THE PAHSA HIROSHIMA SHORT PROGRAM
What our students had to say
As part of the PAHSA program, the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC), Hiroshima University, hosted a two-week short-term study program on peace and human security for students from the PAHSA Southeast Asian University consortium partners.
This is the daily diary, photos and video, from PAHSA professors, and the commentary of students who attended the program in Japan in August 2013.
This is the story of the program as told by PAHSA students from Japanese universities
DAY ONE —XUE GONG
The Hiroshima Short-Term Study Program has provided a fantastic opportunity for attendees to understand the value and spirit of peace and human security from Japan's side. Rising from the defeat and devastation after WWII, Japan has taken the lead in promoting peace and human security in its foreign policy and international relations. This short-term program spanning almost two weeks helps demonstrate how peace and human security has been perceived and the future prospective of changing international society.
Conducted in several places, this program was devoted to lectures about history, values, and the changing international environment Japan has faced in regards to peace and human security.
Although the concept of security has been changing from traditional state security to a newly-emerged human security, the whole concept of human security is still quite nebulous. Lecturers on the program, with their abundant knowledge, have been patient and friendly enough to take our questions. In particular, the lecture about "Mayors for Peace" was one of the most impressive for me. Professor Tadatoshi Akiba, a former mayor of Hiroshima City, introduced the concept of Hibakusha's philosophy, which is "No One Else Should Ever Suffer As We Did" (an Hibakusha is a survivor of either of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945). With his inspiring and enlightening introduction, as well as his eloquent speech, his lecture conveyed the message of the strong will to abolish nuclear weapons.
This course opened my eyes in various ways, not only from the new knowledge I gained from the lectures, but also through the on-site witness of testimonies and documents of the atomic bombs. It also helped me to understand Japan’s commitment to the promotion of peace and human security in a broad historical, cultural and political background. I desire to share with my friends and classmates the messages from lectures I attended, stories I listened to, and speech I engaged with.
I am a peace-loving person, but I do not think I could have ever comprehended the destruction brought by nuclear weapons or the emotional aspect without the detailed explanation of lecturers or without listening to testimonies of survival.
As nuclear weapons play such an important role in foreign policy and international relations, majoring as a student in international studies, it is very beneficial for me to understand the perspectives and history from people who actually experienced it. My perspective on nuclear weapons has changed after learning the useful information provided by this program. Additionally, conversations with lecturers and organizers, as they were always ready to share, helped me a lot in understanding the fickle Sino-Japan relations.
I believe that a short-term study program like this is absolutely recommended for any college student. The exposure to the first hand information from the Hibakusha in Hiroshima and attending the Peace Memorial Ceremony is a must do in our lifetime. This Hibakusha Spirit will be shared by every participant and taken back to their own countries and the Hiroshima study program will always stay with them.
ATOMIC BOMB AFFLICTION: MENTAL EFFECTS AND SOCIAL DISCRIMINATION
Professor Noriyuki Kawano is a specialist on nuclear damage at the Institute for Peace Science, Hiroshima University. He teaches peace studies at the Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation (IDEC). In his lecture, Professor Kawano talked about the damage caused by the atomic bomb when dropped on Hiroshima. The estimated death toll is approximately 140,000 (as of December 1945). It is difficult to calculate the exact number of deaths because the civil registry was completely burnt, the number of military personnel was not available (a secret), and there were unknown numbers of Koreans forcibly relocated from Korea. What we do know, however, is that a half of the population living in a 1.5 km radius of the hypocenter died.
The atomic bomb exploded 600m above the ground, and the fireball reached the ground with temperature of approximately 7,000 ℃. The heat ray burnt uncovered human skin at a distance of 3.5 km from the hypocenter. The blast and heat reduced areas within a 2 km radius to rubble. The atomic bomb differed from previous bombs in emitting radiation, and A-bomb survivors or Hibakusha suffer from the late effects of A-bomb radiation or Atomic Bomb Diseases. They are at high risk of cancers. The risk of death due to leukemia of an exposed person is about five times as high as that of an unexposed person.
