Section 5. Promotion of Mutual Understanding and Cultural Exchange


1. Need for Broad Diplomacy


Profound changes are occurring in the political and economic fields both at home and abroad today. It has become an important and essential task for Japan to cope with such change sand broaden and strengthen the ties of mutual understanding that bind the hearts of various nations. Since the net of international relations now covers Japan more intensively and more extensively than ever before in so many fields, no longer is it permissible to pay attention only to those matters that are closely related to its own material interests, The need is for the Japanese people to have a basic understanding of the character and history of their own civilization and to recognize that, when their culture comes into contact with that of any other nation, it inevitably encounters a civilization of a different nature and that this could be a cause for friction and tension.

In this context, the domination of national life by any one aspect or single phase, whether it be economic affairs or science and technology, could result in the destruction of man's sense of humanity, and if this single-phase principle is introduced into relations among nations, it may eventually produce discord.

Japan's first diplomatic task after the war was to re-establish economic viability and return the nation to the international community, Its diplomacy has now completed this historical role and is now faced with the primary need to explain the true picture of Japanese civilization, which has many attributes, and, likewise, to obtain similar information from the rest of the world in order to establish mutual understanding and inter-change with foreign countries, The time has come when it is no longer possible to secure vital political and economic interests without meeting the need mentioned above. It is necessary for Japan to understand that its international environment no longer allows it to carry out a foreign policy that fails to take this fact into consideration. What is expected of Japan's diplomacy today is the promotion of a broader and more flexible policy instead, for instance, of a one-sided foreign policy with excessive emphasis on economic interests and natural resources. At a time when criticisms are being voiced abroad, especially in Asia, that Japan's external activities are excessively concerned with economic matters, the people must broaden their outlook and promote even more positively exchanges with other nations that will foster the most basic heart-to-heart relations with them, This is the task of international cultural exchange.


2. Promotion of International Cultural Exchange


Basically, cultural exchange has two aspects. One is the aspect of obtaining the understanding of other nations about the way of thinking, the manner of living, the arts and the general institutions of a country through the introduction and diffusion of its own culture. To maintain harmonious relations with foreign countries, Japan must extensively introduce abroad the true picture of the nation which has a unique modern culture and manner of living rooted in a time-honored traditional culture.

What is important in trying to introduce Japan's culture abroad is that careful attention be taken so that the result will not be, consciously or unconsciously, a one-sided publicity campaign, Care must also be made to avoid a self-righteous attitude in trying to obtain the understanding of other countries of Japan's traditional culture and classic performing arts. Another problem is how to introduce abroad Japan's unique historical experience of blending its traditional culture and Western civilization into a harmonious whole. This experience of blending the Japanese spirit with Western learning took place in Japan's particular cultural climate and history, and Japan's experience in this process, which no other developing country has shared, cannot be applied to other countries as such.

Cultural exchange is not the propagation of a culture. Its intention is to have a nation's culture understood by other countries and to respect and understand the cultures of other countries for the creation of broad and smooth relations, The attitude of forcing a nation's culture on others one-sidedly, insisting on the absolute value of its own culture without considering the national pride of the other, will incur criticism as cultural invasion or cultural imperialism, In fact, views warning against such cultural invasion were expressed at the inter-governmental conference on cultural policies in Asia, held in Indonesia in December last year.

The same applies to cultural and educational cooperation with the developing countries, an area which has come to at-tract more and more attention in recent years. Each nation takes pride in its own dignity and its own culture and, in recent years, many developing countries are strongly advocating the elimination of Western influences or calling for a break away from Western civilization. Although it cannot be denied that the industrial technology and industries developed in the advanced countries are still indispensable factors in raising the standards of living in the developing countries, a people's true strength which can support and maintain a technological and industrial framework is fostered by the cultural traditions that have shaped the history of that nation.

Educational and cultural exchange, through the acceptance of students and trainees from the developing countries to help promote their new nation-building efforts on the basis of their own traditions, the exchange of teachers, aid in the form of teaching materials and the exchange of public performances and exhibitions, plays a great role, and the further improvement of such exchanges in quantity and quality is a task that must be undertaken from now on.

The other aspect of cultural exchange is the promotion of a positive understanding and knowledge of the cultures of foreign countries. Understanding the cultures of other countries and promoting mutual understanding not only serve as a vital means of avoiding unnecessary friction between nations but also help refine the culture of one's own country and raise its level further through contact with and absorption of the cultures of other countries.

From ancient times, Japan had been greatly influenced by Asian civilization not only in the spiritual realm, such as Buddhism and Confucianism, but also in the fields of art, science and institutions. However since the Meiji era, it has been too intent on absorbing the advanced civilization of the West, the main current of the world, and has rarely taken the attitude of respecting and absorbing the cultures of other areas. However, in the international environment today in which it must maintain close friendly relations with many countries, it must promote a deeper understanding than ever before of the cultures of the developing countries, including the Asian countries. One of the basic causes of the criticisms directed against Japan in Southeast Asian countries, which came to the fore in January this year, is a lack of broad understanding of these nations on the part of Japan and its people. For the Japanese people, who are a homogeneous people and are basically unskilled in understanding other nations and cultures of a different nature, it is very important, in view of the increased presence of Japan abroad, to understand and evaluate properly the essentially equal cultural values of other countries through varied forms of cultural exchange, instead of measuring other countries with the economic yardstick alone.


3. Expansion of Exchange through the Japan Foundation, etc.


The establishment of the Japan Foundation in October1972 was a manifestation of the Government's determination to carry out cultural exchange in a positive and systematic manner, instead of in the casual and secondary manner of the past, in order to meet the needs of the international community. The Foundation, which has gained experience in the more than one year of its existence, has been welcomed with a favorable response and aroused great hopes both at home and abroad, and the scale of its activities has steadily increased. However, the scale of its budget is not necessarily satisfactory compared with its counterparts in the advanced countries of Europe and America, and it is hoped that its capital fund, which totaled \15,000 million as of the end of 1973, will increase further to meet the needs of the times. Its activities are mainly concerned with the exchange of personnel, assistance for studies on Japan abroad, the support and encouragement of Japanese language programs and various kinds of cultural exhibitions, and the preparation and distribution of materials, Each of them is an important project for the promotion of mutual understanding with other nations.

Japan so far has undertaken the exchange of young people who are going to shoulder the future of their countries, including the exchange of students and other young people. It seems necessary to expand activities in this field also.


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