Interview Series #5：インタビューシリーズ＃５ Mr. Ikeuchi: 池内光久氏
Interviewee: Mr. Mitsuhisa Ikeuchi Executive Advisor, New India Assurance Co., Ltd. Senior Advisor, Kyoritsu Insurance Brokers of Japan (Date: January 10, 2007; Place: Kyoritsu Bldg., Nihonbashi; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
Summary of Mr. Ikeuchi’s Interview
I started traveling to Quebec on business, when I was stationed in Toronto, mainly covering Ontario and Quebec Provinces as Director and General Manager of Tokio Marine Management Ltd. in the deecade of 1980. Since then, I have been interested in Quebec, as I made friends with Mr. Robert Keating and other members of the Delegation Office of Quebec Government in Tokyo, after I returned to Japan. At the same time, I joined the Japanese Association for Canadian Studies (JACS; http://www.jacs.jp/), and have been doing research on the Quebec economy, especially from the viewpoint of comparison between Quebec and other provinces. Based on my research, I sometimes make presentation at the JACS Conferences and other meetings, and often teach courses on Canada and Quebec at Meiji University and other colleges.
One of the points that I often emphasize in my presentation is as follows. A commonly held belief, particularly among Japanese businesspeople, that “the Quebec economy was adversely affected by the francophone-led cultural policy which facilitated the exodus of anglophone business and human resources to Ontario and other provinces” does not seem to be supported by evidence. The fact is that, owing to such cultural policy in Quebec, many francophone Canadians have regained confidence in themselves and returned to Quebec, especially gathering in and around Montreal, affecting the Quebec economy in a positive way. Actually, various industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, transportation, R&D, etc. have recently been flourishing in satellite cities and towns near Montreal along the national borders, positively contributing to the development of the Quebec economy as a whole. From Japan’s standpoint, those industries located in the Montreal region, such as aviation-related business, transportation and marine equipment, movie business, 3D animation, and drug research & development, seem to be complimentary with Japanese industries and, therefore, it would be mutually beneficial to interact with each other. This is one of the main differences between Quebec and other Provinces, where their trade with Japan tends to be “unilateral” with natural resources exported to Japan in exchange for consumer electronics, automobiles and various components.
Needless to say, there are a number of problems with Quebec. Just like any other Canadian province, over 80 percent of the Quebec economy still depends on the U.S., however hard they have tried to develop their own business, and social problems seem getting worse, especially among young people, due to the collapse of traditional moral values. As for problems unique to Quebec, population tends to stagnate in Quebec Province, that is the francophone region of Canada, compared to the anglophone region, which is attracting more immigrants. As a result, Montreal has been surpassed by Toronto in terms of population for some time, and could be caught up with by Vancouver in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, there is a problem of widening economic gaps between prosperous Montreal and other cities along the southern borders on one hand and the northern region depending solely on primary industries on the other. A problem for Japan, rather than for Quebec, is that Quebec and other provinces are trading more with China than with Japan these days, and Chinese imports are becoming more and more visible everywhere in Canada. As a result, Japan’s presence in Quebec or in Canada as a whole, seems to be fading, at least relatively. So, Japan needs to consider how to appeal to Quebec and Canada for that matter in order to maintain and improve the mutual relationship in the future.
In conclusion, there does not seem to be any major problem with the Quebec economy, which should be developing nicely with its originality and uniqueness, due to the abundant supply of excellent human resources. In a sense, that is an intended result of educational policies with emphasis on culture, languages, and arts, which have been adopted since the “Silent Revolution” terminated the old educational system under the control of the Catholic Church in the 1960s. In this regard, Japan can learn much from the Quebec experience, when it comes to “educational reform.” It is important for Japan to train human resources by emphasizing culture, languages and arts, which have rather been neglected in the past. I myself am teaching at a college in Osaka, using English as the official language on campus, where students are studying hard in response to teachers’ sincere efforts to teach them in the foreign language, promoted by the college as a whole. We can make Japan-Quebec relations better and closer, especially in the educational and cultural fields, for example, through student exchange programs, in the future. References: Mitsuhisa Ikeuchi, “My Life in Canada,” 1993 http://bookweb.kinokuniya.co.jp/htm/4882022427.html Richard Grunberger, “A Social History of the Third Reich” (Originally in German; Japanese translation by Mitsuhisa Ikeuchi), 2000 http://www.junkudo.co.jp/detail2.jsp?ID=0100028415 David Bercuson, “Under the Canadian Flag” (Japanese translation by Mitsuhisa Ikeuchi & Kyoichi Tachikawa), 2003 http://www.sairyuusha.co.jp/archive/2004/04/post_273.html