Vol.8 February 2008
- Prime Minister Fukuda Unveils Global Warming Initiatives
- Ambassador Richard Holbrooke Meets With Japanese Press and Business Community
- Dr. George Packard Honored by Government of Japan
- Japan Info X-tra - GAGA OVER GAGAKU
- Japan Info X-tra 2 - JAA Selects New President
- Culture Connection - John Manjiro: The First Japanese to Live in the U.S.
- From the Ambassador's Desk
- Creating Something New Out of Something Old
- An Exhibition of Hope
- Event Calendar
On January 26, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He laid out a set of initiatives aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and countering global warming, including a proposal for quantitative target-based CO2 emissions reduction. The plan would include all major emitters in a post-Kyoto Protocol framework as well as establish a $10 billion financial facility to assist developing countries and promote emissions curtailment in a manner compatible with economic growth. Also, touching on the growing threat of a global recession, the Prime Minister called on the world’s economies to learn from Japan’s own experience dealing with its post-bubble financial crisis.
The Japanese prime minister took the opportunity before a gathering of world leaders to show his resolve to making the upcoming G-8 summit, which Japan will host in Toyako, Hokkaido in June, a step towards building an international consensus on curbing greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The Prime Minister’s speech marked the first time that Japan came up with a proposal for country-by-country numerical targets. At last year’s G-8 summit Mr. Fukuda’s predecessor Shinzo Abe proposed cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
As proposed by Fukuda each nation’s targeted reductions will be formulated by adding up sector-wise or industry-wise reductions. It is not clear how obligatory the targets will be, nor which year will serve as the base line. But the proposal is still considered a major step forward for Japan. In the past Japan carefully stayed clear of the idea of numerical targets for a post-Kyoto arrangement. The new proposal means that Tokyo will have to work hard to flesh out this target formula if it is to show a strong initiative as chair of this year’s G-8 summit meeting.
Fukuda had to overcome strong resistance from domestic circles against setting such numerical targets. Japanese industrialists are unhappy about the emission reduction obligation imposed under the Kyoto Protocol. They argue that given Japanese industry’s emission-reduction technology it has already achieved a high level of emission cuts and is far ahead of the rest of the world - therefore making it unfair to require Japanese industries to abide by the same rates as other countries.
In order to encourage developing countries like India and China, which are major polluters, to curtail their emissions, Fukuda said Japan would set aside $10 billion in an aid package aimed at supporting their efforts to counter global warming while pursuing economic growth. He talked about a multilateral fund to be created with the United States and Britain for a similar purpose. He also proposed raising energy efficiency in the world as a whole by 30% by 2020 through international environmental cooperation.
Touching on the world economy and more specifically the threat posed by a potentially serious recession triggered by the U.S. sub-prime mortgage meltdown, Fukuda said there were lessons to be learned from Japan’s experience with its post-bubble financial crisis. He specifically cited “a quick response” and “prevention of credit contraction caused by damage to banks’ capital” as crucial lessons. The Prime Minister said Japan’s economy is maintaining a steady, sustainable recovery, but that his government will step up measures to encourage growth.
This article is extracted from Japan Brief by the Foreign Press Center, January 28, 2008.
On January 21st, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Chairman of Asia Society, Richard Holbrooke, visited Ambassador Sakurai’s official residence to speak about Japan-U.S. relations and other topics in a meeting with members of the Japanese press, the Japanese business community and consulate officials.
Ambassador Holbrooke first entered the U.S. State Department in 1962 and worked in Vietnam. He has since served in several government positions as well as the private sector. He became a household name for his work ending the Bosnian Conflict in the mid 1990s, when as Assistant Secretary for Europe in the Clinton Administration he forged the Dayton Peace Accords.
Ambassador Holbrooke is a foreign policy advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He delivered a statement from her in which she called Japan an “indispensable ally”, stressing that in the years ahead, Japan and the US must “work to preserve peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.”
