Daily Diary (August 28th/29th)

August 28th, 2017:

Entry to Yasukuni Shrine
On the first day of the program we met in the lobby before walking to our classroom on the NYC campus together, where the welcome orientation was held. The welcome orientation went over important details of our lodging, syllabus details, and was the first chance for all of us to be in the same room in Japan.

The lecture ran a bit long, so we left for our excursion to Yasukuni shrine a little bit later than planned. After some quick changing into more modest clothing, we set out in the hot weather towards the shrine. We successfully navigated the public transportation system without losing anyone and arrived at Yasukuni shrine in the early afternoon.

We visited the shrine for a short time before moving on to the, thankfully air-conditioned, Yūshūkan, which is the attached Japanese military museum. We each worked through the museum at our own pace, before being released to explore the city on our own.

Welcome Dinner
After our free time we met back at the NYC to have a welcome dinner at the Sakura Restaurant, where we also hosted several guests from Waseda and Toyo University. Once dinner was over, most of us headed back to our rooms for the night, many us catching an early night to combat the remaining jetlag.

And like that, the first day of the program was over and the stage was set for day 2!

August 29th, 2017:

Touring Waseda University
Day 2 was the first day that we went to Waseda University for class. After meeting in the lobby, we took two trains, a bus, and a walk across campus to get to our meeting point on campus. We were lead on a lovely tour around the main Waseda campus by Waseda students (I particularly liked the Waseda shop/café where my group stopped!).

Lunch at Waseda
We returned to the WGG Seminar Room and had our first guest lecture of the program. Professor Ota lectured us on Contemporary Japanese Societies to prepare us to go explore different neighborhoods on the Yamanote JR Line later that day. 

After the lecture we had a group lunch all together before splitting up to explore our respective neighborhoods, discover on our own, and eat dinner, before preparing for Day 3!

Daily Diary - August 26-27 (Alison)

"The Beginning"
Aug 26-27

I had arrived a few days earlier on the 24th of August, to stay with my one relative who lives in Japan (and his family) for a few days.  My flight from SFO (San Francisco) to NRT (Narita) was fairly smooth and I was able to sleep for a few hours, which rarely happens. Before I knew it, I was through customs and on the Narita Express headed to Yokohama.  I stayed one night in a hotel a few train stops from where he lives (Shin-Yokohama),

 and the next day (8/25) I went to an Onsen outside of the city.  On Saturday the 26th, we were served traditional Japanese breakfast in our room and it was very good despite not being able to recognize half of what was on the table.  We went for a dip in the river next to the Onsen and grabbed a quick bite to eat before heading back into Tokyo.  


By the time we returned, it was time to eat dinner again, this time close my Uncle’s apartment and at his favorite Italian restaurant, where he’s become close friends with the chef and his wife (since ~7-8 years ago).  On Sunday the 27th, I woke up around 9 AM for a haircut appointment in Yokohama.  I chopped off about 7 inches (way too hot in Japan to have long hair) thinned it out and grabbed lunch with my relatives.  

Then they drove me to the Olympic National Youth Center, where we’re staying for the duration of the program.  The campus (? Not sure what to call it exactly) was much, MUCH larger than I had imagined.  There are multiple “dorm” style buildings, cafes and restaurants, a gym and large cafeterias as well.  Our program coordinator Miki said that the NYC can host up to around ~2,000 people at one time.  As my Aunt and I walked through trying to find the D building, the campus was bustling with students and adults alike.  I was one of the first 4 students to arrive, along with Rhyan, Angela and Alvin.  Us three girls left with Miki to the 6th (top) floor of the “A” dorm where we are going to be living for the next three weeks.  Each of us has a small room (with A/C!!), a shared common area and a communal style bathroom. 

                   (view from the common room!)

There are 9 girls in the group which worked well with the way the dorms normally function – there are 10 individual rooms per common area, and each common area is sanctioned off with their own doors as well.  To end the night, Angela, Yu Won and I attempted to get some dinner together close to the NYC.  We walked into a ton katsu place and were faced with a slight problem – no pictures!!  Angela and I tried to use broken Japanese to finally place an order and eventually returned to our rooms to rest up for the first official day of the program the following day.  Despite finding out that there is no wifi on the NYC campus (which is why this post is slightly late :( ), the first few days of the program went fairly smoothly and I'm excited for what's to come!


