In the world where extremism dominates
I read article on a high school in Yamaguchi prefecture (JPN) in summer. It said the students had a debate over the security related bill which was discussing in the diet. The students voted for the most logical opinion in the end. But later a LDP (Government party) member of prefectural assembly claimed for the matter. He said discussing political issue was not suitable for school education which was asked for neutral expression. Educational chairman of the prefecture fully accepted the claim and released a statement "It's actually asking whether agree or disagree for the on going subject in the diet. And it should has not. All our fault"
Some how the news was not widely aired although it's pretty impressive to me. Japan's voting age is lowering from 20 to 18. What's wrong for debating the practical politics in the class room? Thirty some years ago I was a student who didn't have knowledge nor interest for the politics at all. I was idiot. Compare to me, the high school student is more straight ahead to commit to the society and more matured.
I had such debate much later when I studied at English language institute
of college in US. We separated in different opinion and debated over practical
subjects such as "Is Deterrent Force Theory right or wrong?"
"Is gun control necessary or not?". The student were not American,
so didn't speak perfect English. But they were from various countries,
China, Korea, Palestine and Arabic countries for example. So it looked
like some serious International Conference.
Point of the debate was how logically express the opinion to the opponent.
When the group devide in similar number, I who had disagreed with the deterrent
theory took part in the opposite side. I was so uncomfortable in the beginning.
However once I joined the opposite group, I found expressing some opinion
as a member of opponent. Gradually I could look over the debete with objective
eye. It's funny. The scene I saw there was quite neutral. It didn't mean
middle of each opinion but the place where various opinion could be discussed
freely as a democracy. Teachers might have each opinion whether liberal
or conservative. But it didn't matter at all because they were society
members too. What teachers were asked was advanced skill to give a chance
to each debater, to be an excellent conductor of the debate.
In most of case the neutral means taking a balance in various opinion.
Although In some case, it should be an original meaning "neutrality"
or "objectivity". Public media must be one of them. Nevertheless,
oddly enough, NHK (Japanese public broadcasting) is on the side of political
party in power. On the other hand the student debate where possibility
discuss some opposite opinion to the government doesn't regard as neutral.
And it's restricted by the government. Japan's democracy and freedom of
speech is in such a crisis now.
Even foreign students do so. Maybe native American who had secondary education have experience of debate. Even if they settled on either side, they can express a logical opinion. More over for politician.
I wonder Japan's political leader can make a square diplomacy to the leader who had an training of debate in Western country. After all Japanese leader is never shown on the meeting with the leader who has opposite opinion because the Japanese doesn't know how to cross fired over the issue. Defeat of Japanese education.
When I heard the story about the high school class in Yamaguchi, I felt
Japanese education finally got democracy. But the small light was immediately
blew off by the government. Then it's back to the darkness.
In United States, public opinion is varied and balanced. However even so
once the shocking event, like the 9.11, lead the public opinion to the
nationalism. And majority of the people supported the military action in
Iraq. Same for France, government made the anger turned into the air strike
of retaliation in Syria. Then Russia, UK followed.
Critics said "No peace will come to Syria with air strike" Although
if they stop the attack now the result will be same. They cannot turning
back any more. Maybe the turning point was far away back. The political
leader should have to think how their decision for committing the war will
effect to the peoples risk. In other words, the both side of the war know
the very reason why they are in the horror of terrorism or air strike.
Nevertheless they know circumstances of the conflict, each side say we
are the justice. But the 'Justice' is quite subjective. You cannot say
suicide bombing is evil and air strike is justice. The things taking away
the people's lands or even lives is the very justice.
I remember Japanese Prime Minister Abe made up a story to describe the collective defense in the security related bill. He titled "School boys, Abe & Aso (current Minister of Finance)" on it. The boys are classmate in school, whichever elementary school or High school ... One day after the school Aso finds that Abe looks being worried. Aso asks Abe the reason. Abe tells him that he is often bullied by a bad boys on the way back home. So Aso says "I'll be with you all the way home. If you get into trouble with them, I'll fight with you" This is 'collective defense'. Japanese Prime Minister explained it to the people in quite serious.
