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世界の中の日本

今回は、日米教育委員会(JUSEC)の事務局長であるデビッド H. サターホワイト氏にご寄稿いただきました。米国人として30年以上日本に滞在されている事務局長の日米の視点からのご意見は、国際社会における日本人のあり方を改めて考えるいいきっかけとなるのではないでしょうか。

* 日米教育委員会 *
  故フルブライト上院議員の教育交流理念に基づき、「フルブライト交流プログラム」と「留学相談サービス」を日米両国政府の出資により運営している。
詳しくは、同委員会ホームページをご覧下さい。
デビッド H. サターホワイト 氏
本籍:アメリカ
デビッド H. サターホワイト 氏
1952年
米国で生まれる。医学宣教師の両親と来日後、通算33年間日本在住。幼い頃、京都で過ごす。
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
神戸カナディアンアカデミー(中学・高校)在籍。
米国ニューヨーク州ハンチングトン市フレンズ・ワールドカレッジで、飛鳥・奈良時代の文化史を専攻、学士号取得。その間、2年間京都で研究。
1979年
ワシントン州立大学(シアトル市)で、国際関係研究の修士号取得。
1986年
ソウル高麗大学アジア研究所で1年間研究(韓米フルブライト奨学金にて)
1994年
ワシントン州立大学で、政治学博士号取得。
 
1995
〜1996年
カリフォルニア大学バークレー校にて、ポスト・ドクトラル・リサーチを行う。その後、ワシントン州立大学タコマ校など多数で教鞭をとる。また、ハーバード大学など多数の大学で、客員教授として講義した。
1997
〜2004年3月
ロンドン・エコノミストの関連会社のマネージング・ディレクターを務める(日本)。
現在、在日米国商工会議所 副会頭、日本語・韓国語に堪能。現在中国語を習得中。

Japan in Transition in a Changing Asian and Global Context
Reflections from the desk of David H. Satterwhite, Ph.D.,
Executive Director, Japan-United States Educational Commission (Fulbright)
 
An informal, personal introduction
  As someone who had the good fortune of moving to Kyoto when I was six months old, growing up in that deeply cultured city and subsequently living for 33 years in Japan, I would like to share a little family story. I almost grew up in Nigeria instead, and can only speculate on how differently my life would have tuned had that been the case.

My parents had prepared to serve as medical missionaries in Africa - my father had even studied at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene immediately after WWII - when they were sent instead to Okayama. There, my father took part in the Occupation-era effort to develop a vaccine against the tropical disease known as Japanese Encephalitis-B (Nihon no-en). The experience changed my parents' worldview, and they returned to Japan as medical missionaries instead, thereby providing me with the unparalleled opportunity of growing up in the shadow of Daimon-ji, hiking on the slopes of Hiei-zan, and playing along the banks of the Kamo-gawa and Shirakawa near Ginkaku-ji.

The story - not just about my upbringing - illustrates a point that has been central to my own evolving worldview. Namely, for us to be open to serendipity, to chance encounters or developments that open up new options and opportunities. Clearly, as we progress through life, we need the anchor of tradition and the guidance received in our upbringing, like the compass of a ship. If we are too tightly tied to traditions and our set ways, however, we may miss out on opportunities that present themselves to us, seemingly just by chance. Serendipity is a great term to describe such coincidences, but the door of opportunity does not open unless we are open to new experiences. How open are the Japanese people, and how open is Japan, to changes at home and abroad?

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From sakoku to a global worldview
  Having witnessed changes that have transformed Japan over the past half-century, I have been impressed with the extent to which Japan has become increasingly internationalized. This has been evident not just in a careful study of and reporting on developments overseas, but in incorporating into daily life - at home, in the office, and in many social settings - a more cosmopolitan approach, with far more individual choices and personal decisions than was evident in earlier decades.

I am also reminded, however, in many encounters with Japanese individuals and groups, that this country still bears the influence of having shut itself off from the rest of the world for 250 years, during the sakoku era of the Tokugawa bakufu. Although that era came to an end more than 150 years ago, the language and culture still reflect clear distinctions between "inner" and "outer", "Japanese" and "foreign", and "us" versus "them". Such distinctions would be natural for virtually any country at times of heightened international tension. What I witness, however, both in overt and sometimes very subtle ways, is a continued differentiation between what is Japanese, and what is foreign, even in normal times. Often this carries with it a sense that the foreigner cannot possibly understand a situation that is so very Japanese - even if the foreigner may be culturally and linguistically fluent as a long-term resident of Japan.

