In the spring of 2017, Julia Emory became the CIB’s first-ever Japan analyst. She spent the semester researching the Japanese constitution and examining whether the country’s government would manage to change Article 9. This clause, enacted in 1947, forbids Japan from using its military for offensive purposes. It also prevents the maintenance of an army that can engage in offensive war, or war outside of the country’s borders. In recent years, however, the impressive rise of China has prompted many calls in Japan to scrap Article 9. The topic remains one of constant debate in Japan and concerns the entirety of the region, as well as the United States.
In August of 2017, a few months after undertaking her CIB research, Julia moved to Japan, where she studied for 10 months at Osaka Gakuin University. While there, she focused primarily on Japanese language studies, but also took a variety of courses ranging from Japanese Peacebuilding to Fine Arts in Japan. We spoke with Julia about her time in Japan and the connection between her stay there and her work for CIB.
Q: Why did you decide to study in Japan?
A: I have had a long-term drive to learn Japanese. This intensified after I was given the opportunity to spend a summer in Korea during high school. I wanted to bridge the understanding between Americans and other cultures through language. Though I have been teaching myself Japanese since high school, I grew dissatisfied with my progress self-studying. I sought the full-immersion experience I received when I was in Korea. So, language, combined with my interest in Japanese history and politics, drove me to pursue a year abroad in Japan.
Q: How did your study of the Japanese constitution as a CIB analyst prepare you for your experience in Japan?
A: My study of the Japanese constitution prepared me for my second semester research project and trip to Hiroshima (pictured). My focus, Article 9 (the clause that prevents Japan from engaging in offensive war), has been a large source of controversy so I had to exercise caution when interviewing others off campus. I believe that my in-depth study of Article 9 and the climate surrounding it helped me set realistic expectations on how much I could discuss my research.
Q: How did your study-abroad experience help further your understanding of Japan and its people?
A: Study-abroad allowed me to realize the degree of diversity between prefectures/regions of Japan. Most people tend to think of Japan as a homogenous society but, even though most of the population is Japanese, there are vast differences, for instance in how you may interact with someone from the countryside versus the cities. Due to the allure of Japanese cities, Japanese people are often stereotyped as being polite yet impersonal. However, once you spend time outside of Osaka or Tokyo you immediately realize that this stereotype is far from truth.
Q: Do you have any advice for CIB members or analysts who have an interest in studying abroad?
A: My top advice is to immediately inquire about opportunities through Coastal as well as potential third-party providers and scholarships. Never let finances deter you from pursuing an experience like this. I promise it will be worth the hours looking for scholarships and grants.