What I Learned In Japan
What you are not learning from the US news is that China is reducing troop levels by 300,000 and Japan is increasing their military, with more war toys in the shops. We just missed a major Tokyo protest of this new war emphasis in Japan, scheduled the day we flew back, as many Japanese believe this violates their peace constitution.
Upon our return we were invited onto the board of PRESDA, the sponsoring organization of the Hiroshima conference. Two Madison Wisconsin groups have invited me to repeat my Hiroshima presentation so far.
This year is the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bomb, which was used in war the first time against the Japanese city of Hiroshima by US President Harry Truman. Two of the conferences in Hiroshima associated with this anniversary are COSGA (about sociology and globalization) and the new PSYSUS (about psychology and sustainability). Having made submissions to both, I discovered I had been elevated to one of three Featured Speakers, an important milestone in my career. These joint conferences were held in August 24-27 at the KKR Hotel Hiroshima. Hiroshima today is a major city in Southern Japan with over a million citizens.
Historians such as Gar Alperovitz of the University of Maryland found that the generals did not want to drop the bomb. Apparently Truman wanted to send a proverbial “shot across the bow” of the Soviets more to begin the Cold War than to end the World War. Cruel indifference to human beings is not unknown to governments.
Travelocity was the key to getting to Japan with a direct flight from Chicago to Tokyo costing much less time and money than other indirect flights, as long as you went for a combination deal with a hotel. The Japan Rail 7 day pass was another money saver you had to purchase outside the country and it includes the bullet train. Arriving and staying in Tokyo three nights we were almost the only Westerners, did not meet another one from the States until Hiroshima, a big tourist town. We did see one man in all the crowds on the local trains who we thought could have been Danish. Tokyo plans an Olympics in 2020, but they are not ready to talk to you in English. When a German in Germany says “a little bit” when you ask him if he speaks English, you can usually talk to him quite well. When a Japanese person answers the same question, they mean it, they can’t speak much English at all. When the all Japanese cable TV in the hotel says bilingual, they mean the second language is Chinese, not English. Only movies, often in English, and the public television channel, NHK, have occasional English. Still, we got used to the entertainment in, to us, pantomime. The one exception was Kyoto, where the hotel clerks were often fluent in English. The information desk at the Hiroshima train station had English speakers, but buying train tickets or talking to hotel clerks was very difficult mostly.
Fortunately the Conference was in English. I have heard relations between Koreans and Japanese have been strained, but when I asked one presenter from Busan, Korea, she said she appreciated the Japanese for their manners and their money, as many of them lived in Busan. When I came home, the leaders of those two countries were in discussions, but the body language between them was very strained. Far East conferences typically had professors giving their presentations and then leaving. But thanks to my keynote and Jo Ann’s closing and gifts, people stayed around for the whole conference. The hosts were calling it their best conference ever in about ten years. When they asked us to do peer review after naming us as featured speakers, they listed us on the organizational chart. Afterwards they wanted us to join the organization, which has support from the Clinton Foundation among others.
Link to conference: http://esdfocus.org/sociology-globalization-conference/
After quickly making the basic points about military spending reducing economic growth, Reuschlein traced numerous examples of the social decay and stagnation that goes with the economic decline of empire. Then he briefly showed how heat affects economics, and hints at how the 54 year long cycle explains that climate change, economic change, and major wars are interconnected.
Obstructionism by Georgetown clique
Although I have submitted a paper for presentation to the Peace and Justice Association (PJSA) conference in October, the powers that be, headquartered at Georgetown, are ignoring my submission and not replying to my request for an explanation. I have presented several papers in the past and never been refused before. Even this time, I had been ignored at first, then refused after bringing it back to their attention. In view of my acceptance of a workshop in Toledo by the IIPE, and the featured speaker status in Japan, I see the leadership of PJSA acting out of ignorance of my work and acting out of spite, in a way that is not very collegial. My topic does relate to the theme, but does not buy into the assumptions widely made of the three year themes. I didn’t know that you must agree with the conference theme (that personal change is the only way to peace) ; I thought that the PJSA was about academics, and was open to new ideas and observed academic freedom, a seemingly strange notion these days. In a list of top ten federal internships, the CIA is listed #1 and also #3. Another google listing indicated that Georgetown is a leading place to get a CIA internship. Cooptation is always a concern. Reduction of the military as a path to peace seems to not be on the agenda. Living with the military and resolving the conflicts that arise provoked by the military and the CIA seem to be the peace studies way to go.
Ending the Hiroshima Conference
I particularly enjoyed two presentations, one by a guy from Bangladesh about the growth of the Schrimp industry there, fueled by foreign investment, and threatened by global warming. That allowed me to bring up global warming in the questioning and I enjoyed his response. Bangladesh could be mostly flooded by the sea in global warming. Another presentation was about immigration by an Australian woman, and I asked her about how global warming would effect her presentation. Later on the last day group trip to Miyajima island, a world heritage site in Hiroshima not harmed by the bomb, we presented these two presenters with Wisconsin baseball caps, each was very grateful. I picked up a rash just above the top of my right sock there, and immediately worried about deer ticks from the numerous underfed deer there. I have known three people who contracted Lyme’s disease and didn’t want that. But no bull’s eye pattern developed, and cortisone has all but eliminated the rash in a couple of days. We spent too much time on the island with lunch, and had to leave the tour early after seeing the building shell that survived ground zero and rushing through the museum on our own. The tour guide spoke excellent English, and was going to lead a high level diplomatic group through there the next day, so we must have had the best of Hiroshima tour guide, a woman named Toto. We had bad advice from the ticket people and almost lost an hour at the train station leaving town, when we realized we could just hop on an earlier train without reserved seat tickets as all shinkassen bullet trains, had a few cars devoted to those without reservations. No one even checked for our rail pass and tickets on these cars, and we arrived in Kyoto just in time to see streams of colored light on the water fountains outside the Kyoto station and seeing the Tower all lit up at night from our hotel window. Both Miyajima and Kyoto had excellent temples to visit, and we learned that the Shinto native religion and the Buddhists shared the use of the temples. I wondered if Christian converts in Japan were often fluent in English, but never asked the question.
We noted several dead trees outside our hotel room in Tokyo with a view of the airport. We have lost a couple trees on our property this year in Madison, Wisconsin, and I suspect global warming may be a culprit in both cases, although these things happen naturally, too. Both the Hiroshima hotel and the final night Tokyo hotel had separate hot tubs for men and women, less than two feet deep unlike hotels in the States that are often four feet deep. But the Japanese hot tubs are made of masonry and much more spacious on the floor. Japan airlines is number two in the world, rated just behind Emirates. But my partner resented her sleep being interrupted for the frequent feedings. Did we really need that last croissant just a couple of hours before landing in Chicago at 9 am? We took off at noon and landed the same day three hours before we took off thanks to the magic of crossing the international dateline. Vending machines were everywhere in Japan and did not overcharge like many do in the States. Food portions were usually small in the fast food markets, and Family Mart had a slight edge over Seven Eleven, as both were nearly everywhere. I lost about three pounds in Japan. We both returned using less than half the $250 in Japanese Yen we each brought with us.
Lecture of 24 power points for PSYSUS Asian Conference on Psychology and Sustainability:
Hint: to read this paper for free, you must click on the tiny word “read” in the middle of the bottom of the screen after you go to the above link on academia.edu.
Professor. Robert Reuschlein, Dr. Peace,
Real Economy Institute, Madison,Wisconsin