トップ > 大学情報 > 教員コラム・インタビュー > コラム@NCU「つながり(第6回:KIZUNA)」(メドウズ マーティン)

コラム@NCU「つながり(第6回:KIZUNA)」(メドウズ マーティン)

   The Japanese word kizuna, written with the Chinese character「絆」, was selected as the 2011 “Kanji of the Year”.  When you look for the word 「絆(きずな)」in your Japanese-English dictionary, the most common English word you will find is bond(s).  Other definitions may include link(s), tie(s) and connection(s).  Among the reasons given for selecting「絆(きずな)」as 2011 “Kanji of the Year” was because it represented the ways that the Japanese people came together to help each other after the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku and that year’s Typhoon Talas (Typhoon #12 in Japan). In English, we would probably call these bonds of friendship, family ties and community ties.  

     While the word kizuna in Japanese is almost always used in a positive sense, the Chinese character 「絆」carries both positive and negative meanings when used in combination with other characters. The word 「羈絆(きはん)」, shackles in English, for example, has a negative meaning – at least from the cow or horse’s point of view! In the same way, bond(s) has both a negative and positive usage and so, like the Japanese word kizuna, the English word is usually used in a phrase to describe the kind of bond(s) we are talking about. Thus we have expressions such as bond(s) of friendship, bond(s) of trust (信頼の絆), unspoken bond(s) (暗黙の絆), bond(s) of marriage (夫婦の絆), and social bond(s) (社会的絆).

     After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government appealed to the Japanese sense of solidarity and responsibility in order to encourage the nation to come to the aid of disaster victims. The Japanese people responded at all levels in groups and as individuals. Volunteers arrived in the disaster areas from all over Japan and individuals and corporations from around the country donated large sums of money.  This appeal to kizuna was seen by some people as being uniquely Japanese. Of course, this is not true.

     Politicians around the world frequently appeal to their people’s national or cultural or local identity in order to remind them of the bonds that unite them. Nelson Mandela, the great leader of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner who died in December of 2013, was a master at reminding his countrymen, both blacks and whites of the ties that bound them. Even after many years of apartheid, which denied blacks of their basic human rights and made them inferior citizens in their own country, he was able to convince all South Africans that they needed to work together to build a new and peaceful South Africa. In many ways he made them realize that the national and cultural bonds that held them together were stronger then the racism and injustices that had tried to keep them apart.   

     In the aftermath of the 3-11 disaster, people around the world watched the news reports with shock and sadness. There was a huge emotional outpouring of support for the victims of the disaster and, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, offers of aid and assistance came from 116 countries and 28 international organizations. Many people felt great sympathy and a sense of solidarity with the Japanese people despite the disaster happening far away from their home countries.  The American pop star Lady Gaga, for example, raised $1.5 million dollars in donation money from the sale of a special charity bracelet she designed. Chinese actor, Jackie Chan, raised more than $3 million through a charity concert held in Hong Kong.  

     The bonds that unite us are not restricted by national borders. True kizuna, I think, is the bond that unites us as human beings in spite of the differences in race, culture, beliefs or distances that divide us.

お知らせ