether this was a true fact or not does not matter. What matters is that Sri Lanka people and devout Buddhists of the world believe it and respect it firmly. 

   Kandy province was a kingdom which kept independence while all other areas of the island was colonized by Portuguese and the Dutch, until British invaded finally into this area. Kandyans were and are particularly proud, partly because of their history of maintaining rigorously the “Hinayana” Buddhist tradition. 

   Having learned about the sacred zone of Hinayana Buddhism, we got on the bus to drive to Colombo. Again it was a long ride of more than 3 hours. I took advantage of writing memos for my task which I have to promote after returning to Japan. The trip was quite productive for me because I was able to look around and learn about Sri Lanka and at the same time I was able to do some of my homework using the time of riding on the bus.

   Shortly after noon, we arrived at Colombo, where we had a nice and gorgeous lunch of crab dishes at the famous crab restaurant by the name of “Crab Ministry. “ Ms. Katsura Suzuki and Mr. Mark Dangel and Ryotaro’s friend as well as business partner Mr.Sejeewa Hendawitharane joined us.  Mr. Sejeewa is CEO of Smart Metro Co. where Ryutaro serves as a member of the board. His company tries to diffuse the Japan’s “FERICA” card for use by transportation system for benefits for consumers. 

   Lunch was nice and tasty, but our association with heterogeneous friends and insightful and stimulating conversation among us is even more exciting and enjoyable . After the lunch, some of us enjoyed shopping and we went to Colombo airport to return to Japan.

   Our trip to Sri Lanka was a great success thanks to earnest effort of planning. arranging and guidance of Ryotaro Hayakawa and many others who helped us. We are very grateful for their help and support. The trip was enjoyable and educational. I hope that this trip will serve as a beginning of some future developments of us and Sri Lanka.
 

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Trump’s America and Tasks for Japan

 On November 8, Donald Trump won the presidential election and became the 45th President of the United States. I first of all congratulate Mr. Trump for getting the seat of the president and also the United States for electing the next president for the country.

 We Japanese have been gazing at the TV screen in the afternoon of November 9(Japan time), and were surprised and shocked to see and hear the news of the final result of the election, namely, the victory of Mr. Trump. We were surprised because most of us have been hoping and believing that Ms. Hillary Clinton will win the election to become the next president of the United States. We were shocked because we have have been fed up to hear and see Mr. Trump’s rude and abusive language, his discriminatory attitude against minorities and foreigners, his prejudice of looking down women, and above all his violent messages to deny globalization and internationalization. From our point of view, it was simply unthinkable and intolerable for such a great country as the United States to have him as a leader.

 The presidential election of 2016 is said to have been the worst and most disgusting election of the history of the US presidential election. Many US media have described that the race between the two worst candidates has been the most nasty in the history: Trump for obvious reason as I depicted above briefly, and Clinton as the most disliked person by the public. The latter description is something hard for me to comprehend. The media has been reporting that Hillary has had several deceptive deeds such as the e-mail gate and Benghazi issue which made people susceptible about her trustfulness, and that her well prepared and seemingly flawless speech style did not capture the minds of people. Some analysts described that the very fact that she is regarded as representing the Washington establishment and guarded by the “Clinton machine” are the targets of dislike or even hatred.

 I have once had an opportunity to listen to her major speech and her subsequent debate with the audience at a plenary session of Davos meeting some years ago. Her speech was beautifully clear both in terms of contents and her language and was very persuasive and convincing. It was simply perfect and effective. Knowing this, I have difficulty of understanding why American voters do not like her way of speaking. I later learned the reason by watching her TV debate with Mr. Trump. When he was criticized of having described women with his peculiar sexual prejudice, he suddenly quoted the 

sex scandal of Bill Clinton of years ago. This was totally irrelevant to the issue on the stage. Debating with such an outrageous fellow who has no cultivated manner, I felt very sorry for Hillary for how difficult to handle the situation and yet give good impression to the audience. Hillary has had to fight all through the election with such an outrageous opponent and the crowds mostly comprised of people who are not used or trained to think things logically.

 Under such circumstances, I can imagine how much Hillary had to prepare to protect herself by flawless speeches which may have looked to audience as lacking a human touch, unlike her speech in Davos in front of a big audience comprising of global intellectuals.  On the question of e-mail gate and else which made people feel susceptible about her, she publicly admitted repeatedly that she made a mistake.  People make mistakes, but admitting them means that they will not make mistakes again. What is more important and crucial is what the candidates can do for their country. There seems to be considerable difference between the two candidates on this question.

 Mr. Trump grew up as a son of a small real estate business family. He made some success as a real estate businessman in town and made money. Aside from real estate business he enthusiastically participated to media and also political activities. When he started to challenge the presidential election this time, he was at the beginning a virtually unknown trifle candidate. However, with his strong and radical appeal, he attracted support of particularly white low income working class people, and kept wining primary elections against well established Republican political leaders and amazingly obtained the nomination of presidential candidate representing the Republican party. It is incredible that a person with no experience not only in politics but also in any public services, in military service and extremely limited knowledge on economic policies, international affairs and world history is supported by some earnest supporters to be pushed up to this position. 

 His speeches, both contents and ways of deliberation, were always controversial particularly because of his radical and outrageous assertions and attitude. Out of many such assertions, for example, building a long wall at the border to Mexico not to let illegal foreign workers, stop entry of Moslems, occupy Iraq to seize oil wells, etc. He is known to have queer sex habits and has a tendency to look down women. When one of his such recorded conversation was made public, he lost much of the support of female voters. In presidential TV debate and elsewhere, Ms.Clinton kept accusing that “Mr. Trump is simply not qualified as the president for our country.” The fact that established leaders of Republican party declared that they will not endorse Mr.Trump as a candidate for the president eloquently tells us how unqualified Mr. Trump is for the leader of the country. In short, before assessing about what the candidates can do to their country, Mr. Trump, judging from what he has been doing and saying, looks unqualified to be the president of the US. 

 In contrast, Ms. Clinton has rich experiences in public services as being a Senator and the Secretary of States among others, has a good grasp of economy and politics, has broad and profound knowledge about both domestic policy making and international affairs. She does not pretend to change the world overnight by making shocking messages or volcanic propaganda. On the contrary, she works hard to make step by step improvements to bring about major changes with time as can be seen from what she has been doing as a Senator and the State Secretary of Obama administration. From the view point of Japanese, as an important ally of the United States, Ms. Clinton is far more and incomparably better and reliable choice than Mr. Trump as the president of the United States, the country which is bound to lead the world.

 In the process of the election, however, an astonishing and frightening thing happened when we saw the news on October 28, only ten days before the voting day, that the FBI chief, Mr. James Comey, declared to reopen investigation on a newly found bunch of e-mails connoting a further suspicion ofMs.Clinton’s e-mail gate. I was shocked because this is a clear case of election interference which civilized countries dare not do in such a timing. Not surprisingly, the gap of opinion polls which was as much as 11% of between Ms.Clinton and Mr.Trump rapidly narrowed to reach just about 1% within 10 days. This land slide change must have had a critical impact on the sentiment of voters. We learned later that Mr. Comey is a staunch member of the Republican party. I wondered what the democracy in the US is like.

   On the day of the final voting, Mr.Trump has competed out Ms.Clinton in most of the heavily populated large states and acquired all the reps.against Ms.Clinton, who has been enjoying much higher support rate of opinion polls throughout the campaign period,  and thus Mr. Trump obtained the seat for the next president of the United States. This must have been a great surprise to many Americans who can think logically and can understand the economy and international relations. We, foreign observers, were also surprised and shocked. Aside from Mr.Trump’ s rampant personality, his views and proposed policies on both economy and international relations were radical and striking, and not logically integrated to bring about progress and prosperity for the US and for the world.

   For example, he kept emphasizing that he will bring back employment opportunities for American workers which have been “ripped off” and “shipped” to China and Japan.  This is incredibly shallow and emotional description of distribution of employment opportunities. Employment is provided depending on prices and quality of the products which workers produce. In order to create employment, you simply need to increase productivity or quality of goods and services. Without changes in productivity, only way to secure employment for American workers is to raise tariffs prohibitively high against foreign imports or imposes quotas. Such artificial interventions will inevitably dwarf the global market and consequently shrink the market of the US, and will victimize American workers themselves. In other words, Mr. Trumps economic proposal implies that he does not seem to understand the market system at all. It is hard to believe that such a person has a MBA diploma from University of Pennsylvania.