As of March 2012, the recorded number of A-bomb survivors in Japan is 210,830, and 31.6% of them live in Hiroshima City. The average age is 78.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper conducted a survey on the psychological conditions and social life of A-bomb survivors in 2005. The questionnaire consisted of eight questions. The first question was whether they had dreamed of A-bomb experiences. 54.5% of the respondents answered that they often or sometimes dreamed. The second question asked if they remembered their A-bomb experiences in their daily life. 76.2% answered that they often or sometimes remembered. From the accounts of survivors we can know that what they dream or remember are horrible scenes of destruction, things they describe as "the living hell beyond description." We can possibly call it trauma."Survivors received discrimination at school, during job-hunting, and in marriage."
"Survivors received discrimination at school, during job-hunting, and in marriage."
What is probably not widely known about the psychological conditions of A-bomb survivors is their thoughts of suicide. 11.2% of the respondents answered that they had thoughts of committing suicide. The major reason behind this thought is discrimination. The survivors received much discrimination and some feel compound discrimination as they have no one to talk through these issues with. The truths about nuclear damage were not revealed until 1952 when the Asahi Graph magazine published a special issue on the A-bomb damage. This had perviously not been possible due to the press code under U.S. occupation. For the first time people (outside Hiroshima and Nagasaki) could find out the true devastation caused by the atomic bombs. 500,000 copies were sold.
Professor Kawano concluded that A-bomb survivors continue to suffer from mental damage and social discrimination, and that "family" is a key in the reduction of this continued anxiety.
Professor Akihisa Matsuno
OSIPP, Osaka University
DAY TWO —ALLEN SURLA
While taking photos in front of the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima City, I could not help but think of the many conferences and study programs that I have attended in the last twenty years. I have always felt very lucky with the opportunity to travel and learn from various peoples about the nuances of their cultures and how others see and define their lives. I thought that I had already experienced a lot and grew to expect similar things at conferences or study programs, but I was to be proven wrong. After only two days in Hiroshima, the program has been a revelation, and there were actually ten more days to go.
I know that activities like these are intellectually challenging but I was less prepared with the emotional topics that were opened to us in the first two days of the program. This is not to mention that in 8 hours and fifteen minutes from now, I will be marching with people from all parts of Japan and all parts of the globe. Together we will commemorate with the people of Hiroshima their darkest moment in history as the first nuclear weapon of mass destruction vaporized tens of thousands of precious lives 68 years ago in what for most people started out as a regular morning on 6 August.
As a boy growing up in the Philippines and watching a lot of war films, the Japanese as a people had often been depicted as the bad guys who had conquered and laid waste to our country until the Americans saved us and overtook Japan. The atomic bomb was the deus ex machina that made Japan fall to its knees. As a child watching war movies, I had no idea what really happened after the atomic bomb exploded except that there was a "beautiful" mushroom cloud that 'sort of solved everything' and we were again free as a people, then the final credits of the film would roll.
Now as a teacher of development studies and of politics, I hope that I know a little better. That what happened at 8:15 am on August 6, 1945 was not a triumph for my people – it is not something that we should crow about while we hoist the victory sign with the Americans. Lives, the precious lives of human beings were lost and would continue to be deeply affected for many decades to come. Even in times of war, when we can justify killing and not call it murder, we must realize that the loss of lives is never moral and should have no place in a civilized society.
To the people of Hiroshima, I salute you as a people who have defined humanity for many of us. For even after the horrors of the atomic bomb, the rallying cry of your Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bomb) is that "No One Else Should Ever Suffer As We Did." With such actions, I believe that you can make even the most jaded believe in Peace.
FROM PACIFISM TO HUMAN SECURITY: A NARRATIVE OF JAPANESE FOREIGN POLICY
Is Japan projecting itself successfully as a 'peace-loving' nation, or is it just diplomatic rhetoric? This appeared to be one of the questions that students on the Hiroshima Program seemed to harbor.
The question brings to sharp relief the inherent difficulties of upholding (and expressing in deed) the spirit of the so-called "peace constitution" of 1946. Not surprisingly, the students are sensitive to the rise of a hawkish security outlook in recent years and the voices of nationalist interpretation of World War II that seem to suggest an unrepentant Japan. They together appear also to contradict the said 'peace-loving' spirit as embodied in the Preamble and Article 9 of the 1946 constitution.
