Wednesday, July 22, 2009

爆笑問題と阿川教授の討論 How to debate American style

I was watching the Bakusho Mondai comedy duo having a discussion with a former Japanese ambassador to the United States of America, Mr. Agawa Naoyuki, who is now a professor at Keio University.

この前に、NHKテレビ『爆笑問題のニッポンの教養』 で爆笑問題お笑いコンビと元駐米大使館公使阿川尚之さん、現在慶應義塾大学教授(日米関係史・米国憲法史)、の討論を見ました。

First of all, I was struck by the way Professor Agawa used an American way of speaking to destroy Ota-san’s arguments. His answers were always “That is not so.”

まず、太田さんの話を壊すのに、阿川教授はアメリカ人の様な討論のやり方を使っていて、びっくりしました。阿川教授は、常に太田さんに対して 、“そんな事ない” と言う返事をよく使いました。

Professor Agawa is trained as a lawyer at Georgetown University in the United States. He is trained to conduct a debate to win his point. To the American way of thinking, it does not matter if his point is correct or not. What matters is the skill of the debater in defeating his opponent.


In America, a debate is thought of as a duel. This is also true in a legal court of law. A lawyer’s client may be very guilty. However, the lawyer in America will conduct his debate in court with the intention of getting his client completely free, even if the client did actually commit the crime. In America, people realize this, and admire the verbal debate skills of a lawyer, even if his client is quite guilty.


In Japan, there is no tradition of debate. In fact, there is discussion among a group, but the emphasis is on reaching group agreement about some subject. In a Japanese court room, a lawyer will try to reduce punishment for a client who is guilty, but will not generally try to get the client declared innocent.

日本では、その討論の伝統は有りません。もし有るグループでお話が有りましたら、日本の場合、みんなが同意する事は大切です。日本の裁判で、弁護士はその被告人の罰を軽く成る様に頑張りますし、 だいたい、しかし、アメリカみたいに完璧の無罪解決の努力をしません。

So in the discussion between Mr. Ota and Professor Agawa, there was a huge culture gap. However, what if Mr. Ota also had training as an American lawyer? How would the debate have gone?


It could have gone something like this:


Ota-san : The Americans killed the Indians in a brutal way.


Agawa-san : Many countries did that.


Ota-san : But Canada offered sanctuary to US Indians, such as the Nez Perce tribe under Chief Joseph.


Agawa-san : That was different.

阿川先生:それは違います 。

Ota-san : The Canadians also offered sanctuary to Chief Sitting Bull of the Sioux, and many of his people. The Canadians did not mount genocidal wars against the Indians. This is different than America!

太田さん:スー族のシッティング・ブル 酋長とスー民族に聖域を上げました。カナダの白人はインディアン民族にたいして大虐殺の様な戦争をしませんでした。これはアメリカと違います!

Agawa-san : ……………

阿川先生 : …………..

Ota-san : America killed people needlessly in WWII by dropping bombs on Japanese cities. The Atomic bombs were not necessary.


Agawa-san : Japan did bad things. So the American response was understandable.


Ota-san : America wanted undisputed control of China for it’s own business purposes. Also America stills uses massive firepower, even if it harms civilians. In a 14 month period of drone aircraft attacks in Pakistan, 701 people have been killed. However, only 14 of them were guerrillas. The other 687 happened to be people who were unlucky enough to be nearby at the time. America still uses massive fire power to destroy unnecessarily.


Agawa-san : …………..

In the two examples above, Mr. Ota reinforced his argument with specific examples. The goal is to find specific events that the opponent does not know about.


In a courtroom battle between two lawyers, if the defense attorney can find some fact that the prosecution does not know, he can make the prosecuting attorney look ignorant. And then he can cast doubt about the accusation against his client in the minds of the jury.


The sad fact is, I think that Mr. Ota’s position in the show was basically correct. I was also surprised by Professor Agawa’s defense of American bombing of Japanese cities in WWII, including the two atomic bombs. He said that America did those things because Japan attacked first.


Well, it is true that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. However, America did not pressure Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor and South East Asia for the moralistic reason of helping China. Instead, the reason was to create an economic monopoly for American business in China, and to curb Japanese power.


And there was no military reason to bomb Japanese cities and kill Japanese people. The United States Navy with submarine warfare had already sunk so many Japanese merchant ships, Japanese industry was crippled. The original reason for the construction of the atomic bombs, fear that Germany was building a bomb, proved false in 1943. However construction of the American bombs was continued. It was felt that the money spent would be wasted if the construction were stopped. As for dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was also a feeling in the American government that if the bombs were not actually used, the money invested would be wasted.


Professor Agawa also praised America’s role as a world policeman. I am very much against the concept of America as world policeman. Well, he also said that America is a wonderful country because a man who is half Black, Barack Obama, could be elected President.


I must say here that Mr. Agawa went to elite schools, and only met with highly educated elite Americans. And Americans have an enormous talent for self-promotion. Americans are always walking around claiming to be the best nation in the world. And this is their justification for policing the world.


Actually, among less educated White people in America, there is great hatred towards President Obama, and even people praying for his death.


Well, I do not think that America is the best nation in the world. I think it is one of several reasonable nations in the world to live in. I think to be born in America; well you can expect to have a comfortable life. But this is also true in Japan, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. All of these areas have nice lifestyles, and I do not see particular superiority in America.


The truth is, American armed forces in other nations behave just like the armies of nations, that is badly. And I do think there is one great fault of Americans, and that is ignorance. Americans know little about other nations. And they show no desire to learn.

もう一つの真実は、アメリカ軍は他国でしている行動は他の国々と変わりませんし 、やはり悪い事をしています。それで、アメリカ人の大きな欠点は、無知です。自分以外の国の事も、あんまり知りません。勉強する気持ちも有りません。

At this time in history, American ignorance is hurting America very much. Professor Agawa trained as a lawyer. Most Americans who go to university probably train as a lawyer or in Business Management. And this is why America is woefully ill equipped to understand what is happening now. America does not have enough scientists, engineers, and historians.


America is facing a triple blow of Climate Change, Financial Collapse, and depletion of oil supplies.


Historians, if they had been around, and if Americans respected history, would have warned Americans many years ago about the dangers of the lifestyle that America has led for the past 50 years. But Americans are not interested in history.


Scientists and engineers may be able to craft a solution to Global Climate change, but Americans do not study science.


Americans believe their values are universal, and seek to force them on the world. Americans fear a country that does not accept their values, and seek to destroy that country.


President Obama is trying very hard to show Americans that we need the cooperation of the world, and that the position of America has changed. But this is going to be very difficult for most Americans to understand.


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