   Another drawback of his economic policy is the denial of international free trade agreements. He declares clearly that on the day of inauguration, he will withdraw the US from TPP(Trans Pacific Partnership) agreement. He also accuses harshly the NAFTA(North American Free Trade Agreement) as impoverishing American workers. Alas, he again discloses that he does not understand the basic economic principle of comparative advantage by which competitors specialize at what they are better than others and maximize the output of the market system by division of labor and mutual cooperation. The international institution to realize this merit is free trade agreements, and, historically the economies of countries and the world have developed taking advantage of this system.

   Still another problem is his proposal of reducing corporate income tax rate as low as 15% , and also for income tax for people. He also hinted that he would launch a huge economic stimulus package as much as 1 trillion dollars to rebuild the US infra-structure. Expecting huge profits for major corporations and bonus gains for the rich,

stock market marked a record high a few days after his victory of the election. Mr.Trump seems to justify tax reductions by expecting the saved money by corporate sector and rich people would be used to enrich domestic investment. This is too optimistic and untrue against the reality. 

   Corporations and rich people can be rich simply because they are not confined by the realm of their country. Seeking and capturing the best opportunities in the world is their build in instinct and their capability itself. Have not poor people witnessed repeatedly corporations and rich people became even richer because of their such behaviors? Has it not been the major reason why many poor people tried to deny the conventional system of the current US, and decided to vote for Mr.Trump who seems to be entirely new to the established political world? But that very supporters of Mr.Trump will be deceived and disappointed by the outcome of the market eventually. I sincerely hope that what these people did by voting for Mr.Trump would not be “self-defeating” by the end of the day.

   On the sphere of security, he criticizes Germany, Japan, Korea and Saudi Arabia as not paying the cost of defense which the US military stationing there provides. He again does not seem to understand that Japan already bears more than 70% of staying costs of American force on Japan’s soil. More worrisome is his ignorance about the importance of military alliance such as Japan-US security treaty for not only for Japan but perhaps much more for the US. The fact that Japan is American ally at the other side of Pacific Ocean gives the US critical geopolitical and strategic advantage to maintain American hegemony to the rest of the world. In addition, his outrageous discriminatory attitude against Moslems and foreigners seems sadly disappointing.

   Once you sit down and think, you must be able to understand that Trump’s proposals will be all harmful eventually against his supporters. Rejecting foreign competitive products will deteriorate competitiveness of American industry because of lack of competitive stimulus. Rejecting direct investment of foreign companies deprives employment opportunities of American workers who work there. Denying international free trade agreements will shrink global market and therefore American market as well which will reduce employment opportunities for American workers. Reducing income tax rate even for the rich will expand the gap between the rich and the poor further. Huge fiscal stimulus may well push the US economy against the wall of excessive debt burden. Weakening Japan-US security alliance will decline the power and influence of America to control the world, which erodes the welfare of American population.

   While it is obvious that Mr.Trump’s policy proposals do not benefit the lower income public or even harm their interest eventually, why then many of them voted for Trump. This is the most puzzling question for us. Did they not understand what Mr.Trump proposed? Or did they have an enormous uncontrollable anger which Mr.Trump skillfully and emotionally siphoned? If they have had such an anger, the anger is directed to what?

   Thinking again as to what were the reasons why such a capable and seemingly perfect candidate, Ms.Hillary Clinton, was disliked that much by many voters, we are reminded that the single most important reason was that she is regarded as representing conventional “Washington establishment.” In addition to this, a well informed American political science professor told us recently that Hillary is viewed as one of “Limousine Liberals,” which may also explain why grass roots people cannot feel closeness with her and tend to walk away from her.

   These angry mass have been fed up and disgusted with the conventional Washington politics. In the past years, many politicians claimed to change Washington but were unsuccessful. But Mr.Trump appeared to them that he may do it because he has had no experience in Washington politics or public service itself and he is so abnormal and outrageous maverick. He may destruct the current system but may well be unable to construct anything new. Is this what the Trump supporting public wanted. Did they simply want the destruction of the conventional system, but did not seek for a better alternative for the future? What did those who voted for Trump want to pursue? This is the critical and puzzling question for us.

   Now let us think what the Trump shock means to Japan, and what are the tasks for Japan to work for. Japan’s prime minister, Mr.Shinzo Abe contacted Mr.Trump shortly after the election and made an appointment to visit him on November 17.

   Many Japanese may wish to think that the whole process and the result of the presidential election were just a “nightmare.” In other words, they may wish that there was no president Mr.Donald Trump, or even if the president is Mr.Trump, what he shouted during the election campaign were propaganda for the sake of winning the

election and not his genuine thoughts or belief.

   The reality, however, Mr. Trump is the next president for the US, and what he said to the public in the election campaign are non-erasable public commitments. After he organized his policy team, aids and experts around him will give many advice in order

to streamline his policy statements and make them more realistic. However, such polishing and amendments cannot totally erase or change the substance of his statements he made however destructive, unrealistic or illogical they may be.

   Mr. Abe and his staff or Japanese government officials try to make at most effort to give Mr.Trump more information so that he understands the problem or modify his assertions. But again, such efforts could not erase or change the basic gists of what Mr.Trump insisted in his election campaign.

   In this respect, let us think of the two worrisome questions:  namely, the US withdrawal from TPP, and possible withdrawal of US force from Japan.

   Mr. Trump declared repeatedly that the US will withdraw from TPP agreement the day he becomes the president. Since the statement is so clear and important, this will be done in January next year. The US and Japan together occupy 85% of GDP of 12 nations currently participating to the agreement. If US will be gone, Japan alone would

occupy two thirds of the total GDP of the remaining nations. With this much of proportion of Japan in the TPP without the US, the TPP has almost no merit to Japan.

 

   Japan, on the other hand, needs to expand her trade with free trade agreements for its economic growth. In fact, the growth strategy of “Abenomics” written in 2013 stipulates that it will enlarge the proportion of FTA trade from 20% of Japan’s total trade in 2013 to 70% in 2018.  In this plan, TPP was expected to play a large role in the growth strategy of the government. Now that TPP will not be effective, Japan may well have to seek for alternative strategy all over again.

   Currently, there are other attempts for new large scale free trade agreement such as RCEP(Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), which is led chiefly by China. TPP, which was earnestly proposed by Obama administration, had some implication of

global politics as surrounding and containing China. Japan joined it with full-fledged trust and reliance on President Obama’s initiative partly to strengthen Japan-US alliance.

   To the extent Japan regards this implication important, Japan cannot easily join the free trade agreement promoted by China to work actively in it. Similar consideration refrained Japan to join AIIB(Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank), which was also solicited by China to join. If Japan were to think working with China more closely in return to Mr.Trump’s destructive move on TPP, Japan needs to think comprehensively and deeply how to reconstruct Japan’s strategy of involving in  global politics.

   The other question relates to the issue of security, particularly the meaning of Japan-US military alliance. Mr. Trump accused Japan and Korea as not paying enough to accommodate US force on their land for their defense. He asserted repeatedly that they should pay full cost for US force to stay on their land. He said US may well withdraw their force if the host country does not pay full cost. He went on to say that they should protect themselves. They may have nuclear weapons if they think necessary to protect their countries.

   Of many striking and harsh remarks he made during the election campaign, these statements relating to security ties with allies like Japan were most serious and could be far-reaching.

    Japanese government, from prime minister, cabinet members to relevant officers, will earnestly try to make contacts with president elect Mr.Trump for days and weeks to come to build personal relations and try to offer as much explanations as possible to make him understand what have been going on between Japan and the US for recent decades and emphasize the importance of Japan US comprehensive alliance encompassing defense, economy and elsewhere. If Mr.Trump understands well and modify his earlier statements to maintain the alliance, Japan will be relieved.

   However, to the extent that his negative and destructive statements about Japan-US alliance which he spoke in public during the election campaign can not be erased, Japan also needs to prepare for what Japan can do and needs to do to rebuild its defense 

strategy all over again assuming that the US will no longer be the same ally we have been trusting in the past and also Japan may have to think of having nuclear weapons preparing for the need in the future. Such a drill, if it is only conceptual, will be a huge and unprecedented challenge for Japan to try to consider Japan in the large and profound context of global political, military and economic nexus of strategies.

