Wine Tasting and Discussion About Japan Vol.162

A Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting was held as always on November 4, 2016 at the representative’s home. The guests included Ms. Martha Lidia Zelayandia Cisneros, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Republic of El Salvador in Japan who is extremely fluent in Japanese down to the fine nuances; Ms. Yuko Hasegawa, a professor in the Graduate School of Global Arts at Tokyo University of Arts and a councilor in the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo who has planned numerous art exhibitions as a curator; Mr. Pema Gyalpo, an international political scientist born in Tibet who is a professor in Toin University of Yokohama; Mr. Koichiro Taneda, the Representative Director of the Japan Culture Agency who has also studied in the Vatican and who has served as a Japanese interpreter for the Pope; and Mr. Fumiya Sako, President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan and a Jodo Shinshu monk who has a teaching qualification and who is knowledgeable about Buddhism. They talked about topics rich in an international flavor ranging from religion to art.

Digitization of Vatican Documents: Proceeding with Japanese Technology

 El Salvador is a country in Central America. This country has many similarities with Japan such as volcanoes and, although only used as a source of energy, hot springs. The nation is on very good terms with Japan. The main industry is agriculture and coffee is exported to Japan. The textile industry in El Salvador also has a long history to the extent that the Kureha Corporation in Osaka built a factory in the country as the first company to expand overseas there after the last war in 1966. Indigo dye thrived since the colonial period under Spanish rule. However, this industry was virtually destroyed at one point due to the popularization of chemical dyes. This industry was revived under a JICA project and it is now possible to see indigo dyes in folk craft stores. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica were originally the same country and had the same culture in the era of the Mayan civilization. This region was then turned into a Spanish colony. Later, this region achieved independence in 1821. Initially, this region formed one country as the Central American Federal Republic and the first president of this nation came from El Salvador. However, after that, a conflict of interest between those seeking to unify the country and those seeking to break it up turned into war. Eventually, this nation broke up into various countries. El Salvador was consistently part of those seeking unification. The country name means messiah in Spanish. The departments of El Salvador have been named with this hope. There are departments called peace, freedom and unity in Spanish. The name of the department called Morazan comes from the name of a general born in Honduras. General Morazan, who was part of the forces seeking unification, was eventually defeated in battle. He was buried in El Salvador instead of Honduras. This was because he requested in his will to be buried in El Salvador as that country had supported unification.
 NTT Data in Japan was chosen to be the partner of the Digital Archiving Project by the Vatican Library that started in 2014 after competing with proposals from world-renowned companies such as IBM and Microsoft. The firm has been working on digitizing about 100,000 handwritten documents over ten years. The Vatican Library contains 70 million pages of handwritten documents since the BC era. NTT Data is using Japanese technology to digitally preserve these documents so that they can be read even in one hundred years. Speaking of the conservation of world culture, Shoso-in in Nara comes to mind. Valuable culture heritage damaged during dynastic changes in China remains in a surprisingly well-preserved state in this azekuradzukuri (ancient architectural style utilizing intercrossed triangle logs) building. If world cultural heritage like this is preserved with Japanese technology and the data center for this is placed in Japan as a modern Shoso-in, it will be possible to take measures to ensure peaceful security. This is because it will not be possible to launch nuclear missiles at Japan for fear of destroying the cultural heritage of all countries including one’s own.

Drastically Decreasing Number of Suitable Candidates to be Members of the Clergy: Pope May Allow Members of the Clergy to Marry

 The Vatican also has a secret archives library. This library is directly managed by the cardinals. This library contains an enormous amount of documents to the extent that they would stretch out to 85 kilometers if lined up vertically. The journals of Da Vinci and Galileo Galilei are extremely valuable. It is said that these documents would overturn human history in addition to Christian history if they were made open to the public. Tibet possesses the greatest number of Buddhist scriptures in the world. Things in India, where Buddhism originated, were completely destroyed in the Islamic Mughal Empire era. There were originally 84,000 scriptures. However, of these, 4,000 remain in Tibet, 2,000 went to China and 200 arrived in Japan. It is easiest to think that there is one school of thought per scripture in Japan.
 It is not necessary to be a Catholic to enroll in the Salesian Pontifical University. Canon law says that it is possible to perform marriages and baptisms as a deacon if you acquire a theological degree there even if you are not a believer. The logic to this is that because God uses people who have studied theology as a tool, that person’s faith or abilities do not matter. The catholic clergy are currently not permitted to marry and women cannot become priests. These rules may change in the future. There are currently about 400 churches in Rome. However, more than 70% of the priests in these are non-Caucasian. The Vatican ambassador to El Salvador is also of African descent. The Vatican ambassador to Japan is of Indian descent. The number of suitable candidates to become members of the Catholic clergy has been dropping sharply because it is not possible to get married or have children. In fact, members of the clergy in the Church of England can marry, but there are then many who convert to Catholicism without any theological dispute. This means that priests who are married with children have also appeared in great numbers. Furthermore, there have been a never-ending number of incidents involving the sexual abuse of children by the clergy which led to the abdication of Benedict XVI in 2013. In this respect, it is wonderful that the Buddhist monk Shinran, who founded Jodo Shinshu, was a pioneer in marriage. It is possible to wonder whether marriage will have to be accepted in the future for the survival of the Catholic Church.

