Beginning September 16, 2002, Milton Clipper, President & CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta, visited Japan for twelve days. The visit was part of the Opinion Leader Invitation Program offered by the government of Japan through the Consulate Genera’s office in Atlanta. This program gives participants an opportunity to experience Japan and its unique culture.
During the course of the visit, Mr. Clipper met with government representatives, educators, broadcasters, and dignitaries to exchange views, share the many similarities between Japan and the United States and further mutual understanding between our two nations. Over the past two years, PBA in conjunction with the Consulate General of Japan has showcased the unique culture of Japan and their contributions to Atlanta and the world. Mr. Clipper used this visit as a teaching tool for students in the K-12 environment and their teachers by posting updates from his journey on the PBA website.
Day One - September 17
After 13 hours in the air, we finally touched down in Tokyo. It’s a rainy day, but it did not dampen our first day’s impressions. It’s like packing New York into half it’s size. You can find anything you want here from McDonalds to Gucci. Tokyo is a dynamically modern metropolis that nearly 12 million people call home. Exciting, stimulating and safe, Tokyo offers a treasure trove of ever-unfolding surprises and discoveries that beguile the resident and visitor alike. Covering more than 800 square miles (2000 square kilometers), it is an enormous, fascinating entity unto itself. Wednesday will be my first full day here and I will be visiting the National Diet.
Day Two - September 18
Our first full day in Tokyo was filled with nonstop points of interest. Our interpreter, Junko, made our first stop the National Diet of Japan. Here we met our guide, Akiko, and learned much…
The Constitution of Japan was promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into force on May 3, 1947. The first session of the Diet based on this new Constitution was convened in the same year on May 20. The National Diet is composed of two Houses: the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The bicameral system means that, although each House independently deliberates and decides on their positions on individual bills, the will of the Diet is established when both Houses agree. Today, the House of Representatives has 480 Members of whom 180 are elected under the proportional representation system and 300 are elected from single-seat constituencies. The term of office of Members of the House of Representatives is 4 years. In contrast, the House of Councillors has 247 Members, of whom 98 are elected by the proportional representational system and 149 from the 47 perfectural constituencies. The term of office of Members of the House of Councillors is 6 years, half of the Members being elected every 3 years. The National Diet is authorized not only to enact laws, but also to decide the national budget, approve the conclusion of treaties with other nations, designate the Prime Minister, and initiate amendments to the Constitution.
After grabbing a quick bite at one of the local sushi bars, we made our way to the Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS). It is one of the largest out of five commercial broadcasting facilities in Tokyo, in addition to NHK, Tokyo’s public broadcasting station. TBS employs over 10,000 employees. It is changing and growing by converging with a wide range of business sectors including the communications industry. They are in pursuit of a new form of broadcast bringing together multiple media and adapting to the accerlating broadband age. In so doing TBS already delivers a digital satellite system. However, like our stations in the USA, TBS is also faced with the challenges of digital conversion.
Lastly, after my informative meeting at TBS, we crossed the city to enjoy the popular sport of Sumo. Sumo is a kind of wrestling in which two contestants wearing only loincloths meet on a earthen ring. It used to be part of agricultural ceremonies or shrine rituals, but it is now enjoyed purly as a sport. the Japanese are great sports’ lovers. Baseball is now regarded as a national sport.
Tomorrow, I hope to share with you information regarding the Japanese educational sytem. I will be visiting one of the local schools on the outskirts of the city. After lunch with the new Consul General of Japan for Atlanta, Mr. Hisaeda Joji, we will depart for our next city, Fukuoka.