However, at the meeting, some asked if an article Senator Clinton published in the diplomatic magazine Foreign Affairs last October that described the U.S.-China relationship as “the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century” might give a different impression. Responding to such concerns, Mr. Holbrooke answered that the article was limited by space restrictions and was not a complete accounting of the senator’s foreign policy. He stressed the importance of the Japan-US alliance, saying Japan remains the foundation of U.S. policy in the region.
Holbrooke said, “If Japan so wishes, there is no issue in Asia or other regions that Japan cannot play an important role in.” He shared his belief that stable Japan-China relations will help the U.S. and the international community, saying, “The three countries, US-Japan-China, must cooperate on issues like North Korea and climate change.”
Reflecting on the state of the U.S. presidential race, he called it “the longest, most intense, and most expensive in US history,” but he expressed confidence that Hillary Clinton would win.
He also took the opportunity to invite Japanese corporations to become more involved in the activities of Asia Society.
Dr. George R. Packard, President, US-Japan Foundation, was honored with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his lifelong achievements aimed at fostering friendship and advancing understanding between Japan and the United States on November 3rd, 2008
A conferment ceremony for Dr. Packard was held in New York on January 22nd, at the residence of Ambassador Motoatsu Sakurai, Consul General of Japan. Approximately 100 guests, including Dr. Packard’s wife, his children, a granddaughter, staff from the US-Japan Foundation, his former students, and friends and supporters from various fields, gathered to celebrate Dr. Packard. During the ceremony, Ambassador Sakurai praised Dr. Packard for being an influential and steadfast voice for the Japan-U.S. partnership, even in times when the prevailing winds blew fiercely against such sentiments. Warm congratulatory remarks by the Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ryozo Kato, and a personal letter from Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan, were also read at the ceremony.
A leading scholar of Japan, Dr. George Packard has devoted his professional life to promoting the understanding of Japan in the U.S. He received his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1963. After working as a journalist, he became Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and in that capacity, founded the Edwin O, Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies. He also taught courses on Japan and Japan-U.S. relations at SAIS, and more recently at Columbia University. He has inspired countless students and helped to develop the field of Japanese studies in the United States.
During the period of intense trade frictions between Japan and the U.S. in the 1980's and early 1990's, Dr. Packard was a prominent opponent of the "revisionists," journalists and scholars who insisted that Japan was not a true democracy and who argued that the two countries were headed on an inevitable collision course. A voice of moderation, Dr. Packard stood up in the face of considerable personal criticism to call for a more balanced appreciation of Japan and strong Japan-U.S. relations, which he believed were in both countries overwhelming interests.
In addition to his many academic achievements, Dr. Packard has been active in promoting friendly relations between Japan and the United States. As the President of the US-Japan Foundation, he created the “US-Japan Leadership Program”, a program that allows emerging leaders from both countries to meet and develop long-lasting, professional ties.
At the ceremony, Dr. Packard thanked Ambassador Sakurai, and through him, Prime Minister Fukuda for this great honor. He said it would renew his energy for building even closer bonds of friendship between America and Japan―a country and culture that he has come to love.
GAGA OVER GAGAKU
In September 2006 the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University launched a pioneering program in the form of a Gagaku-Hogaku Curriculum and Gagaku Instrumental Ensemble with Columbia’s Center for Ethnomusicology and the Music Performance Program.
Gagaku is the oldest continuous orchestral music in the world. Its history in Japan spans more than 1300 years. The term gagaku itself refers to both orchestral music (kangen) and dance (bugaku) and is comprised of many musical traditions and influences that traveled the ancient Silk Road from the Middle East through Central Asia, Tibet, China, and Korea, culminating in Japan - where foreign cultural imports were readily absorbed and aspects of ancient high culture were revered and rarely abandoned.
By establishing the first permanent gagaku-hogaku training program outside, Japan the program makes it possible for students to experience the tradition and master one or more of its instruments. It is also hoped that the magnificent gagaku instruments will be used in new compositions that will influence the future of world music.
