History Repeats by Kenzaburo Oe

I decided to post an interesting and provoking article written by Kenzaburo Oe and published by The New Yorker on the recent events. Let me know your opinion.

By chance, the day before the earthquake, I wrote an article, which was published a few days later, in the morning edition of the Asahi Shimbun. The article was about a fisherman of my generation who had been exposed to radiation in 1954, during the hydrogen-bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. I first heard about him when I was nineteen. Later, he devoted his life to denouncing the myth of nuclear deterrence and the arrogance of those who advocated it. Was it a kind of sombre foreboding that led me to evoke that fisherman on the eve of the catastrophe? He has also fought against nuclear power plants and the risk that they pose. I have long contemplated the idea of looking at recent Japanese history through the prism of three groups of people: those who died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those who were exposed to the Bikini tests, and the victims of accidents at nuclear facilities. If you consider Japanese history through these stories, the tragedy is self-evident. Today, we can confirm that the risk of nuclear reactors has become a reality. However this unfolding disaster ends—and with all the respect I feel for the human effort deployed to contain it—its significance is not the least bit ambiguous: Japanese history has entered a new phase, and once again we must look at things through the eyes of the victims of nuclear power, of the men and the women who have proved their courage through suffering. The lesson that we learn from the current disaster will depend on whether those who survive it resolve not to repeat their mistakes.

This disaster unites, in a dramatic way, two phenomena: Japan’s vulnerability to earthquakes and the risk presented by nuclear energy. The first is a reality that this country has had to face since the dawn of time. The second, which may turn out to be even more catastrophic than the earthquake and the tsunami, is the work of man. What did Japan learn from the tragedy of Hiroshima? One of the great figures of contemporary Japanese thought, Shuichi Kato, who died in 2008, speaking of atomic bombs and nuclear reactors, recalled a line from “The Pillow Book,” written a thousand years ago by a woman, Sei Shonagon, in which the author evokes “something that seems very far away but is, in fact, very close.” Nuclear disaster seems a distant hypothesis, improbable; the prospect of it is, however, always with us. The Japanese should not be thinking of nuclear energy in terms of industrial productivity; they should not draw from the tragedy of Hiroshima a “recipe” for growth. Like earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural calamities, the experience of Hiroshima should be etched into human memory: it was even more dramatic a catastrophe than those natural disasters precisely because it was man-made. To repeat the error by exhibiting, through the construction of nuclear reactors, the same disrespect for human life is the worst possible betrayal of the memory of Hiroshima’s victims.

I was ten years old when Japan was defeated. The following year, the new Constitution was proclaimed. For years afterward, I kept asking myself whether the pacifism written into our Constitution, which included the renunciation of the use of force, and, later, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles (don’t possess, manufacture, or introduce into Japanese territory nuclear weapons) were an accurate representation of the fundamental ideals of postwar Japan. As it happens, Japan has progressively reconstituted its military force, and secret accords made in the nineteen-sixties allowed the United States to introduce nuclear weapons into the archipelago, thereby rendering those three official principles meaningless. The ideals of postwar humanity, however, have not been entirely forgotten. The dead, watching over us, oblige us to respect those ideals, and their memory prevents us from minimizing the pernicious nature of nuclear weaponry in the name of political realism. We are opposed. Therein lies the ambiguity of contemporary Japan: it is a pacifist nation sheltering under the American nuclear umbrella. One hopes that the accident at the Fukushima facility will allow the Japanese to reconnect with the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to recognize the danger of nuclear power, and to put an end to the illusion of the efficacy of deterrence that is advocated by nuclear powers.

When I was at an age that is commonly considered mature, I wrote a novel called “Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness.” Now, in the final stage of life, I am writing a “last novel.” If I manage to outgrow this current madness, the book that I write will open with the last line of Dante’s Inferno: “And then we came out to see once more the stars.”

