International Hachinohe #2 フィリピン駐在生活


Welcome to the second post of International Hachinohe! This series will be focusing on people who are involved in Hachinohe’s international scene, whether they are employees and volunteers for Hachinohe International Relations Association and more!


This time, I interviewed Mr. Kawasaki, a volunteer with the Hachinohe International Relations Association. He’s a really fun and energetic member of the Association. I hope you enjoy his stories!

今回は、八戸国際交流協会 調査広報部会長 の川崎 康一さんにインタビューをしました!川崎さんは、とても面白くて国際交流活動にも熱心な方です。川崎さんのインターナショナルなストーリーをお楽しみください♪



A: Tell me a little bit about yourself!

K: My name is Koichi Kawasaki, and I’m 69 years old. I love playing soccer so I regularly do strength training, and I participate in soccer practice and games with my local seniors’ soccer team. I worked as a metal refinement technician at a company in Hachinohe, and through this position, I was placed in the Philippines as a resident technician and sales operations employee. Currently, I’m studying English and Mandarin Chinese.

A: 簡単な自己紹介をお願いします!

K: 川崎康一69歳です。サッカーが大好きで、日頃から体力トレーニングを行い、今でも地元のシニアチームで定期的に練習及び試合に参加しています。地元の企業で、製錬技術者、フィリピン駐在員及び営業職を経験してきました。英語及び中国語を勉強中です。

A: Tell me about the international cultural exchange activities you are involved in.

K: As a member of the Hachinohe International Relations Association’s Public Relations and Communications Section, I collect information and write articles for the Association’s newsletter magazine. My passion is building new exchange networks and connections through the people I meet while researching content for my articles.

Through living abroad, I was able to experience how much fun it is to communicate in English. However when I returned to Hachinohe, I was assigned to a department at my company that did not require me to use English. That was when I decided to search for opportunities outside of work to make the best of my international experience. It was around that time that I heard about the establishment of the Hachinohe International Relations Association in 1996, and I immediately decided to participate as a member of the Public Relations and Communications Section.

A: 現在、どんな国際交流活動をしていますか?

K: 八戸国際交流協会の調査広報部会員として、機関誌「りんぐりんぐ」に掲載する情報の取材や、記事の作成をしています。取材で知り合った方々との繋がりから、新たな交流が生まれることを目標に活動しています。


A: You mentioned that you used to live in the Philippines, but how did you first get interested in international cultures?

K: So because of my job, I moved to Manila with my family and we lived there together for 3 years. Since it was my first time living abroad, everything was so thrilling. My uncle went to Manila as a soldier during World War II and I heard a lot about his experiences there. That was when I first became interested in the historical relationship between Japan and the Philippines.

The other main impact was from my mother. She was born in Manchuria and raised there for most of her youth. She would often tell me stories from those days, which is how I learned about China. From that time onward, I wanted to know more and more about China, which is why I’m learning Chinese even until today.

A: 国際交流や海外の文化に興味を持ったきっかけは何でしたか?

K: 駐在員として3年間、フィリピンのマニラに家族と共に暮らしました。海外で生活するのは初めてのことで、全てが刺激的でした。私の叔父が戦争中に兵隊としてマニラにいたのですが、当時のフィリピン人との交流について聞いていましたので、両国の歴史的関係にも関心を持っていました。


A: Those are both amazing opportunities. Tell me more about the Philippines. You lived there for 3 years! What were your impressions of your time there?

K: The Marcos political regime had collapsed not too long before I was posted to work in Manila, and so the common image of the Philippines during that time was “poor and dangerous”. When my family and I arrived to Manila in 1990, we saw that most of the cars were emitting so much exhaust fumes that the sky was shrouded in smog, street children gathered in groups on the streets, guard men armed with rifles were stationed at various places around the city; there was so many scenes of our new daily surroundings that we would never have seen in Japan. I couldn’t help but to be worried about the fact that I was bringing my family along to this unfamiliar place. I didn’t know what I would do if my children said, “I want to go back to Hachinohe!”

However, all of those worries vanished after we arrived in Manila.

When my family and I were waiting at the airport to be picked up, there was a woman nearby who was also waiting for her ride. She had the characteristically friendly “Filipino smile” as she made conversation with my daughter. I saw this and I remember feeling so relieved.

And with that, we began our life in Manila. Since I was not at home during the daytime, we found two Filipino women to come teach English to my family and I and to also provide support in other aspects of our life.

My daughter also later went to work in Manila for some time, and she was once again cared for by these two women.

A: フィリピンに3年間住んでいたのですね!現地では、どんな事に気付きましたか?