In my lecture I tried to explain these difficulties by providing two backdrops: 1) continuity and change between prewar, Meiji-to-early-Showa Japan of fervent nation-state making and the postwar Japanese state of left-right divide over the constitution; and, 2) the interaction between domestic politics over the contested 1946 constitution and changing international environment in postwar Japanese foreign and security policy thinking. The purpose was to illustrate: 1) the changing components of nation-state identity and pillars of legitimacy, noting that the postwar state lost the force as a state instrument, a transformation that robbed Japan's sovereignty in the view of Japanese conservatives; and, 2) the ideologically charged landscape (between those who want to live by the letters of Article 9 and those who would rather get rid of it) surrounding Japan's foreign and security policy discourse that often obscures rather than clarifies Japan's international security outlook and identity.
"One student said that it was hard to understand what Japan was trying to achieve"
The coexistence of a 'nationalist' Japan that causes international controversy over the Yasukuni Shrine and the 'peace-loving' Japan of the notion of 'comprehensive security,' the Fukuda Doctrine or peacebuilding & human security appeared to be confusing, if not unsettling, to some Asian students. In fact, one student said that it was hard to understand what Japan was trying to achieve. There is no single thread or 'grand strategy' that Japan seemed to have. At least to me, the point that this student raised seemed to be asking us Japanese: Is Japan committed to 'peacebuilding' and human security in earnest, or are these notions fig leaves to camouflage steps in the remilitarization of politics? One only hopes that they are not fig leaves.
Professor Haruko Satoh
OSIPP, Osaka University
DAY TWO — DANIEL HYATT KATZ
Today, we heard a lecture by Associate Professor Haruko Satoh of Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University, entitled, "From Pacifism to Human Security: A Narrative of Postwar Japanese Foreign Policy." Professor Satoh provided insights into the development of Japanese foreign policy from the Meiji state era of 1868-1945 all the way to the present day.
Although important changes have occurred over the years, there have also been notable elements of continuity. The modern Japanese Constitution is a document very similar to the United Nations Charter. The language of the Constitution's preamble as well as Article 9 are important statements signifying the main elements of Japan's post-World War II foreign policy.
During the Meiji era, there was a rapid process of nation-state formation characterized by a sovereign emperor, a military that would counter external enemies, and patriotic education. The goal was the achievement of a strong nation and strong army as well as achieving status relative to the Great Powers of the time.
In the post-World War II period, particularly from 1955 onward, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was in power continuously for almost 38 years. The Socialist party represented the left-leaning opposition with which the LDP debated the Constitution. Nonetheless, economic growth and recovery exemplified by the Yoshida Doctrine guided Japanese economic and security policy in the post-War period.
The Yoshida Doctrine, coined by former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru, encompassed reliance on the United States for security and a primary focus on achieving economic prosperity. The Japan-U.S. security treaty would govern Japanese defense arrangements and Japan would only arm lightly, embracing pacifism as a guiding principle. The main focus of the Yoshida era was achieving a strong economy, a strong nation, and status relative to the West and the United States. Towards the end of the first post-War period, which extended until 1993, there was a weakening of the economy and the earlier legitimacy was shaken.
In the time since 1993, but particularly in the last several years, popular sovereignty and quality of life issues have become more important in Japan. Fundamental tenets of Japanese foreign policy such as pacifism, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and relations with Asia have been challenged and are under consideration during this period of change in Japan and in the international environment. From a Cold War period of stability, we seem to have moved into an era of post-Cold War instability, which has led to a possible remilitarization of politics.
Contemporary Japan is now confronting wholesale societal responses to a dynamic international context. Answers will likely need to be provided as to who belongs to the East Asian Community, the nature of the two major political parties, and national ownership of the Constitution.
THERE IS INVISIBLE POWER IN THIS PLACE
Today, 6 August 2013, was the 68th anniversary of the A-bomb in Hiroshima. We woke up around 5:30am, had a hasty breakfast, then went to the venue and took our seats at 7am. Volunteers were distributing frozen wet towels to the participants. Everyone took one. It was expected to become a very hot day, just like it was 68 years ago. The summer day's heat has been a part of the memory of everyone who was there, actually here, at that very moment.
Tens of thousands of people were sitting, and things were in perfect order, as if everyone already knew what one had to do that morning. Dignitaries, political leaders, university deans, and foreign diplomats marched into the venue through a misted passage between the temporarily built tents. Film director Mr. Oliver Stone was the last.