   Since from the beginning of 1950s, when Asia was shaken by Korean War, Japan has been protected by the security alliance with the US, and Japan enjoyed a remarkable economic growth on the basis of unquestioned peace under the umbrella of security alliance with the US, we, Japanese may have taken all this as granted, and lost the practice, habit and mindset to think seriously and deeply on their own about the standpoint of the country itself and its choice for the future in a dynamically changing global politics, defense, alliance and else. Mr.Trump gave us a shock, which is not welcome and destructive. But the real shock he gave us may have a very important meaning of making us beware of the reality of the world both now and for the future.

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Notes on Sonjuku Okinawa Trip

   For the period of May 27 to 29, 2016, we the members of Shimada sonjuku and myself visited Okinawa. This trip aims at seeing the sites of American military bases, old remains, monuments and memorial facilities of Pacific War, and talking with relevant people to lean about the history of war and contemporary situation of Okinawa, mainly with respect to national and regional security function centering around Okinawa. Since learning about contemporary history of Japan ridden by wars is an important subject of study program of Sonjuku, this trip is one of the most important study trip of Sonjuku.

   Because of importance of Okinawa trip for Sonjuku, class one members visited Okinawa in November 2013. I have compiled a detailed report of this trip in English shortly after the trip. Since trip this time of class two of Sonjuku followed basically the same plan of three years ago, let me confine the report of this trip to write several important points which are different from the previous trip. I recommend the class two members to read both the report of the class one trip of 2013 together with this notes.

    I will first briefly explain the plan of our trip this time and proceed to write some unique and important points which are different from the previous trip.

1. Travel Itinerary:

May 27(Friday), 2016:

   On May 27, the participants met together in the lobby of Naha International Airport at 11:00.  We were welcomed by surprise my good friend, Mr.Uechi, Toshio, and Mr. Nakamatsu, Toru, of Ryukyu Village where we plan to visit in the afternoon of May 29. On 11.30 we departed for restaurant “Suidunchi” a fancy and cozy restaurant where we enjoyed Okinawa cuisine. Although the day was in the midst of rainy season, the weather was fine. The blue sky had no clouds. Local Okinawa people told us that  having this much fine weather is very exceptional. It was hot too with strong sun shines just like the mid summer. 

   From 14:00 to 16:00 we visited Kadena US. Air force Base. The military staff led by vice commander Lieutenant Colonel Van Thai cordially welcomed us and kindly explained and showed us around the base.

   From 16:30 we visited  Mayor and officials of Kadena town, where they awarded me an Award for Special Contribution to Kadena town. This was highly honorable which I  am deeply grateful.  After the visit of town office, town officials guided us to the  room in Kadena memorial hall where we had study session. I spent about a couple of  hours to explain modern history of Okinawa particularly from Meiji era to today, and particularly activity of Shimada commission which made the special arrangement for Kadena town to renovate to recreate the town as is now.

   We then had a nice dinner at restaurant, Ohki Kaisanbutsu(fresh fish, shells and weeds from sea). The dishes were fresh, tasty and splendid.

    We stayed over a night in a cozy hotel, Daiwa Roynet Naha Omoromachi, near the city center of Naha.

May 28(Saturday), 2016:

   We left the hotel fairly early at 8.00 because we will have many places to visit for this day.  We first visited trenches constructed by Japanese Navy toward the end of Pacific war. This is fully explained in our early report of Okinawa visit of class one of Sonjuku.

    We then visited Towar of Himeyuri( a memorial facility to remembers the sad activity of female students who served earnestly to help wounded Japanese soldiers toward the end of Okinawa war and many of them died in the war ). We also visited Okinawa Memorial Tower for Peace and Heiwa no Ishiji(foundation for peace), the latter is memorial stones on which names of some 240 000 people are engraved who lost their lives in the Okinawa war consisting mainly of Okinawa citizens as well as Japanese and even some foreign soldiers. It was an incredibly hot day with powerful sunshines. All these facilities are explained in detail in English report of November 2013.

   We took a nice Okinawa lunch at restaurant Yagiya, where Sonjuku members enjoyed three years ago. This is a restaurant renovated an old Okinawa farmer’s house. The restaurant is cozy and relaxing. Dishes are nice and tasty. We enjoyed local Sake well, too.

   In the early afternoon, from 13:40 to 14:40 we visited Kakadu Takadai(high hill) Koen (park) from which we can take a full view of Futenma Base, a strategic helicopter base of US. marines. This base has been and is a focus of debate between Okinawa prefectural governor and Japanese government. We visited this park to take an overview of the base, partly because we were unable to make an arrangement to meet the Mayor of Ginowan, Mr.Sakima,Atsushi the city in which Futenma base is located. He responded to us earlier that he would be too busy the Saturday afternoon we told him to visit because it would be a few days ahead of Okinawa prefectural assembly election.

    We arrived at Kanucha Bay Hotel and Villas shortly after 16:00. Mr.Nakamura, Eiichiro general manager and chief chef welcomed us warmly and arranged for us a special dinner looking almost “a Royal Reception” at the cozy garden in front of the hotel overviewing East China sea. We were also able to see well the site of planned relocation of the Futenma base, namely the outskirt of US military base, Camp Schwab.

    Special arrangement for the evening was that the formal governor of Okinawa, Mr. Nakaima Hirokazu, kindly visit us at this hotel to share his time to tell us what he thinks about many issues which Okinawa currently faces. I will write specially about his talk later.

    Since Sonjuku members enjoyed so much of the warm welcome and splendid dinner at Kanucha Bay, and very favorably impressed by this entire facility and environment, they spontaneously expressed their wishes to come back here at least once a year. We began to think about visiting here annually to have memorable gathering of alumni as well as active members.

May 29(Sunday),2016:

   In the morning as early as 7:00, those who wish to play golf started. On the way of playing, we were able to see a number of times, a just a couple of miles away, the planned site, named Henoko area, for relocation of Futenma base. For those who wish to enjoy trial scuba diving and swimming they did.

   We departed Kanucha Bay and Villas at about 13:00 and went to visit Ryukyu mura(village), a sort of theme park where a number of cultural and natural assets are exhibited, and a variety of Okinawa musics, songs and dances are played. It is a kind of center of Okinawa cultural and entertainment heritages.

   Having arrived the village, most of the members who visited here for the first time were guided around to see the gists of the park, and I was guided directly to go to the old and original house of Kokuba family, the family who owns much of Okinawa construction businesses. The house is currently preserved by Mr.Uechi, Toshio and his  family as an important cultural heritage of the prefecture. The old house is renovated to be used for meetings of various kinds. Room is air-conditioned, which is a relief for an exceptionally hot day.

   During the entertaining shows and late lunch, which was gorgeous by the way, we were surprised that Mr.Sakima, Atsushi, Mayor of Ginowan-city who told us well in advance that he would be too busy to spare time to meet us, showed up. Mr. Uechi,Toshio told us that he ordered Mr. Sakima to come to join us because professor Shimada was visiting Ryukyu-Mura and it would be unthinkable for Mr.Sakima not to join. Mr.Uechi is chairing the organization for supporting Mr.Sakima so that Mr.Sakima probably had no other choice but to follow strong advice  of Mr.Uechi. This was a great luck for us. Mr. Sakima gave us useful and interesting talk to us, which I will write specially later.

    This was the final event for our trip of Okinawa this time.


2.  Kadena Air Base and Vice Commander Van Thai
 
   To visit Kadena airbase, I wrote a letter of request toward the end of year 2015 through Okinawa office of Defense Ministry of Japanese government. A couple of weeks later, we received a message from an officer in charge of Kadena airbase through Defense ministry of Japan, Mr.Morita, that it was too early for them to make decision as to whether they would receive us or not.  The officer in charge advised us to submit our request again  in March. Their reply of receiving us at the airbase reached us in April. 

    Two years ago, they responded to us much more quickly. Why they spent much  time before they gave us their word of reception? Since military organizations work rigorously in accordance to rules and instructions, it is hard to think that their response was delayed simply by the pace of handling this case. We wondered if the  base had  much more tense issues to consider, such as missiles of North Korea, this time which did not quite exist two years ago.

 The officers of Kadena airbase received us and warmly welcomed us as two years ago when we arrived at the gate of the base.  In the meeting room in the office of the base, the officers gave us comprehensive explanations of the size, structure, and functions of Kadena airbase. This explanation is just about the same as two years ago. Since the explanation of two years ago is reported in detail of my English report, I will not repeat it here.