K: マニラに赴任するまでは、マルコス政権崩壊後ということもあり、“この国は危険、貧しい”というイメージしかありませんでした。事実、赴任した当時(1990年)のマニラは、ほとんどの車が排気ガスを出し放題で上空をスモッグが覆い、ストリートチルドレンが路上にたむろしていたり、色々なところに銃を持ったガードマンが配置されていたりと、日本では見られない光景を日常生活の中で毎日目にする時代でした。そこに家族を呼ぶのですから、心配で仕方がありません。特に子供たちが、“八戸に帰りたい”と言ったらどうしよう!と思っていました。




A: What kind of troubles did you run into while you were working in the Philippines?

K: Since I was sent to work in Manila without much English communication experience at all, I had a lot of mishaps with the language barrier. One time I was working at the Manila office, I received an English phone call and, without completely understanding what was being said, I just kept on replying “yes”. A Filipino insurance company sales representative ended up coming into the office and I got stuck listening to a very long and detailed explanation of all the services they offer.

There was another time I was asked to get in contact with a Japanese mining technician who was working on Mindanao Island, which is another island in the southern region of the Philippines. Keep in mind that this was the era before the widespread use of the internet and so we used radio transmitters to communicate, however, there was a rule that we were required to speak using the local language. Since there were political rebel bases in Mindanao, I think the government made this rule to regulate and monitor communications. I had to make the English script, but this was something I never had to do growing up and learning English in Japan, and it proved to be an incredibly difficult task. The script couldn’t have been longer than a couple lines, but it took an entire morning to draft. On top of that, I had phrase the contents of the script to properly convey the fact that this was an urgent situation that needed to be addressed immediately. I ended up getting my office staff to sit down in front of me, look over the text I had written and help me edit the draft.

After I finally got a better grasp of English communication during my time in Manila, I started wanted to learn how to speak Tagalog, another language used in the Philippines. One time, I tested out my Tagalog with a hotel phone operator when I was making a call to our company client’s hotel. The operator complimented my Filipino and told me that I was very good! I know they could tell that I was a Japanese person trying to speak Filipino, but I was still very happy.

A: フィリピンで働く上で大変だったことはどんなことですか?

K: 英語でのミュニケーションが十分でない状態でマニラ事務所に赴任しましたので、言葉に関して多くのミスがありました。マニラ事務所で英語の電話を受けた時に、よく理解できていないのに“Yesと言ったことで、フィリピン人の保険セールスウーマンが事務所にやって来て、延々と説明を聞くはめになりました。



A: Through living abroad and being involved in international cultural exchange activities, what are a few things that you have learned from your experiences?

K: There are 3 main things:

  1. During my stay in Manila, I would get asked about Japanese culture, traditions, and ways of thinking, and there were so many instances where I didn’t know the answer to their questions. From that time on, I felt the importance of having enough knowledge to being able to explain things about my own country in my native language first. Only then will I be able to explain it in another language as well.

  2. If you learn how to speak another language, such as English, it will only broaden your world and its horizons.

  3. Japan’s social standards and practices are not universal.

A: 国際交流活動を通して、または海外に住んでみて、学んだことは何ですか?

K: 3つあります。

① 滞在中に日本の文化や考え方、習慣などを聞かれても説明できないことが多くありました。このことから、まずは自国のことを母国語で説明できるようにし、それから他言語で説明できるようにすることが大切だと感じました。

② 英語など他言語でのコミュニケーションができれば、自分の世界が大きく広がること。

③ 日本の常識が世界の常識ではないこと。

A: Finally, any last words you would like to tell people who are interested in international culture exchange?

K: The most important thing is to just be curious. Personally, I’m not actually making a conscious effort to be involved in cultural exchange. I just pursue the things that I’m curious about and have an interest in, and that was how I naturally got connected to things related to cultural exchange.

When I was living in the Philippines and working hard to study English, I also became interested in Tagalog, which is the language that many people in the Philippines speak. Then, from my mother’s influence, I was also interested in Chinese history and language. So now I am currently involved in various activities with the Chinese population living in Hachinohe, and we have gatherings and events such as dumpling parties.

I’m so grateful that I received so many opportunities from my company and my family to go out and explore my interests. But even if you don’t have a similar situation or the same opportunities quite yet, I think it’s important to first take interest in the people and the events that are happening around you, and start to make meaningful conversations with people regardless of their nationality.

A: 最後に、国際交流に関心のある皆さんへメッセージをお願いします。

K: 一番大事なのは「好奇心」です。私自身、国際交流を意識して活動しているわけではありません。知りたいことや興味のあることを突き詰めていったら、自然と国際交流に結び付いていました。



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