Thoughts for the Coming Year 2012 - Honorary Director's Blog



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Thoughts for the Coming Year 2012

Keywords: Great East Japan Earthquake, World War II, Fukushima, national crisis, radiation, nuclear power, atomic bombing, early childhood education, child-raising, child care, education

Time flies like an arrow, and as the saying goes, we are fast approaching 2012. During the past year, we experienced devastation on an imaginable scale in the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 and from powerful tsunami along the Pacific Ocean coast of eastern Japan. Added to this was Japan's first nuclear power accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. After the arrival of the Commodore Perry's black ships in 1853 and defeat in World War II in 1945, these events could be counted as Japan's third national crisis. Perhaps that explains why time has flown so fast.

On second thought, the end of WWII in 1945 and our third national crisis share much in common. First, one thinks of the towns that were destroyed by the tsunami in 2011 and the destruction wrought by the American fire-bombing and atomic bombings in 1945. Second, both the nuclear reactor disaster of 2011 and the atomic bombings of 1945 have focused on attention on the effects of radiation from nuclear power.

When we think about the destroyed towns, the effects of radiation and the process of postwar recovery, although recovery from this third national crisis will take time, we can expect it to be much quicker. In particular, based on my experience of spending nearly one day in Hiroshima two weeks after the atomic bombing and even drinking the water, I would say that there is no need to be overly concerned about the problem of radiation. With a correct view of science and technology, we can grasp the situation correctly to take measures in steady and calm manner. I think that with time, and before it is too late, we will be able to reach some resolution.

But, there is something more important that we should not forget. That is the recovery of hearts and minds. After our second national crisis, Japan recovered quickly and faster than expected, rising up from scorched fields and ruins to build an affluent society. The adverse effect of this material wealth can be seen in the growing materialism and worship of money which has caused a loss of spiritual richness and not just problems of children, but growing social problems such a crime and criminal behavior. Edward S. Morse, the author of Japan, Day by Day and professor at the University of Tokyo in the late nineteenth century would be certainly be surprised at the situation now.

Education, in a broad sense, is the key to recovery. In particular, education in science and technology. But looking at events after 3.11, we also have to educate the hearts and minds of people who use them, in other words, their morals and values. This means that we have to think about education in a way that includes child-raising, child care, and education (preschool and early childhood education).

The first national crisis was surmounted by the introduction of western-style education together with the Imperial Rescript. The second national crisis was overcome by the introduction of democratic education. In the third national crisis, too, we will need to grasp education anew from a broad perspective that encompasses child-raising, child care, and education and change our thinking to establish a new system of education. Unless we do so, we will not be able to raise our level of science and technology, nor will we be able to build the norms, morals and ethics that reform society or the empathy that creates social solidarity. As such, CRN with its research focus on child-raising, child care, and education has an increasingly large role to play in the future.

We hope that we will continue to receive your guidance and support in 2012.