    Having heard such explanations, vice commander of the base, Mr. Van Thai explained to us the objectives, the mission and the types of operations and also the types of airplanes operating in the base.

    At some point of his speech, I asked him as to why and how he joined American  air force partly because I noticed that his name is a familiar name in Vietnam. He frankly explained to us that he is a son of a Vietnamese family who left Vietnam to reach the US seeking for opportunities of new life shortly after the end of Vietnam war. This story impressed us keenly in the sense that the US still has its great merits of accepting those who wish to come to the US openly, and provides opportunities indiscriminately as far as the candidate has a strong will, commitment and diligence. Mr. Van Thai talked highly of this virtue of the United States.

 After observing  F-15 jet fighters closely at the shelter, we were guided to the exit of the base which was punctually, exactly 16:00 which was promised to us well in advance.


3.  Talk session at Kadena town hall

   After having a ceremony of receiving a special award for contributing to Kadena town from town mayor Mr.Tohyama, Hiroshi in the town office, we were guided to visit the town hall which was built as a project of Kadena renovation by the initiative of Shimada commission around 2000.  On the wall of entrance to the building, there set three bronze relief of the bust of three men: Mr.Kajiyama, Seiroku, Mr. Okamoto, Yukio and myself. These bronze relieves were made and set to the wall of this hall to express the gratitude of the town for our effort of renovating the whole  town and building the huge multi-purpose town hall. Sonjuku members seem to have been deeply impressed by seeing this relief.

    We went to the meeting room. In addition to Sonjuku members, some members of Kaduna town officers voluntarily joined us to share time together with us to share information during the discussion session.

    I  tried to give them a comprehensive history of Okinawa, a quick view of contemporary history of Japan, the experience of Okinawa war, hard days of Okinawa people in the wake of the end of the war under the control of occupation army, and the terrible rape of a 12 year Okinawa girl by 3 American soldiers in 1996, protests of Okinawans, the formation of the special committee advising Chamber Minister of Japanese government on the issues of US military bases and facilities in Okinawa, in short Shimada commission, activities of Shimada commission with special reference to the Kadena project which aimed at minimizing problems arising from the large presence of US base by renovating the central part of the town as well as constructing multi-purpose town center.

   While talking, I myself got somewhat excited particularly because the audience, Sonjuku members and Kadena town officers, was listening to me so earnestly, I spent almost two hours exceeding well over one hour which was planned. Some sonjuku members had tears in their eyes. They told me later that they were so much moved by my speech and was unable to stop tearing in their eyes. I was moved as well by their sincere attitude.


4.  Talk with Mr. Nakaima, Hirokazu

   Mr.Nakaima, Hirokazu shared his time with us at Kanucha Bay and Villas Resort for a few hours between 5 to 8 O’clock. After our talk, he went back to Naha city. We talked for about an hour in a room of the hotel, and then continued our conversation in the garden overviewing the ocean having a delicious dinner sitting around a few round tables.

   Mr. Nakaima started out his talk by telling the meaning of having bases in Okinawa. US military bases in Okinawa have had important share in its economy since the end of the war. Currently the bases employ about 8500 people. However, their relative importance in Okinawa economy has been declining sharply with the development of Okinawa. Currently the share of income accruing from the bases is around only 5% or so. On the other hand, accidents, crimes, noises are annoying Okinawa people. The bases also remind us of the cruel and miserable experience of Okinawa war. We admire Hiroshima people in that they somehow overcome their fatal experience of suffering from nuclear bomb, and try to seek new possibilities for the future.

   In Okinawa, major political parties such as Social Grand party and others require all the bases be abolished, or be transferred to outside of Okinawa. On the other hand, the threat of China is becoming increasingly real and just around the corner. Defending against China may not be possible only with self defense force. We might need US military force to defend Okinawa.

    Mr. Onaga, Takeshi used to be heading the team of election policies of Liberal Democratic Party. He all of a sudden prior to the last gubernatorial election joined Communist and other opposition parties bringing 50000 votes which  would otherwise support LDP. Therefore, the result of the election turned out to be 360000 votes for him and 260000 votes for myself. 

   Defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld once said that the situation of Futenma base is dangerous for inhabitants nearby. Okinawans strongly oppose against relocating it within the prefecture. However, municipalities outside of Okinawa would never accept the base. Therefore, the place of relocation would have to be again in the neighborhood of Nago city. Chamber minister, Mr. Suga, Yoshihide once told that the government pursues the possibility to relocate the base outside the country such as to US bases in the Pacific Ocean, but so far no response from the US on this question. We have no power to change the US since we are the defeated country. We, Okinawans, asked many times to US Consul General in Okinawa to accept Okinawa base in the US. This relocation would be difficult under the rein of Hillary Clinton, either. 

   We always think about US bases as to what should be the most legitimate way of allocating them. We know that defense needs bases, and also think that security is the national issue rather than a issue confined within Okinawa. Then we always think of the question as to why not the entire Japan think seriously sharing the burden of having bases which are indispensable for national security rather than simply forcing Okinawa to bear the 70% of the burden on only 2.5% width of Japan’s territory.


5.  Talk of Mr. Sakima, Atsushi
    Mr. Sakima, Atsushi joined us in the joyful reception held in the old Kokuba House of Ryukyu Village in the afternoon of May 29. This was a surprise and wonderful surprise. This was kindly arranged by Mr. Uechi, Toshio.

    He said that already 20 years have passed since the decision was made by prime minister Hashimoto, Ryutaro and US president Clinton, Bill, to relocate Futenma base to somewhere else within Okinawa. To relocate Futenma base, we need other place where Futenma base should be relocated. According to the current Japan-US treaty, we need an another facility to substitute Futenma base. If no such place or facility is available, Futenma base cannot be relocated.

    Mr.Donald Trump talks about withdrawal of US military from Japan. This seems a much too much far-fetched view.

   Japan-US security arrangement is necessary for the sake of Japan and not for Okinawa alone. I think the whole Japanese should think about more seriously about what should be done to secure the peace for Japan as a whole.

    Activists assert the bases should be located outside of Okinawa, but they never agree to accept at the place they reside. Defense minister Nakatani, Gen admits that problems of the bases are not problems of Okinawa alone. I wish Japan as a whole should think about this issue more seriously. Futenma base occupy 480ha, which is a number of times larger than Tokyo Baseball stadium. When it is relocated, we also need to think as to how to fill in its gap economically as well.

    Listening his talk, we were impressed by his remark that as far as security is the national issue and not the issue of Okinawa alone, therefore why not entire Japanese think about sharing the burden of holding bases by the entire Japan more seriously. This is indeed the basic question of the problem of base in Okinawa.


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Sonjuku-Trip to Hunan Shang, China

 From April 14 through 17, 2016, 13 members of Shimada Sonjuku and myself visited Hunan province of China. More specifically, we visited Changsha-city, the capitol city of Hunan Province and a neighboring mid-size city of Loudi. We visited in addition to site seeing spots, universities and a firm, and met many and a variety of people and exchanged views. This trip was highly enlightening and informative, and above all greatly fruitful for us. Let me describe interesting and important aspects of the trip as well as noting my impressions and some thoughts I was inspired during the trip.

Professor Duan Yuezhong

 The idea of visiting Hunan province emerged a year ago as an optional trip of Shimada Sonjuku program, for the class of 2014. This was inspired by my friend, Duan Yuezhong, the initiator and the chief editor of Nihon Kyo-ho sha (Japan Bridge Press co.), who dedicates himself to bridge Japan and China culturally, educationally, journalistically and in terms of information sharing.

 While he has published 300 books during the last 15 years for mutual understanding, he has been conducting a remarkable program for the last 12 years to solicit Chinese young people(students) throughout the country who have never been to Japan to write essays in Japanese. Every year, a few thousands, at times as many as 5000, students submit their Japanese essays. The total number of students who have participated to this “Composition competition” as a whole is said to have amounted to more than 30,000.  Noteworthy is the fact that the number of young students who participated to this competition never really declined even in the yeas when Chinese and Japanese governments had a conflict over the issue of Senkaku islands. Indeed, this kind of activity should be promoted by Japanese government. I respect his earnest effort.

