Japan Seaology Promotion Organization Establishment Commemoration Symposium
February 10, 2003
Pareburan Koshi Hall


In Commemoration of the Establishment of Japan Seaology Promotion Organization

Shuntaro ITO
Chairperson of Japan Seaology Promotion Organization
Professor of Reitaku University

( MC ) Next, let us move to the speech.
@I will introduce the speechmaker, Mr.Shuntaro Ito, who is a chairperson of Japan Seaology Promotion Organization. Mr.Ito was born in 1930 and majored in philosophy in Tokyo University. After graduating, he majored in history of science in Wisconsin University in the United States and received a doctor's degree. He works as an emeritus professor of Tokyo University and International Research Center for Japanese Studies, as well as a professor of Reitaku University. Moreover, he internationally plays an important role as a lifelong emeritus professor of International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations.
@Since 2000, he has endeavored a great deal to promote Japan Seaology as a chairperson of Japan Seaology Promotion Council, though having been very busy. In addition, he accepted a position of chairperson of Japan Seaology Promotion Organization, which had been established in the morning today.
@Then, Mr.Ito, please begin your speech. ( applause )

[Mr.Shuntaro Ito]
Thank you for your kind introduction. I am Ito.
The memorable first Japan Seaology Symposium was held in March, 2001, here in Toyama, cosponsored by Toyama Prefecture and Japan Seaology Promotion Council, which had been a predecessor of Japan Seaology Promotion Organization. Since then, we have held two symposiums in Osaka and Tokyo and published "The New Century of Japan Seaology"vol.1,vol.2. I think we could steadily sow a seed to make Japan Seaology well-known on a nationwide scale. Now I feel very happy, especially as a man who has engaged in this study from the beginning, that Japan Seaology Organization has been established in order to develop Japan Seaology.
Well, in the past, Japan Sea coastal area was a developed region of the civilization and the culture of Japan. In recent times, however, its image has been changing to a late, dark one expressed by a word so-called back Japan. This is the case even with other coastal areas in other countries, not only with Japan. They seem to come to think Japan Sea Area as a frontier region remote from the political center of each country.
To improve this situation, we set up Japan Seaology Promotion Council with the members, who have participated in today's first panel, in June, 2000. We tried to upset the stereotype congealed in short, recent times and also a map, which I suppose is an idea of the prefectural governer. After all, we tried to remember the importance of Japan Sea Area as a starting point of Japanese culture and civilization and as an important starting point to promote the unity of Northeast Asia in the future. We established a basic principle of Japan Seaology that we take Japan Sea Area as a region with unity, and watch the real image of Japan Sea Area multilaterally and comprehensively from three viewpoints of circulation, symbiosis and ocean, across the past, the present, and the future.
Three years have passed since then, and within these three years, the character, the potential, and the problem of Japan Sea Area has become clear through multilateral activities such as symposium, publication of "The New Century of Japan Seaology", seminar on Japan Seaology and research commission in various fields.
For instance, in the field of comparative study of civilizations, which is my research field, the Japanese islands had been caught as an isolated existance surrounded by the sea. On the other hand, the Mediterranean civilization in Europe had been a sphere of civilizational exchange in which civilizations of countries around the Mediterranean interact freely and this has brought multifarious civilizational development. I thought such a viewpoint would be effective also in Japan. These things seem to have been forgotten or having been neglected or not having been seen from such a viewpoint.
Therefore, the conception of the excavation, the discovery, and the reconstruction of "the sphere of Japan Sea civilizational interaction" seems to be taking shape, supported by wide range of exchange between Korean Peninsula, the Maritime Provinces and Northeast China. It corresponds to "the sphere of the Mediterranean civilizational interaction".
A few moments ago, I have talked with some teachers on the panel that we could possibly try to write a book on "the sphere of Japan Sea civilizational interaction" which would be as good as Braudel's best-seller, "The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip the Second". The word "we" does not mean only Japanese. I think the important thing is to establish such things with the joint efforts of many people concerned with Japan Sea, and to build a base which makes the solidarity of Northeast Asia much stronger.
Besides, it has become clear that this area is an especially unique and notable forestal civilization sphere supported by the woods, and is a model area of a water and green circulatory system. This is a biological issue. Various suggestions about how human race's future should be will be given. It is necessary to advance such a research.
Therefore, the consideratrion of environmental problems of this area will be an influential example to the global environmental problems of the new century. In this sense, Japan Seaology can work as an indicator to make the long-term growth in the 21st century possible not only in Japan Sea Area but also in Northeast Asia. As the governer have just said in his speech, it is necessarry to put these points forward more and more. Moreover, in Japan Sea Area today, there are not only the symbiosis problem but also the Japanese abduction problem or the nuclear development problem by North Korea, which can be exactly called a crisis. Japan Sea is rough all over in such a respect. We are hoping that Japan Sea will be a sea of peace as soon as possible, despite such problems.
I think it is also our important duty to try to solve such problems. In brief, it is an important assignment for us, who try to understand Japan Sea inclusively. And I think we can do a lot for it.
I show respect to Toyama Prefecture because Toyama Prefecture, which is located at the center of Japanese coast of Japan Sea, promptly recognized the importance of Japan Seaology in many senses and established Japan Seaology Promotion Organization opportunely. We, the members of Japan Seology Promotion Organization, will positively work on further promotion of Japan Seaology.
Japan Seaology can be a common keyword for peaceful coexistence and exchange of culture and science in Japan Sea Area. I ask the citizens of Toyama Prefecture and the people concerned for support and cooperation for Japan Seaology, which has a great significance and an enormous potential.
Thank you very much.( applause )

MC: Thank you very much. Everyone, another round of loud applause to Mr.Ito, please. ( applause )

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