International

let's see how the International affairs impact us

Future cannot be built on lies

This blog is about Osaka’s ending sister-city status with San Francisco over a “comfort women” statue.

嘘で、あかるい未来はつくれない

吉村洋文(大阪市長)‏Verified account @hiroyoshimura この件に関して、僕は政党会派を超えて自民、維新関係なく、正当な行動をとるべきだと思います。先祖、子孫の名誉にも関わります・・・」

ヨーロッパで、たえず私は失敗をしてます。「失敗」とか「失礼・無礼」とは思いもよらず、周りに指摘されて気づくことも多々あります。でも「失敗は成功のもと」と思い、年をとってきました。

60年続いた姉妹提携の件で、大阪市長に気づいてほしい。市長には広い世界の怖さをわきまえ、考察のゆきとどいた温容な判断をしてもらいたいたかった。

欧米の親日家が考えそうな然るべき「正当な行動」について、関西弁で書いてみますね。「事実でないことって?性奴隷のこと、知らんの?ホンマに知らんの?知らんふりしてンだけ、ちゃうのん?そりゃ日本の歴史で恥ずかしいこと、あったで。証拠もごっつう、あるし。でもあんたらがしたことと、ちゃうやん。なァ、昔の恥を認めたくないんやろ。それを認めへんあんたが、今、めっちゃ恥ずかしんやんか。わかるか。ひゃあ、知らんという認識もでけんもんらしい。そーか。そらあかんわ。ほな、教えてあげまほか。おんなじスカタン、繰りかえんさんよぉに。按配したげるでぇ(ここで無残に記念碑がたつ)」「市長。つっぱってんと、あんじょう謝りや~」まァこんな感じかな。

。。。下につづく

This can happen to anyone

I’d difficulty deciding on the topic of my blog this month. My heart goes out to Manchester in the UK, especially to families, relatives and friends of those who were at Ms. Ariana Grande’s concert last May 22. More than one hundred people were injured and 22 were killed in that vicious terrorist attack, including an eight-year-old girl and an off-duty female police officer.

Last Wednesday evening, I had a mixed feeling of warmth and sadness watching on BBC Tony Walsh reading his poem ‘This Is The Place’ as a tribute to Manchester city at vigil. His rendition was defiant and resilient for peace. For me, it means not hating and living in fear; but be hopeful yet stand up for your rights.

So, here I am doing my usual routine on the first day of every month.

Most-stressful departure ever

You’ve certainly heard about flight delays and lack of information at airports that angered passengers. You probably know at least one person who has lost a luggage or whose baggage ended up on the other side of the world. How about long check-in lines that make you nervous about missing your flight? The story below is an addition to the list of disappointing travels.

Maria has been an international traveller for over 30 years and has visited about 40 countries with more than 20 stopovers/transits. Stories and anecdotes about unfortunate travelling were foreign to her until last month. Her Expedia-purchased tickets (Brussels-New York) had a very short transit in Montreal. To her surprise, she and her family couldn't board Air Canada because they didn’t have a visa for Canada and their US Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) was not enough to get them into this plane for New York.

屈しない明日へのビジョン(3)

ポスト真実

みなさん「ホームランド Homeland」という米国のTV ドラマを、ご覧になったことはありますか?

事実をゆがめ 嘘も繰りかえし拡散すれば、世論やポスト真実としてなりたつという情報・印象操作や政治プロパガンダの一面を扱っています。

スノーデン氏が香港のホテルに持参していた本のタイトルも、実は「Homeland」で、同じタイトルでIT 専門家による本もでています。

その「Homeland」を下巻とすると、上巻にあたるのがCory Doctorow の「Little Brother」 (Big Brother じゃなくて) です。(わたしはまだ全部読み終えてませんが)

。。。下につづく

屈しない明日へのビジョン(2)

インターネットと自由

4月4日。ネットでの閲覧履歴について、マーティン・ファクラー氏がツイ―ト。その後「閲覧:貴方が行っているインターネットの閲覧は売り出されるかもしれないのです。トランプはこれを許可」と孫崎享‏ 氏がリツイート。

