An Egyptian professor in Japan advises Arab scholars who want to study or work in Japan to learn about its culture first.
For 17 years, Almoamen Abdalla has built bridges between the Arab world and Japanese culture, through his work in translation, teaching Arabic on Japanese TV, academic studies, and writing articles.
In a Zoom interview, he talked with Al-Fanar Media about his experiences and his hopes for greater cultural interaction between Arabs and the Japanese in the future.
Building Cultural Bridges
Abdalla, who teaches Japanese studies and translation at Tokai University, in Toyko, said Japan pays considerable attention to communicating with the Arab world.
For instance, he received a call recently from officials at the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry involved in the “Cool Japan” strategy, which aims to strengthen Japan’s ties with other countries by building on cultural elements that are perceived as “cool” abroad. The officials were seeking his views on how to build cultural relations between Japan and Arab societies, he said.
“Japan is obsessed with global competition, influencing and communicating with people,” Abdalla said, “but, where is the Arab world in such efforts?”
Despite the communication tools available, reaching each other remains difficult, he said, because “there is no momentum in building the number of people skilled in connecting the parties to each other.”
“Understanding the other is a very advanced stage,” he added. “Before that, we must get to know each other.”