Lecture about Japan in Lebanon
By Prof. Dr. Adel Amin
Head of Japanese Language Department, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University
On 26th February 2017, I traveled forthe first time in my life to Lebanon to give a lecture in the History Department of the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in the University of Lebanon about the Japanese renaissance and the concept of “identity” in Japan in the light of the Egyptian experience. I also held a workshop about Japanese studies inthe Arab world which was attended from the Japanese side by the well-known Japanologist Professor Massoud Daher from Lebanon, author of many works on renaissance and modernity in Japan and one of his most important books is “The Arab and Japanese Renaissances: The Similarity of Preliminary Conditions and Dissimilarity of the Final Outcomes” among others.
This academic visit was held with the support of the Japan Foundation Cairo Office and was organized by the Culture Center of the Embassy of Japan in Lebanon under the auspices of Ms. Mizuno, Acting Cultural Attache of Japan in Lebanon and the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in the University of Lebanon, which is the only national university in Lebanon. This Faculty has about 17500 students; the largest number of students in any Faculty in the University, especially since we know the population of Lebanon is 10 million, about half of whom are from neighboring countries such as Syria and Palestine who live in camps like Al-HilwaCamp and the Sabra and Shatila Camps which are well-known in Egypt.
I gave my lecture under thetitle “State. Identity. Language: The Modern State in Japan and Egypt and Linguistic Ideology” about the question that has been asked in the past, is being asked in the present and will be asked in the future on all occasions: “Why has modernity succeeded in Japan but failed in our Arab world?” This question was asked by Prof. Dr. Habib AlBadawi who skillfully led the Seminar and who is one of the specialists in historical Japanese studies and has authored many books about the history of Japan between the two World Wars.
In my Lecture, I discussed the similarities anddifferences in the beginnings of the Japanese and Egyptian renaissances and how they absorbed foreign western culture and the effects of this on the cultures of both countries. One of the conclusions I reached from this discussion is that both societies at present have a problem with dualistic culture in many aspects of their societies. I will discuss this issue in more detail in the international conference which will be held at the Faculty of Arts in Cairo University on 15 July 2017 under the title “Re-Assessing Modernity in Non-Western Societies: The Japanese Model and the Egyptian – Arabic Model”
On the evening of that same daya round-table discussion was held and it was chaired by Ms. Mizuno from Embassy of Japan. It was attended by the leading specialists in Japanese studies in Lebanon and some of those who received doctorate degrees from Japanese universities. Foremost among the attendees were Prof. Dr. Massoud Taher and Prof. Dr. Habib AlBadawi from the History Department, University of Lebanon, and Dr. Carole Verne, who specializes in business administration (Japan) from Saint Joseph University, which is the only university in Lebanon which provides Japanese language courses, among others. The discussion was lively, with an abundance of opinions on vitalizing Japanese studies, and the presence of a deep consciousness of the issues in modern and contemporary Japan was clear. The participation of some Japanese researchers specializing in Arab studies from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and another Japanese researcher from the Embassy of Japan in Damascus added to the depth of the discussion which expansively included a comparison between the Arab and Japanese civilizations.