The ceremony began. The 45-minute program went smoothly as planned. The speeches had been distributed to the participants before the ceremony began. Painstakingly choreographed, the laying of wreaths proceeded like an assembly line. On the way back from the ceremony, we could pick up a four-page special edition of The Chugoku Shimbun. It reported on the ceremony and carried the Peace Declaration of the Hiroshima Mayor and the Commitment to Peace of the Children's Representatives that had been read out only an hour before. The People of Hiroshima have been performing this ceremony at the same venue for nearly 60 years.
I was moved. I was overwhelmed by the very fact that tens of thousands of people came to this ceremony from all over Japan and from abroad.
Perhaps we can only feel such things when we are right there, in the middle of a huge crowd. The emotions are so tangible. TV stations broadcast only fragments of the entire scene and the clips are two-dimensional and never quite capture the charged emotions. TV viewers would not feel the heat, they would not see into the eyes of the people who might have survived or be the loved ones of victims. Viewers would not see the school kids with doleful eyes distributing leaflets on the streets in their appeal for peace. There is, indeed, invisible power in this place.
Professor Akihisa Matsuno. OSIPP, Osaka University
DAY THREE —KIMBERLEEN MARIE BAYLON NIDERA
And, now, on this present day, sixty eight years after the horrible atomic bombing, people not only from Japan but also those from different nations gather at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park as we all remind ourselves of the terrible fate that dawned upon Hiroshima and join in the efforts of preventing the same thing from happening again.
Flowers and golden vellum folded into paper cranes were provided so that every person who might witness the program could also participate in small offerings for the fallen atomic bomb victims. And as the Peace Bell was rung, everyone stood in silence, offering their prayers for the victims. "No one else should ever suffer as we did," the line that we had learned during our lectures, for a moment, echoed in my mind.
This city – Hiroshima – is one of those that suffered the greatest because of war, and with this kind of experience, people of this city, more than anyone else, are willing to advocate peace and nuclear disarmament.
The addresses of the Chairperson of the Hiroshima City Council, the Prime Minister of Japan, the Mayor of Hiroshima, the President of the United Nations General Assembly, and the Secretary General of the United Nations shared these sentiments. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even recalled the three non-nuclear principles of Japan and stated that he would double his efforts to perform his duties with regards to this. The address of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (read by a representative) also stressed the importance of universal adherence to the UN Charter which promotes human security.
"When he started telling his story, I found myself
right beside him – in Hiroshima, on the
6th of August 1945."
During the afternoon, we had a chance to meet an A-bomb survivor in the person of Mr. Keijiro Matsushima who wholeheartedly shared his experiences before, during, and after the atomic bombing. He revealed to us, through the eyes of a sixteen year old every moment that he remembered during the bombing. We have visited the museum and sat in on lectures and learned about the bombing, so I thought what he'd share would not be entirely new to us. But I was wrong; for when he started telling his story, I found myself right beside him – in Hiroshima, on the 6th of August 1945. And what he had told us had another kind of reality, a reality straight from the lips of another a-true survivor (aside from those whose stories were written in books).
"Messengers from hell," that's how he described the planes that brought the A-bomb to Hiroshima. Maybe they were, or maybe they were just soldiers performing a task. But one thing is for sure, nuclear weapons bring hell. No one deserves to experience hell, specially not before dying.
DAY THREE — SOTHEARIN YEANG
I had the great opportunity to attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony to commemorate the Hiroshima tragedy, one of the most important events in human history. With such historical significance, I had longed to visit the scene where the first atomic bomb was dropped and I would like to thank the PAHSA program for making my wish come true.
Sixty eight years ago, Hiroshima became a city of nothing, a city of ghosts, a city that was full of death left only with the smell of burning flesh due to the atomic bomb. Yet sixty eight years later, Hiroshima is one of the interesting places on earth. People in this beautiful and developed city never forget the tragedy of the past and they hold a memorial in remembrance every year. This year's ceremony was joined by delegates from about 71 countries; including some countries that currently possess nuclear weapons such as the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, and Israel. President of the United Nations General Assembly and the representative of the United Nations Secretary General also attended the event. As a student from one of the poorest countries in the world, I am proud that I had the chance to experience the beautiful city and attend the ceremony like others.
I was also lucky that I had the opportunity to meet and listen to a speech of one of the survivors from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. His name is Keijiro Matsushima. He was 16 years old when Hiroshima was bombed on August 6, 1945. He taught us to learn from the past, forgive the enemies, and try to prevent the same tragedy from taking place in the future. He called the pilots who carried a bomb dropped on Hiroshima "messengers from hell," but he said he did not hate those people. He said he would pass away one day but his last wish would be to see a peaceful world without nuclear weapons.
