The finale for the “Japan-Korea University Students Future Forum” took place in Kyoto and Osaka for 3 days, starting on Friday 1 November, 2019. This forum, now in its 4th year, began this year’s events in Seoul back in August. The heart of this forum is to address issues experienced by Koreans living in Japan and Japanese living in Korea that are difficult to solve by one country alone and require long-term efforts. 2019 is an especially important year as it is the 30th anniversary of Shitennoji Wasso Festival, Osaka, as well as the 100th anniversary of the March First Movement, Korea and as a result, measures to strengthen the relationship between Japan and Korea for the coming 100 years were discussed in depth.
On a beautiful autumn day, on Saturday 2 November a workshop was held in the Faculty of Integrated Human Studies building, Kyoto University. Participating Japanese and Korean university students were divided into three groups and they made presentations on what they learned throughout the forum and exchanged their opinions on issues regarding environment, labor, human rights for Korean and Japanese people.
Four students selected from Osaka City University addressed the difficult theme of ensuring the rights of those facing discrimination. Real-world problems such as suffrage, hate speech, etc. were raised and a heated argument grew around the effectiveness of multiculturalism. As it was difficult for all the participants to join the discussion, Kizo Ogura, a professor at Kyoto University who served as MC, challenged everyone to explain their argument in 30 seconds. Students presented their solutions with supporting evidence on each theme.” After comments by Professor Yuki Asaba of Doshisha University and Professor Mari Kanazawa of Osaka City University, Professor Ogura spoke words of appreciation to the participants and ended the discussion by saying that although Japan and Korea are currently not on good terms, historically they have been irreplaceable partners who have grown together through many difficulties and obstacles.
The following day, the third day of the event, during the Shitennoji Wasso Festival, Professor Asaba took on the role of Yuzuki no Kimi, a settler who is described as the ancestor of the Hata clan in “Nihonshoki (The Chronicles of Japan)”, and along with other students adorned in colorful costumes, participated in an annual parade that reenacts an ancient event where the Korean Peninsula was delegated to Japan.
The presentations and discussions throughout helped the students understand each other on such a deep level that as the forum was wrapping up, they were reluctant to leave. Here’s to hope for an equally successful “Japan-Korea University Students Future Forum” next year!