でもね。私たちには、他の方法があります。マイクロソフトより、Linux、グーグルの代わりにダックダックゴー DuckDuckGo.com スカイプより、トックスTox / qTox

監視されるものから、監視されない自由なものへ。既得権益がらみのモノから、みんなのオープンソースのモノへ代替可能だから大丈夫。大丈夫と思いきや。

そんな単純な話ではないようだ。

。。。下につづく

屈しない明日へのビジョン(1)

最近考えていることを、書きとめたいと思います。

国有地

むかし、むかし。チリという国に、独裁者がいました。

このあくどい男は、お金ほしさに大地を売りさばいていました。

そこに通りがかったお母さんとお父さんが、夢のようにきれいな原っぱをひとめ見て気に入りました。ふたりは、見わたすかぎりの草原を買うことにしました。

「この牧草地を守りそだて、いつか時がきたら国にかえしてあげよう」そう誓いました。

それから、ながいながい年月がすぎました。その草むらは、いこいの楽園になり、みんなのもとへもどったそうです。

めでたし。めでたし。

。。。下につづく

Happy New Year - Surprises, wonders and hope

December 2016 was an unusual Christmas for me because I had received an unexpected, generous gift from someone who’s not a friend or relative. When I opened the envelope, I thought it was handed to me by mistake, so the next time I saw her I tried to return it. With the sweetest smile, she said “it’s not a mistake, it’s for you from Santa.” A week later, I still couldn’t believe and accept such a present. What did I do to deserve such kindness? This act of generosity propelled me to do the same, and I was even more blessed. I was so joyful to see the sparkling eyes of contentment and happiness of those I shared my blessings with.

The year 2016 has just ended, and it’s quite a challenge trying to find words to describe it. It has been a tough year for several people whose friendship I value (i.e. losing parents and family members, colleagues, etc.) This reminds me, as in other gloomy situations, that I should not neglect my family and friends, and be greatly grateful for what I’ve.

As well, I should look at the glass half full, and not half empty, even in surprisingly polarising events, such as Brexit in the UK and Donald Trump’s election as the US president. The situation in Syria’s Aleppo is dehumanising and unbearable, and how can peace and security be restored there? Last month’s terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East resulted in the loss of many lives, which have contributed significantly to making the fear of migrants and refugees even worse. Consequently, insecurity in many facets and from different directions besets our society. On the other hand, there were inspiring events last year that have left a positive imprint, such as the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with its Refugee Team (the first time in its history).

米軍の極秘プロジェクト

今週火曜日。午前6時前。

外はまだ暗く、頭の中もぼおっと薄暗く、フランス・アンフォ(ラジオ)を聞きながらパンを口にしようとした矢先、椅子からずり落ちそうになった。

ニュースが伝えるには、冷戦時代にしかも氷原の下につくられた米軍極秘核ミサイル基地が、気候変動により地表に出てくる可能性があるという。

「なんとまあ。米軍って、とんでもない事をやってのけるよな~。汚したまま片づけもせずに、核廃棄物を置き土産にでて行ったのは沖縄だけじゃないんだ」とあらためて知った。

ネットで調べてみたら、英ガーディアン紙のジョン・ヘンリー記者が基地に関する記事を書いていたので、訳する許可をいただいた。

。。。下につづく

Leap year, Valentine's day and more

I hope that 2016 has started very well for you. Definitely, it has for me: I am spoilt being in Queensland (the third largest state in Australia) with its weather suited to outside entertainment and activities (e.g. only a sliding door and a compulsory gate separate our living area from the swimming pool).

January 26 was Australia Day and there were fantastic celebrations with fireworks and musical shows all over the country. While working for Multicultural Affairs Queensland (formerly Bureau of Ethnic Affairs), we had fun coming up with definitions of an Australian; and my updated version is something like this:

Being Australian is driving a Japanese car (most likely a Toyota or Mazda) to an Irish pub to drink a Belgian beer; then on the way home grab an Indian takeaway or have Yum Cha at a Chinese restaurant; at home sits on a Swedish furniture watching an American TV program or film on a German TV while texting or Facebooking in a gadget with components from Malaysia or Philippines.

