ALLIES joint research project: Japan

by tuftsigl
Jun 13

We met with scholars, academics, military officers, and government officials at places like the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), the National Defense Academy, the U.S. Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Prime Minister’s Office. We traveled to Kyoto, where we visited the orange Torii of the Fushimi-Inari Shrine, the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, and the thousand Buddha statues at Sanjusangendo Temple. Next, we travelled to Hiroshima, where we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and museum, and met with the daughter of an Atomic Bomb survivor, as well as the former mayor of Hiroshima (and former Tufts Professor) Taditoshi Akiba. The next few days, the JRP team plans to return to Tokyo, where we have a few more meetings. —Conor Friedmann. Tufts ’20

It is interesting visiting a country that is so vocal about their dependency on America for its security needs. Many people we interviewed explicitly said that Japan could not defend itself without American help. For example, the answer given to concerns over North Korea is almost always, “America will deal with it, not us.” —Michael Olesberg, Tufts ‘19

After spending a few weeks in Japan so far, I feel like we have slowly been able to acclimate to our new surroundings - wandering the streets of Asakusa near our first Airbnb, eating at standing yakitori bars with the salarymen, cramming into the subway cars during rush hour, and expecting the familiar sight of a 711 on every street corner. Although initially it may have been difficult to adjust to the cultural differences, namely the quiet and reserved nature of such a large city, we have grown to appreciate this new lifestyle as well as all the gracious and welcoming people we have been fortunate enough to meet.

A few favorite memories stand out when I reminisce about my experiences in Japan. I think we were all shocked, though touched, by the extremely warm welcome we received at the National Defense Academy, where we were honored with a sitting ovation by two thousand cadets at lunch. As far as cultural experiences, our visit to the bamboo forest and monkey mountain at Arashiyama, near Kyoto, was one of the highlights of my trip; not only did we spend several hours watching the playful, wild monkeys, but afterward we were able to relax and bond as the midshipmen rowed us down a beautiful river. Overall, I’ve appreciated the chance to research and tour through Japan, and am grateful for the bonds I have forged so far with our new JRP team from the military academies, as well as the residents, scholars, and experts we have met from Japan. —Nicole Bardarsz, Tufts ’20

It took us 31 hours to make it here. A 31 hour flight with a 34 hour return was the cheapest option for a quartet of lowly undergraduates making their way halfway around the world to research topics they were woefully underprepared to research. Now, nearly three weeks later, we're a lot a bit closer, a good bit more knowledgeable and slightly more skilled with chopsticks. We've experienced the endless neon of Tokyo, the innumerable temples and shrines of Kyoto and have just finished up a quick visit to the site of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. We have had our ups and downs, as have our stomachs, but the bonds we have created, both between members of the services and members of our school, will be ever important going forward. The trip so far has been an amazing success. —Daniel Lewis, Tufts ’20