I have said many times that I value what is distinctively Japanese, and do not wish to see treasured cultural traditions abandoned. Putting up mental barriers, however, is not the best way to protect, nurture, and continue those valued traditions. Rather, seeking to have others understand Japanese traditions by acquiring greater fluency, by facilitating closer encounters, and by extending thoughtful, nuanced explanations, is more likely to gain deeper respect from the rest of the world. Opening up Japan to the world - and to many more foreigners encountering Japan intensively and personally - will enable those traditions to be better understood not only by foreigners, but by more Japanese people as well.

With this in mind, I seek to encourage the Japanese people to consciously get rid of the cultural, linguistic, and psychological legacies of the sakoku era, taking on a more genuinely global worldview. From a global perspective, a Japanese shima-guni-konjo is a hindrance and out of date. I look forward to experiencing a more globalized Japan in the years ahead.

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Opening cultural windows through language learning
  Just as Japan benefits by opening up to the world, imagine a world in which you did not understand other languages. You could travel to other countries, but few people would speak Japanese, and you did not speak the local language - whether English, Spanish, or another tongue - so you had trouble communicating. Fortunately, this is not the case, and you are making a serious effort to master English (and possibly other languages as well).

We often focus on language simply as a mechanism by which to communicate what we need to say. Another crucial dimension of languages is the window into a different culture that they provide. In fact, rather than just a culture, the window is into a different way of thinking, and with it, a different worldview. Thus, expressions and idioms will differ with each country, and will reflect how that culture and society view themselves and the world.

English is a particularly difficult language - particularly when you factor in the variety of English spoken in the U.K., U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and so forth. As you seek to gain deeper fluency, however, I believe you will gain insights into western ways of thinking. Very importantly, those insights may be turned around like a mirror, helping provide insights when we reflect on the hasso, the way an idea is expressed in the Japanese language. Consciously approaching language learning, then, as a window into other cultures will enable you to open doors of understanding, both for others and for yourself.

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Legacies and opportunities of Japan in transition
 

In many talks that I give, one concept that I utilize is to think of society as a piece of finely-woven cloth. Japan is sometimes referred to as a "high-context" society - in which each action or word conveys a certain, nuanced meaning in the context in which it is used, and the context itself may mean that few words are necessary to communicate quite a bit - which brings to mind an elaborate, colorful, richly-textured piece of cloth.

As we think of Japan in these terms, with rich cultural traditions and very much to be proud of, we can also recognize that there are new tensions and uncomfortable strains in the fabric of society. A short list should illustrate this point.

With the ending of the "Bubble Economy" in 1990, for instance, the post-war tradition of "lifetime employment" was challenged and is fading. With that came new pressures from employers for better-trained graduates from universities and other schools, as the employer could no longer afford to invest heavily in the training of newly hired graduates, as the new hires might not stay long enough for the company to recoup its investment. The job market is changing, and with it, there are new pressures on the educational infrastructure, bringing new challenges (and opportunities) for students. At the same time, we have seen the emergence of freeters and the NEET phenomenon.

With the rapid aging of Japanese society, moreover, we are also seeing a declining birthrate, later marriages, "parasitic singles", concerns over the care of the elderly, and new pressures on the pension and health insurance systems. Similarly, more women are seeking to enter or stay in the workforce, which requires an expanded system of daycare facilities, and different family attitudes about the responsibilities of mothers.

The list could continue, but perhaps my point is clear - there are multiple, inter-locking, complex pressures, each twisting and pulling at the traditional "fabric of society."

Some may be overwhelmed by these seemingly conflicting trends. Others may seek a conserve-the-past approach, hoping to resist the economic and social forces of change. While conserving valued traditions, we must also recognize that certain winds of change are inevitable and cannot be stopped. In such circumstances, the most productive approach may be to embrace change, harnessing it and molding it through positive efforts to improve Japan, and Japan's place in the world.

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Concluding thoughts
 

The international context within which Japan operates is also undergoing change. Its closest ally, the United States, is facing conflicting pressures, both to provide global leadership on the one hand, and to respond to criticisms of its domineering attitude on the other. Japan's closest neighbors on the Korean peninsula present challenges, not easily solved. Relations with Russia remain good but impeded by the historical issue of territory. And then there is China.