The year 2016 should be better

I'm writing this from sunny Brisbane in Australia. I'm so delighted to be with family and friends, especially that I didn't see them for five years. Being a family addict and social connoisseur, every day is spent dining together, playing board games and sports, visiting places or simply lazing around talking to each other. Giving and receiving are also a habit. Fortunately, I received only useful presents last Christmas. However, even if I had unwanted gifts, I would have turned these into needed and appreciated possessions. In fact, even when I don't like my gift, I never return it. Of course you can do this if there's a receipt (but never ask for it) and exchange it for something that you really like.

In the past, I did regift expensive wine and champagne bottles (I don't drink alcohol). Sometimes, I had presents that stayed in my wardrobe for a year or so waiting for the right person and occasion. Since I have a fairly good memory when it comes to people and their kindness, I always remember who has given me what. However, one day when my memory starts to dwindle, I will record my unwanted presents so that I won't offer these embarrassingly to the original givers.

As well, I am good at reusing presents, e.g. my current make up porcelain holder was actually given to me as a jewellery box.

Barbara Young, one of my role models and former work supervisors, donates unwanted gifts to charities (e.g. Save the Children Fund) and those less fortunate. About 8 years ago, I helped her get rid of unused belongings in a garage sale.

Perhaps one day I will organise a swapping party for unused/unwanted Christmas (or birthday) presents.

The year 2015 was enlightening and productive for me, however, global events (several of which I had mentioned in my previous articles) saddened me. Currently, what worries me more is that our world continues to be riddled with mutual distrust and division, conflicts and terrorism. What can we do about these – antidotes and answers?

Solidarity amid insecurity

At 5am on 14 November 2015, I was awaken by a phone call from Australia. My sister was so relieved that none of my family and friends was in Paris. My brother-in-law continued the conversation with information on deaths and damages unfolding on their television screen the whole day.

We were in Luxembourg that Friday evening watching Spectre, and as soon as we got home at 11pm we went to bed oblivious to the terrorist attacks in the city of lights, where my first son was born and I resided for 2 years. Though we don’t live in Paris any more, I’m affected by this insecure state and threats of terrorism, which I had never seen in my life before. Last week, one of my students was at the funeral of his cousin’s son who was one of the Bataclan victims. For 2 weeks now, I’ve been coming home late, missing dinner with my family as it takes 2 hours to get home due to traffic jams and security checks. These days, I spend more time commuting than teaching.

Terrorism threatens our existence and that of the civilised world. This has ramifications on every aspect of our society: psychological (limit our activities & choices/create fear), political (e.g. State resources are redirected from social development to security measures), social (relationships are redefined, suspicions arise, and stereotypes prevails) and economic (increased expenditures on health and security; loss of income – e.g. shops in Brussels were deserted last November 21-22).

As the saying goes “If it doesn’t kill us, if will only make us stronger,” and this is exactly what our democratic world has become. There has been an outpouring of support and solidarity. This write-up is my contribution to ensuring that such support and solidarity continue even after families and friends have buried their loved ones and the injured have left their hospital beds.

Citizenship, loyalty and belongingness

Thousands of Filipino-born Americans cheered vehemently for Manny Pakyaw for “The Fight of the Century” boxing title against American Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in May this year. From time to time, we hear about some South Asians in the UK feeling gloomy when the English cricket team wins against Pakistan or India (their ancestral homes). My first work supervisor in Australia was a New Zealander, and I believe he celebrated in the comfort of his Brisbane home (Australia) the win of the All Blacks against the Wallabies/Aussies in yesterday's Rugby World Cup 2015.

Sport is one of the primary means through which citizenship and belongingness are contested and resisted. The teams we cheer for, flags we fly, anthem we sing and colour of clothes we wear are a part of our interpretation, as individuals or groups, of the cultural, linguistic and national connections that unite or divide us. These days, such connections are quite complex as the very concept of a national identity is challenged and redefined (sometimes as multiple identities) and dual citizenship have become more common than ever.

Globalisation, migration and family relationships have (and will continue to) changed individual and collective identities within a nation. At the same time, international connectedness has been confirmed by membership to organisations, e.g. European Union, creating a new kind of identity that is different from what is traditionally associated with a single country. Likewise, constant economic, political, social and cultural developments contribute to the transformation of our identity and sense of belonging, which aid or complicate our rights and responsibilities as citizens of one or more countries.

