Debate Practice for Japanese Students: 日本人学生のディベート実践 [Report]

Debate Practice for Japanese Students in Silicon Valley, California

Date: March 20-21, 2017; 日時:2017年3月20日~21日
Place: Pacific Motor Inn, San Jose, California: 場所:カリフォルニア・サンノゼ
Program: Kyushu Univ 5 week ELEP program: プログラム:九州大学5週間海外研修

A group of students from Kyushu University practiced a "formal debate" in the final week of their training program, organized by the Kyushu Univ. office in Silicon Valley, California.
Two important issues, AI (artificial intelligence) and nuclear energy, are taken up in the debate, first in Japanese on March 20, and then in English on March 21.
"Learning by doing" was the approach taken here, as this was a new experience for most students.
In this two-day practice, the students were offered opportunities to learn many things, from English to debate manner in addition to the issues themselves. In fact, on this program, especially in the debate practice, all the students made really impressive progress in the presentation and exchange of their opinions in Japanese and English as well.
For more details about the issues, see the reference at the bottom of this page.


Program coordinator M. Matsuo introducing debate instructor T. Miyao
170320Miyao1.jpg 170320Miyao2.jpg
Students' debate on nuclear energy: "Pro" side (left) vs. "Con" side (right)
Final comments by Prof. Takamatsu and Group photo of all participants

Reference; 参考
Distribution material handed out to students prior to the debate
Issue 1: Is the future of AI likely a blessing or a threat for human beings? Are you bullish or cautious about the future of AI?
Side A: AI is advancing and helping our life and work significantly, as already shown in ever more convenient services in information, financial and retail business. Our productivity and living standard will be improved substantially with the development of AI, and those who possess the most advanced AI will prevail in the world in the future.
Side B: AI is advancing itself faster than anyone has predicted, already replacing some workers and creating serious problems such as bankruptcies, unemployment and low wages even in advanced industries, which are now dominated by few giant companies with advanced AI technology. Furthermore, AI is bound to reach the "singularity point" beyond which AI could be uncontrollable and disastrous for human beings.

Issue 2: Is nuclear power necessary or unnecessary to satisfy our needs for energy, technology, the environment, etc. Are you for or against nuclear energy?
Side A: In a country like Japan without much natural resources, nuclear power is the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, to reconcile the dilemma to satisfy both energy and environmental needs, as clean renewable resources are still a tiny fraction of energy supply with rising costs. The nuclear safety issue can only be addressed by international cooperation to develop and invest in newer and safer nuclear power technology.
Side B: Nuclear energy is too hazardous and dangerous for any country to rely on to satisfy its energy needs, and also it is too costly in view of all the safety measures required for nuclear power plant operations and, most of all, enormous costs imposed on society in case of accident. Equally serious is the nuclear waste issue, which cannot be treated with existing technologies. Although, without nuclear power, energy shortage may be unavoidable in the short run, clean renewable energy should be encouraged to meet the long-run energy needs.

Story for Disaster Prevention Education in : 防災教育のための物語 [Information 情報]

Disaster Prevention Education Based on Lafcadio Hearn’s Story


In the period 1937-1947, disaster prevention education, especially about Tsunami, was widely given in Japan, using a textbook based on Lafcadio Hearn’s “A Living God,” that is a story of Gohei Hamada, who set fire to his rice heads on a high hillside to attract village people for fire fighting, thus saving them from the great tsunami, which happened in 1896 (Meiji Sanriku Earthquake)
Reference: Lafcadio Hearn "A Living God":
Note: Lafcadio Hearn, born in Greece (1850), migrated to Ireland (1982), moved to the US (1859), and lived in Japan (1890-1904), published "A Living God" in 1897, a year after the Meiji Sanriku Earthquake.

1896年の明治三陸地震・津波で「村の長者の浜田五兵衛が高台の自分の稲むらに火をつけ、それを消しに駆け付けた村人たちを大津波から救った」という話『A living God』(小泉八雲著・英文)を元にした教材『稲むらの火』が、昭和12~22年に防災教育に広く使われた。