My subconscience is starting to form its own patterns …

October 17, 2006

Yesterday I had my first class with Prof. Hashimoto in ‘Politics of Security’. The obscurity of the title helped keep the class down to a workable seven people – Chiquo the Philippino policeman, an Uzbek, a Burmese central banker, a Cambodian diplomat, an Indonesian, a very ‘modern’ Pakistani woman wearing purple make-up and a Nike t-shirt, and me.

It didn’t start off too well, with Prof. H. saying that his interest was in Okinawa and its place in international security arrangements, and telling us that the readings would be taken from his latest book, on – you guessed it – Okinawa. Yet another academic suffering monomania, I thought.

BUT …

His style was engaging, and he told us that we have too much homework from other classes already, so all he wants us to do is to turn up, give our own opinions about security arrangements, especially for our own countries, in the class discussions, and write an essay at the end of the term. ‘Study hard and enjoy yourselves’. Before long I had become quite enthusiastic about the class.

Plus, members of this class get priority when the school is selecting people to visit – yes, you guessed right again – Okinawa.

Sounds good to me.

More seriously, the Prof. is actually quite a big wheel in US-Japan relations, sitting on committees that plot strategy for the alliance, of which Okinawa is one issue. From his first lecture, it seems that his US counterparts are mostly Democrats, and that they are waiting around for 2008, when they expect (with some confidence) the Republicans to be clearing out their White House desks to make way for them.

From what I gather, GRIPS has a very high reputation in the Japanese government and official circles, meaning that I’ll be lucky enough to meet more people like this.

Also, knowing how to get on the right side of a group of people from South-East Asia, he said that he thought that the bodies of the war criminals should be removed from Yasakuni shrine, and that Japan should accept responsibility for starting the war in the East, regardless of the pressures that caused it to do so.

The Prof. handed out his bio, part of which reads:

‘He is also developing a new paradigm for the 21st century world based on Buddhist philosophy’.

For the Aikido boys: I told the Prof. about our practicing Aikido. He asked me whether we did any meditation. I mentioned the ‘positive thinking’ meditation that Murray has us do at the end of some of our sessions, but that for westerners our easily-cramped leg muscles make long sessions impossible. He then said that the most important thing was to get the breathing right.

I think I’m in for an interesting term.

*****

Maybe it’s being around so many Asian people, but my subconscience is starting to make its own patterns of recognition from people’s faces.

Tony, you’ll be pleased to learn that Prof. Hashimoto is your long-lost Japanese twin brother, only with shorter hair. And the woman who takes the class after his, Prof. Amoroso, is the (American) twin sister of Maria the Canberra Piano Teacher – again, with shorter hair.

*****

My ABC-BBC radio drought is almost at an end. The admin people here told me today that I can’t stream live audio into my room from the computer, the firewall won’t allow it. The best that I can do is download the programmes when I am at school (I have access to audio and video there) save them to the hard disk, and listen to or watch them when I get home.

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