Since March 2006, Columbia has sponsored four Gagaku concerts, often to standing room only crowds. Three eminent gagaku musicians are mentors in developing the program, they include world renowned sho (a free-reed, 17-pipe mouth organ) artist Mayumi Miyata, ryuteki (a transverse flute) master Takeshi Sasamoto and hichiriki (a double-reed, vertical bamboo flute) master Hitomi Nakamura. All are members of the renowned Reigakusha orchestra and they introduce their instruments through solo pieces and perform both traditional and modern works in ensemble.
In conjunction with the concerts, a one-day workshop is held annually which consists of a total immersion program where participants receive orientation on the basics and an introduction to the traditional instruments.
Another exciting development is the Mentor/Protege Program that sends four of the best students to Tokyo for six weeks of intensive study and instruction on their instruments.
In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies in 2008, Columbia will host the annual Open Workshop on March 2nd, and a Gagaku Concert will be held in Low Library’s Rotunda on March 3rd. As part of this anniversary celebration, on March 13th, Columbia will also present a symposium in honor of the composer Toshi Ichiyanagi and his 10-year venture creating his Ensemble Origin that plays “new music for ancient Eurasian instruments.”
For more information on these upcoming events and Columbia’s Gagaku-Hogaku Program, please visit www.medievaljapan.org and www.ethnocenter.org.
JAA Selects New President
Mr. Gary S. Moriwaki was elected president of the Japanese American Association of New York (JAA), succeeding former president, Ms. Susan J. Onuma.
Mr. Moriwaki, an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP, serves as a chair of the firm’s International Practice Group. He was a founding partner of Young Moriwaki & Greenfader prior to its merger with Fox Rothschild. Born in New York in 1948, he graduated from Columbia University and received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Mr. Moriwaki has more than twenty-five years experience specializing in estate planning and administration. His clients include domestic and foreign business owners, professionals, and executives from a spectrum of industries. He is especially well-versed in advising clients who have complex, multi-national issues involving ownership of assets in multiple jurisdictions, domestic and foreign estates, inheritance taxes, choice of laws, and succession concerns.
He is a Board member of the Asian American Federation of New York and he served as a member of the Development Advisory Board for the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Mr. Moriwaki holds a black belt in karate. His experience with the Japanese martial arts began when he started practicing judo in his teens. Later, he went on to become a student of Shorin-ryu karate in 1981, eventually completing special training sessions with a grandmaster in 1999 in Okinawa and in New York in 2001.
His predecessor, Ms. Onuma, served as the president of JAA for three years. She is well-known for her devotion and strong commitment to social services. She remains as the Chair of the Committee on Aging Issues.
JAA was founded 100 years ago to provide support to new Japanese arrivals in New York City. Over the years, their focus has shifted with the changing Japanese and Japanese American population. Today, the community is predominantly Japanese born. JAA provides a wide range of services, including social service programs (twice monthly luncheons, meal delivery, and free consultation on legal matters and social welfare), Apple Kids (workshops and events for newly arrived families with young children), scholarship awards for high school and college graduates, and arts and cultural events. The association also plays a central role in the Committee on Aging Issues with the Consulate General of Japan in New York, it provides networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and also sponsors events like a Business Women’s Committee, the Foreign Minister’s Cup baseball league, and an annual golf tournament.
John Manjiro: The First Japanese to Live in the U.S.
The story of John Manjiro and his contribution to both the United States and Japan is as interesting as it is vital. Manjiro was the first Japanese person to live on the mainland of America and was an important advisor to the Tokugawa Shogunate during the opening of Japan. His participation proved to be an important factor in the origin of the U.S. - Japan relationship.