The rise of China presents Japan with a complex set of issues. On the one hand, the size and speed of its economic development raises concerns - will Japan be increasingly sidelined in Asia and the world, with so much attention being focused on China? Will the increased military and diplomatic influence of China present Japan with a threat to its own leadership role? Or, is it possible to harness the opportunities provided by the rise of China to the mutual benefit of both economies and societies? Rather than see China as a rising, potential threat, can Japan resolve the historical difficulties that currently impede the relationship, striving instead for synergies, and to work more closely together? Frankly, this is the way forward, and it will take enlightened leadership on the part of Japan to meet the challenge, both culturally and diplomatically.

An increasingly international educational system, with increased emphasis on "living language" learning as a vital means to enhance a more global Japan, is an important element as Japan seeks to chart a new course for itself, and a new role in Asia and the world.

The fabric of society will likely change in Japan. Proactive, positive efforts can help weave a new fabric, highly textured, brightly colored, and richly rewarding for the Japanese people to participate in, both within Japan and increasingly as citizens of the world. Each person in Japan will need to play a part, participating with enthusiasm in the changes underway, and contributing to an increasingly open, international society.

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(和訳)変容するアジアおよび世界的背景の中で変化を遂げる日本
デビッド H. サターホワイト博士
日米教育委員会(フルブライト・プログラム)事務局長
 
  日本での30年以上の滞在経験は、私の世界観の基盤となるものです。例えば、「serendipity(新たな機会や経験に遭遇すること)にオープンでいるべきである」という考えなどが、その一部です。我々が未経験なものに対してオープンでいない限り、その機会への門は開かれないわけですから。それでは、日本(日本人)は、「変化」に対してオープンなのでしょうか。

この半世紀のうちに、日本では個人の選択肢が増えるなど、日々の生活の中にも国際化の様子を多く見て取れるようになりました。一方、この国には、まだ鎖国の影響が残っていることにも気づかされるのです。私は今でも、日本特有の価値観を高く評価していますし、その貴重な文化的伝統が打ち捨てられることをも願っていません。はたしてそのために日本人が精神の壁を高くして、他を拒むことが、価値ある伝統を守り、継承していくための最適な手段なのでしょうか。むしろ、言語を習得し、流暢に話したり、より近い人間関係の構築を試みたり、広く思想に富んだ説明をすることで、日本の伝統を理解してもらうほうが世界からより深い尊敬を得やすいのではないでしょうか。そして、日本が世界に更に開かれたとき、他言語を全く理解できないという状況を考えてみてください。コミュニケーションに苦労している姿が思い浮かびませんか?実際はこうはならないわけで、そのためにも現在、英語教育(外国語教育)に熱心に取り組んでいるのです。

言語は、「言いたいことを伝達するための仕組み」として見られがちですが、実は、異文化への窓口としての重要な役割があり、文化だけでなく、異なる考え方・世界観へと導いてくれます。言語による表現は国によって異なり、その文化や社会が世界をどのように見ているかを反映しています。英語は習得するにあたり、とりわけ難しい言語です。これは、特に英国、米国、オーストラリア、ニュージーランドなどで話される英語が様々であることが一つの要因だからです。しかし、より深い言語習得の過程において、西洋的なものの考え方、見方・価値観に対しての洞察力を養うことができるようになるのです。特に重要なことは、その洞察が鏡のように自らに返ってきて、我々が日本語で表現する発想に表すときに、新たな洞察を加えることができることです。したがって、異文化への窓として意識的に言語学習に取り組むことは、他者にとっても自分自身にとっても「理解の門」を開くことができるのです。

日本が更に国際社会で活躍していくためにも「生きた言語」の習得は重要であり、国際レベルの教育システムのますますの取り込みや、日本独自の取り組みは、アジアは勿論、世界での新たな日本の役割を探求する重要な要素になるでしょう。― 高度に織られた、色彩豊かな新しい日本社会の生地を編むための、先見的で積極的な努力は、日本国内でも世界の一市民として大いに報われるでしょう。そのためにも日本に住む一人一人が現在起こっている変化に対し、強い熱意を持って、次第に開かれていく国際社会へ貢献する役割を担うことがとても重要ではないでしょうか。

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