Day Three - September 19
Today was an early morning rise to prepare for a 45 minute ride to Tamagawa Gakuen, one of Tokyo’s premiere private schools. Tamagawa Gakuen was formed in 1929 as an elementary education organization. Later a secondary education division was added. In 1947 Tamagawa University received approval. Today Tamagawa conducts a kindergarten division to graduate school educational activities within a single campus. Approximately 10,000 students attend Tamagawa Gakuen. We spent the morning touring the beautiful garden-setting campus meeting administrators, faculty, and students. Distance learning is part of Tamagawa’s use of technology in the classroom. In addition, computers are used to teach music and graphic design
After an exciting tour and visit of Tawagawa Gakuen, we departed for downtown Tokyo to join the new Consul General of Japan for Atlanta, Georgia, George Hisaeda, for a traditional Japanese lunch. Consul General Hisaeda and I enjoyed our conversation about our respective countries and traditions. Consul General Hisaeda will be making Atlanta his home in late October. Shortly after lunch we took Japan Airlines (JAL) to our next city, Fukouka.
Day Four - September 20
Yesterday evening we took a 90-minute flight to Fukuoka for a busy Friday visiting a high school, Fukuoa city officials, and the public television station, NHK. This morning my first stop was Omuta-Kita Senior High School in Omuta where I was ceremonially greeted by Vice Principal Hiroshi Ueda and his English teacher, Junichi Hama, who assisted with translations for the Vice Principal.
There are 900 students enrolled at Omuta-Kita High School and each class averages about 40 students. On October 12 Omuta-Kita High School will be celebrating its 90th birthday. I had the opportunity to tour the school and visit several classrooms. Of particular interest were the computer class and the English language class. In this class students were being taught English through the JET (Japanese Exchange Teacher) program. Mr. Jeremy Greenup, a Japanese Exchange Teacher from Atlanta, Georgia, was teaching an attentive class many of our colloquial sayings. The computer class was specially arranged for my visit and my interest in technology in the classroom. Students were being taught Microsoft Word. I was quite impressed with the class and honored to have been the stimulus for such a class.
Japan’s educational system has five stages: kindergarten (lasting one to three years), elementary school (six years), middle school (three years), high school (three years), and university (usually four years). Education is compulsory for nine years (elementary through middle school) and is provided free at public schools to all children between the ages of six and fifteen.
Japanese law stresses equality of educational opportunity for all citizens. Typical courses in elementary school include Japanese language, social studies, arithmetic, science, music, arts and handcrafts, homemaking, physical education and ethics. These same courses are taught in middle school, but at more advanced levels. Entrance to high school and university is based upon competitive examination. The Japanese school year begins April 1 and ends on March 31 of the following year. According to Japanese tradition, great respect should be shown to teachers, who are called sensei, or literally “first born.” Classes begin and end with students bowing to their teachers.
After a quick lunch, I visited with the Fukuoka City Officials and discussed our global relationship. Atlanta is a partnership city to Fukuoka. There is great interest throughout Japan in increasing global partnerships and international relationships with the United States. Fukuoka has flourished as an internationally oriented city. It is situated closer to Pusan and Seoul than to Tokyo. The city is currently experiencing dynamic growth and development as a focal city for exchange within East Asia.
Following my meeting with the city I was driven a short distance to NHK’s Fukuoka public television station (NHK is Japan’s equivalent to our PBS). NHK employs 300 people in Fukuoka. Like the broadcast facilities in the USA, NHK is preparing for the digitalization of broadcasting. It has instituted a digital satellite broadcasting system as a prerequisite for the next steps — digital terrestrial broadcasting. Its mission is to produce and broadcast rewarding high-quality programs as well as accurate, impartial news and information. While touring the facility, it was evident that its quality programming and professional staff contribute to NHK’s ability to earn the trust of viewers and listeners. NHK plays a leading role in Japan’s broadcast industry.
For our last stop for the day we quickly moved to the TNC (Television Nishinippon Corporation) which is one of Fukuoka’s commercial broadcasting stations. I had the chance to meet with their executive staff and exchange views on emerging technologies and challenges in the broadcasting industry. My tour of the facility started in their newsroom. You could feel the rise of adrenalin racing through the staff as they prepared for the six o’clock news. TNC’s Executive News Director showcased their state-of-the-art switcher in the control room and news set. Our tour concluded with a look at their history of television exhibit area that is open to the public daily.
