Summary of the Symposium on State-building efforts in Afghanistan, October 25, 2019 (578 words)
The symposium started with a welcome note by Prof. Adachi saying that 2019 was a historically important year for Afghanistan that held a presidential election in September 2019. Peace and democracy are a core educational philosophy at Ritsumeikan University that hosted the event.
The first keynote speaker H.E. Mrs. Adela Raz, Afghanistan ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations thanked Japan for its generous humanitarian assistance. She mentioned that 2015-2024 was termed a “transformation decade” in Afghanistan as the country aimed to achieve a level of self-reliance to stop depending on foreign aid and transform into an equal member of international community. Mrs. Raz emphasized the importance of regional cooperation platforms in enhancing connectivity of Afghanistan and stated major progress in providing essential healthcare service and reducing child mortality.
Next, H. E. Mr. Tadamichi Yamamoto, a special representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mentioned progress achieved in the areas of electoral transparency, police reform, access to healthcare services, education of girls and women. The diplomat stressed the need for concluding a peace agreement with the Taliban to ensure respect for human rights and achieve sustainable socioeconomic growth. Other points emphasized by H.E. Mr. Yamamoto were the need for coordination among donor countries and inclusive participation in discussing issues of transitional justice and reintegration of former combatants to the society.
The first session was concluded by a brief Q&A with the keynote speakers and Mr. Shohei Hara, director of the South Asia department of the JICA who reiterated the importance of the triple nexus for the success of the transformation decade in Afghanistan. The questions related to the role of China in the peacebuilding and development process in Afghanistan and the “lost five years” for women’s education in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule.
The second session involved a panel discussion with Dr. Haruyuki Shimada, Mr. Shohei Hara, Ms. Sahar Hamdard, Dr. Masanori Naito and Dr. Shinichi Mizuta. Prof. Shimada worked for JICA for over 20 years, including several years in Kabul. Now a professor at Ritsumeikan, he continues his research on Afghanistan. Ms. Hamdard studied in Japan for two years under the PEACE scholarship and is now a head of Engineering and architectural design authority in Kabul. She is grateful for the opportunity to study in Japan. Ms. Hamdard emphasized the importance of securing women’s rights, freedom of speech and media to build a pluralistic society. Prof. Naito shared his experience of inviting the Taliban representatives to the peace conference at Doshisha University. Dr. Mizuta argued there should be no gap between humanitarian aid and development efforts. Waiting for the peace agreement to be reached, the UN and other international organizations are actively preparing for that time and developing post-peace assistance plans. Mr. Hara talked about JICA’s involvement in Afghanistan and mentioned Dr. Nakamura from JICA who recently received an honor citizenship of Afghanistan for his irrigation project.
The Q&A session included questions about the internal process within the Taliban to end the war, parallels with Islamist groups in Somalia and ways to reach agreement without mediation of foreign countries, the role of Afghani women in the household and broader society.
The event was concluded by the closing remarks from H.E. Dr. Bashir Mohabbat, the Ambassador of Afghanistan in Japan saying that 2019 is also the 100th anniversary of restoration of Afghani independence. Once again, he thanked Japan for showing true friendship and belief in Afghani people.
UEA and Ritsumeikan Begin the First Ever Anglo-Japanese Dual Masters Degree in International Relations
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Special Lecture: "Islam in France and Europe: a presence that worries public opinion and questions traditional identities"
Abdennour Bidar is a French philosopher, writer and government official.After a short introduction by Prof. Suechika and Prof. Date from Tokyo University, the lecture started by introducing Prof. Bidar’s most famousbook Open Letter to the Muslim World written in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. France has an ideology of secularism withvery strict separation between religion and politics. As a French and aMuslim, Dr. Bidar attempts to reconcile those tendencies. He is often invited to the French television to talk about Islam. Some people question the possibility of being a Muslim and a philosopher, associating philosophy with exercise of critical thinking. Dr. Bidar thinks it is possible based on the teachings of the French philosopher Blaise Pascale who mentions the mysteries of the Universe that exceed the power of reason and the Pakistani philosopher Mohamed Iqbal talking about “insights” or “inner intuition” which is close to silence or faith. Following this logic, it becomes possible to be a Muslim philosopher.
Islam in Europe, in particularly in France stands onthe crossroads of many issues related to the French identity and encompasses political, religious and social issues. First, Islam forces France to ask itself questions regarding religion. The French society today is very secularized and lost the capacity to ask itself questions about religion and spirituality. Secularism is defined by the French historian and sociologist Marcel Gauchet as the loss of influence of religion on the consciousness and society. In that sense, Islam could bean opportunity for France.
