Reporter: Karl Roman-Miller
May 19 2015
The Australia–Japan Society of New South Wales would like to congratulate the winners of the 2015 AJS NSW University Awards:
Adam Taylor of Macquarie University;
Presenting the awards was the Consul-General of Japan and patron of the Australia–Japan Society of NSW, Masato Takaoka, who gave a presentation outlining the nature of Japan’s immediate concerns, both domestic and international.
Mr Takaoka outlined the recent improvement of the Japanese economy through the so-called “Abenomics” policies of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who jointly established the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement in November 2014 and under whose leadership Japan has seen stock prices more than double since Abe’s being elected in 2012. Mr Takaoka also revealed that as Japan gears up for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the Governor of Tokyo Yōichi Masuzoe is engaged in talks with the Premier of NSW Mike Baird to learn from Sydney’s successful experience in the 2000 Olympic Games, including the issue of “successful branding”. In addition, it was announced that following on from Shinzō Abe’s address to a joint sitting of the Australian Parliament in July 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to visit Japan later this year.
Shifting away from economics, Mr Takaoka spoke of Japan’s deepening commitment to security in the Asia–Pacific region, chiefly in terms of changes to Japan’s positon with regards to the multilateral agreements between Japan, Australia, and America. The sale of military equipment and technology to the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia has been legalised by the Japanese government following changes to the Japanese government’s policies on national defence and military engagement. It was revealed that among coming changes to be proposed to the Japanese Diet was the ability to take part in peacekeeping operations with the United Nations, and that the Japanese government has established an expanded view of self-defence, authorising an armed response “when an armed attack against Japan has occurred, or when an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan occurs.”
Mr Takaoka also acknowledged that 2015 will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and reiterated Prime Minister Abe’s comments from his speech to the ‘Advisory Panel on the History of the 20th Century’ in February of this year, saying, “Japan has been contributing to the peace and prosperity of the Asia–Pacific region for 70 years since the end of the war as an ally to the United States.”
In concluding his own speech and introducing the prizewinning students of the night, the Consul-General stated his “respect for the students working hard, for the commitment and dedication of their teachers, and, of course, for the invaluable support that their parents provide.”
Each recipient spoke warmly of their individual journey in learning and exploring Japanese culture and the Japanese language, and demonstrated the fruits of their labour by delivering a part of their speech in Japanese.
Japanese popular culture turned out to have been a significant and continuing source of inspiration to learn for several of the recipients: Adam Taylor’s first stimulating exposure to Japanese modern culture had been in the form of Astro Boy, while Rebecca Xin Dai had found her love for things Japanese watching anime and Japanese television dramas that had been subtitled and hosted online, adding that now she makes sure to watch them jimaku nashi, without subtitles.
For some, the study of Japanese was a way to reconnect with cultural roots, as it was for Monica Flint who had never learned the language as a child though her mother was Japanese. Now, thanks to her study of Japanese, she will be spending a year’s time at Tokyo University studying Japanese history, literature, and culture.
Lachlan Pasch spoke of his delight in learning about Japanese culture and in being able to teach Japanese children about Australian culture during his time there, saying that the experience had enabled him to forge friendships that would last a lifetime.
Stacey Sherwood, despite having studied Japanese for almost fifteen years since early high school, had left off formal study of the language during university, confining her efforts to personal study. In the end, however, she was to return to university to embark on a formal study of the language, combining the study of Japanese with that of Linguistics, and is now in her fourth, Honours year of her degree, researching “the perception of the Japanese language by native speakers”. She has attended academic conferences in Japan, has applied for a PhD position, and aims to become a Japanese teacher in the future.
Outside of academia, the question of what to do with a degree in Japanese was a frequent topic; Tam Martina Yuyin, the University of Wollongong prizewinner, who could not accept the award in person as she had left Australia to start a career in administration in Hong Kong, sent a speech noting how Japanese pop culture (anime and dramas, specifically) draw many to the study of the language and can provide valuable motivation, but added that, “It is not easy to get a job majoring in Japanese, even with a high level of proficiency. Something else is needed.”
The Australia–Japan Society of New South Wales would like to congratulate the prizewinners, and thank its co-patrons the Premier of New South Wales the Hon. Mike Baird and the Consul General of Japan Mr. Masato Takaoka, and all those who attended.
UNSW also reported on the event and their winner Rebecca Dai.
Previous Event Reports :
Rugby World Cup 2019 - Nov. 2014
Food Safety and Security - JAEPA July 2014
Tohoku - 3 Years On - March 2014
Nikkei Australians- November 2013