“Nobody speaks any language perfectly,” said Mr. Domingo L. Siason, the
Philippine ambassador to Japan. But his Japanese was near perfect. The graduate of the Tokyo University of
Education presented us with an incisive analysis and keen observations on the
Japanese economy, society and history, sprinkled with witty comments.
Q: First of all, how long have you been here in Japan?
A: This time? This time, it’s from Sept. 5, 2001 It is January now, so... one year and five months.
Q: How many times have you visited Japan?
as a student, from 1959 to ‘64. Then,
from ‘64 to ’68, working in the embassy.
And then, as the ambassador to
you tell us what impressions you have of
have gone through three phases of
The first phase was when I was here as a
student in ‘59. It was
it was a different
The cut-off point came in 1964. The Olympics ejected
you have the 1990s, the Bubble. This was
the very confident
And now everyone is so pessimistic. I said to a Japanese, hey, you are not really that bad, you know, why have you lost your faith? He said, 10 years of deflation and everything is going down.
Yet, if you look at the young Japanese, they don’t seem to mind. They don’t care. They are spending a lot of money, especially the young girls. And, according to my friends, they don’t seem to be as eager to study as the older generation.
it’s a different
I would say, why worry? Your national
economy is four times that of
Q: How about your impressions of the Japanese people?
A: One thing is certain. Japanese society is becoming more open than it used to be. Not fast enough, though. If you look at the number of refugees being accepted here, it is unbelievable.
Also, I think, with respect to the rights of women, a lot of things could be done to improve the situation.
I ask what do you think the charms of the
the Philippine people are very friendly.
It’s a very open society. And I
guess, despite the modernization, we still have a lot of beautiful islands,
beautiful beaches, where you can swim and you see...do you know
parrotfish? It’s like the colors of
parrots. You can put your hand in the
water and probably pat one in
a country with an Asian face, but culturally very influenced by Western
culture. They say our history is 300
years in a Spanish monastery and 50 years in
Q: Before I came here, I checked the geographical features of your country; I never knew that your country, an archipelago, has 7,000 islands.
A: Maybe during high tides, less than that.
of course, we are worried about global warming.
First of all, because of its impact on the environment of marine life,
but also because some of our islands may probably sink. You know,
But essentially, it is the industrialized countries that have a higher use of energy per capita. So, unless they try to change their lifestyle, or source of energy, global warming will continue.
I read an article that says the
A: Well, we looked at your demography. We looked at ours. You have a very fast-aging population. In 20 years, you will have one 65-year-old and two younger people supporting him or her through working. Now, statistically, the situation is unattainable. Tottemo Muri-desuyo.
we thought that if
So, I am quite optimistic. The Japanese are very practical people. When the problem becomes really intolerable or unbearable, then, they will probably ask for caregivers.
Reflections on this Interview ●
His Excellency Siason has lived in
He has a keen interest for the
I believe His Excellency will continue to
play an active part in improving and developing the relationship between the
(Interviewer: Keitaro Oshima)