 Having finished higher education in Hunan Sheng, he went to Beijing where he worked several years as a press journalist and then came to Japan in 1991 to join his wife who were already working in Japan. When he arrived in Japan, he had no skills to handle Japanese language. He wanted to work, though, to earn a living. For a Chinese who knows nothing about Japanese language, finding and getting a job was extremely difficult. Luckily, however, he found a casual job in a small tavern inside the campus of Ueno railroad station. His job was to bring liquor or some food to the customer. Every night, the boss of the shop tested how well Mr. Duan can read a small newspaper articles. After some time, he was able to read the whole article well. The boss was so glad and gave Mr. Duan a dish of baked thin pork and rice. Professor Duan saids that he can never forget the taste of this dish and the warm heart and good will of the boss. This was the introduction of Japanese language to Mr. Duan.

 Currently, he is an amazingly eloquent speaker of Japanese. He does many things to promote mutual understanding of grass root level between the two countries. In addition to the activities I cited above, he has been conducting Sunday gathering, entitled “Chinese language corner” since 9 years ago for those who are interested in China and Chinese at a corner near Ikebukuro railway station. Every Sunday, hundreds of people gather there. Many of them are Japanese who worked for some years in China and miss Chinese years after returning to Japan. Members of this gathering now amount to dozens of thousands. He also plays the role of secretariat of a friendly association of Hunan Province, the board of the association consists of eminent experienced diplomats, scholars and opinion leaders.

 I happened to have been acquainted with Professor Duan Yuezhong as he participated to a policy oriented international conference, entitled “Round Table Japan“, and also as he taught Chinese at Chiba University of Commerce where I serve as president. More I leaned about his activities, more I admire his objectives and dedication. One day, he visited one of the bi-monthly workshop of Shimada sonjuku.  When he sensed that we are interested in visiting China, he kindly and earnestly recommended that we visit Hunan Province where he was born and brought up.

 For the last year, he gave a couple of lectures explaining about Human Province, and one day also introduced the winner of Japanese composition contest to the members of Shimada sonjuku, in an attempt to prepare for our trip to Hunan Province.

Day 1.(April 14, 2016,Thursday)

 On April 14, we left Haneda airport in the morning to fly for Shanghai airport. In Shanghai, Professor Duan had asked Shanghai office of Hunan Province to arrange a luncheon meeting before we get on a bullet train from Shanghai to Changsha-city of Hunan Province. Dr. Duan asked the office to invite executives of Shanghai city government in addition to representatives of Hunan Shang Shanghai office. Above all, an eminent political leader not only in Shanghai but also of Chinese central government, Mr. Zhao Qizheng. He once was a minister of the central government, and is well known as an opinion leader nationwide.

 We took a lunch box and enjoyed conversation. Mr. Zhao Qizheng was quite friendly. Professor Duan in fact has published a book recently on the theme of communication, which is an edited version of dialogue of Mr. Zhao and an experienced diplomat in front of student audience at a university. Professor Duan also has published a book compiled by Mr. Zhao’s younger brother who wrote a series of books on the wisdom of life encompassing a very broad perspective of different cultures, religions and thoughts, particularly of Chinese traditional wisdom led by eminent thinkers in ancient times. Mr. Zhao talked about many things such as Shanghai, China, Japan and his brother etc. I was particularly impressed by his detailed explanation of Japanese emperor who visited Shanghai.

 After the lunch, we got on a bus to move to the railway station of bullet train. The station was crowded. We passed the gate and walked to the bullet train which was waiting at the platform. The station was quite large. The bullet train left the station a minute after 15:00.

 As the train increased speed, female attendants walked through the corridor to give us small package of snacks and candies. They are also prepared to sell such items in response to the request of the passenger such as coffee, beer, cakes, fruits etc. Their service is not bad. Perhaps the only problem passengers, particularly of our group, complained was the toilet. Which is what is congenially called “Turkey style” and worse. Many toilets were not cleaned.

 To reach the city of Changsha by the bullet train was a kind of challenge for us. One is a not good image of Chinese bullet train. We tend to be reminded by a serous accident several years ago when Chinese government blamed that they developed the bullet train by their own technology. But as soon as the business started a bullet train dropped from the high bridge. This was a seized accident which was broadcasted throughout the world. But more surprising was the action which the authority took immediately afterwards. They buried the dropped car of the train into the ground, which is utterly opposite from what the authority should do in the global common sense.
 
 The global common sense is to preserve the site just as it is until most of the investigation is completed on the site. This is imperative to discern the causes of the accidents and to compile the data for the subsequent prosecution. Burying the car immediately would make all this due process unclear and unworkable. We wondered if this kind of mal-practice would still be there.

 Another challenge was the time of riding on the train. From Shanghai to Changsha,  the distance is just about 1000 km, it takes around 4 hours and a half, which is a long ride. The long and monotonous trip on the train will be boring and tiring. Taking a “could be” risky Chinese bullet train for such a long time was thought to be a “challenge.”

 However, our real experience was much different from such a preoccupation. The train and the railway are apparently well made, traveling is smooth, on train services were not bad. For the recent years, China made a gigantic investment in the infra-structure of the country. One of the major areas of this investment has been the development of railway system and particularly bullet train system. China is trying to develop the bullet train system as a major strategic export item of the country.  A recent news that China won against Japan in selling the bullet train system to Indonesia reflects a part of their strategic effort of selling the system internationally.

 Riding on the bullet train for a lengthy time, I thought of how many and how long railway lines of the bullet train system have been constructed in the country. Since China’s land is vasty large and the distances among major cities are far apart. Having built the bullet train which I was riding throughout the country should mean that China has already learned a lot by accumulating a vast amount of experience.

 Another keen impression was the sight beyond the windows of the train. Out of the window, there spreads a broad land on which spectacular views developed. That is, the succession of clusters of high buildings as high as 30 to 40 stories which seem to have been designed for offices and partly residences. Also. there appears beyond the window, one residential district and another. Most of them consist of fairly large and well designed houses. Most of these tall buildings and good residential houses seem to have been within the last decade of even more recently. Amazing is the fact that such succession of clusters of buildings and houses never stopped. The succession continued, though at times dense and other times sparse, but nevertheless continued for the entire course of one thousand kilometers.

 And the most impressive was the fact that more than a half of these buildings and houses are apparently vacant, or at least not used. It is easily seen because they are not lit up in the darkness after the sunset. The train trip of 1000km was very impressive, informative and enlightening. Riding the bullet train and watching the sceneries along the railway, we were able to witness a massive volume of infra-structure investments of China in a recent decade on the one hand, and at the same time, how serious and horrendous the collapse of the bubble which threaten the current Chinese economy, on the other.

 We arrived at Changsha station shortly before 8:00. The Changsha station is amazingly vastly large. However, unlike other stations we passed by on the way of the bullet train ride, Changsha station had many passengers although much fewer than Shanghai. The female tour guide, Ms. Chen Xiangying who speaks fluent Japanese came to pick us up and introduced herself to us. She explained that the bullet train station was opened on December 26, 2009. There is a reason why the station started to operate on this day. This is the birthday of Mao Zedong. She went on to introduce us many such things which are named after Mao Zedong. She said Mao Zedong is respected, loved by people here. He is indeed a de facto “God.”

 Professor Duan has arranged for us a visit to a family like dinner party of his friends. They were gathering in a small family like restaurant on the 20th or so high floor of a tall residential building. There exit many of such relatively new and tall residential building s in the city. They served typical Hunan dishes, which is well known for their hot taste. His friends consist of many talented people as architect, journalist, writer etc. We enjoyed the hot  Hunan food and friendly interaction with Professor Duan’s friends up to quite late at night. At the end of dinner, they gave us a gift, which is a special fortune stone of the region. In return, I sang a Chinese song for them, named, “Yue Liang Dai Biao Wo de Xin”. My friend, Mr. Hasegawa, whispered to me “Your talent helps your life!”

 When we arrived at the hotel, “Inter-Continental Hotel Changsha” it was shortly before the midnight. It was a large, gorgeous, and fairly new hotel. A Chinese service person who spoke fluent Japanese came to greet us and said that he would do whatever he can do to make our stay comfortable.

 I went to my room which was on 23rd floor. The room was a large, deluxe type. Shortly afterwards, Professor Duan knocked the door and introduced me his friend, who is a high rank executive of Changsha city government and at the same time a well known calligrapher. He brought to me a couple of beautiful works. I thanked them a lot.