In 1827, Manjiro Nakahama was born in a fishing village which is now called Tosashimizu, in Kochi Prefecture, Japan. He became a fisherman at the age of 13. In early 1841, he and four companions were caught in a storm at sea and shipwrecked on the uninhabited island of Tori Shima in the Pacific. Luckily, they were rescued by Fairhaven Captain William H. Whitfield aboard the whaleship John Howland. Manjiro’s four shipmates were set ashore in Honolulu, but the fourteen-year-old boy wanted to stay on the ship. So, Captain Whitfield took him back to the United States. Captain Whitfield treated Manjiro, who was later referred to as “John Manjiro”, like his own son. He enrolled Manjiro in the Oxford School in Fairhaven MA, where he studied English, mathematics and navigation.
By the age of 24, Manjiro thought about the fact that he had not seen his mother in years and he pondered the importance of opening Japan. He decided to return to Japan, even though it was very risky. Upon his return, he was interrogated for violating nation's policy of isolation, but finally was allowed to return to his home in October of 1852. Manjiro and his mother were finally reunited after 12 years.
Because of his familiarity with American customs, Manjiro became a teacher at the Tosa School, lecturing on American civilization, culture and about his travels on the world's seas. It is said that he greatly influenced Sakamoto Ryoma and Goto Shojiro, two of the people who were responsible for the Meiji Restoration in Japan. In 1853, when Admiral Perry arrived from America to open Japan to foreign commerce, Manjiro became a Shogunal retainer. With Manjiro’s involvement and advice, the Shogunate took the first steps towards opening the country after 200 years of isolation.
If you want to take a closer look at the environment of John Manjiro, and get a sense of what he experienced growing up in the U.S. and its place in the U.S.-Japan relationship, arrange a trip to follow the “John Manjiro Trail” in Fairhaven, Massachusetts (3 and half hours from NY by car). The trail leads visitors on a path where they can see landmarks related to Manjiro life such as the Whitfield houses, the Old Oxford School and the Riverside Cemetery. In 1987, while still the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, the Emperor and Empress of Japan also visited the Whitfield house, proving its historical significance.
Mr. Reizo Yoshida, a resident in CT and an associate of Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, a famous author and President of the St Luke’s International hospital in Tokyo, heard that Captain Whitfield's house, where Manjiro spent his first night in America, was on sale and in ruins. Both were moved by the Captain Whitfield / Manjiro story, so Mr. Yoshida purchased the house in November, 2007 with Dr. Hinohara's consent. In Japan, Dr. Hinohara and his many supporters started fundraising for 80 million yen in order to cover the cost of buying and restoring the house.
For further information of this project and fundraising activities, please contact Mr. Reizo Yoshida in CT.
- Reizo Yoshida
- TEL: 203-256-9529
- FAX 203-256-2322
Iworked in the business world for 39 years before becoming Ambassador in March of 2006, making me the first Consul General in New York to come from the private sector. Career change is no longer rare in Japan these days, but for me it was my first opportunity to find myself in a different world.
Before becoming a public servant, my horizons were limited to the business world centered in Marunouchi, Tokyo. For me, it was the engine pushing Japan forward. I never gave much thought to the fact that the center of the power in Japan was actually in places like Nagatacho and Kasumigaseki - just a 20-minute walk from Marunouchi -- where Japan's Diet and government offices are located.
Joining the public sector meant having a much lower salary. But compensation comes in other ways too; it is the reward of helping people and the enrichment of new experiences and perspectives. I am grateful to be able to see the big differences in the public and private sectors firsthand. I cannot say one is better than the other, but I would like to share an example.
The tasks assigned to the Consulate are wide-ranging. They include issuing passports and visas, general support and crisis management for Japanese nationals, implementing public relations and cultural activities, as well as following the political, economical, and financial situation in the jurisdictional area, and supporting the Japanese private sector. These are all concrete, “grassroots” level activities that a businessperson can appreciate.
