February 2000 Club Times (Ark Hills Club Newsletter)
THE ENCHANTMENT OF PEOPLE AND NATURE
"With its wonderful vistas and superb service, I find the Club a very appealing place to spend time. I particularly like the sushi counter. When we have gatherings related to the University, I often reserve a whole Teppan-yaki counter; it's as convenient as having a private room. In fact, whenever we plan a meeting, inevitably we think first of reserving a Teppan-yaki counter at the Club."
Prof. Clark, born in Cambridge, U.K. in 1936, moved with his family to Australia when he was very young. At 16, he was accepted for Oxford University and graduated from that University with honors in 1956. Soon after he entered the Australian Department of External Affairs. After such diplomatic assignments as Second Secretary at the Australian Commission in Hong Kong, China Desk Officer in Canberra and First Secretary at the Australian Embassy in Moscow, he left the Department in 1965. He came to Japan in 1969 as Head of the Tokyo Bureau of 'The Australian' through till 1974. Then, he became Consultant of the Policy Coordination Unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra. Later he was named Visiting Professor, and then Professor, of the Faculty of Comparative Studies and the Faculty of Economics of Sophia University. In 1995 he was appointed President of Tama University. He concurrently holds numerous public positions such as Specialist Member of the Committee to Consider Transfer of the Capital City Functions from Tokyo and other governmental committees. He speaks Japanese, Russian and Chinese fluently and is active as a critic as well. Among his many books are 'Understanding the Japanese' - (In English).
"Clubs overseas, particularlly those in the U.S. and Europe, began as clubs for men.The clubs' buildings are often classic in nature, with some being up to 200 years old. Traditionally, clubs were venues where men got together to talk, enjoying drinks with their peers. Today many of these clubs have female members, but they still maintain the atmosphere of men's clubs. In Japan and Asia in general, however, clubs tend to be quite modern. And I think that the quality of services they provide is actually better than in Europe. Naturally, there are notable differences in both character and features between clubs in Europe and Asia. In general clubs in Europe or the U.S. are used for casual gatherings with friends or simply as places where one could go and enjoy spending time alone. In Asia, clubs are often used for business entertaining.
"Although the majority of ARK HILLS CLUB members are corporate members, I hope that more members will use the Club for their private enjoyment as well. I think the aim of the Club should be to establish itself as a place with the best of both Asian and European traditions.
"I think that our Members Parties are very important events in that they give Members the opportunity to meet fellow members in a casual, friendly atmosphere. Whether you go alone or with others, you can be sure to meet a variety of friends or acquaintances. In fact, if I want to see a particular person, chances are I will see them at these parties. I hope that the Club can hold these parties more often, every month perhaps. For example, the club I used to belong to in Hong Kong held TGIF parties every Friday. How about the ARK HILLS CLUB holding something along those lines on a weekly basis?"
Prof. Clark first visited Japan in 1961 when he was a diplomat in Hong Kong. After studying Japanese intensively for three weeks, he came to Japan for a two week stay, travelling and visiting many places in Japan.
"Since I was studying the politics and economics of China, I felt I should..' Aso visit both Japan and Korea. Because I could read Chinese characters, I made a habit of reading the timetables of trains while travelling. During my two weeks in Japan I became enamored of this country. I was taken with the keauty of the villages, the kindness A people in the trains, how diligently people worked, the, natural beauty of the countryside. All this made me determined to return to Japan.
"Since Australia had no embassy in China at that time, I couldn't go there and instead was posted to Moscow in the Soviet Union. In 1965, although I was appointed Australian Representative to the U.N. Disarmament Committee by the Department of External Affairs, I resigned from the Department, partly because of my strong desire to work in East Asia.
"I had eniered University when I was sixteen and as my father was an economist, I wanted to study economics. However, my father told me that I was too young and inexperienced to study and understand economics. So, after I resigned from the Department of External Affairs, I finally started studying economics at the Australian National University. Since China was in the throes of its Cultural Revolution at that time, I chose as a research theme 'Japanese private direct investment overseas'. I thought that since I could read Chinese characters, I would have no trouble reading research materials in Japanese. This was, of course, a major mistake. Luckily I was awarded a one year scholarship to do research in Japan.
