2. Differences in Politics and Thought
Middle aged overseas study in Australia
In October 1984 I left Japan for Australia.
This is because, when I had completed the particularly responsible work of the labour union, I had begun to think to again study the labour movement in an international perspective.
However, my age was already 38, and to be an international student at that age was somewhat embarrassing for me. Further my English skill was minimal.
Such overseas study at middle age was like to exposing myself to a big gap. As if a mature adult, who should have accumulated social experience in his own way, suddenly metamorphosed to an elementary school boy. That is, I experienced a change of not only the environment of living but the degeneration in ability to live as well.
At the time I can say that I was almost naked, because I could not use the familiar customs or the skill which makes involve people around me like when I was in Japan. Furthermore, it was the beginning of the days in which my realistic judgement (this made me surprised that I had such an ability) was strictly and accurately required and executed.
That is, even though I wanted to use them again, I had already thrown away the reputation and position which I had enjoyed in Japan. It was like a time when I was being tested whether I had been discouraged by the loss of such less significant matters.
Through the life abroad I challenged, what I gradually found was the difference of viewpoint brought by the geographical movement as a result of studying abroad. In other words, it was the acquisition of a binocular view field (which gives human beings the three-dimensional images) by looking at the world with two different eyes, Japan and Australia.
Also, an experience which was an eye-opener for me was that a scholarship from the Australian government to me was unexpectedly granted. This was a totally unthinkable matter in my common sense until then. Because of this it was the beginning of thinking about the possibility of a completely unexpected issue, as if the serendipity mentioned earlier had actually happened to me.
I named the dual life of Japan and Australia as “ryosei-seikatsu: amphibious life”. It was one that could not experience unless I was not challenged with living in two different worlds of Japan and Australia. I also called the study on this experience “ryoseigaku: amphibious study” (this will be re-described later).
In this way, the period of study abroad, originally thought to be up to three years, steadily increased, and in the end it became far longer until being permanent.
What you can choose and what you cannot choose
Thus, I became to live in Australia permanently.
To live in Australia itself was a big choice for me, but I did not intend to change my nationality.
I chose an Australian life due to the convenience of keeping an international life. But it did not become the reason to change nationality, because I thought that my nationality is a given thing which is not the matter of individual choice.
One may be able to understand this seemingly old-style idea on nationality if one thinks by replacing “nationality” with “earth” or “nature” instead of “state”. They are different in scale but similar in nature. In a word, it is the roots my life derives from. So if I changed it, this would mean that my life is replaced with a completely different one. That is why I included nationality to such natural given conditions.
Similarly, birth, blood ties, family, heredity, etc. are the matters already given. So, regardless of one’s will, it is a matter not of choice.
In this way, I had encountered the doubleness which consists of the selected foreign life and the survival condition out of choice, because of movement due to the choice of study abroad.
In the doubleness of this “selectable or un-selectable”, the side of selectable is, so to speak, a world of freedom in which one’s will and thoughts can exercise.
On the other hand, the side of un-selectable is, so to speak, a part of one’s infrastructure i.e. the fundamental condition of my existence. Without this, one can neither exercise the above mentioned freedom nor have physical body.
Additionally, in the doubleness of survival related to the dilemma to survive mentioned earlier, if one thinks it as the conflict between “idea and reality”, one is forced to give the latter the priority. And one’s body which is brought by survival is equivalent to an infrastructure as one’s physical reality.
When I was working for a labour union, I had thought that the economic system of capitalism was the root of the doubleness of survival. However, through the experience of overseas study my recognition of the doubleness changed from that derived from such an ideology to one based on the thought of infrastructure above mentioned.
Any way the problem in the present world is that almost everything of the infrastructure can only be obtained by making a deal with a restraint to survive, that is, buying it with money. In addition, clean air and water used to be unconditional or “free” but environmental deterioration has gradually transformed them into something that cannot be obtained without paying money.
This infrastructure of life means the ecological environment around us, which will be further discussed in Chapter 4, “Health as an Infrastructure.”
The greatest academic acquirement I got while studying in Australia was the existence of a political philosophy called “pluralism,” which was practiced traditionally as the two-party political system.
I came across this political term as a concept of explaining the real world of Australia. It was especially “reality” in the Australian political and economic environment, and the two basic elements that made up the society were two groups of people i.e. the working class and the capitalist class.