However, one of the biggest differences is that the private sector exists in a competitive environment. If a company does not meet a new challenge, the competition will. In my business days, I always encouraged people to try new things and not be afraid of taking risks. Even if you fail, you learn from the lesson, and then you then apply that knowledge to a future success. However, in the government, the first impulse is often, “We are not permitted to fail because we use taxpayers’ money.” This risk aversion can lead to an attitude towards change that says, “We cannot do it this way, because we never did it this way before.” I sometimes worry that government bashing may increase this tendency.
On the other hand, there are many things that officials can learn from the private sector. These include better customer service, efficiency, innovation, and better management of personnel, finance and accounting, all of which would improve the quality of work and the way taxpayer money is spent.
I look forward to continuing to draw on my experiences in both the public and private sector to implement new measures that I hope will improve the way we run the Consulate so that we can better serve our many clients in the Consular region.
One of Japan’s leading avant-garde composers, Toshi Ichiyanagi, is the artistic director for Ensemble Origin Japan, a two-day series of performances where new life is breathed into centuries old instruments. Making its U.S. premiere, the Ensemble Origin Japan performs contemporary compositions by Ichiyanagi and other Japanese composers. The Shinnyo-En Chorus of Japan also makes its U.S. debut, performing shomyo, a type of Buddhist chanting. The musicians will play ancient Asian instruments that include the Kugo (type of harp), a haisho (similar to a European pan pipe), the hokyo (percussion instrument made of iron plates), and the gogen-biwa (five stringed lute), all dating back nearly 1,200 years. More traditional instruments to be played include the koto and shakuhachi, from Japan’s medieval period.
With three performances in two days, the concerts will consist mainly of Ichiyanagi’s compositions, taking a look at the last 30 years of his career. Works will include “Still Time II” (1988), “The Source” (1990), “Time Sequence” (1976) and “Paganini Personal” (1982), along with the world premiere of his newest piece “Co-existence (2008),” featuring a shomyo and chamber ensemble. Pieces by Masaru Tanaka and Atsuhiko Gondai will also make their world premieres. While the goal here is to create new music with the use of instruments from the past, this event will also see the old perform with the new as the series culminates in a performance featuring traditional Japanese and Western classical music instruments. By using instruments and music native to Asia that have long been forgotten and reintroducing them back into Eastern and Western cultures, Toshi Ichiyanagi helps prove that this music is not only still relevant but also was ahead of its time.
- March 14 & 15
- Ensemble Origin Japan
- Contemporary Musin on Ancient Instruments
- Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
- 57th Street & 7th Avenue
- Info: http://www.ensembleorigin.com, (212) 247-7800, or http://www.carnegiehall.org
On November 15, 1977, 13-year-old Megumi Yokota, was walking home from school in Niigata, Japan when she disappeared. After a massive police search, her family had turned up nothing. It wasn’t until 20 years later, in 1997, that her parents had received some sort of answer on what had happened to their daughter.
According to police, Megumi was abducted by North Korean agents to help train North Korean spies to pass as Japanese citizens. North Korea later admitted to her abduction but claimed she had committed suicide in 1994 and was cremated, even going as far as sending ashes back to her family. After DNA tests proved that the ashes were not of their daughter, Megumi’s parents were left in the same position as when their daughter had first disappeared, with no answers, yet hoping that she was still alive.
The photo exhibition “A Message From Little Megumi and her family,” family photos taken of Megumi by her parents up until she was abducted at 13, show their daughter in happier times. While celebrating their child, they also bring the reality of their struggle to the center of the public’s attention, so it will help prevent other children from being abducted in the future. Still trying to find an answer to what exactly happened and believing that their daughter is alive, Megumi’s parents’ only goal is to have their child returned to them and see the others who were abducted, returned home to their families.
- March 13th to 24th (Closed on Sunday)
- A Message From Little Megumi and her family ~Shigeru Yokota’s Photo Exhibition~
- Nippon Gallery at Nippon Club
- 145 West 57th Street
- Info: (212)581-2223 or http://nipponclub.org/
|Performance / Films|
|Performance / Films||Exhibitions|