O. Reischauer Memorial Lecture by Ambassador Ryozo Kato:
U.S.-Japan Alliance in East Asia"
(At the Edwin
O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Feb. 28, 2006)
Do They Really
Thomas H. Snitch*
that participated in the survey - Image from WorldPublicOpinion.org)
If one were
to walk into a high school classroom, anywhere on the planet, one of the
most important questions on every student's mind would be--do the other
kids really like me?
We all wonder
if we fit in to the group, if our colleagues enjoy working with us, and
if people that we meet really 'like us.' The real challenge is finding
out the truth since most people are reluctant to voice their innermost
personal feelings about us.
The same issues
vex nations--that is, how do other countries, either next door or 10,000
miles away, think about us?
To get those
answers, the BBC recently commissioned a poll of nearly 40,000 individuals
in 33 nations. The complete results of this study can be viewed at:
the highest rankings as a country in the poll, with 31 out of 33 nations
surveyed by the BBC having a mainly positive rating towards Japan. In
21 of these nations, a majority of those individuals polled saw Japan
as a positive influence in world politics.
The only two
nations that did not hold this overwhelming positive view and had mostly
negative opinions of Japan were China and South Korea.
On the other
hand, it is Japan's other neighbors, specifically Indonesia, the Philippines,
and Australia that give the nation the very highest marks. Similarly,
Nigeria, Kenya, Spain, Canada, and the U.S. all hold Japan in extremely
can enjoy the good feelings that most of the world holds toward it, the
international views of Iran are the lowest. Only 5 % of those nations
polled, specifically Afghanistan, saw Iran as a positive influence in
global politics. In general, Iran's unchecked nuclear activities generated
international suspicion about its motives, although it is noteworthy that
Iran views itself as a very positive influence in world affairs.
The next three
lowest ranked nations were the U.S., Russia and China.
If Japan were
a high school student sitting in a global classroom, it would be voted
'most likeable' by the other kids. In the BBC poll, Japan comes out as
Snitch is president of Little Falls Associates in Bethesda, Md., and specializes
in U.S.-Asian security and economic issues.
Talks Remain Deadlocked
As China Makes Proposal Unacceptable to Japan
Brief article by Foreign Press Center Japan (Mar. 13, 2006))
Martial Art or New Age Fad?
(Embassy of Japan)
one asks a practitioner of Aikido, "What is Aikido?" one
might hear, "a traditional Japanese martial art," "a
way of peace," "a divine method of harnessing one's ki
(bio-energy)" or "a gentle martial way." It really
just depends on who you ask. Within the community of Aikido practitioners
there are many different styles, which complicates things even further.
Extreme philosophical differences exist between these groups and
in some cases, in their methods of training. If one were to visit
a Yoshinkan-affiliated dojo (training hall), one would most likely
find students training intensely, throwing their partners very hard
and with very similar movements. If one were to visit an Aikikai-affiliated
dojo, where fluidity rather than prescribed movement is emphasized,
one might see more graceful movement. In the Kokikai and Ki no Kenkyukai
schools, philosophy and ideals of "ki-power" are purported.
So with all these differences, just what is Aikido?
can be found in the ancient art of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, said to be
founded by Prince Teijun, the sixth son of the Emperor Seiwa, in the ninth
century AD. The art was passed down through generations of the Minamoto
family, eventually reaching Shinra Saburo Yoshimitsu, the younger brother
of Yoshiie Minamoto, whose second son became known as Takeda after the
area that he lived and taught in. At this time, the art was kept within
the Takeda family for generations and thus was purely a samurai art during
the feudal era, until Japan emerged from self-imposed isolation in the
Meiji era. It was during this time that the art began to be taught to
outsiders, even foreigners. It was Sokaku Takeda who first taught the
art to those outside of the Takeda family. One of Takeda's most talented
(and best-known) students was a man named Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba is
the founder of modern Aikido. He was an extremely gifted martial artist
and brought with him knowledge of several other martial arts. He combined
his knowledge of other martial arts with the techniques of Daito-ryu,
which he had learned from Takeda, to devise what would become the techniques
of modern Aikido. It was within his dojo that the term "Aikido"
was first used, after going by many other names, including "Aiki-Budo."
It was from these beginnings that modern Aikido came to be.