SURVIVOR OF THE ATOMIC BOMB
"As far as they have tears to shed, we can cooperate."
"I was a lucky man." He said so many times in his one-hour talk. Mr. Keijiro Matsushima is an 84 year- old A-bomb survivor. He was 16 years old and a student at an advanced technical school in Hiroshima at the time, and it was there where he experienced the A-bomb on that fateful day.
He was at the school, only 2 km away from the hypocenter. … When he arrived at the Red Cross Hospital, its front yard was full of wounded people. He thought he was lucky because at least his bones were okay.
He saw many people walking in horrible condition towards the south. … Their bodies were badly burnt, with their hair standing, the skin peeled off and dangling, like broiled pigs. Sometimes he could see even the red muscle. They were raising the both hands up, perhaps so that the hands would not touch the wounded body. It was like a parade of ghosts.
Some people regret that they didn't give water to the dying victims. Those who were burnt were suffering extreme thirst, but there was a rumor that giving water to the thirsty victims could kill them. "People regret and feel guilt even now because they refused the very last request of the dying victims."
Many people ask him if of his hatred of the Americans, and he answers that he does not. But he says that when there are people who proudly say that it was right to drop an atomic bomb at that time he feels bad. But as far as they have tears to shed, as far as they are ready to mourn the victims, he would say they can be friends and they can cooperate to stop further use of nuclear weapons.
Professor Akihisa Matsuno, OSIPP, Osaka University
At the night of the A-bomb day, 6 August, in Hiroshima, people gather at the river's sides and float paper lanterns on which they write messages. These paper lanterns are floated down the river out to the sea.
The event has become part of Japanese culture to show their love through the peace messages and prayers that they wrote on each paper for the A-bomb victim's soul. We wrote also our messages on the lanterns so that together we would build a just and peaceful world.
Eugénia (Zenny) Da Costa Correia
DAY FOUR — LUNA FEDRAFAISYA
7th August: It's already the 4th day of the JUC-PAHSA Program and I have had such a wonderful experience here in Hiroshima. Over the last three days we have learned so much about Hiroshima and how the A-Bomb has affected people, not only in Japan but also people all over the world, and how the event has led to a serious effort to abolish all nuclear weapons and to gain world peace. I'm really thankful to be able to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony just once in my life.
Today, we learned about something else, which is "Faith and Religion in Japan." I was excited to go to our next destination, Miyajima island. We departed from the hotel at 8.10am and took a bus to Hiroshima Port for the ferry. The port is small but has beautiful scenery. The journey to Miyajima Island by ferry takes around 15 minutes. We could all see the red painted gate of Itsukushima Shrine from afar, it is called O-Torii, and we couldn't wait to see it up close.
We arrived at Miyajima Island and started to Itsukushima Shrine on foot. We saw many deer on the way. As we had expected on the journey in, up close the shrine is truly magnificent. It is said that the God will come through the gate from the sea, right to the shrine. So if we call him (in a certain way), the God would come and grant our prayers. We took a lot of pictures there. Some of us also bought amulets to pray for success and a happy life.
After that, we started to walk again, this time to the Daisho-in Temple. We had to climb up a number of stairs to reach the temple. In the end, all of us made it but it was hard work. We heard a lecture from a priest (monk) of the temple, it was about Buddhism, the other religion largely practiced in the Japan. He told us that there is God and there is Buddha. Some people worship both of them, and some people worship them separetely. Miyajima Island is the place where two of them gather at the same place. Buddhism teaches people how to control all elements in their mind and soul (such as anger and foolishness). It’s based on love and peace, not anger and hatred.
One unique think about Japanese Buddhism is that a monk could have a wife and children. My Buddhist friends from China and Cambodia found it interesting to hear this. I thought maybe there are some different Buddhism ideologies and practices in every country, I’m not really sure.
The last lecture was given by Dr. Yusuke Bessho. He talked about ways to commemorate the dead. About tatari (curse) and kuyou (way to stop the curse), about transition after death, about ghosts, and other things. I realized that there are so many new things about people’s faith that I didn’t know, even though some of them sounded odd, unique, or sometimes implausible. I have to try to understand these things as they are people's beliefs and important to them.
