Coexistence of Globalization and Cultural Diversity
—— Interview with IDE Keiji, Minister in Embassy of Japan

Yang: Nowadays, globalization has become one of the hottest topics. Under the trend of globalizing, many fixed cultures have been greatly influenced. And the cultural diversity has been threatened by this trend. What is your opinion on such a phenomenon?

IDE(井出敬二): I think globalization is very positive to cultural development, so I welcome it. In Japan, culture has been greatly influenced by the trend of globalizing. I know there are discussions about the benefits and threats brought by globalization. But, as a whole, Japanese people welcome globalization. Globalization does not mean that cultural diversity will be threatened. Coexistence is most important. I believe globalization and cultural diversity can coexist harmoniously.


Yang: As we know, during the course of cultural development, Japan has absorbed cultural fruits from China, for example, Chinese characters and traditional Chinese medicine. Meanwhile, Japan has made use of scientific results from western developed countries. We believe, in terms of assimilating excellent cultural achievements, Japan has been successful and can be a model for many countries. So what do you think is the most important experience in this aspect?

IDE: Japanese people are practical people. They don't have any problem when they import foreign cultures. And we have a long tradition of absorbing foreign cultures. We imported Chinese culture more than centuries ago. And we also enjoy cultural results from Russia, Europe, America, The Middle-east and African countries. Generally speaking, we enjoy cultures from different countries. I think we are very lucky. There is no obstacle for us to absorb foreign culture.


Yang: So today, how does Japan deal with the relationship between globalization and national culture traditions?

IDE: In the last two centuries, there have been two big changes for Japan. One is the critical period of Meiji Restoration, taking place in 1868. Before 1868, Samurai people governed the whole Japan. In the latter half of 19th century, Japan was under pressure from American and European countries. So Japan reformed itself. This came as a big change for Japanese society and culture. We changed a lot indeed, for example, people's hair styles changed a lot. Before "Meiji" restoration, Samurai people put their hair together. But after 1868, people's hair styles changed to the European styles. And, the second event is World War II, after the war, Japan's society and culture also changed.

After these two big events, we lost some parts of Japanese traditional culture, and our society also changed a lot. Of course, we need to preserve old temples and some historical documents. But it is up to the people. If they hope to preserve traditional culture, then they will surely do that.


Yang: And would you like to give us some advice for our future work?

IDE: I think now China faces a very important period of time, moving from social economy to market economy. This will influence culture and society. In case of Russia and some European countries, when they moved from a social economy to a market economy, the culture was also affected. Taking Russia for example, the Soviet government subsidied cultural theatres so they can preserve Soviet opera, ballet. But in a market economy, the subsidy would be cut. People in the cultural theatre would be on their own. No more money from government. I think these problems might happen in China, too. So, now, cultural heritage should be preserved by people themselves. People should think of how to preserve the cultural heritages and traditions economically under the new situation. They need to find new sponsors to set new programs. I hope Chinese people will be successful.


Yang: Thank you. Our magazine, China's Ethnic Groups, tries to explore and explain the diverse cultures among 56 ethnic groups in China. From Japanese reader's aspect, what kind of contents do they expect to read?

IDE: Most readers do not know much about China's ethnic minorities. We are very interested in the culture and tradition of China's ethnic groups. Culture is connected with people's life. How these people lead a life, how they develop their culture, what their cultural heritage is, what their present life is like...

I hope to understand culture of ethnic minorities as a whole. They have dances, songs, but I hope to see their life as a whole. We should not cut only a part from their life. Yes, they can show their dances and their songs, but we also hope to know their history, their religion, their philosophy, their economy and their daily life. These different aspects should not be cut down. So we can understand them more deeply.