THE RESULT of the August 30 parliamentary elections in Japan has undoubtedly showed the “loss of confidence” of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) led by former prime minister Taro Aso.

The new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan won by promising major changes amid economic difficulties and social problems.

After LDP’s dominance in the Japanese politics for more than 50 years, a new leadership will soon shape Japan’s future and its youth will take a significant role in this change.

Featured in TIME Magazine last August 31, a group of young Japanese students known as Katariba, a non-profit organization with a nationwide network of 5,000 volunteers, has been going around Japan encouraging their fellow youth to be more participative and sensible in their country’s political matters through workshops and seminars, among others.

Last year, the organization sponsored about 100 events wherein politicians visit high schools and socialize with students.

Such activities strengthened the awareness and knowledge of the Japanese youth in politics by assessing the views and objectives of their political leaders.

Unfortunately, the Philippines, faced with an unstable political culture, is lacking such atmosphere.

Instead of taking their grievances and criticisms to the streets, youth movements and other non-government organizations should raise their political concerns by extensively building a youth sector equipped with wise judgment.

This can only be done through an intensive promotion of proper education and moral values, not with picket signs and speeches.

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Last September 11, despite the relentless downpour, UST eagerly welcomed 150 students from the School of Foreign Language at the University of Nagoya in Japan.

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Our block was very fortunate to have mingled with a few of them when they were able to join us in one of our major classes, Modern Japan and China.

The Japanese students were surprised and astonished when they knew that we have been studying about their history, culture, and society.

Soon afterwards, they enthusiastically started telling us about themselves and their country.

Before leaving the classroom, they serenaded the class with two Japanese songs and even encouraged us to sing with them.

I find great admiration for their confidence and friendliness, which further signifies that young people in Japan are emerging to be more vigilant, concerned, and dynamic amid their country’s challenges.

However, the Japanese students could have had a more enlightening and prolific visit in UST if they were given the chance to engage more with UST students inside the classroom, sharing and learning about each other’s ideas and culture.

The facilitators should have primarily provided for such an interaction since the visit was essentially a cultural-academic activity.

Nevertheless, thanks to the Office for Student Affairs, the executive officers and members of the Student Organizations Coordinating Council, the Asian Studies Society, and the International Students Association, for organizing this activity that is certainly an avenue for camaraderie and Thomasian pride.

Omedetto gozaimasu!

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