Conversation with Dr. Charron, Misa and Michio Hirai シャロン博士夫妻と道雄さんとの会話 ＠モンレアル（モントリオール）（2015年8月29日）
Claude=Yves Charron, Misa and Michio Hirai クロード=イヴ・シャロン博士、平井みさ夫人、道雄さん
On Saturday, August 29, I was invited to Dr. Claude=Yves Charron’s house in a suburb of Montreal, where I had a very enjoyable conversation with Dr. Charron, his wife Misa Hira along with their son Michio over lunch in their backyard.
First, Dr. Charron pointed out some delays and gaps in information about Japan in Quebec with virtually no reference to Japan’s politics, business, or society in the mass media these days. Even though Japan has sometimes been mentioned in connection with the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, no analysis is done regarding its geopolitical implications on Japan vis-à-vis China’s hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. However, he said that despite this lack of information about Japan in the mass media, which may at least partly be due to the insufficient information disseminated from Japan, more and more people, both young and old, seem to be attracted to Japanese culture and society and attending various events and exhibitions about Japan, such as Otakuthon, which is Quebec’s largest anime convention, and the Hiroshima memorial concert by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and its music director, Kent Nagano (http://www.rcinet.ca/fr/2015/08/05/hiroshima-70-ans-apres-montreal-sen-souvient/).
Then, Mrs. Misa Hirai, who is teaching Japanese at the University of Quebec at Montreal, commented that the enrollment in her Japanese language course started to increase significant three years ago and is about 350 students this year, almost three times as many as those studying the Chinese language. According to her, this may well be due to students’ increasing interest in Japan’s pop culture such as manga, anime, games, movies, fashion, design, etc., and this seems to be a good first step toward wider interests in Japanese culture, history and society in general.
Later their son Michio joined the conversation, saying that quite a few friends of his, who actively participated in Otakuthon and other similar events, have visited Japan and wanted to stay there, but visiting Japan is one thing and living there is another. There are still numerous obstacles for foreigners to live even in a cosmopolitan city like Tokyo, such as formal restrictions and informal discriminations on residential arrangements and professional activities. He pointed out the example of Canadian anime song singer, HIMEKA, who had to give up her career in Japan last year for failing to find a new agency to sponsor her stay after a several years of successful singing career in Japan. Michio himself, while having mostly enjoyed his stay in Tokyo on his internship program a couple of years ago, sometimes found it difficult to adapt to Japanese behavior at work such as long working hours, staying up with his colleagues until 10 or 11pm.
As a conclusion, the four of us, including myself, agreed that while we all recognize and appreciate so many interesting and valuable contents, events and heritages in Japan, there is much room for improvement and reform to make them more visible and acceptable to the general public in Canada and elsewhere around the world.