An understanding of other cultures, faiths, and ways to have tolerance to other religions is important. In the end, all religions and faiths has the same purpose; to make people live in peace.
Today was a tiring yet awesome day!
DAY FIVE —
EDUARDO MANUEL AMARAL FREITAS
Dr. Arinori Kawamura's lecture today examined some of the differences and similarities in laws in Asian countries. Dr. Kawamura examined whether Asian laws are influenced by western law, especially in the element of human rights. He concluded that Asian countries have pluralism in the characteristics of laws which are not same with the ones found in western countries.
From what I have personally experienced, I feel quite strongly that human rights and the laws for their protection are the most important things which we all have to recognize. But countries which still have not signed-on to the concept of human rights in real terms face social challenges, human resource issues, and this could impact the development of the country. When these issues are commonplace, justice would be absent. In my country, Timor Leste, these issues are still prevalent. Sound concepts of the rule of law and solid implementation of laws are still needed. In the absence of this, threats to the peace and security of the peoples are real and a threat to human security exists.
Any kind of law is law. But the experience in my country is that laws needs to be for the common interest of the citizens. This has not always been the case. The law can be revised and amended through the democratic way in the parliamentary system if the law contradicts with human right or the common interest of the people.
Finally I wish to say, I appreciate all the effort of the Japanese community to share with us your experience for peace.
DAY FIVE — FAHMI RIDHA
Today, after spending some time at the Iron Whale Museum, we learned about comparative law among Asian countries in a lecture by lecture by Assoc. Prof. Arinori Kawamura. Firstly, he opened the lecture by questioning the participant about the meaning of law in their perspective.
During the roundtable we all offered differing answers to his question; some said the law was important and the others thought the importance of the law in certain situations to be somewhat 'flexible'.
"Laws made by people are not always perfect."
The next question was about the meaning of human rights. Does it need to be codified law? Most of us answered in the affirmative. However, this question might sometimes becomes moot depending on the interpretation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and whether this is considered as the foundation instrument of international human rights. Some students did not agree to interpreted human rights in a universal perspective due to the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are drawn in what might be considered to be a western perspective.
Laws are often made to regulate people, but the laws made by people are not always perfect. There are different perspectives of the rule of law among countries and peoples all over the world. Without doubt, laws are important, and useful devices in terms of peace making.
DAY SIX — NINNART DAORATTANAHONG
Today, together with the other students on the program, we went on a field trip to the Yamato KURE Maritime Museum. I was excited to find out about Japan's maritime history. Looking around the museum, it was soon apparent that Japan has been a country of technological advancement dating right back to the Meiji period. I enjoyed taking many photos, reading the information boards, and played an educational game in the interactive zone (taking part in an interactive quiz). Actually, most of my answers were wrong, but luckily, a kind old man came by and gave me some help. Happily, in the end I was awarded with a memorial card from this museum.
After lunch, we went to the main campus at Hiroshima University. Today, our lecture topic was about migrants and human rights in Japan, the lecturer was Professor Emiko Nakasaka. Parts of the lecture were fascinating for me as I was interested to find out about Japan's Pilot Program of Resettlement, the Japanese policy receives a small number of refugees from Myanmar from Thailand. At the end of the lecture, there was time for questions, and as usual, this was a lively session.
In the evening, my friend Orawan joined me and we distributed small souvenirs that we had brought from Thailand for our new friends. Today was a memorable day; it was impressive and educational at the same time.
MIGRANTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN JAPAN
Professor Emiko Nakasaka is a specialist in International Law, especially on human rights and her lecture was titled "Migrants and Human Rights in Japan." First of all, Prof. Nakasaka examined the relationship between states and individuals. According to general international laws, states have obligation to protect their nationals but don’t have any obligation to accept foreigners.
One of PAHSA’s main areas of focus is human security. In that sense, we cannot disregard the issues of refugees and internal displaced persons. Prof. Nakasaka explained many definitions in detail. An essential element of the recognition of a refugee is a "well-founded fear of being persecuted." But, the proof for that kind of situation is very difficult to prove. Prof. Nakasaka added the difficulty is in proving “fear” in light of laws. From the earlier materials that students received which contained the critical idea of “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” in regards to human security, the lecture went on to look at how a “candidate” for refugee status might be considered for the approval in light of relevant laws.