Despite the considerable number of Muslim residents in France, their social integration remains a problem, not just because of the culture but because of political structure of the French society. In France, integration does not mean the same thing as in other Western countries having an ideology of multiculturalism. Politically, French are republicans in the sense that they attempt to build a united community of citizens based not only on the rule of law but also on shared values. This task is much more ambitious and there isa risk of the value conflict. Islamist terrorist attacks became a real shock for the French society, and since then, Muslims are generally perceived as a threat. General worry keeps increasing reaching at times the level of madness.
Some of the common fears around Islam include:
1) The loss of traditional identity. This fear led to forming the “theory of great replacement” of white and Christian population in France and “demographic mutation” of the French society. Deconstructing fears around Islam has become Dr. Bidar’s daily work.
2) Neglecting social and economic dimension of the problem. Most Muslims in France live in ethnic and social ghettos and they belong to disadvantageous class. Their faith becomes a refuge for them and the only way to reaffirm their human dignity. They do not have a feeling of belonging tothe mainstream French society in terms of space, financial resources orvision of the future. They are often victims of racism and discrimination, stigmatization, they constantly experience hostile staring in the streets, subway and other public spaces. Dr. Bidar believes that the French society does not have to fall in the trap of the cultural war if all the parties have enough intelligence and tolerance.
3) Inequalities in terms of religious attitudes. Some Muslims are more observant than others. While most understand that they need to adapt their practices and behavior in the country where they area minority, others do not want to adjust. They believe that their faithis created by God who is a founder of the Sharia, Muslim law. As Frenchlaw is constructed only by humans, they believe that Sharia is inherently superior. Dr. Bidar believes we need to make mutual efforts to achieve understanding, otherwise a truly multicultural society would be impossible. Multiculturalism does not occur automatically, simply because we come from different cultural backgrounds.
An example of misunderstanding is the law of 2004 prohibiting wearing the veil in schools. For most Muslims, this law is a proof that the French society is in war with religion in general and Muslims in particular, and they consider this law as oppression of their individual freedom. However, for the French, this law is understood differently based on the history of schools in France. Schools do not treat their students based on theirfamily background; they consider them as autonomous persons. As a result, there is a complete misunderstanding.
For the French society, the Muslim presence in the country constitute a double challenge. It calls to an exercise of self-criticism and self-examination. For Islam as well, the Muslim presence in France is a great opportunity of renewal. If a phenomenon wants to stay alive, it has to renew itself periodically since “intelligence is adaptation”. TheMuslim presence in France obliges individuals to reconsider their most personal values and beliefs. The idea of renewal of Islam comes from classical works of Arabic philosophers such as Ahmad Al Ghazzali (died in 1111) and is continued by Souleymane Bachir Diagne, professor at Columbia University, NYC. Building on their work, Dr. Bidar created a concept of “Islamic existentialism”. While existentialism dates back to 1960s and J.-P. Sartre saying that our life is our responsibility, Dr. Bidar disagrees with Sartre who thought that an existentialist cannot bea believer. Dr. Bidar thinks that God do not want slaves, that is why human beings are created free to choose their own destiny. It correlateswith Islamic notion of “amanah” (personal responsibility or trustworthiness). His recent book is titled as “Islam without submissionfor Muslim existentialists” (not yet translated into English).
Thanksto Muslims, the French society get a rendez-vous with their own consciousness and equilibrium of shared values is now needed. How to realize this unity in diversity? How to recognize minorities’ rights without renouncing the idea of forming a coherent society? Dr. Bidar sees two major risks here. First, abandoning the idea of unity can lead the society to its atomization and ultimately, explosion. The second risk is not recognizing the minorities’ rights, and this could lead to anew totalitarianism, new fascism.
Muslims become the scapegoats for the French society. It’s the favorite argument of populist politicians saying that once we close the door to migrants and particularly Muslims, we will naturally regain our equilibrium and our former greatness. Muslim presence in France is the best mirror for the French society, showing its healthy and unhealthy aspects.
Anotherpotentially problematic idea of the French society is their belief thatall the problems can be resolved by the law. However, Dr. Bidar thinks that without parallel efforts in education, the law cannot succeed. He also uses Habermas’ term “discourse ethics” to reach the situation when no one claims to have the ultimate truth in an argument but listens carefully to others’ viewpoint. In practice, it is difficult to really accept that our own beliefs may not superior. Dr. Bidar finds much immaturity in the contemporary French society, in both political and spiritual aspects and thinks we need to learn to accept differences to finally become adults and achieve a peaceful and harmonious coexistence on this planet. He believes in the universal brotherhood, regardless of religion and other factors.
