China has been gradually increasing its soft power in neighbouring Mongolia, from offers of visa-free travel to access to its medical facilities, and most recently, growing educational opportunities in China for Mongolians. These policies have gone far in diminishing… Continue reading
Recently the Asia Pacific Memo sat down with Dr. Akio Takahara, Professor in the Graduate School of Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo and a recognized authority on contemporary Chinese politics, international relations in East Asia, and Japan-China relations in particular.
China’s environmental impacts are front-page news. We have all seen the pictures of smog-choked cities and fouled waterways, and many of us know that China is the single largest source of the carbon emissions that drive global warming. It is encouraging, then, that in 2003 China’s Ministry of Education mandated environmental… Continue reading
The Mongolian economy is booming and continues to enjoy an extremely high GDP growth rate. Economic opportunities for citizens in urban and rural settings abound. Mining is a major portion of the economy, with the massive Oyu Tolgoi mining project accounting for a third of Mongolia’s GDP. While World Bank development projects focus on infrastructure development, economic governance and institutional strengthening of the mining sector, the demand for a sufficiently educated Mongolian workforce remains unmet. Continue reading
Australia is an ethno-linguistically diverse country with more than 15% of people speaking languages other than English, or a heritage language, at home. While learning English can contribute to immigrant students’ socioeconomic and educational success, heritage language maintenance facilitates maintaining ties with family and community members unable to speak English, avoiding a potential generation gap in immigrant families. Heritage language maintenance refers to a situation where immigrants continue using their languages in a host society. Additionally, maintaining a heritage language and ethnic identity are interconnected; individuals who lost their heritage languages reported feeling as though a part of their identities were missing. Finally, heritage language maintenance promotes multilingualism in society, which facilitates economic, cultural and political communications among countries. Continue reading
Memo #191 – Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe oversaw the revision of the 1947 Fundamental Law of Education to emphasise traditional “Japanese values” in 2006. As one direct result of this, traditional martial arts became compulsory in junior high schools in April 2012. Unlike the initial opposition to the new law, opposition to this particular aspect has not been led by teachers’ unions and their political allies, but by parents concerned about the health and safety of their children. Continue reading
Memo #184 – The tiny island that lies between Japan and Korea – Takeshima (竹島) in Japan and Tokdo (독도) in Korea – is at the centre of a territorial dispute and serious bilateral tension. This is nothing new. The island, along with other remnants of Japan’s colonial aggression in Korea, has sparked diplomatic issues throughout postwar history. Despite unprecedented levels of cultural, academic, and economic exchange between the two nations, the dispute continues to be defined by a persistent legacy of colonialism and growing nationalism. Japanese and Korean political leaders demand that educators legitimate territorial claims by including these in their national curricula. But if educators comply uncritically, we will undermine future generations’ development of mutual understanding and respect. Continue reading
Memo #184 (English translation available) – 최근 한일 양국 사이에 위치한 작은 섬 – 한국명 독도, 일본명 다케시마-을 둘러싸고 외교적 긴장 관계가 조성되고 있다. 물론 이와 같은 긴장관계가 조성된 것이 이번이 처음은 아니다. 일제의 한반도 강점은 독도 문제를 포함한 많은 식민주의의 상흔들을 한국에 남겼는데, 이런 상흔들은 전후 동아시아에서 발생한 여러 차례의 외교적 갈등의 도화선으로 작용하곤 했다. 최근 양국 사이에는 일찍이 두 나라가 경험해 보지 못한 수준의 경제적, 문화적 교류가 활발하게 진행되고 있었다. 하지만, 독도를 둘러싸고 벌어진 양국의 배타적인 민족주의의 발흥은 그 동안 이룩한 협력의 성과를 무색하게 하고 있다. 이런 상황 속에서 양국의 위정자들은 교육자들에게 독도에 대한 각국의 영유권 주장을 정당화하는 민족주의적 국가교육과정을 학생들에게 가르치도록 요구하고 있다. 만약 교육자들이 맹목적으로 이 요구를 수용한다면, 우리는 양국에 대한 상호 이해와 존중이라는 교육적으로 유의미한 가치를 다음 세대들에게 교육할 매우 귀중한 기회를 잃게 될 것이다. Continue reading