Live Together with Works of Art to Understand Their True Value

 Those in the monastery in the Vatican remain in holy silence from the time when they wake up to when morning prayer ends. They spend their time talking to God and are not permitted to exchange words with people. Those in Eihei-ji in the Soto school of Zen Buddhism follow the principle of sanmoku dojo; that is, they are prohibited from talking in the mediation hall, bathroom and toilet.  They also eat without making a noise. The fundamental elements are similar in all faiths. The way people feel about the universe and nature is the same. There is a concept of sanjin (three bodies of the Buddha) in Buddhism. However, this is very similar to the Trinity in Christianity. Tibet’s Dalai Lama has the highest rank in Tibetan Buddhism. He is the father of the country. He is educated to not have personal feelings from his childhood. He is not allowed to visit his mother even if she gets sick. The Dalai Lama is the incarnation of Kannon Bodhisattva; the Panchen Lama is the incarnation of Amithaba. The Panchen Lama appears to be one rank below the Dalai Lama. However, that is not correct. Amithaba is ranked higher than Kannon Bodhisattva in the world of Buddha. Panchen originally meant the teacher of the Pope (Dalai Lama). There are many gods who came from Hinduism in Buddhism. This is true of the concept of God being accompanied by the “deva” and the “Wisdom King.” Mahakala, Vaisravana and Saraswati of the Seven Gods of Fortune, as well as Sakra Devanam Indra, are also gods in Hinduism.
 It appears that most people look at works of art in museums. However, in truth, it is not possible to know the real value of such works of art without living together with them. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is known for its modern art collection in America. However, many personal art collectors have donated works to this museum because it is considered an honor to do so. Nevertheless, it is necessary to ascertain the value of such works in terms of whether it is best to accept them into the museum. When curators receive a donation request, they will first keep that work for a month and put it in their office where they can look at it every day. If it seems like it has something to tell you when you are together, it can be considered a strong work of art. Works of art that feel like this are accepted as donations. The Dalai Lama says that real civilization is born when Western science and Oriental wisdom come together in happy marriage. In fact, art and music are methods of expression that are very close to religion.
 The world is currently in a great deal of turmoil. The United Kingdom unexpectedly voted to leave the EU in a national referendum. The United States has suffered the worst presidential election in its history that has exposed divisions between the people. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye has seen her approval rating drop to 5% due to a scandal involving her friend. Against this backdrop, this is an opportunity for the politically stable Japan. If the term of office of President Abe is extended to nine years in three terms, he will become one of the longest-serving leaders in any advanced country and may be able to take charge of summits. This opportunity should be used to first resolve the Northern Territories issue and deepen relations between Japan and Russia. If a peace treaty is concluded between Japan and Russia, Prime Minister Abe’s influence on the world will surely increase. Next, he should work on amending the constitution. This should be done in two stages. The first stage should be to revise the parts of the constitution that everyone agrees need to be changed such as the preamble. The second stage should involve New Komeito and see full-scale constitutional reform implemented. This will take time, but it would be possible with a term of office of nine years in three terms.

Urgent Need to Develop Nuclear Shelters Deep Underground

 Military might is necessary to support international bargaining power. Nuclear weapons are essential to support such military might. It is difficult for Japan to demonstrate leadership in the world without nuclear weapons. It is certain that both the United States and China would oppose the nuclear armament of Japan. In that case, surely the idea of nuclear sharing would be acceptable as Japan would be armed with nuclear weapons in the framework of the United States. If it is possible to allow this of the similarly defeated Germany and Italy, there is no reason not to permit this of Japan. There is a high possibility that the United States will allow this if we say we will give up on having our own nuclear weapons in exchange.
 Prime Minister Modi of India will visit Japan on November 10. He is expected to sign a nuclear power agreement between Japan and India at that time which will make it possible to export Japanese nuclear power technology. The fact that India has not signed up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been a bottleneck to this. This has meant negotiations have taken ten years. Japan is surrounded by nuclear states so there is a high possibility that it is this country that will suffer the dropping of the third nuclear bomb after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Currently, China has the power to make a nuclear strike against the United States; North Korea will also soon have the ability to do so. As such, the idea of an American nuclear umbrella is only an illusion. Japan needs to construct nuclear shelters that have only penetrated 0.02% of the way in this country. This figure stands at 100% in Switzerland and Israel, 98% in Norway, 82% in the United States and 78% in Russia. It will be necessary to devise a way to turn stations into nuclear shelters by equipping complete air purification systems through the subways in the deep underground. Deterrence is very important to prevent war. Deterrence is offensive ability. The world since the last war has defended against a world war with deterrence by nuclear weapons. However, there will no doubt be great opposition to building shelters in Japan where there is an allergy to just hearing the word nuclear. This is mainly the responsibility of the media. The behavior of former prime ministers who have begun to consistently argue against nuclear power is also a problem.
 The days considered good in the rokuyo (six labels indicating how auspicious each day is) of the representative, hotel president and APA Group president soon fill up with the current rush in construction and opening of APA hotels. However, the original meaning of the rokuyo when this system came to Japan from China in the Edo period (1603 to 1868) is slightly different to now. Taian (auspicious day) was originally a day for rest; in other words, the Sabbath. In fact, it was best to avoid doing things that were important in your life on such days. Butsumetsu (unluckiest day) was the day on which the human Gautama left his body and became an eternal Buddha. This meant it was originally an auspicious day. Sensho (lucky day in the morning, but not the afternoon) meant that important tasks should be carried out in the morning.