The audience asked Dr. Bidar a numberof questions about French republicanism, discrimination against Muslimsin France and also Christian and Jewish minorities in Africa, perceivedthreats of ethnic replacement of white populations in Europe by the people of color.
On September 23rd, the commencement ceremony of the College and Graduate School of IR was held at Osaka Ibaraki campus.
In total, 52 students graduated from the College of International Relations and 43 from the Graduate School of International Relations in the Spring Semester 2019.
In the university-wide ceremony, Ikeda Wakaba (GS Major) made a speech as the representative of all graduates. In the College/Graduate School of IR ceremony, DONG Yujiang (Graduate School of IR) and SETIAWAN Jenniefer (GS major) made speeches.IBRAGIMOV Shahboz and SCHNEIDER JR Paul Andrew were awarded by the Dean for their excellent work on their graduation theses.
Graduates will work internationally and domestically, and continue their studies at graduate schools like GSIR and Oxford University. Mr. Yoshimaru from the Alumni Association, the Deans of the College and Graduate School of IR sent messages for graduates.
After the ceremony, Association of International Studies of Ritsumeikan University student committee hosted the commencement party.Graduates, Congratulations !
We'd like to inform you about the application guideline for "Post-master's Research Student & Doctoral Research Student".
1) Applying for spring semester enrollment/ the whole academic year: (Wed) Mar 6 2019 – (Wed) Mar 13, 2019
2) Applying for fall semester enrollment: (Thu) Sep 5, 2019 – (Thu) Sep 12, 2019
"Post-master's Research Student & Doctoral Research Student" System is a system for graduates of our graduate schools to continue doing research at our facilities.
Post-master's Research Student and Doctoral research student cannot receive research instruction from faculty.
If you would like to apply, please submit application documents to IR office.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
During Professor Acharya's time at Ritsumeikan, he gave a special lecture at the GSIR on Global International Relations on May 30th, 2019. It is a nascent topic that grows along with the number of talks given in its name. Besides promoting his book The Making of Global International Relations which Professor Acharya co-authored with Barry Buzan of the London School of Economics, he gave a critical account on the genealogy of the discipline of International Relations (IR) which underlined the rather Eurocentric as well as US-centric nature of this social science.
Professor Acharya's non-cosmological, but nonetheless non-mainstream categorization of the development of the thoughts and waves of International Relations focused on key trends within the history of the past century and a half. The emergence of IR – the so-called genesis period, emerged in pre-WWI times in a context of scientific racism and imperialism. The shaping of this discipline took place during the creation-period (1919-1939). During this period, inter-state conduct as well as inter-human relations (particularly diplomatically) are seen to have considerably influenced IR-thinking. The outcome of the political and diplomatic turmoil of that period has led to the Americanization of IR (1945-1989) and provided fruitful ground for the disciplines susceptibility to events such as the Cold War and European Integration. It is here where IR manifested itself as an American social science by means of streamlining its theories. The post-Cold War term, circumscribed as a pluralization from the core and periphery (1989-2008), is seen to be markedly more critical and post-positivist and eventually developed into what Professor Acharya refers to as the Globalization of International Relations (2008 ~). In regard to the latter, a phenomenon worth noting is the increasing resistance to academic Western dominance. Here, however, Professor Acharya emphasized that one is advised not to engage in resistance, but rather in the emancipation of one's mind and one's ways of understanding.
Overall, Professor Acharya's lecture was a great enrichment to Ritsumeikan's academia and that of the realm of IR, more generally. He provided the audience with inspiring assumptions which certainly left its post-positivist mark on some students and faculties. Criticism appeared to be encouraged for the sake of the aforementioned academic emancipation, and Professor Acharya's insights more generally provided a great foundation for follow-up research or equally critical academic endeavors.
On Thursday, June 6th, 2018, a special lecture by Ms. Jessica Alexander was held at Kinugasa Campus, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, hosted by the University's Graduate School of International Relations (GSIR) and Institute of International Relations and Area Studies (IIRAS). Ms. Alexander is a humanitarian aid professional whose career includes deployments all over the world, with experience in large-scale evaluations, assessments and policy research, as well as the author of “Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid”. She is currently staying in Japan to research Japan's approach to disaster risk reduction on a Fulbright fellowship.
