Interviewee: Mr. Yoshikazu Obata Professor, Meiji University (Date: October 12, 2006; Place: Center for International Programs, Meiji University; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
Summary of Mr. Obata’s Interview:
I originally majored in French literature as a student at Kyoto University, especially focusing on “Nouveau Roman,” which has influenced Japanese as well as Quebec literature. That is how and why I got interested in Quebec, but at that time Quebec literature was virtually unknown and no books about it were available at all in Japan. Then, I became a faculty member at Meiji University in Tokyo in the mid-1980s, and under the influence of Meiji University Professor Hiroshi Tajima, well known in the field of French literature, I started collecting information and material about Quebec literature, which I became fond of, even better than native French literature. I particularly was interested in the Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s, when the rapid secularization of society took place and Quebecois were set free to express themselves in the literature. This fact, along with such social change as trends toward the nuclear family, seems to correspond to Japan’s post-war social development, which made me motivated to study more about Quebec literature. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet_Revolution
Then I visited Quebec for the first time in 1987-88, and studied the literature by reading and collecting various materials at the University of Montreal and Laval University. On that occasion, I noticed that there were many immigrants influencing various aspects of Quebec society including Quebec literature. That led me to the study of “migrant literature,” which has given me good insight into Quebec culture in general. What is Quebec culture? There seems to be no simple answer, because it is “time dependent.” The society has been undergoing radical change from conservatism under the strong influence of the Catholic Church to liberalism and individualism in the 1960s, to be followed by a wave of new immigrants transforming Quebec and Canada as a whole into a multicultural society.
More recently, during my sabbatical years for 1992-94, I revisited Quebec to be a visiting scholar at the University of Montreal, where I was also enrolled in a doctorate program to do research on Quebec literature. I benefited from this visit so much that, based on my research during this period, I have been productive in publishing a number of books, articles, translations, etc. on Quebec up until today. As a result, upon recommendation of the Director of the Quebec Government Tokyo Office, I have received such special awards from the Quebec Government as the “Order of French-speaking America" in 1998 and the “Special Award of the Jury of Canadian Prime Minister's Awards for Publishing" in 2003, where the latter is to acknowledge the contribution of my book “Study on Quebec Literature” http://bookweb.kinokuniya.co.jp/htm/4275019601.html
Currently I am studying performing arts in Quebec, which is quite interesting from various viewpoint including arts and management. It should be also noted that, thanks to the financial support of the Quebec Government Tokyo Office, I have been offering a general public open course “Quebec Today” in the Department of Political Science and Economics at Meiji University: http://www.meiji.ac.jp/seikei/infomation/quebec.html
Finally, I have some suggestions to further improve Japan-Quebec relations. One direction is to promote a deeper understanding of Quebec culture and literature on the part of Japanese intellectuals. For this purpose, more efforts should be made to convey directly the true spirit of Quebec literature in French to the Japanese audience, preferably without using English translation or interpretation of the original content. Another direction is to introduce Quebec to a wider audience in Japan by writing introductory books and articles on Quebec in general. For example, we might write a Japanese book to be entitled “60 Chapters to Know About Quebec,” following the already published book “60 Chapters to Know About Canada” in Japan. References: Prof. Obata’s Homepage: http://www.meiji.ac.jp/seikei/teacher/culture.html#obata Obata Room: http://www.geocities.jp/profobata/
(Written by Takahiro Miya) ---------------------------------------------------------------- 小畑精和教授とのインタビュー 小畑精和氏：明治大学政治経済学部教授、国際交流センター副所長 （2006年10月12日、明治大学国際交流センターにて、聞き手・文責は宮尾尊弘）