Naturally, Mr. Ueshiba had many students over his lifetime, training with him at
different stages of his development of Aikido. Many of his students went
on to open their own dojos and their interpretation of Aikido may differ
depending on when they studied with the founder. The different styles
were formed by those students who started their own schools, many having
developed the techniques further to suit their own needs and interpretations.
In some cases, these schools represent a complete break from earlier Aikido
philosophy and techniques; others are simply branches of the same teachings.
Styles of Aikido include: Aikikai, headed by Morihei's grandson, Moriteru
Ueshiba; Yoshinkan, founded by one of Ueshiba's most talented students,
Gozo Shioda; Ki no Kenkyukai (Ki Society), founded by Koichi Tohei, one
of Mr. Ueshiba's later students; Takemusu Aikido or Iwama-ryu, headed
first by Morihiro Saito, and now headed by his son, Morihito; Kokikai,
founded by Shuji Maruyama; and there are many other branches/styles. These
styles vary in application of techniques, training methods, and philosophy.
Yoshinkan Aikido, for example, was founded after World War II and is occasionally
called the "hard style" because its training methods are the
product of the harsh training period that Gozo Shioda spent with Morihei
Ueshiba. Its training methods are generally more practical: it has about
150 basic techniques that are practiced repeatedly until mastered, enabling
the student to master the remaining 3000 techniques. There are no purification
rituals or ritualistic techniques, as in some of the other styles, which
were developed by the founder towards the end of his life. The techniques
of Aikikai Aikido may be the closest to the founder's techniques since
they were the most directly transmitted, from father to son to grandson.
Their teachings concentrate less on uniformity of technique among students
and learning by repetition, so their technique tends to be a bit more
dynamic and less mechanical. These techniques may capture the essence
of what the founder taught towards the end of his life. The Ki Society's
main objective is to increase their "ki-power" through breathing
and other exercises. The theory is that when this ki is combined with
Aikido techniques the practitioner is able to control their opponent much
Since Aikido is rooted in the martial arts used on the armored
battlefields of Feudal Japan, it usually does not involve kicking. Since armor tends
to be heavy, kicking would not be practical. Instead techniques usually involve joint
locks or controls and/or throws. The idea is to use distance, positioning,
and timing effectively in order to overcome your opponent. In this way,
a smaller, weaker person could very easily overcome a much larger, stronger
opponent. Many of the techniques are similar to Japanese sword techniques
because of their connection with the Samurai arts. Many styles practice
sword and/or jo (half-staff) techniques in their training regimens. In
general, Aikido is a practical art. There are no fancy high kicks or flashy
techniques, and the techniques require little strength or effort to execute.
The most fundamental point in Aikido is that when performing a technique,
one attacks their opponent's weakest point while maintaining one's own
balance in a more favorable position in order to unbalance their opponent.
In other words, the practitioner uses minimal effort in order to get the
The founder, towards the end of his life, espoused ideals of peace,
harmony, love, cooperation, and non-aggression. This was a big change for the man who
had served as an infantryman in the Russo-Japanese War and who had battled
bandits in Mongolia. As a result, the techniques also changed. In Morihei's
own words, "Now they were vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge,
virtue, and good sense, not devices to throw and pin people." Generally
speaking, whereas the objective of the techniques remained the same, to
fell and subdue one's opponent, they were no longer executed without regard
for the opponent. However, non-resistance and harmony may refer more to
the effectiveness of techniques rather than to some religious ideal. Towards
the end of his life, the founder stressed harmony of movement with one's
opponent and non-resistance to a change of direction of movement. For example,
if one's opponent pulls, it is more effective to go with them,
adding one's own energy to their movement in order to control or subdue
them, rather than pitting strength against strength. Similarly, if one's
opponent pushes, it would be more effective to pull them in towards you.
There is an expression used in Aikido, "If an opponent wants to enter,
invite them in; if they want to go, send them on their way!"
All of this may be confusing to one who has never studied Aikido.
Morihei Ueshiba referred to Aikido as the Art of Peace, but also worked relentlessly to
improve its efficacy. One may wonder what connection martial arts have with peace,
but the founder believed "The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a
means to kill and destroy others. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter -
it is the Art of Peace, the power of love." One may scoff at this, but it seems
ever more relevant in our present world, which is filled with war and aggression.
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