Ms. Alexander's lecture, titled "Accountability in Humanitarian Aid", started off by providing a snapshot of the humanitarian aid system as well as the looming fiscal crunch in light of the plateauing of donor funding, which—coupled by contemporary demands posed by increased media coverage, government regulations and past scandals—factored into the pressures for accountability revolution as part of the larger drive to professionalize humanitarian aid. Subsequent findings uncovered by systematic evaluations suggests that humanitarian aid was in dire need to get things right by putting more efforts to get in touch with the real needs of aid recipients—downward accountability—in addition to the upward accountability towards donors. This proves to be a difficult endeavor however, due to the systemic and logistical barriers which precludes humanitarian aid workers from identifying the needs and concerns of aid recipients. Regardless, Ms. Alexander asserted that communication, involvement of locals and consideration towards local culture—especially in needs assessment and strategic planning—are vital, and that innovative steps such as the use of social media platform and big data are being taken to improve the accountability of humanitarian aid moving forward.
Overall, Ms. Alexander’s lecture was a thought-provoking divulgence into the complex world of humanitarian aid, which is reflected during the Q&A session, during which several students in turn asked several thought-provoking questions regarding the issues surrounding the lecture topic.
Special Lecture: "Japan's Public Diplomacy in the 1970s: Rebuilding Japan's Image in Southeast Asia"
On Thursday, June 20th, 2019, a special lecture by Dr. Nobuhiro Ihara was held at Kinugasa Campus, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, hosted by the University’s Asia Japan Institute, Graduate School of International Relations (GSIR), and Institute of International Relations and Area Studies (IIRAS). Dr. Ihara is an associate professor affiliated with the Global Media Research Center, Graduate School of Informatics, Nagoya University. Dr. Ihara received his PhD degree from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and his research interests are communication and political signaling between states, Japanese public diplomacy as well as the relations between Japan and ASEAN member states—with numerous academic works related to those issues, both in English and Japanese.
Dr. Ihara's lecture was titled "Japan's Public Diplomacy in the 1970s: Rebuilding Japan's Image in Southeast Asia". He kicked off the lecture by explaining the reasoning behind his decision to conduct research regarding the topic, arguing that the connection between individual public diplomacy acts and positive increase in state image is not yet studied extensively. He also provided several examples—such as the World Cosplay Summit—to familiarize the audience with the concept of public diplomacy. The second part of the lecture divulges Japan's public diplomacy in the 1970s and Japan’s negative image among ASEAN states. Dr. Ihara noted the strategies typically employed by the government at the time did not do much to alleviate the fear of Japanese military resurgence, diplomatic ambiguity and resentment towards Japanese economic activities in Southeast Asia. The third and last part analyzes the turnaround for Japanese public diplomacy in Southeast Asia, which was initiated by a series of strategies introduced by Prime Minister Fukuda Takeo in the late 1970s. Those strategies—commitment to peace, heart to heart diplomacy and mutual dependence—would form the so-called "Fukuda Doctrine", which will form the basis of Japanese public diplomacy towards ASEAN states and the positive image Japan enjoyed for the years to come.
The lecture concludes with a Q&A session, during which Dr. Ihara and members of the audience went back and forth to dissect several concepts and events surrounding Japanese public diplomacy, which was not limited to Southeast Asia but also towards its neighboring states, namely South Korea and the PRC.
On Thursday, May 16th, 2018, a special lecture by Professor Tsuyoshi Kawasaki (Simon Fraser University, Canada) was held at Kinugasa Campus, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. Professor Tsuyoshi Kawasaki specializes in international relations generally and Japan foreign policy in general. The lecture was hosted by Ritsumeikan University's Graduate School of International Relations and Institute of International Relations and Area Studies.
Prof. Kawasaki’s lecture, “Designing Grand Strategy for Reiwa Japan”, was based on his recently published book titled 大戦略論 (On Grand Strategy). Prof. Kawasaki divided into two main parts, with the first part laying out the basics of grand strategy and how it differentiates itself from military strategy due to its all-encompassing nature, which could include economic, political and cultural aspects. Prof. Kawasaki also explained how grand strategy is used by status quo powers—such as the United States—to maintain its standing in the existing international order vis-à-vis revisionist powers—such as the PRC—who seeks to increase its standing. Prof. Kawasaki further spoke of how grand strategy is built upon a combination of elements of order—which includes territorial arrangements, legitimacy and institutions—as well as base of power, which includes military might and economic prowess.
In the second part, Prof. Kawasaki shared his vision on how Japan should build its grand strategy in the new Reiwa era and maintain its standing as a status quo power by answering the unique challenges to Japan’s elements of order and base of power. Prof. Kawasaki especially warned how Japan’s worsening demographic problems could potentially cripple any attempts at building a grand strategy in the future. However, Prof. Kawasaki conceded that there are also wild-card factors outside of Japan’s control—such as climate change, which was brought up by a student during the Q&A session at the end of the lecture.