Immigration, Asylum Seeking, Refugeeing and Accommodating

It’s “the worst refugee crisis since World War II” – I can’t agree more as I very sadly see every day on the news thousands of men, women and children looking starved and exhausted in unsafe boats, desperate individuals and families crawling under and climbing fences, and dead bodies found in seas and abandoned vehicles (such as last week’s discovery in Austria).

Any discussion about migrants and refugees is complicated, complex and emotionally-laden thus we really have to be careful in our choice of words and with our behaviours.

Foremost of all, there are significant differences between immigrants and political refugees. The latter don’t have a choice but flee because of well-founded fear of persecution, illegal imprisonment, torture or murder.

Then there’s what’s commonly known as political correctness (PC), which is about the avoidance of language and ideas that may offend members of a particular group and lead to discrimination. PC first appeared publicly in the 70’s. A decade later, it was well into the consciousness of many educated and well-informed people.

“Illegal” entry and asylum seeking had been a paramount concern in Australia before it became a crisis in Europe. In the late 80’s, while working for the Queensland Government (Australia) as Policy Resource Officer on multiculturalism, I realised the necessity of PC for a harmonious and just society. Australians try to avoid colour identification with their use of Non-English Speaking Background (NESB)- and English-Speaking Background (ESB)- Australians to refer to those who originally come from Asia & other non-English countries and those from the UK & other English-speaking nations, respectively. Also, they often attach the national or ethnic origin of the person to the word ‘Australian,’ such as Asian-Australian (as in the USA: African-/Asian-/Latin-American).

From Fish & Chips to Pizza & Mozzarella then WORLD EXPO

Long queues at Calais but, fortunately, the ferry was under 20 minutes late in crossing the tunnel. The traffic in Dover was fairly smooth sailing considering that it’s the long summer holiday and Europeans move a lot, thus I got to Cambridge University as scheduled. My son’s graduation went very well though I understood but a few words in the purely Latin ceremony. It was a showcase of a truly English academic tradition.

England is a member of the European Community (EC) but not of the Euro Zone. It is a highly disciplined country where drivers stop at traffic lights, respect give-way signs, don’t go over speed limits and park in authorised places only. Its skies are constantly grey with sparkling rain. I love the English sense of humour and I’ve never met a ‘Pom’ (as Australians call them) who can’t tell at least one good joke.

Only a day of rest and I headed to Italy. My diet of fish and chips, sausage rolls and meat pies adorned with green salad was replaced with pizza, pasta and mozzarella. Generally, while the English are reservedly polite, the Italians are expressively gracious. In Naples, I witnessed these hilarious yet dangerous situations: A woman driving a motorcycle with a mobile phone between her tilted head and left shoulder; 2 women on a motorcycle (again) and one of them (the back rider) was holding 2 helmets with her right hand while moving her left hand as if giving traffic directions; drivers optimising 2 lanes into 3; motorists and motorcyclists over taking in a hurry and don’t give way readily to pedestrians on designated crossings. Meanwhile, unlike in England, from the north to the south of Italy, it didn’t rain for nearly a fortnight (while I was there) and the temperature was over 30°C.

Charlie... a month later

You certainly have heard a lot about the January 7, 2015 tragic shootings in Paris of 12 cartoonists, journalists and staff of newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The day after that, I received emails from friends worldwide, notably from Australia, expressing their profound sadness and sympathy -- describing such brutal act as a bloody offence against freedom of speech, liberty and peace. My responses included notes on immigration, identity, social inequality and education.

Global solidarity poured in instantly and there was a historic gathering of heads of states and communities in Paris on the 11th. Virgils and gatherings of support and commemorations took place in many cities in France, England, the USA and other countries, which were moving and impressive.

During that week, my French friend apologised for being late in responding to my email because she was distressed with what happened in Paris. I was intrigued by her testimony that I asked her if I could publish her write-up. I have translated it in English, and the French version follows after.

"I do not agree with what you write, but I will defend to death your right to write about what you think." This was written in the 18th century by Voltaire who experienced life in prison and exile for his writings that displeased people in power.

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