Help Japan


Beneficiary Bank:Japan Post Bank Account number:00160-3-533 Checking Account Payee Name:Fukushimaken Saigaitaisakuhonbu

<Money transfer from overseas banks>

Please transfer the money at the intermediately bank designated by Japan Post Bank by dollars or Euro. If you transfer the money from an overseas bank to the general account or the transfer account of Yucho Bank, the following information is required. If you omit the required description or make a wrong writing, Japan Post Bank cannot receive the money, and the mediate bank requires the commission free as well as returns the money. You may not transfer the money depending on the money transferring bank and the content of money transfer. Please confirm it in advance at the local bank.

Japan Post Bank and Post Office Intermediary Bank:USD→Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas NY

EUR→Deutsche Bank AG Frankfurt Intermediary Bank BIC:USD→BKTRUS33

EUR→DEUTDEFF Beneficiary Bank:Japan Post Bank

Branch:Head Office Beneficiary Bank Address:3-2, Kasumigaseki 1-chome, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-8798, Japan Beneficiary Bank BIC:JPPSJPJ1 Beneficiary Bank CHIPS UID:USD→427593

EUR→No need Account number:00160-3-533 Checking Account

Payee Name:Fukushimaken Saigaitaisakuhonbu Payee Address:2-16, Sugitsuma-cho, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima, 960-8670 Japan Payee Telephone Number:024-521-7322 Period of Acceptance:March 15 (Tue), 2011 to September 30 (Fri), 2011

Please inquire the following Division for further details. The Social Welfare Division, Fukushima Prefecture, TEL: 024-521-7322 (Japanese) The International Affairs Division, Fukushima Prefecture, TEL: 024-521-7182 (English)


Photo Exhibition

Photo Exhibition

From 28 March 2011
The Embassy of Japan
101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT
Open weekdays 09:30 – 17:30, closed weekends
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy

With our thoughts and prayers for those affected by the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean earthquake and tsunami, a series of photographs will be on display at the Embassy of Japan from Monday, 28 March 2011. The photographs were taken in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck off Japan’s North East coast on Friday, 11 March.

Included in the display are images that show the extent of the damage caused, the conditions that the Japanese rescue services are facing, and the British Search and Rescue Team at work in North East Japan.

The Embassy of Japan is grateful to the Asahi Shimbun, Jiji Press, the Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun for their generosity in donating the images and to The Color Company for printing them.

Film at the Embassy

Films at the Embassy

Wednesday, 20 April – Haru

The Embassy of Japan 101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT

Admission is free, but prior registration is essential.

Wednesday, 20 April, 18:30

Doors open at 17:45. No admittance after 19:00


Yoshimitsu Morita/1996/118 mins
This film contains references of a sexual nature and may be unsuitable for children.

Considered experimental when it was first released in 1996, this sentimental drama is composed mostly of email messages. Hayami Noboru is a budding movie fan who decides to join a film forum on the internet using the name Haru. He finds an email friend online called Star. Though at first they are merely strangers finding anonymous solace in each other’s virtual company, they soon begin to realise the depths to which their feelings for each other have grown.

Winner of Best Screenplay and also Best Actress (Eri Fukatsu) at the 18th Yokohama Film Festival in 1997, Director Morita Yoshimitsu skilfully shows us that a computerised society has not destroyed human love…

Click here for booking details. Please be advised that we now have a new booking system in place:

Due to the popularity of the Embassy screenings, films in 2011 will be advertised two at a time and bookings will be limited to ONE film per person, or per group of people.

Help Japan

Le notizie provenienti dal Giappone mi hanno lasciato con un senso di tristezza ed angoscia tale che ho deciso di prendermi una pausa di alcuni giorni da questo Blog, scrivere in questo stato non fa’ per me. Spero che la situazione migliori presto anche se, non per essere pessimista, la situazione sembra essere veramente seria ed una soluzione non molto vicina. Cerchiamo di aiutare il popolo Giapponese che tanto sta soffrendo in questo periodo.

