海外生活体験者・社会人インタビューvol.27 English Version ~Part2~

interviewee_s_68_profile.jpg Roland Nozomu Kelts was raised by an American father and a Japanese mother. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Columbia University. He majored in literature, journalism and creative writing. He has lectured at New York University, Rutgers University and Barnard College. He is now a Lecturer at the University of Tokyo, Sophia University and the University of the Sacred Heart Tokyo and a co-editor of the New York-based literary journal, A Public Space. He is the author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. and is first novel, Access, will be published next year.

-You mentioned Akihabara. What was your reaction toward the tragedy that happened in Akihabara?

I wrote an article in The Daily Yomiuri and other papers
(http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/6/22/lifefocus/21578050&sec=lifefocus)

so if you want to know precisely what I thought, then you should read that. Well, Akihabara is changing from an underground, intimate cultural place to a place where mass culture and tourists gather. When I was interviewing otaku in Akihabara, they would show me small stores on the corners of tiny streets. Now, there is that huge Yodobashi Camera store and other stores that are for tourists from all over the world. This year in May, street performance was stopped by police because of a woman who was sexually expressing herself. The street performances in Akihabara used to be very casual and informal things, but those idols were taking advantages of Akihabara to sell them. Andin June, we had Kato’s violence exploitations.  It is a very interesting year for Akihabara.

Briefly talking about what I thought, I think there is no connection between Kato and Akihabara. He is different from the criminal, Miyazaki Tsutomu, who killed many little girls in the 80s. That guy had tremendous amount of porno comics in his room. Kato was not an otaku as everyone thinks. I think the biggest reason why he committed murder is loneliness. Japan is known as a group oriented culture. Yet, recently, it is changing. Many young people, mostly under 40 years old, live alone in Tokyo. They have no or at most few connections between other people. For some lonely people, the Internet became the only place for expression, and they seek for virtual life in Internet as we see in Kato’s blog. However, the Internet will never be a replacement for real life. The Internet has been very popular in many developed countries, but we would never see things like 2-channnel in US. 2-channnel became huge. It shows that so many Japanese are looking for a place to openly express themselves and they rely on the Internet. I think Kato is not unusual one who does not have social connection. I’m not saying it is society’s fault. It’s obviously Kato’s fault. However, the loneliness and frustration in people in Japan have led to this disaster.

-I agree with the loneliness among people. Some of my classmates who are living alone told me how they understand Kato’s feeling. It was very surprising for me. I thought I can never be sympathetic to him. Now changing the subject, what do you like about Japan?

Tokyo is very convenient. Services in Tokyo and Osaka are amazing. An n American journalist once said, “Tokyo takes away urban anxiety”. Usually, it’s so crowded in urban areas, and services tend to be rough. Japan is very different. Trains come so frequently. There is a personal story about the Shinkansen. I had to take Shinkansen to Tokyo from Osaka. My friend checked time schedule and I was all ready to be on time. However, I got lost and could not make it the train. I thought I had to wait for a long time for next Shinkansen and thinking about whether I should go back home. Then I saw the time schedule and next Shinkansen for Tokyo left in about 10 minutes. I thought Shinkansen was like air planes that depart in hours. It was very surprising to me. Also, I like Osaka, because people there love their town like New Yorkers. If I could ask for something to improve in Tokyo, I would like trains to run 24 hours, because everyone tries to get on the last train. People are packed together and many people are drunk. It is very uncomfortable. Other than that, I love Japan.

-Thank you for your time.

Thank you very much for talking with me.

~After Interview~

When I was looking for someone to interview, I thought about Mr. Kelts because I had a great time in his class last semester. When I asked him for his time, he kindly accepted my offer. This interview made me realize how busy he is and how talented. He is now speaking at various universities in Tokyo. If you are interested in journalism, go see him and hear interesting stories.
interviewer_s_38_profile.jpg 内山紗也子。1986年鹿児島県生まれ。その後、東京、沖縄に暮らし、小学5年から2年間マレーシアに滞在。東京に帰国後、中学2年の夏から米国シカゴへ。高校卒業まで5年間在住。帰国後、東京大学理科Ⅱ類に入学。現在、農学部獣医学科3年に在学。