When I came across the word, I was very satisfied that it was the fruit of my coming to Australia. The reason was because I was always caught by frustration when I was involved with the labour union movement in Japan. In the society, not only the labour movement but also the people called working class were seen as a sort of shady matters and were not given the place of a legitimate social existence. (for example, my mother always hide that I worked for a labour union.)
In addition, in the common attitude in Japan, “workers” did not exist in Japanese society, at least it was a term in left wing thought, and only “office worker” or “employed person” existed commonly.
However, in Australia, two groups of people called capitalists or workers had taken root as two major components of the society in the daily life and even legally and academically.
This is the characteristic reason why the society of Australia was governed by the two-party system which represented each group. Hence change of government has happened between two political parties called “Liberal-National Alliance” and “Labor Party” every few years. Consequently even the direction of society has changed each change of government.
As explained later, Australia’s social security system is seen as on of the world’s best because it has been going for more than a century in which the voices of workers have been reflected in politics by the Labor Government. Of course, it is also important to have had realistic success since those reflected voices have resulted in economic growth. Thus the balance of the support and the check from both sides has been resulted in such a development through those government changes.
In addition, for those bureaucrats who are corrupt, the change of government is self-destructing. Thus, the political circumstances for a fairer and democratic system have been cultivated, although it can be relative.
Enjoy political benefits
Since I have become a permanent resident, I really have felt the legal and institutional benefits directly.
As a permanent resident of Australia with Japanese nationality, I can actually live in either country. In other words, it is like I have the virtual right to choose better living conditions. And broadening my perspective further, it also means that you can get the option to compare political benefits and risks as well.
If you left yourself within the country of your birth without moving, it is impossible to gain these benefits or risk variances pointed above.
In other words, by performing a cross-border movement geographically or legislatively, you can get a wider foundation for life which can expand reality.
To move is to experience the doubleness in two ways; not only the domestic doubleness by the change of government called pluralism in Australia but also the international doubleness through the change of the country of residence. That is, to move produces the expansion of width of choice in daily life; further, of the benefit for all the stages in one’s life and eventually the expansion of one’s world view.
By the way, in my acquaintance there is even a person who has achieved the acquisition of permanent residence in several countries far more aggressively than my doubleness and enjoyed the diversification, so to speak, of her life.
Hence, the journey of our life can be executed in an open-ended perspective which is not bound even by the border of a country. And its final benefit reflects the value view for one’s life, depending on the degree of achievement.
So to speak it is reasonable for the fake country that has been stolen away by cunning politicians and bureaucrats who think only of their own returns and self-protection to be forsaken and everyone should seriously start preparation to move among countries.
The era when the word “immigrant” meant that a country or politician exports the country’s poor people was in the past. But now is the time for ambitious and talented people to initiate to export themselves.
View of after-corona
Going back to the daily life of Japan, in the series of articles of the Nikkei newspaper that began in September 2020, there is a special feature titled “The World Without Pax” which reports the historical change of the world revealed in the wake of the corona pandemic. When you look at each headline and the point of the articles, it is as follows:
Serial Story; “The World without Pax”
(1) Goddess of Growth gone where; disappeared “Peace and Order” under the corona
The decline of the world hegemons who have led the world’s peace so far, and the various inter-state conflicts that have begun to be seen.
(2) Competition is not principle but cleverness is
The ideology which had been able to bind the world into one has already become a past one, and rather, the wisdom which worked out in each country begins to glow.
(3) Democracy under pressure to regenerate
Is it free or safe? Can you stand the burden of your choice?
(4) Public and private sectors sifted
What is the significance for your company to exist? Does it benefit the society?
(5) Ask yourself what is your value
From the age of the reliance on organizations to the age of the reliance on yourself. What do you rely on to live in this crisis?
(6) From population concentration to accumulation of knowledge
Do you want to live in a big city? Can you draw the image of the new city?
In this series of articles the “post-corona period” is predicted to differ greatly from the previous period. In other words, it is a change in each aspect of domestic and international politics, economic organizations, social systems, and intellectual culture. Especially the significance of individuals in an organization is seen to be larger than before. This is the view of a major business paper and such changes are seen as the beginning to be pursued.