Tomorrow is Saturday, September 21 and I will begin my weekend with visits to some of the tourist attractions in the ancient cities of Nara and Kyoto. Because Monday is Autumnal Equinox Day, a National holiday for Japan, my official meetings will begin again in Tokyo on Tuesday. I will, however, continue to provide you with daily updates.
Day Five - September 21
As mentioned Friday, I took a short break from meetings to do a little sightseeing. Today I took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) from Fukuoka to Kyoto and Nara. The Bullet Train is one of the fastest trains in the world, traveling at the rate of 300 miles per hour. We went more than 400 miles in only 2.25 hours to reach Kyoto. Today I visited the ancient city of Kyoto. It was the imperial capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Surrounded by scenic hills to the north, west and east, which the founding Emperor Kammu described as a natural fortress, the city reigned from 794 to 1868 as the cultural and artistic center of the nation. Today is maintains this reputation and has become the country’s political nucleus as well. Kyoto’s more than 1,600 Buddhist temples and 270 Shinto shrines attest to its importance as a religious focal point, while the impressive Imperial Palace and two jewel-like Imperial Villas set in their legendary gardens recall the aesthetic splendor of the city’s once-pivotal role. But I found that Kyoto, originally called Heiankyo — ‘Capital of Peace’ — doesn’t live only in the past.
This seventh-largest city in Japan with a population of 1.5 million has also kept pace with the modern world. Thriving electric, machinery and chemical plants are numerous. The Kyoto International Conference Hall located in the northeastern part of the city is a marvel of state-of-the-art technology. Combined with the remarkable array of other superb attractions, it has made Kyoto a world-class convention destination. Some of the most prestigious universities in the country are also situated here, forming a major educational enclave. Kyoto also has a vast wealth of traditional art, architecture and crafts that have influenced architects and artists from around the world.
Day Six - September 22
After visiting a few of the local merchants on Saturday, we got an early start Sunday morning for an hour’s drive to Nara. Nara is a city older than Kyoto and has the distinction of being the first permanent capital of Japan. Previously, the capital had moved to the palace of whichever emperor was reigning. But from 710 to 784 — with another 10 years at nearby Nagaokakyo— Nara was a large metropolis of palaces, temples, shrines and dwellings. The arts, crafts and industry were encouraged and flourished to an exceptional degree, and the awesome results can still be seen today.
The Nara period also realized the firm establishment of Buddhism alongside the indigenous Shinto religion, to the cultural enrichment of both. At present, Nara has the unique honor of preserving the world’s oldest wooden structure, Horyuji Temple, and the world’s largest, the great Todaiji Temple. Todaiji Temple was built in the Nara period (710-794AD) at the behest of Emperor Shomo (r. 724-749). The temple was officially positioned as one of many state-established provincial temples. However, since the chief object of worship of the temple is Vairocana Buddha (“Buddha that shines throughout the world like the sun”), a magnificent temple was built to reflect the importance.
Today I visited the Todaiji Temple which serves as a place of prayer for peace and affluence on earth and as a center of Buddhist doctrinal research. Over the centuries, Todaiji has produced many famous scholar priests. The chief object of worship is Vairocana Buddha, who is also the central Buddha in the Kegon Sutra. The statue of Buddha is made from cast bronze, which was then plated with gold. It was consecrated in 752, and was damaged and repaired several times in the following centuries. The current hands of the statue were made in the Momoyama period (1568-1615), and the head was made in the Edo period (1615-1867).
The Great Buddha Hall was burned in the fires of war in 1180 and 1567, and the current building is actually the third generation structure, which was built in the Edo period. The width of the current building is approximately 33% smaller than that of the original structure, but it still ranks as the largest wooden structure in the world.