 After having settled somewhat, I wanted to reach the front desk by indoor phone. I pushed the button, “Reception” but no answer, not even a slightest sound. I realized that the phone is not connected. I searched around the phone, the desk and connecting code etc. No way. I can not find how to get the phone work. I was praying warm water into the luxurious bath tub in order to warm up myself before going to bed.

 I stopped pouring hot water. Put on clothes once again and went down to the floor where I believed the reception desk was. The floor I arrived was the garage. I went back and redone the whole process. The floor was so big that I arrived at a sector which is far apart from the sector where the reception was. I went to the reception and complained using English that phone was not working. I asked them to send someone to fix it. Several minutes later, a man came. I wanted to let him understand the problem. But he was unable to understand English. My Chinese is not good enough to let a man understand this sort of trouble. He somehow fixed it.

 I realized that to initiate the phone you need to push a different button which has no instruction such as “To start the phone, you need to push this button first.” The machine was designed perhaps to minimize the use of electricity. When there is no one to use it, the machine probably sleeps. This kind of “Eco” product seems to be a “fashion” recently. It is OK, but if the customer does not understand how to start using it, it will cause inconvenience and uneasiness on the part of customer, which will result in low evaluation of the service quality of the hotel. I complained this systematically to the front desk attendant and advised them to put clear instruction and also do something for me since they caused me a considerable inconvenience.

Day 2(April 15,2016, Friday)

 Breakfast in the hotel was good. There were a whole variety of foods which were tasty. Having enjoyed the meal, we got on a bus to visit the famous riverside park, where a huge stone sculpture of the face and the breast which represents the image of Mao Zedong when he was young sits like a sphinx. That huge construction of the image of Mao is 32m high and 41m wide. These sizes do have special meanings such as Mr. Mao has been president of People’s Republic of China for 42 years so that the sculpture of this size is symbolic to provide protection of this city in his honor.

 The park is wide. It is known for fragrant of tangerine. Indeed there were many tangerine trees with flowers. Many people throughout the country and even from outside the country like us visit this park. On the way to the next destiny, Ms. Chen Xiangying pointed to a red tower on the top of high rising building far away and asked what it meant to represent. It was designed to mean a red pepper which is a favorite of Mao Zedong. We were impressed that Mao Zedong is indeed a god in the region.

 Perhaps inspired by our visit of this place, Professor Duan suggested a possibility of organizing a tour for Chinese visitors to Japan to visit home towns of Japanese leaders such as famous prime ministers in Japanese modern history. We talked that it is hard to find Japanese towns where local people respect and preserve the tradition of such leaders. In the US, some great presidents are remembered by monuments such as sculptures of faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln etc graved on the cliff of Mt. Rushmore. But in Korea, people never even respect the presidents. Most of the presidents in the post war period have been either killed, jailed or indicted after they
left the office.

   In the sense of respecting the great leader, China may be a special case. I thought that at least Hunan Shang is outstanding, if not special, in this respect. Mao Zedong is a symbolic great leader who was born and brought up in Hunan Sheng. But he is not an exception. Hunan Sheng produced many great leaders such as Hong Xiu Quan, who was a great military leader to have controlled the rebellion of Tai Pin Tian Guo but also a great thinker of Chinese modern history.

   Hunan Sheng produced still other great leaders of the country such as Huan Xi, a powerful leader of revolution, who supported Sun Weng or Sun Zhong Shan to achieve Xinhai revolution which eventually terminated the Qing Dynasty,  Song Jiao Ren, who also helped Sun Weng to establish Nan Jing Government and tried to make it a genuinely national government, and regrettably was assassinated by the order of Yuan Shikai when he was chairman of national assembly.

 In the post war period, Liu Shaoqi led the early development of People Republic of China side by side of Mao Zedong、Hu Yangbang, who ran the country as the president after the rein of Mao Zedong, and Zhu Rongji who managed Shanghai development as the mayor and then became  prime minister of People Republic of China to achieve remarkable economic development of the country. Having produced such great leaders of the country, it is easy to imagine how proud the people of Human Shang of their own home land.

 We moved on to visit Hunan University. Hunan University one of the top dozen famous university of entire China. In this region, the university is outstanding. The visit of Hunan University is the major event of today, or indeed, the major event of our entire trip to Hunan province.

 Above all, it is planned that we would have two hour seminar with about 200 students of the university. The seminar is mainly to exchange views and discuss on matters of our mutual interest between ourselves and the students. Professor Duan suggested about a month earlier in his process of arranging this seminar that I will make a brief introduction of our visit, say in Chinese if I wish, and then devote the rest of the time in discussion with the students basically using Japanese partly because there would be quite a few students who are specialized in Japanese studies.

 I, however, proposed another idea. That is, I would provide at the beginning not only a brief introduction of our visit but also some substantial key note remarks not in Japanese but in Chinese. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to provide a comprehensive picture of Chinese and Japanese economies with special emphasis on their historical developments and suggest policy implications of cooperation between the two countries for the future.

 I wrote first Japanese manuscript and asked professor Duan to translate into Chinese for me. Shortly afterwards he sent me a Chinese manuscript. When I read it I was somewhat disappointed because he translated only the first and the last 5 percent of my manuscript. Perhaps he thought that it would be too much to try to speak the entire manuscript in Chinese. It would take time, and moreover, students may not understand my Chinese. I started to learn Chinese as an old man only two years ago.

 But I insisted that I would like to speak the entire manuscript in Chinese. This is a challenge for me. I would like to challenge in this special opportunity. He kindly translated all the manuscript. I asked professor Shi Min of our university to put pin in. With pin in attached the entire manuscript turned out to be 7 pages. I tried to read it many times. After a while, I was able to read the whole sentences within half an hour. This is my special reason that visiting Hunan university and have seminar with 200 students is the high light of this entire trip.

   We arrived at the campus of the university around 10:00am. The campus is very broad. Arrays of green trees were particularly impressive. It is interesting to see that many cars are being driven inside the campus just as though the roads were public streets. There were hills at the outskirt of the campus. At the foot of such hills exits the famous ”Yuelu Academy”.

 This study hall has a long history stemming from a couple of thousand years where scholars and students studied in the tradition of the Chinese great thinker ”Konzi” who initiated “confucianism” the Chinese traditional school of thoughts some 2500 years ago. We were guided by a professor of Japanese language and culture. She was kind and articulate. We took a walk within the campus of ”Yuelu Academy” to see and learn from historical remains.

  We were then guided to a conference room where we were welcomed by vice presidents of Human University. They welcomed us and acknowledged that our visit will be highly meaningful for the future development of Hunan University and Chiba University of Commerce.

  Then, we were invited to a luncheon meeting held by the president of Hunan University, professor Duan Xiazhong. He had strong personal appeals in his way of providing warm hospitality, joyful conversation, and sincere attitude to listen to others before he speaks out. While enjoying delicious lunch, he solicited our Sonjuku members to speak about their impressions, questions or anything.

  Mr. Ishii asked a question as to what is the matter of concern from president’s point of view. In responding to his question, the president asked me also to respond. We started to talk about the attitude of students nowadays. Interestingly, our impression of students of each other country turned out to be surprisingly similar. Perhaps because we are aged and have had many experiences we wished the young students to think about their roles of changing or creating the country. As educators, we agreed that we need to teach more about histories of our societies and the world so that the young people can develop their fresh thoughts building on such experiences.

   Conversations of the table went on as the president solicited the members to speak out and responded or commented based on the notes he took while the Sonjuku member was speaking. This was remarkable and impressive. When the lunch is more or less over, president said regrettably that he had to go for another appointment and wished our afternoon seminar would go well.

   Prior to move on to the lecture hall of the university where the seminar will be held, we dropped by a cozy tea room where we enjoyed a formal and traditional tea serving. The tea master across the bar from us cordially and carefully prepared the tea and served to us one after another. It was refreshing and impressive. Our group paid the price and went out of the tea room.

  We learned later that a small but a great thing happened on this occasion. In the next morning, when we were on a bus to go out for the suburb, Mr. Ishii who paid the price received a correspondence from the tea house through “We Chat”, an increasingly popular new SNS system, that they took 99 Yuan too much so that they would like to pay back by means of transaction using “We Chat.” Mr. Ishii accepted the offer and the 99 Yuan was paid to him.

