Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (121) January 19, 2024

It has been cold lately due to a full-scale cold wave. In the disaster areas of the Noto Peninsula Earthquake, under more severe weather conditions, about 16,000 people are still forced to live in evacuation shelters two weeks after the incident. And water outrages are continuing in about 55,000 households at 8 cities and towns including the whole areas of 6 cities and towns.
Aftershocks with an intensity of about 5 are also occurring now. When I watch pictures that show land uplift of the shoreline in Wajima City, I was reminded once again of the enormity of the power of nature. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, there are 317 “stone monuments of Tsunami” similar to “don’t build a house down here” in 3 prefectures of Tohoku region as a lesson of Tsunamis that have occurred in the past.
I think that humanity should not fight and suppress nature head-to-head and should have a reverence for nature and choose a path of living together. The power of nature is not accepted as “unexpected”. Otherwise, the same damage may be repeated.

■■What I have thought and focused on recently:
As I mentioned in my last blog, I touch on the election in Taiwan and presidential election in the United States again this time.
■Presidential election in Taiwan and elections of the Legislative Yuan equivalent to the Diet in Japan:
In presidential election in Taiwan held on January 13, Mr. Lai Ching-te, vice president of the ruling party Democratic Progressive Party, won against Mr. Hou Yu-ih of Chinese Nationalist Party, mayor of New Taipei City and Mr. Ko Wen-je, chairman of Taiwan People’s Party. But his percentage of votes received remained 40.5 % and he received 5.58 million votes. He became “the weakest president in 20 years”. Incidentally, the current president Ms. Tsai received about 8.17 million votes and won an overwhelming victory 4 years ago. On top of that, in the elections of the Legislative Yuan where quorum of members is 113 held at the same time, the ruling party Democratic Progressive Party did not win a single-party majority held before the election, and fell from the first political party to the second political party. Democratic Progressive Party reduced from 62 to 51 seats, and Chinese Nationalist Party increased from 37 to 52 seats. Practically, it is a defeat for the ruling party, because the policy management that emphasizes the United States as much as the current administration does will become difficult for new president due to the distortion between the president and the Legislative Yuan. As a background, it is pointed out that Tsai administration has taken a hard line against China for about 8 years and the business community is dissatisfied with the breakdown in dialogue with China. And it is said that 70~80 % of Taiwan people are wishing to maintain the status quo. But my impression is that the will of the people to “get along well with China” has become a little stronger than before. On the other hand, China has tightened its grip on diplomacy even further, and Nauru, island country in the Pacific Ocean, announced on January 15 that it has broken diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with China. Now, countries that maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan were 12 countries decreased by 10 countries over the past 8 years. The situation surrounding Taiwan is expected to undergo significant changes in the near future depending on the result of presidential election in the United States held on November 5 this year, and it is necessary for Japan to keep a close eye on it from the prospective of security.

■Presidential election in the United States and Republican Primary:
Republican Party held Iowa Caucus, the first match of the Party Congress that elects a presidential candidate, in Des Moines which is the capital in Iowa on January 15. It is said that local temperature on the day was minus 26 degrees Celsius. I have experienced minus 20 degrees Celsius or less on several occasions, once in Moscow 50 years ago and at cold storage for work in the previous job. It was cold that I could not stand for very long. And the result was that Mr. Trump won a single-party majority by a landslide as expected. Mrs. Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, was second in the preliminary prediction, but became third left behind Mr. DeSantis, governor of Florida, by a narrow margin.
However, it is too early to predict the future based on this result in Iowa. In presidential candidate selection of Republican Party, a candidate who won the majority of the total number of representatives,2,429, assigned to each state will be officially nominated at Republican National Convention from July 15 to 18. In Iowa where the Party Congress was held this time, there are 40 representatives which are 1.6 % of the whole and proportional allocation is made according to the number of votes received. By the way, there is a jinx that Mr. George Bush served as the 43 rd president in 2000 is the last person who won in Iowa and became Republican presidential candidate besides the incumbent president. The peak is March 5, Super Tuesday, when 15 states hold primary elections and caucuses. And it will be officially decided at Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from July 15 to 18. On the other hand, presidential candidate of Democratic Party will be decided at the Party Congress held in Chicago, Illinois from August 19 to 22. At this moment, there is no candidate other than President Biden. After that, the debate between the Democratic and Republican candidates will be held, and decided by winning a majority of electors, 270, on November 5. From now on, long election campaigns will continue.

■Students studying abroad:
There was an article in NIKKEI the other day that “Chinese students are increasing at leading universities in the United States like Havard University amid the deepening US-China confrontation”. According to the survey of the same newspaper, Chinese legitimate students including some exchange students learning at 7 leading universities(※) in the United States are more than 12,600 as of 2022 increased by 33 % compared to 4 years ago, and account for 36 % of international students across 7 universities. This shows a greedy attitude that “learn what you can learn for the future” even though it is a hostile country in a sense, and I think it is great.
According to the survey of the same newspaper, Indian students learning at 7 leading universities have also increased by 38 % during the same period. On the other hand, the sense of Japanese presence is scarce, and Japanese students are about 600 as of 2022, even though it has a tendency to increase. They are less than students from Taiwan with a population less than one-fifth of Japan’s. The reasons why Japanese students studying in the United States are very few like this are that it can also represent “introverted tendencies in younger generations” and there are also circumstances like “I have time and want to study abroad, but I don’t have the funds”. However, considering the necessity of present and future deepening collaboration between Japan and the United States politically and economically, this situation is truly regrettable.
Studying abroad at a leading university in the United States provides the opportunity to receive the highest level of education and build a network of future leaders in the United States and abroad. The bonds you develop when you are young will be a valuable asset for a lifetime. You can’t buy time with money. Even if you have to borrow money, you should study abroad. And the country, local government, academia and industry should make further efforts to expand its system. When I was young, it had been less than 20 years since the end of the war and I was economically tough. Until 1964, there was a regulation that limited the amount of foreign currency that could be taken out of Japan to $500 per trip in the era of 1 dollar=360 yen. Studying abroad was a dream that I could not fulfill. However, after becoming a member of society, five and a half years when I spent in New York from 1978 to 1983 gave me a lot of strength and confidence, and it was a valuable experience that I will never forget in my lifetime.
(※) 7 leading universities are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Princeton University, University of California, Berkeley, Yale University and Johns Hopkins University.

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