Separated from Kyoto by hills running north to west, the venerable city basks comfortably in a pleasant state of mellow relaxation. Graceful tame deer, regarded as divine messengers, roam peacefully about Nara Park and in the areas of shrines and temples. Upon leaving Nara, we went into Kyoto to the Nishjin Textile Center to see the ceremonial display of the famous Kimono. Here young Japanese ladies graced the stage with samples of their beautiful traditional dress. Sunday evening I took advantage of the free time to stroll the area of Kyoto known as the Shijo Kawuaramachi area. This is one of the busiest downtown areas I have ever experienced.
Day Seven - September 23
Monday is the Autumnal Equinox national holiday here in Japan. The streets were very full and busy with tourists and locals. I took an early afternoon visit to the beautiful Kinkaku, better known as the Golden Pavilion. Kinkaku is a popular name for one of the main buildings of this temple, which is properly called Rokuon-Ji Temple. In the 1220’s it was the comfortable villa of Kintsune Saionji. Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga abdicated the throne in 1394. After three years, he began to build Kitayamaden and made a special effort to make it a breath-taking site. He indulged in a peaceful life in this serene setting, and after his death, Kitayamaden was made into a Zen temple in accordance to Yoshimitsu’s will.
In 1950 the temple was destroyed through arson and rebuilt in 1955. The gold leaf over lacquer on the outside was redone in 1987 at a cost of 740 million yen. Rukuon-ji Temple was inscribed as World Cultural Heritage in 1994.
After enjoying the peaceful and calming setting of the Golden Pavilion, I again boarded the super-express Bullet Train for my return to Tokyo for tomorrow’s busy day with Ota Fishery Cooperative Association and the Ministry.
Day Eight - September 24
This morning was quite an interesting and educational meeting for me.
Mr. Toru Tsukamoto, Director of the General Affairs Division for the Tokyo Metropolitan Fishery Association Union, arranged for me to meet two local fishermen with the Ota Fishery Cooperative Association, Mr. Toshitsugu Ito and Mr. Toshio Ito. Never before have I had the opportunity to learn first hand the art of eel fishing on a small domestic boating dock. Both gentlemen explained how a device called a “do” is used to catch up to 30 eels. Each fishing boat would carry up to 200 to 300 “do’s” and would catch up to 500 to 600 eels a day. Both men have been in business for more than 50 years and at one time caught all types of fish. They now, however, only fish for eel since other fishing is more strenuous.
As we know, Japan is surrounded by oceans and the Japanese have long been dependent upon the sea for much of their food. Since fish is an important part of the Japanese diet, fishing is one of Japan’s major industries. However, Japan’s fishing industry, like agriculture, has been declining in recent decades. This drop reflects the move by many nations to enforce 200 nautical-mile economic zones.
In 1998, there were nearly 366,000 registered fishing boats in Japan. Besides their annual catch of about 5 million tons, another 1.29 million tons of fish and shellfish are harvested each year from special fish farms where about 100 species of fish are raised. Japan must import 43% of the fish it needs, and its future supply will depend heavily on the imports, coastal fishing, and aquaculture.
My next stop was the Ministry, but first to make the transition from fishery to the Ministry, I made a mad dash back to my hotel for a quick change of attire. Today begins first of several meetings this with the heads of government ministries. The Prime Minister as you may recall appoints the Cabinet and most of the Cabinet members head government ministries or agencies. This afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Takahara Kozo, Director-General of the Information and Communications Policy Bureau in the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications. Most of our conversation was directed towards broadcasting and internet access, especially the popularity of cell phones with broadcast access.
One of the areas that Mr. Takahara Kozo’s agency oversees is the broadcast industry’s transition from analog to digital. Digital terrestrial television broadcasting in the Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka regions is slated to start by 2003 and other regions by 2006. All analog broadcasting is scheduled to end and the country will switch entirely to digital broadcasting by 2011. The Ministry’s vision is to build an advanced info-communications infrastructure that will allow the unrestricted exchange of information through the transmission of images, text, voice or other forms of data.