Current Events Week of 29Aug2017

Christine Wang"North Korean Missile flew over Japan before falling into the Sea" 28Aug2017. CNBC

On Tuesday morning(local time), local residents of Northern Japan were awoken from the alarms warning of missiles. North Korea fired a missile that flew over the northern part of Japan that later broke up into three pieces and fell into the sea. After the event, Abe made a statement that this was an unprecedented, serious, and grave threat to Japan. As tensions rise between North Korea and nearby countries, especially the US, the coming months will be critical in deciding where the world stands regarding North korea.

"Abe, Trump agree to press N.Korea" 29Aug2017. JapanNews

Following the missile launch by North Korea. Abe and Trump talked to discuss what should be done and what measures should be taken in response. Abe states that Trump said he is 100% with his Japanese allies in this conflict. The two leaders agreed that they also need the support of China and Russia as they would play critical roles if North Korea will ever face change. Also, a plan was confirmed by the leaders to call for a U.N Security Council meeting.

Current Events - July 3 (August 27th)

(These are really late, so I did current events for this week instead of the week I was originally assigned.)

Arudou, Debitou. "In Wake of Charlottesville, U.S. Should Follow Japan and Outlaw Hate Speech." The Japan Times. N.p., 23 Aug. 2017. Web. 27 Aug. 2017.

While reflecting upon the events in Charlottesville, this article also give a context and perspective of the modern hate speech in Japan. In the 2000s and early 2010s, Japan was host to many hate rallies and politicians speaking against foreign minorities, much like the United States is today. In 2016, Japan passed a law banning hate speech (specifically to protect foreign minorities). This improved the political climate in Japan, and the article argues that the United States needs to follow in its footsteps in order to reign in hate groups.

"‘Cycle trains’ eyed to revive Hokkaido railway” The Japan News. The Yomiuri Shimbun, 27 Aug. 2017. Web. 27 Aug. 2017.

A train line in Hokkaido is hoping to improve passenger numbers by adding the ability to have passengers carry their bicycles onboard in the “ready to ride” state. The current policy requires passengers to carry their bicycles in a bike bag while on the train. Over 1000 km of the JR Hokkaido railway is at risk of being scrapped if they don’t improve business. The “cycle trains” are not only for a commuter purpose (the 250+ km route runs Asahikawa to Wakkanai), but would also be in  the hopes of turning the route into a tourist attraction.

Due August 25: Short Reflection

August Reading: Political and Cultural Nationalism

AssignmentShort reflection (300-500 words approx) due by August 25 on your research interests and what you have learned so far about this topic. What you would like to learn/think about more in Japan?

Week August 14 - Current Events

Shimbun, The Yomiuri. “Japan, U.S. Resolve to Pressure China” The Japan News, Jiji Press, 19 Aug. 2017, http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003890492. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017.

Foreign Minister, Taro Kano, and US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, met this past Thursday to discuss a policy regarding the deterrence of the North Korean nuclear program build-up. In addition, both countries emphasized the importance of China's role in strengthening Pyongyang, as China remains responsible for the maintained North Korean economy. Japan and the U.S. plan to embolden their alliance, while the U.S. prepares further sanctions for North Korea and more military pressure on China, knowing China opposes such strong ties between the two countries. 

Jiji Press “Tokyo Seeks U.S. Support for Introduction of Aegis Ashore” The Japan News, Jiji News, 18 Aug. 2017, http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003888841. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017.
Due to the rising concerns regarding North Korean nuclear program build-up, Tokyo asked the U.S. Department of Defense to supply new missiles and supplies centered on Aegis Ashore. The Department of Defense agreed that Japanese defense and respond capabilities needed to be strengthened. There has been no information regarding what equipment the United States will be providing. 

