I played hacky sack at lunchtime today, for the first time in ages. In fact, I think the last time I played it was when I was previously in Japan, over two years ago. Needless to say, my skills have gone downhill. Sadly there exists no photographic evidence as with some expert practioners, but I hope to resolve that soon.
For Pacific Rivalry I have to write a position paper on an existing political tension in the Asia Pacific region. At the moment, I’m thinking of doing the confrontation between Japan and China over resources in the East China Sea (handily summarised in this article in the Guardian. Having little to go on except what I pick up from the Japanese and international media, I pricked up my ears when, during our Making the News in Japan class, a student called David gave a long and detailed explanation of the geographical background to the situation. David is an interesting guy. He’s a mature student from Australia, and a practising journalist who took a leave of absence from his paper to go and learn Japanese. Thus, it’s always good to hear what he has to say. I caught up with him after the lesson and he talked me through the layout of the oil and gas fields, which lie on the same continental shelf as China, Taiwan and Okinawa. In this light, China declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone which runs all the way up to Okinawa seems a little less blatantly aggressive.
I asked him what I could do for research, besides watch the newspapers. He unleashed an enormously complex overview of the workings of the entire oil industry, causing me to almost visibly wilt under the onslaught of pure knowledge. Please bear in mind that I’m a guy who thinks of ‘business’ as this monolithic, vaguely threatening entity that lets me alone through some aspect of its capricious will. Any inquiry on my part would be akin to poking the slumbering beast with a stick. The consequences of its wrath, I can but imagine. In short, I’m kind of out of my depth here. However, it’s a fair bet that I wouldn’t be having a conversation about the ins and outs of the oil business around the Leeds campus.
Oh yeah, and I also informed my family that I might not be coming home for Christmas. I get the feeling that our roles are somehow reversed, and I should be worrying about them.