Day Nine - September 25
After yesterday’s enlightening meetings, I was especially excited to continue my meetings with members of the Ministry. This morning I first met with Mr. Hisaoki Kamei, Member of the House of Representatives, who is Chairman of the Research Commission on Telecommunications for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Mr. Kamei has been elected twice as a Parliament Member of the House Councillors and has currently served three terms as a Parliament Member for the House of Representatives. As a member of the LDP, Mr. Kamei serves as either Chair or Vice Chair of a number of committees within the LDP. We had a very informative discussion about the important role NHK plays in providing balance news and information. Although NHK’s primary funding resource is the public, the Japanese government provides funding for their international news services. In addition, Mr. Hisaoki Kamei’s committee oversight responsibilities include information technology. In November 2000 the Goverment passed a law to help Japan deal with the social economic changes resulting from the IT revolution.
After this meeting, I moved on to visit with Mr. Kazuo Nukazawa, Director-General of the Cultural Affairs Department for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry is the support system and gateway to constantly provide information on Japan’s foreign affairs. It has an annual budget of approximately 30 billion yen or around $200 million dollars. Of which, roughly 20% goes to cultural affairs for embassies and Consulate Generals abroad; 55% to the Japanese Foundation and 25% to UNESCO. The remainder is spent domestically. We had a very frank conversation on economic affairs, foreign policy, Japan’s strong relationship with the United States and how the traditional Japanese cultural has changed over the last 50 years. The younger Japanese population is forcing a change in dress, diet, and family tradition. In some respects, Japan is becoming more international. Added to my visit was the delight in learning that Mr. Nukazawa’s assistant, Mr. Toshio Odagiri, attended the University of Georgia.
This afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Mr. Junichi Shioda, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. The museum, located in Kiba Park, was opened in March 1995 to exhibit works of contemporary art on a permanent basis with an emphasis on Japanese artists, but also an inclusion of American and Korean artists. Over the years of preparation, the collection was carefully built to include about 3,500 works. Out of these works, about a hundred were chosen to be central to the museum’s permanent collection. During my visit I was able to view the works of such artists as Yoshio Mori, Kasai Hori, Ushio Sinohara, and American artists as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and Elizabeth Murray. The architectural design of the building was a perfect contemporary complement to the art it was built to house.
Day Ten - September 26
This morning I spent time with one of Japan’s most renowned and respected political critics, Mr. Minoru Morita. Mr. Morita writes for newspapers and magazines; has written more than 30 books on various political and social issues; appears on both TV and radio; and lectures everyday - Mr. Morita is 70 years old and wants to write more books! He has very strong and high expectations of our political leaders and believes that they should serve and sacrifice for others. I am sure this is as a result of his early study of Marxism, Confucius, and Taoism. His political criticisms are both in depth, thought provoking and sometimes challenging to the system. Because of his influence in the community and world, he is always aware of his commentary and its impact. He is a combination of humility and wisdom. For me it was an honor to have met him.
Following my meeting with Mr. Morita, I took a visit to Japan’s Supreme Court. First, let me say the architecture of this building is magnificent. While its design is that of a contemporary labyrinth, it maintains the regality of the Japanese judicial system. The Japanese judiciary, which is completely independent of the executive and legislative branches of government, consists of the Supreme Court, eight high courts, a district court in each of the prefectures (regions) except for Hokkaido, which has four, and a number of summary courts. In addition, there are many family courts to adjudicate domestic complaints. The Supreme Court is founded on the philosophy of three basic attributes: wisdom, love, and courage. Each of its 15 justices, including the chief justice is bound by these attributes when upholding the law of Japan. The chief justice is appointed by the Emperor upon designation by the cabinet, and the 14 other justices are appointed by the cabinet. The appointment of the justices of the Supreme Court is reviewed in a national referendum, held during the first general election for the House of Representatives following their appointment; the reappointment of justices after a 10 year term is likewise reviewed. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in determining the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation, or official act. All judges are independent in the exercise of their conscience and are bound only by the Constitution and laws enacted thereunder. Judges can only be removed if ordered by a court of impeachment, consisting of members of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Generally, every judge must retire at an age of 70 as set by law. For a virtual tour of Japan’s Supreme Court, log on to www.courts.go.jp