"I lived in Tokyo at a particularly interesting time. Japan at that time was experiencing rapid economic growth and dramatic changes. I enjoyed my neighborhood too - the shopping arcades, the sento (public bath) and spent many an evening atakachochin (pub). The allure of Japan grew even stronger. I had a girlfriend then, too, who is now the mother of my two grown-up boys. Everything conspired to lure me back to Japan after completing my research studies at the Graduate School. But when I finished my studies in 1969, 1 found it was not easy to come back. Fortunately an opportunity came my way to be the Tokyo correspondent of the national newspaper 'The Australian'. It was rather easy for journalists to obtain visas to Japan. However, I had no journalistic training and soon found that knowing foreign languages was not enough, that most of all I needed to learn to write English. For about four years, I covered a lot of events and conducted many interviews. I still have dose contacts with people I met then. Japanese society indeed values old friendships."
For one year from 1974, Prof. Clark worked as Consultant in the Policy Coordination _VMtlbf the
Australian Government. After that, upon receiving an invitation from his mentor,4???????? of
Sophia University, he returned to Japan as Visiting Professor at Sophia University.
"Before I returned to Canberra, I had what turned out to be a very significant encounter with Mr. Masumi Muramatsu of Simul International, one that would have very positiverepercussions for me. At that time, a book tided 'The Japanese and The Jews' was a best seller in Japan, and themes such as Japan or the Japanese as viewed by foreigners were very popular. just before I left Japan, Mr. Muramatsu told me, 'Since you stayed in Japan for almost five years as a journalist, why don't you write a book on Japan and Japanese based on your observations?"
'The Japariese: Origins of Uniqueness' published by Simul Press, enjoyed great popularity and articles ??? media. He also be an to appear at various forums as a f??????tmem wa;11a visiting professor at Sophia, pointed out in no uncertain terms the inherent difficulties present in improving the Japanese education system.
"I often hear various criticisms, about students nowadays. If I consider the differences between students then and now, I can say that the variation between individual students is much greater today. I am pleased to say that we have many talented students in our university, particularly those studying computers. They study so assiduously! If the subject is of interest to them, they study a lot, and in this respect, I think they act much more independently than before.
"There was a time that you studied only because you entered university, and because your teachers told you that in order to have a successful career, you had to study what they told you to. Now, students think and act more on their own. If what they are studying is not interesting, they do not study. As a result, there are big gaps in individual levels. I think the reason there are so many frivolous students is that the educational systems don't offer them the right incentives. Also, many of them after graduation cannot join the mainstream of the society if they go to less than famous universities. I think it is natural that these young people should feel like rejecting the system.
"I participate in meetings of various Education Reform Committees, but unfortunately, most of the members are unbelievably conservative. They seem not to be interested in change or even listening to new ideas or anything that seems dynamic. My fear is that nothing will change until the situation gets so critical that change becomes the only solution. The fact is, the education problem is now at a critical stage. Although I often speak out at every opportunity, I am mostly just a lone voice in the wilderness and my influence is limited."
Brought up in an area of many farms and abundant nature in Australia, Prof. Clark likes to spend his weekends at the Boso Peninsula, where he bought a piece of land 20 years ago. He built a log cabin using materials from New Zealand; there is a squash court nearby where he often plays with his son, who is a former All-Japan junior champion. There is a website at: http://www.ringo.net/users/nakadaki
"I am totally enchanted with Japanese nature, particularly the mountains. In my early times in Japan, I often went hiking in the hills near Tokyo and enjoyed very much climbing in the remote South Japan. Alps. After I became the father of two, it became difficult to keep on climbing the Alps, so I decided to buy my own 'mountain'. Every weekend, I went to my little hill in Boso with my family, and I cAltivated the fields after clearing the jungle. We still grow various vegetAttles and kiwi. The fact that at first there was no electricity or running WAer, made our land all the more attractive. Traveling little more than one hour from Tokyo, I fully enjoy these idyllic weekends in Boso. Most of all I enjoy doing something constructive, particularly when surrounded by the natural beauty of Japain, the sea and the mountains. There is a nice golf course nearby. I hope Mr. Mori will have an opportunity to visit us soon." (translated from the original Japanese)