The sad and shocking news from Japan left me with a terrible sense of emptiness and I had to take few days off from this Blog. I really hope the situation in Japan soon improve but recovery from such terrible events will take years. Lets help Japanese people to re-build their lives and beautiful country we love so much.


Mitsukoshi in London

Il grande e famose complesso commerciale Giapponese Mitsukoshi a Londra si trova vicino al Japan Centre ed alcuni ristoranti Giapponesi creando, cosi’, una zona abbastanza interessante per le persone appassionate del Giappone. Mitsukoshi e’ un posto che io non frequento, in quanto molto caro, ma devo ammettere che vi ho comprato 2 o 3 libri in quanto il posto e’ molto fornito di prodotti Giapponesi. La cosa che piu’ mi sorprende del posto e’ che spesso vedo gruppi piuttosto numerosi di turisti Giapponesi che fanno compere e mi viene naturale domandarmi per quale motivo non vadano da Mitsukoshi quando sono in Giappone che immagino sia piu’ fornito e meno caro.

The famous Mitsukoshi store, in London, is located near the Japan Centre and although very expensive is a place in which it is possible to find various Japanese items, which range from clothes to books. The place is often full of Japanese tourists who seem to enjoying the visit to the store even if, I believe, Mitsukoshi stores in Japan should be better and cheaper.

No time

Scusate per la mancanza di nuovi post ma e’ un periodo nel quale il lavoro mi tiene molto occupato e la stanchezza mi impedisce di scrivere. Spero da domani di essere in grado di dedicare piu’ tempo a questo Blog.

I apologise for the lack of new ideas and new posts but I’m very busy at work and in the evening often to tired to think and write. I hope that things get better from tomorrow so I’ll dedicate more time to this Blog.

BBC World Service Poll

BBC World Service Poll per il 2011 prende in considerazione 4 paesi (Giappone, Corea del Sud, Regno Unito e Italia) di cui parlo su questo Blog su 5 (Thailandia unica non inclusa) e ne analizza l’influenza a livello mondiale sia positiva che negativa. Tutti e 4 i paesi risultano essere considerati in modo piuttosto positivo, Italia inclusa. Nonostante tutti i problemi causati da Berlusconi siamo ancora considerati a livello nazionale in modo piuttosto positivo. Pubblico parte del Poll ( in Inglese qui sotto).

The BBC World Service Country Rating Poll has been tracking opinions about country influence in the world since 2005. The latest results are based on 2 8,619 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across a total of 27 countries by the internatio nal polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between December 2, 2010 and February 4, 2011.


Japan continues to have very favourable ratings globally in 2011, and those have improved since 2010. On average, among the 24 tracking countries surveyed in both 2010 and 2011, 57 per cent of people have a positive opinion of Japan’s influence in the world, which represents a four per cent increase over 2010. Only one in five holds a negative view (21% in 2010). Twenty-five countries lean positive, and two negative.

United Kingdom

Globally, views of the United Kingdom have improved markedly since 2010: 58 per cent say that British influence in the world is positive. This is notably more positive than in 2010 when 53 per cent held this opinion in the 24 tracking countries. Over the same period, negative views decreased by two per cent, down to 17 per cent. At a country level, views are positive in almost all countries. Of the 27 countries polled, 24 lean positive, two lean negative, and one is divided.

The European Union

The European Union’s global influence rating improved in 2011. On average, 57 per cent of people in the 25 tracking countries give positive views. This went up four points since 2010, while proportions of negative views continued to be low and stable at 18 per cent. Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2011, 26 lean positive and only one leans negative (Pakistan).

All EU members have majorities with positive views of the EU: Italy is the most favourable country within the Union (73%), closely followed by France and Germany (70% and 69%, respectively).

South Korea

In the second year it was measured, world opinion about South Korea improved a little. In the 24- country tracking average, the proportion of people having favourable views of South Korea’s influence went up four points to 36 per cent, while the proportion rating it negatively remained stable at 32 per cent. Twelve countries hold positive views, seven hold negative views, and eight are divided.

All information taken from BBC