Day Eleven - September 27
Well, this day begins the last day of our sojourn to Japan, and has it been a remarkable journey! This morning, my wife, Paulette, and I rose before the break of dawn to visit one of the busiest, bustling, and most exciting places of trade (primarily for fish) in Tokyo - The Central Wholesale Market. The very beginning of a Tokyo Market dates back to the days of Tokugawa Leyasu when he opened Edo government. He brought in the fishermen from Tsukuda, Osaka City to Edo to allow them to purvey seafood to Edo castle, and at the same time gave them permission to sell the remaining fish near the Nihonbashi bridge. The vegetable and fruit markets also developed spontaneously around the same period. After the Meji Restoration, these markets dwindled under drastic social changes and under the new Tokyo City Government, private markets were permitted to open, which contributed to the stable supply of daily food necessary for the residents. However, after the experiences of the Rice Riots, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and W.W.II, several laws were enacted that changed the control of the market. It was after WWII, the great changes in the environment surrounding the markets with the high growth of the Japanese economy, and concentration of urban population in Tokyo in the late 1960s and 70s, resulted in the revision of the law into the current Wholesale Market Law of April 1971. Under this new law, Tokyo Metropolitan Government opened markets. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has established 11 Central Wholesale Markets to assure that fresh foods are transported to the market for consumers. Around 6:00 a.m. we watched as restaurateurs inspected the catch and placed their bids. Of course, the highest bidder walked away with the fish. It was an extraordinary form of business trading to witness.
After a quick breakfast, I prepared for my next meeting with Mr. Hatsuhisa Takashima, Press Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Mr. Takashima was recently appointed to this position. Prior to this position he was a reporter and anchor for 37 years with NHK. The Foreign Minister Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi selected Mr. Takashima to restore a sense of public service to the position of press secretary. The task is daunting, but as a respected journalist, Mr. Takashima brings a fresh perspective and commitment to the aim and mission for foreign policy as set by Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi. She has set a standard for her office to be “strong,” “caring” and “straightforward.” Strong in that foreign policy is proactive and action-oriented; caring in that there is concern for the weak and impoverished and that there is an understanding of different cultures and traditions; straightforward in that it is easy to understand by the Japanese people and in turn able to enjoy their understanding and support. After an open conversation, I could understand why this venerable gentleman was selected to insure that quality information is disseminated in a manner that speaks to mission and objectives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
My last meeting for the day and for my stay in Japan was with NHK (Nippon Hoso Kyokai). NHK is to Japan what PBS is to the United States. It is the sole public broadcaster in Japan. With its broadcasting headquarters in Tokyo, NHK has 54 stations throughout Japan and 32 bureaus overseas, 3 of which are in the USA - Seattle, Los Angles and Washington, D.C. and a headquarters in New York. Terrestrial broadcasting is the cornerstone of NHK’s broadcasting service. As a public broadcaster they strive to serve the needs of as many people as possible by offering a wide range of programs from news and education to culture and entertainment, with a strong emphasis on education. NHK’s main channel, General TV offers a balanced range of programs around the clock, covering every category from news and information programs to creative programs about culture and pure entertainment. Beginning in December 2000 their satellite broadcasts are being transmitted simultaneously in analog and digital formats. NHK broadcasts internally via three television and radio services: NHK World TV, NHK World Premium, and NHK World Japan. As well as transmitting a broad range of information around the clock to Japanese nationals living overseas, these services also promote international understanding of Japan by offering objective descriptions of contemporary conditions and points of view in Japan and the rest of Asia.
Tomorrow we return to the United States. It is with a feeling of great honor to have had this opportunity of a life time to learn and experience some of the Japanese culture. I must take this opportunity to give a special thank you to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for arranging our visit. Each and every person we met was most gracious and hospitable. Our interpreter, Ms. Junko Saita, made every visit and meeting seamless. Her graciousness was always comforting. We thank you again and hope one day to have the opportunity to show you our country. Sayonara.