In the same story, Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, Chairman of Mitsubishi Chemical HD, said:
Japan has spent 30 years trapped by the experience of success in the past. The pursuit of efficiency in the analog world, collectivism, and everyone looking in the same direction; if such issues continued, by the law of inertia, she should sink into an abyss. I have been thinking that it is necessary to have a natural enemy that brings tension to wake up, but COVID-19 is taking on that role.
If COVID-19 is a case of a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, the expected “transition” and “change” also must be of that scale.
In response to the world that has begun to fluidize in this way, we ourselves should be no longer bound by the “evaporation” of the old travel demand. And the movement and travel with the view according to the new trend are necessary, and potentially, this is already being sought.
However, it is, of course, a business perspective that these Nikkei articles are based upon. As I mentioned earlier as the iron law of securing means of survival, these new business trends are just a new mode that the iron law has begun to have. Of course, it is possible to use it to secure your needs, but you must not confuse such a new trend with your own intentions and strategies.
Relativization of country as unit
As mentioned above, borders are becoming weaker and less powerful to bind the people together.
Especially in recent years, the trend of the nationalism with a strong sense of discrimination has become remarkable as if it is going against such a borderless trend. But that is not because there is a growing sense of belonging to a state, except for the Chinese case. Rather it is because, what we can rely on is no longer a country, and we begin to find our significance in smaller units.
In the first 20 years of the 21st century, such global trends have been seen, but the legal and institutional frameworks are still managed by country. In that sense, there is a discrepancy.
In other words, people’s movements are rapidly being borderless, but there is the system of each country that is far behind it and dragging the past.
There are more and more cases where those people who move around the world aim for differences in systems between nations. As an extreme example, we can look at the refugee problem which troubles many developed countries around the world. As already mentioned, there are many similar cases such as working holiday students and international students who aim to obtain permanent residency, or especially women who hopefully intend international marriages.
Let us take a closer look at disparities which cannot be ignored. They are mostly seen in living conditions based on differences in social security systems and wage levels.
At the beginning of my middle year study abroad in Australia, the extent of my worry was especially how to manage the coming couple of years. Therefore the result of more later years was totally out of my sight. In that sense, it was like a tightrope walk, and my fate completely depended upon the performance of each semester of university. So, frankly speaking, I was not concerned too much about the future outcomes 10 or 20 years later.
However, when a certain period is passed, for instance, we can experience the phenomenon that the reward for the same labour is very different before and after the movement between countries.
For instance, as of 2020, Australia’s statutory minimum wage is 19.84 Australian dollars or around 1,500 Japanese yen. In Japan, the national average minimum wage is 902 yen. This means that the difference between two minimum wages is as large as about 70 percent. Although there is a difference in price levels, even temporary visitors from Japan to Australia will be affected by this difference.
In addition, if one obtains permanent residency and becomes subject to social security, a higher level of unemployment benefits can be obtained, and after becoming older and entering pension age, the difference among the levels of public pension payment also occurs.
Whether one’s first purpose of travel is those various disparities, including economic conditions due to differences in these countries, differs depending on the person. In fact, for migrant workers their purpose is exactly the wage gap between countries. This is why they are moving internationally.
In any rate, once one starts to think seriously about journey, you start to make actions after carefully researching various differences, including the investigation of visa conditions of the destination. Therefore, it is inevitable that such gaps between countries must be noted.
Of course, there are reasons for those differences among political and institutional levels. And if you had permanent residency in two countries, as mentioned above, the iron law of securing means of living would also become dual and you would become able to have a life dispersing either benefits or risks.
In this way, the expected result of the journey in the book is that the relationship between you and your country would shift from those of an unique, cannot-choose and de facto coercion to those of a relative and can-choose one.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a man, like an old fashioned species, who wants to keep choosing my country. Although this style depends on what is meant by the word my, I rather feel the real pleasure in the experience of the next dimension pursuing both sides of the duality. In addition, in the business world, this my means obviously my profit maximization, and then it is vigorously pursued.
In the future, the existence of borders will fade more and more, or become a matter of choice on a case-by-case basis and will become just one of the various travel conditions.
Such a trend and the need will not change even if COVID-19 makes a gigantic obstacle.
Hence to think a country as a matter of choice is the main theme of the book: Fly High, and the more the cannot-choose is forced, the ” higher fly” would be desired.