Students also studied Japan’s position on refugees and the related internal laws on the acceptance of refugees. “Only eighteen refugees were accepted in Japan in 2012,” the professor stressed this statistic somewhat. She also explained Japan’s pilot program of settlement which it has conducted since 2010. According to Prof. Nakasaka’s research, that program, for refugees from Myanmar in Thailand, accepted a total of 45 persons in the years 2010 and 2011. However, in 2012, there was none accepted.
These statistics stirred up debate among students and many questions followed. In this regards, specific questions were posed as regards to the difficulties in seeking refugee status in Japan, and there were also questions about political rights, the legal status of refugees in Japan, criminal cases of refugees over borders, naturalization, and so on.
Associate Professor Tatsuo Yamane
IDEC, Hiroshima University
DAY SEVEN — ORAWAN WICHAI
Today was a really hot day and so exhausting. Perhaps some of the exhaustion was brought on by the worry about the upcoming presentation, but I managed to calm my nerves by chatting with friends and trying to relax. At 10:30 am, the first lecture started, the topic was "National Security and Human Security" by Prof. Tatsuo Yamane. He focussed on three questions that are often debated when states are in conflict and human security is threatened. We found out that the framing and the understanding of these questions are critical in the peace and human security discourse. At the end of the lecture I had to agreed with one of his main points; it's tricky to judge or find direct answers to critical questions when states are in conflict and human security is threatened.
The afternoon session kicked off with the lecture "Reconstruction and Social and Human Capacity Development by the Local Government of Hiroshima," the lecturer was Mr. Mitsuto Nakashima. He talked about Hiroshima prefecture and its government, Hiroshima for Global Peace Plan and UNITAR Hiroshima. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer session. Often these parts of the day are among the most enthralling.
In the evening, I met my Japanese friend from Hiroshima. He was an exchange student in Chiang Mai University. He waited for me at the lobby and gave me some souvenirs from Japan. After that we had a talk about his research, the relationship between China and the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-regional).
Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to JUC-PHASA for this wonderful program. All the lectures that have taken place over the past days introduced the theme of human security and broadened my understanding about how we can live together in peace. And most beneficial as an international student in Japan was meeting other students from Southeast Asia in this setting.
"Students from many backgrounds have different perceptions of the world. Sharing and understanding these can only make the world a more tolerant and peaceful place for everyone."
DAY EIGHT — REST DAY
The PAHSA Short-term Program at Hiroshima has no lectures Sunday 11 August, as students attended tutorials and spend time working on their final presentation.
DAY NINE — THE FINAL DAY
After the last several days listening to lectures from esteemed professors and going around Hiroshima, we have come to conclude the short study Program on Peace and Human Security. Today it was the participants who took the lead by providing a brief presentation on their selected topics ranging from ethnic conflicts to disaster risk-management, regional security and current peace efforts in the region. This opportunity to discuss various issues definitely broadened our knowledge and concern not only for our country, but to other Asian countries as well.
I know very well that each had prepared carefully for this day, where we all got to convey our ideas and viewpoints. Many of us were already talking about the presentation days before and how nervous most were – and I can confidently say that all the hard work and research paid off for everyone.
"Issues of conflict and peace, without doubt, necessitate cooperation"
What I especially liked about the presentation session was how it highlighted the fact that the region shares common problems, such as: ethnic minorities being marginalized in the case of Tai Yai in Thailand; the Rohingya in Burma; secessionist movements in Mindanao and Aceh; domestic conflicts in Timor Leste; disaster risk management in the Philippines and Indonesia; constitutional change in Japan; and the wider issue in diplomacy and peacekeeping in Northeast Asia. Given this, it would be difficult for the ASEAN+3 to sidestep these issues as they are clearly matters of national concern. More than ever, this is an opportunity to recognize that however diverse each country is, there is definitely something that we can share as a region – issues of conflict and peace, without doubt, necessitate cooperation. The region has to work together as a unit, especially with borders becoming more fluid than ever and where conflicts can easily spread.
Needless to say, I have learned a lot from my fellow participants and the professors. The presentations gave the much needed refreshment for this excruciating Hiroshima summer heat. Like everybody else, I am very much grateful to have been part of this workshop.
"This has definitely been the spark that ignited my interest in Japan and the rest of the region."
In this short video, meet the students from the PAHSA Hiroshima Program, find out about what the program meant to them, and get a taste of study in Japan.