 This anecdote is remarkable for two reasons. One is to prove the wide prevalence of the use of “My Chat” even as a means of money transaction. Ant the other is more important. This small action captured Mr. Ishii and our minds in the sense that Chinese people, at least in this case, are honest, kind, thoughtful and trustful.

   We arrived at the lecture hall shortly after 14:00 pm. The hall is of good size to enroll a few hundred audience in a stepwise structure of seats and tables. The room was already filled with students. Following the opening statement and brief introduction of this seminar by the master of the ceremony, Professor Zhang Peixia, who is a dean of the department introduced, spoke his wish to this seminar, and to our surprise, he introduced each one of the 13 members of Sonjuku by calling names with brief introduction of who they are. The seminar was extremely well organized.

   Before I will speak my speech, another ceremony is conducted. Thai is, Hunan University kindly nominates me as a quest professor of the university. They asked me if I would accept the offer. I accepted it with honor and pleasure. All this must have been prepared well  by coordination of Hunan university officials and professor  Duan Yuezhong. Although this might be only nominal, I thought of the possibility of visiting and staying for some lengthy period Hunan University sometime in the near future. It may well help me to deepen my understanding of China and also help brush up my Chinese somewhat.

 I was given a floor for my speech. Although the Chinese sentences were not particularly easy to read, I thought that I was able to read somewhat more smoothly than the times of practice. I was able to see by watching the faces of the students that they were listening sincerely and earnestly.

 Since I will attach with this English report, Chinese and Japanese versions of my speech, I will not elaborate on the contents of my 25 minutes speech. At the beginning of the speech, I said to the audience that I will present my keynote speech in Chinese, and after the speech, I asked those who can use Japanese speak in Japanese, and all the others in English.

 Once the discussion session started, amazingly, those who spoke in Japanese translated their speeches in Chinese, and English speaking students also translated into Chinese to make sure all the participants will understand what is being discussed.

  The discussion in this manner took about an hour and a half. 10 or so students raised their hands and asked me questions or gave comments. About a half of them spoke in Japanese and the rest in English. Their language competence was quite high. All of us were able to understand what has been discussed. Sometimes, a professor of Japanese studies translated supplementary, which also helped to make our understanding flawless. In order to assist their understanding, I asked in advance Ms. Chida, Maki, my secretary, who accompanied us and a few staff of the university to distribute my Chinese manuscript to the audience after the end of my initial presentation. This may have helped to understand my speech correct. But the questions they asked soon after my speech indicated that they understood my speech while I was speaking. Indeed, some of the students told me that they understood most of what I spoke in my speech. What an achievement to make me proud!

 In addition to language competence, more impressive was their articulate  understanding of the subjects, and even more impressive was their profound grasp of the subjects on which to build sharp and creative questions. Their academic level seems extremely high. Furthermore, they seem to have excellent sense of policy implications.

   Let me introduce only a few example just to illustrate their proficiency and academic excellence.

  Question 1 (In Japanese): “I understand that professor Shimada served as a member of the government tax panel from 1997 to 2006 and therefore let me ask you a question to an expert of tax policy. Abe administration raised consumption tax up to 8% in spring of 2014, and is planning to raise further to 10% in April 2017. The Japanese economy, however, is not doing well recently. The another hike of tax rate may well induce a recession for Japanese economy. While many experts began to worry about the negative impacts of the another hike of tax rate, Prime minister Abe keeps saying that he would increase the consumption tax rate as scheduled unless Japan suffers from a serious setback as much as the Lehman shock. Is he serious?”

  Responding to his question, I began explaining the broad background of the need to increase consumption tax which Japanese government committed to the international policy community since 2009 in order to show the government will to restore fiscal discipline. On the question of whether prime minister Abe really meant to increase again the consumption tax rate at this timing will depend upon his political judgement of the reactions of consumers.

 Question 2 (in Japanese): “Professor Shimada almost singles out in his presentation as the reason of prolonged deflation symbolically described as the lost two decades the much delayed execution of austerity policy of Japanese government worrying too long the demand of the US to maximize Japanese domestic demand and consequently having to excessively stringent to suppress the bubble, I wonder if there were many more important reasons such as industrial structure, aging of population and even education.”

 While I highly evaluate the question, I added still other major reasons such as competition with low wage countries such as China, and the decline of domestic demand due to slowing down of the economy.

 Question 3 (in English): “While many Chinese students go to Japan to study, there are much fewer Japanese students study in China. In order to promote Japanese understanding of China, is it not necessary to increase Japanese students in studying in China. Also, we are under the impression that Japanese companies seem to have lost power as, for example, they lose completion against Korean companies in such areas as electric appliances, smart phones etc. What would you think and explain such trends of Japanese businesses?”

   In responding to this question, I called attention to the historical fact that wage levels in China have been very low relative to Japan which made Japanese students uninterested in coming and studying in China. This is however changing rapidly recently. With the dramatic development of Chinese economy and consequent rapid increase of incomes, Japanese students’ interest in China and comparative advantage of industrial products of the two countries will change significantly.

 Question 4 (in Japanese): “I understand that Japanese population is aging rapidly and at the same time fiscal deficit is increasing dramatically. In what direction and how Japan is going to overcome these problems?”

 Responding to this question, I emphasized the urgent need for Japan to alter the basic structure of income redistribution, most notably the social security system, which was formulated more than half a century ago when the age structure of population was much younger. However, it is extremely difficult to materialize such major reforms of the income redistribution in a “democratic” country such as Japan where major policy decisions have to be endorsed by people’s choices through elections. I added further that China, which faces basically the same problem, may be able to overcome much more easily taking advantage of the political system which is kept 70 years without national election.

 Question 5 (in English): “On the issue of the relations between corporations and the government, there is a whole variety of relations ranging from nationally owned corporations to purely private companies. Japan is the country where private companies occupy the main proportion of the economy. However, Japanese government does provide assistance to private companies in the form of, for example, various types of  subsidies. What do you think of forthcoming changes in such relations of the government and corporations?”
 
 Responding to this question, I explained the historical changes of such relations from the time when the government policy strongly influenced corporate sector to the time when the government influences have become much less as seen during the half a century experience of Japanese economy, and hinted that the relationships may well change with time even in China for the future.

 Question 6 (in Japanese): “I am currently majored in Japanese studies and plan to obtain Ph.D degree in Japan. Would you advice how to get appropriate jobs in Japan after obtaining the degree?”

 In responding to this question, I explained that the job market tends to become more specialized and individualized as the level of study(hence academic degree) becomes higher. My advice therefore is that you should pay greater attention and effort to learn and know specific realities of the job area you are interested and looking for in terms of not only formal knowledge and information but also, and perhaps more importantly, informal information such as specific individuals who could be of help to you. I suggested that the Sonjuku members attending today could be a good sample of such human resources.

 These are only a few examples of those who asked questions. In addition to the mastery of three languages, the level of understanding and the keen interest to the subject is superb. We received a profound impression of the excellency and strong will for study of the students. Since I have had many experiences of interacting with students of various countries, I can say that they are unquestionably the top rate students in the world. I was deeply impressed by the fact that China has been making enormous progress in fostering young students because I have known the level of Chinese students a quarter of century ago through my experience of conducting annual forums with Asian students including Chinese. It is highly curious to imagine, say for 10, 20 or 30 years ahead, how China will be like when these excellent young people bear the role of running the country.

 Since we spent much more time in this seminar than planned, the time budget for the next program became very short. We planned to visit “Heiwa-Do”, a major Japanese department store operating in Changsha-city. The time left for us was not more than 15 minutes. The Japanese CEO and Chinese executives were waiting for us. “Heiwa-Do” is obviously one of the most successful Japanese companies operating not only in Changsha but also in Hunan Sheng. They recently built the fourth store.

 The company met a bitter experience 5 years ago by having been attacked by rioters who broke windows and destructed much of the store in the turmoil which prevailed rapidly many places of China due to heightened confrontation of the governments of the two countries stemming from the issue of Senkaku islands.

 The trouble took place only a few months after the arrival of the current Japanese CEO. He, however, explained to us that the local government took a good care afterwards of restoring the store and compensating the damages, and they currently enjoy good relations with customers. It is good to know this story since the media only reports about the violence and the damage at the time.