Week August 7 - Current Events

Shimbun, The Yomiuri. “Osprey absent from Japan-U.S. joint drills.” The Japan News, Jiji Press, 10 Aug. 2017, the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003873968. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.
This past Thursday, the United States and the Self Defense Forces in Japan had joint exercises, but the Osprey was not present for these. This was due to a request on Japan's part after an Osprey flight crashed, killing three of the people on board at the time. The exercises are scheduled to take place over the next week  as well and the Osprey may or may not be taking part in these. According to Japan's Defense Minister, "Ospreys won't be used until coordination with the US side is made."

Shimbun, The Yomiuri. “Record number of foreign trainee employers violate labor laws in '16.” The Japan News, Jiji News, 11 Aug. 2017, the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003871992. Accessed 13 Aug. 2017.
According to the labor ministry, the number of employers that accepted trainees from other countries violated Japan's labor laws. More businesses were found to be violating the labor laws than ever before, the number of businesses coming to 4,004. This is 309 more businesses than were recorded last year, showing the continues increase of foreign trainees coming into Japan. Most of the law violations found were related to overtime procedures, safety, and unpaid extra pay. 

Week of July 31st - Current Events

Lies, Elaine, and Takaya Yamaguchi. “Abe, Trump Discuss N Korean Threat.” Japan Today, Japan Today, 31 July 2017 japantoday.com/category/politics/Abe-Trump-discuss-N-Korean-threat.

On July 31st, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Donald Trump to discuss what actions to take against North Korea. After North Korea tested its long-range missiles on July 28, many countries felt alarmed and threatened. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, previously stated that the UN is not putting enough pressure on North Korea, adding that Japan needs to do more to pressure the growing aggressor. While the two leaders agreed that action needs to be taken against North Korea, they did not specify what the action included. No potential military action against North Korea was discussed. Japan has emphasized that they believe China and Russia need to play larger roles in the North Korean dilemma. Trump argued that China has done “nothing” to help the US in the dilemma, while China has greatly benefitted from US trade. President Trump will be meeting with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in next to discuss the developing North Korean threat.

Reuter, Thomson. “A Maverick at Home, Taro Kono Set for Softer Diplomatic Approach Abroad.” Japan Today, Japan Today, 3 Aug. 1970, japantoday.com/category/politics/a-maverick-at-home-japan's-taro-kono-set-for-softer-diplomatic-approach-abroad.

Recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has picked Taro Kono as Japan’s new foreign minister. Taro Kono has deep connections with the United States, having connections to a variety of personnel throughout the country. As a fluent english speaker, one of Kono’s major tasks will be communicating with the US regarding the recent development of the North Korean threat. Kano and his family have had a long history of involvement in Japan’s government. His father, Yohei Kono, was a former chief cabinet secretary. Kono himself was first elected to parliament in 1996, and also served as head of the National Public Safety Commission in 2016. Taro Kono has pushed for a reduction of Japan’s nuclear arsenal throughout his involvement in the government. He has also criticized the government’s hesitance to open the doors for immigrant laborers. Despite these pushes, many experts believe his approach to international diplomacy will be similar to the previous foreign minister.

Current Events- Assignment reminder

For this assignment, one student will volunteer each week to post on the blog two examples of current event/news items that offer some perspective on the course topic. Current event examples should be focused on the United States and Japan (and/or their position in global affairs). The two pieces you choose to bring in may be comparative (i.e. different perspectives on the same issue) or unrelated to one another. Please choose a week that best fits your schedule. You will complete one current event blog post by the end of your selected week with a Sunday 11:00 p.m. due date. Also, see program blog for resources related to selecting reliable news sources. *

Week of June 5 – Julie (Due June 11)
Week of June 12 – Kristi (Due June 18)
Week of June 19 – Angela (Due June 25)
Week of June 26 – Tobi Du (Due July 2)
Week of July 3 – Zoe (Due July 9)
Week of July 10 –Jacob (Due July 16)
Week of July 17 – Laura (Due July 23)
Week of July 24 – Alison (Due July 30)
Week of July 31 - Rhyan  (Due August 13)
Week of August 7 – Yu-Won (Due August 13)
Week of August 14 – Mara (Due August 20)
Week of August 21 – Alvin (Due August 29 extended due to travel)
Week of August 28 – Ann (Due Sept 3)

Week of Sept 4 – Tian Wei (Due Sept 10)