However think of it again. There is no situation like "There are bad
boys" in real world. Again both justice and evil are subjective matter.
It's possible reason of the conflict is on Abe himself. Without asking
the circumstances of the conflict to the bad boys, without describing the
story to the class room teacher or without taking the matter on the subject
of the classroom discussion, just get into fighting. I wanna move out such
horrible school. The Security Relative Bill was passed in Japanese diet
and will be executed from this coming spring.
The way of thought like 'School boys, Abe & Aso' is not established recently.
Just after the 9.11, Japanese PM Koizumi made statement "We'll fight
against terrorism" and expressed supporting US military action in
Iraq earlier than any other countries. Quickly Japanese government gave
a standing ovation to the 'Fictional Hero Story' that US made up. However
did the Iraq war bring peace to the Middle East and rest of world? Eventually
it became a cause of another retaliation.
US knows what they lost in the war. Therefore the Iraq war became a trauma
and there are opinions for hesitating bombing in Syria. Meanwhile Japan
didn't learn anything from the Iraq because they didn't commit on the circumstances.
Last month, Japanese Cabinet conferred a decoration on D.Rumsfeld the ex-US
Secretary of Defense and R.Armitage The ex-US Deputy Secretary of State.
The politician who lead the US to the Iraq war and who asked for Japan
to join their fight against a terrorist.
Abe is exhausted by fighting to the bad boys. Now he is thinking whether he did a right thing or not. Aso comes up to him and confers a decoration on his chest. I feel like having a bad dream. Aso will more deeply commit to the Abe's conflict and support him. Now I imagine if I were a member of the bad boys... I may know the cause of struggle with Abe. But I cannot find any reason I'm hit by Aso.
We should not join street fight after all. So what Japan can do for Iraq
and Syria? If they cannot accept refugees, there is other way, supporting
refugee assistance works for example. Couple of days ago I saw a flyer
at 'Uniqlo' Japanese clothing store. It said the store recycled clothes
and sends it for refugees. There are lot of things we can do for the peace.
Nevertheless the PM Abe made a statement in Egypt early this year. "Japanese
government will give 2 billion dollar assistance for all the country which
fight against ISIS" I don't think it's good idea for getting back
peace over the Middle East.
The careless statement by the Japanese leader ended up the tragedy, being
slaughtered two Japanese ISIS hostages, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. I
heard the news in Bangladesh. I remember what Goto (Journalist) had said
on the radio program. "My role is reporting life of ordinary people
who evacuated from battle field. And let you know the issue. Unfortunately,
as spreading out the battlefield, now there is no border between battle
field and refugee camp in Syria. I'll have to work in the more risky environment
In the Bangladesh, a Japanese who worked for agricultural project was killed
in October and ISIS released statement. There are lot of Japanese who devoted
themselves to local communities whichever in Asia or Africa. They are respected
by the local people, actually the locals remember the Japanese in full
name, although they don't know the name of Japanese diplomat of the country.
Japanese people who work as a grass-roots diplomacy for the peace now gets
a huge risk by the PM's thoughtless statement. While Abe declared "We
never let'em touch our people", three Japanese have been killed in
2015. Ironically, the more the PM travels around the world, the more Japanese
people getting risk for traveling around.
As writing like this, some one say "Are you on the terrorist side?"
Actually when the PM was accused at the diet for failure in the hostage
rescue operation, he himself said so. "If you disagree with me, then
show a counterproposal" There is no right to disagree to someone if
you don't have a counterproposal in Japan.
The extremism is now flowing over the world what ever terrorists, politicians
or nations. All or nothing. Black or White. When you say 'not white', it
means 'black'. Really? I think people's opinions are floating in gray zone
between white and black. On the battle field only two sides exist. It's
'Our side or their side'. If we say thoroughly extremism is a war, at least
the discussion must be a tool which can take voices in the gray zone. And
the opportunities should be given. The road for peace must be only there.
" Back to Tokyo " Tokyo, Japan 2015