 The reason why the time budget was limited for the visit of Heiwa-Do was that we needed to join the dinner party held by the city of Changsha. This was a gorgeous dinner. We were invited by the host, an executive of the city, to sit around a huge round table where a variety of Hunan dishes were prepared. At the beginning he explained major characteristics and advantages of Changsha city and Hunan province both in China and internationally. Following his remarks, I made a brief greeting thanking their goodwill to have invited us to this very special event using Chinese. He brought with him an excellent Chinese interpreter who works in the division of liaison activities. Professor Duan also interpreted so that we have had great time together both in terms of mutual communication and enjoying the famous Hunan cuisines.

Day 3: (April 16, 2016, Saturday)

  Having finished breakfast fairly early, we departed the hotel at 7:30 by bus heading at Loudi city which is located next to Changsha-city. Loudi city has grown remarkably as a mid-size city. The main activity of the city has been agriculture. In fact, Hunan Sheng is known as an agricultural center of China. Loudi city is a main contributor to this reputation of the region.

 This morning, we were to be guided by two tour guides. Ms. Chen Xiangying brought her younger colleague Ms. Huang Qing. Ms. Huang told us that she badly wished to join us once she learned our visit this time. She spoke fluent Japanese, sings Japanese songs well, and prepared earnestly to give guidance of Loudi city.

 The feature object of the city is the old house of Zeng Guofan. He is a well known and highly respected political, cultural and military leader of modern China. When the rebellion of Tai Ping Tian Guo took place in the southern province of China in mid-19th century, the declining Qing dynasty was unable to control it. It was Mr. Zeng who led his army and finally controlled the turmoil. He was not only famous as such a powerful military leader but also a great thinker, writer, and philosophical leader of the country at the time. It is well known that Mao Zedong said that Zeng Guofan is the only Chinese he respects. Ms. Huang Qing explained well and in detail about Zeng Guofan and also important political developments at the dawn of modern China.

 Since the planned driving time to reach the Loudi city was  nearly two hours, professor Duan proposed an unique exercise. That is, letting the two guides to read paragraphs of the Japanese pamphlet of the city, and asked each of the 13 members of Sonjuku to read the same paragraphs in turn so that the Chinese guides could compare their Japanese with native Japanese and hence they could learn to improve their Japanese.

 My frank impression was that they read the Japanese better than our native fellow Japanese except for a few very tiny and slight differences which may make us notice that the speakers are not native Japanese. Listening to their reading, I wonder how my Chinese is heard by the native Chinese. When reading Japanese, they must know well what should be the right pronunciation and intonation which they follow carefully except only few subtle pronunciations which they may not be fully aware. I realized that their is a long long way to go for me to approach in studying Chinese.

 After getting off the highway, we drove for a while the road of country-side where both sides were paddy field for rice.  Incidentally, this is the city where professor Duan was born and brought up. Professor Duan told us that when he left the home country 27 years ago, there were no buildings and shops which were built during the recent decades of development of Chinese economy.

 Shortly before the location of the old house of Zeng Guofan, we were welcomed by a few executives of the city of Loudi. Since the road to the old house of Zeng Guofan was fully packed by cars of visitors, we stepped out of the bus and walked. The house was nearly revived to its original shape and has been kept in a good condition. Many visitors were visiting continuously.

 Having taken a look of the house, professor Duan suggested us that we altogether draw calligraphic signature on a blank sheet with a brush of China ink. I first took a brush and wrote our wish for the development of mutual relations before writing my signature. All the others followed. It looked good. Professor Duan gladly took pictures of this. My impression of the old house is not really of the house and remains themselves but more of the admiration and respect of the people who visit this place.

 After visiting and leaning about the old house of Zeng Guofan, we were guided to a restaurant where traditional Hunan food a la Loudi city were provided. Since there was not a big enough room to accommodate some 30 guests of us and the city executive, we sat around the tables of three different rooms. Soon after lunch has began, both Sonjuku members and the city executives and local people started to cheer to solicit drinking local strong liquor. Shouting and cheering for drinking kept on going.

 As far as I remember, I was solicited to drink 20 small cups in the first room. I stood up and visited other two rooms. There again I was recommended strongly to dry up cups 7 more times. Although the cup was tiny, drinking this much in a row made me wonderfully intoxicated. This was not only me. Sonjuku members were well high by the local liquor. At the end, I was asked to sing a few Chinese songs, The festa was over. We got on a bus and immediately fell asleep. This was a great welcome courtesy of the local community.

 I got awake after a lengthy drive of a couple of hours or so. The bus was just at the gate of Hunan University of Humanities, Science and Technology. This is a leading university in Loudi city. Amazing was the scene that at the entrance doorway to the campus, there hung a long flag(banner) at the gate on which the message is written to welcome Shimada sonjuku visit to the university.

 The campus is obviously very big. There stand many new building which are shining reflecting the sunshine of late afternoon. We were welcomed by vice president, Ms. Shi Xiaochun. She and her colleague explained the major feature of the university as having 15,000 students and 3,000 teaching and administrative staffs. The university was founded in 1989 and currently has 9 major areas of education and research which consist of 55 specialities.

 Before we went to a conference hall, we were invited to take a look at calligraphy demonstration. A famous calligrapher drew a beautiful image of ancient Chinese characters. He gave it to me as a memory of visiting this university. Calligraphy which has a few thousand years of history is certainly an outstanding cultural advantage of this country.

 We were guided to a conference hall. The large conference table was beautifully arranged. At the beginning the president and vice president of the university welcomed us and then gave us comprehensive explanation of the structure and accomplishments of the university. I then responded to thank their reception and explained in some detail as to what the Shimada sonjuku aims at, and in particular, the reason of our choice of Hunan Sheng for this visit.

 After the conference, I was interviewed by the local TV crew to give them the reason of our visit this time and our impressions of Hunan Sheng. This interview was televised in the evening news of this area, which was seen on internet by the office of strategic PR of Chiba University of Commerce later on.

 Leaving the campus, we went on to the restaurant which is located at the busy district of the city where the Loudi city representatives were waiting to welcome us. Again, the table was covered by the hot and rich Hunan dishes. At the table, a researcher who is specialized in Japanese studies took the role of translating our conversation. An executive of the city who invited us to this splendid dinner gave us cordial welcome message.

 The dinner started. Many of the sonjuku members talked about their impressions responding to the solicitation by the host. Out of various topics, the focus turned out to be employment of Chinese workers by the Japanese company. Ms. Kasai is the right person to make comment on this question because Dentsu Co. the Japan’s largest advertising service company, which she works employs at least a few hundred Chinese workers in Japan and more abroad. She said that there has been no particular talents expected for Chinese workers except for Chinese language capability, but she added that there would be more expertise expected for Chinese workers as well depending upon the expected roles they play in the future.

 I added a comment based upon my experience as an independent auditor of Dentsu some years ago. During my service of several years, Chinese subsidiaries of Dentsu in China were noticeable examples of problems out of a few hundred subsidiaries in many areas of the world. The problems were concentrated in the areas of delays and incorrectness reporting, especially in accounting, and delays in handling particularly payment. While this topic was discussed, professor Duan who had been translating left the table.

 While he was away, the city executive began to talk on the topic. He seemed to have been insisting that the problem was with the headquarter of Dentsu rather than on the part of Chinese. Since translation by the staff of the university was not good enough to communicate correctly and tended to risk some misunderstanding. Ms. Chen joined to help us. I emphasized that Chinese subsidiaries were noticeable among many other subsidiaries so that the problem is not with the headquarter. I also argued that there may be peculiar attitude about reporting and information sharing by Chinese workers which are somewhat unique among workers of many other subsidiaries. We somehow agreed that these findings make us  recognize there exist even greater need to learn and understand with each other between the two countries.

 Since the discussion became suddenly sensitive and somewhat serious, other participants were under some tension. With this much of lively discussion, however, the wonderful dinner arranged by the executives of Loudi city was completed. We thanked their goodwill once again for inviting us to this great opportunity. We took picture altogether in the hall downstairs.
 We went back to the hotel fairly late at night. Next day early we took off from Hunan airport to Shanghai, and then flew from there to Japan using much of Day 4, April 17.

 All this has been the major thrusts of our trip to Hunan Sheng. The trip was exciting and learning. We are very grateful for earnest arranging and leading of professor Duan Yuezhong, presidents and professors of Hunan University and Hunan University of Humanities, Science and Technology executives of Hunan Sheng, Changsha-city and Loudi city.

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