Kobe and Tokyo, Japan | Two Japanese universities talk about the self-determination process in Catalonia
Diplocat organizes two academic events in Japan regarding self-determination processes in Europe
On 19 and 20 July the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), in collaboration with the University of Kobe and the University of Waseda (Tokyo), organized two academic events entitled “Self-Determination Processes in Europe: The Catalan Case”. This is the second time that Diplocat has organized events in Japan – a country of great interest as it is a member of the UN Security Council.
University of Kobe (19 July)
The first event was organized together with the Research Center for Promoting Intercultural Studies of the University of Kobe, and consisted of an international symposium at the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies.
Over fifty people filled the hall to hear Professor Takuya Nishikawa, vice-dean of the Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, open the event and welcome the participants and public on behalf of the university. Nishikawa pointed out that Kobe and Barcelona are twinned towns and have increased their academic and research relations recently as seen in the agreements made between the University of Kobe, and the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
Next, Albert Royo, Secretary General of Diplocat, gave the keynote speech regarding the current political situation in Catalonia. Royo explained that “the 2015 elections gave a parliamentary mandate for the independence process (72 MPs out of a total of 135 MPs are pro-independence, and 48% of the vote was in favour of pro-independence parties compared to 39% going to parties with a stance against independence). The Catalan institutions now want to reaffirm this majority through a specific vote on independence. The Catalan process has all the guarantees in place that this vote will be reliable and valid.”
Following this, there was a round table debate with Catalan and Japanese academics moderated by professor Kazunari Sakai of the University of Kobe. The debate focussed on self-determination processes in Europe. Professor Masayuki Rikihisa, from the Doshisha University of Kyoto, spoke about the self-determination process in Scotland and the British political situation. Rikihisa pointed out that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, agreed to hold a referendum as a measure to slow down the increase in pro-independence feeling in Scotland.
Professor Yoko Aoshima, from the University of Kobe, talked about the construction of a state in Ukraine and made it clear that the situation there is not comparable to the ones in Catalonia and Scotland where there has not been any violence.
Gen Kikkawa, from the Hiroshima City University, explained the international institutionalization of the protection of minority groups, pointing out that the wish for self-determination of any people must be respected, as happened with the case of East Timor. He reminded the public that “we must remember that the UN had to intervene to safeguard the independence process there due to the outbreak of violence.” He added that “the world has changed and is now less uniform. More and more nations like Catalonia want to become independent states.”
Finally, to explain how the Catalan case is a European movement which stems from civil society, professor Elisenda Paluzie, from the University of Barcelona, made it clear that it would be a paradox if Catalonia were forced out of the EU for exercising its right to self-determination within a democratic framework. Many countries which became independent via violent processes are now internationally recognized, so Catalonia’s exclusion [following a peaceful process] would represent a regression in Europe’s democratic values.
University of Waseda, Tokyo (20 July)
The second event held the following day (20 July) was organized together with the Organization for Regional and Inter-regional Studies of the University of Waseda, in Tokyo. About seventy people attended the event.
Takashi Morihara, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Director of the Historical Institute for European Civilization at Waseda University, opened the event and welcomed the participants. Yoshitomo Okuno, professor at the School of Foreign Studies of the Aichi Prefectura University then gave a brief introduction regarding Catalonia specifically addressed to the Japanese public present.
After this, professor Hiromi Komori, from the University of Waseda, moderated a round table with Catalan and Japanese experts discussing self-determination processes within the EU and, specifically, the case of Catalonia. Albert Royo and Elisenda Paluzie were the Catalan participants in the debate. Royo stated that Spain should seek inspiration in consolidated democracies such as Canada, Denmark, and the UK, and allow the Catalans to choose their own future through the ballot box. Paluzie explained that it was originally the pressure of civil society which led the Catalan government to carry out measures in favour of self-determination.
Mariko Kawano, chair of International Law, and Takao Suami, chair of European Law, both from the Faculty of Law at the University of Waseda, were the Japanese experts taking part in the round table. Kawano explained that the right to self-determination was recognized and carried out by the United Nations within the framework of decolonization and that it should now be updated to take into account the present context and new elements. Answering a question from the public, Kawano pointed out that if Catalonia achieved independence peacefully and in agreement with Spain, Japan would not hesitate to recognize it. She went on to say that she was not so sure what the response would be if independence was not agreed with Spain, but she stated that “bearing in mind the case of Kosovo, it is possible that it would be recognized. It would also depend on how independence was achieved.”
Finally, Suami explained that the construction of the EU has meant a transformation of the classical concept of sovereignty of states. He also pointed out the fact that Catalonia wishes to be independent remaining within the EU, and this would mean that its sovereignty would not be complete as it would still be dependent in some way [on the EU].
In partnership with:
Jointly organized with: the Research Center for Promoting Intercultural Studies (Promis), University of Kobe, and the Organization for Regional and Inter-regional Studies (ORIS), University of Waseda.
The Research Center for Promoting Intercultural Studies：Promis was founded in 2014 and represents the merging of the “Intercultural Research Center: IReC” (founded in 2006) and the “Center for Media and Cultural Studies: CMEC” (founded in 2008). The IReC was established with the intent of performing interdisciplinary research on intercultural contact, exchange, and transformation. The CMEC aimed to perform multilateral research on the dynamics of contemporary culture while taking into account the significant expansion of the media and rapid globalization.
Effective from April 2015, the Organization for Regional and Inter-regional Studies (ORIS) was established by integrating the Waseda Organization for Asian Studies, the Waseda Organization for Japan-US Studies, and the Waseda Organization for European Studies. These three institutions had engaged in specialized research in their respective regions, producing a large number of high quality studies.
Last updated: 24 July 2017