Where does one begin when trying to write about Noriaki? I wish I could say he’s rare, a bit of an anomaly (in Japan, most certainly, but I would go as far as to say the world around) and profound and leave it at that, but that would not do him justice. After our Q and A session in class, an hour plus of walking and talking afterwards, his lecture and the class dinner, I find that I continually have to remind myself that he is only 21 and a university student much like myself. We put him to the test, asking him to analyze his own culture in ways we might never have and to validate actions much bolder than any we may ever take. I am particularly impressed by the fact that even though I find Noriaki to be quite the idealist, I do not believe he crosses across the line and enters the domain of the quixotic. When asked why Iraq? Why depleted uranium? He acknowledged the perhaps inevitability of war, but not the justifiability of harming the innocent–children.
Also, I find his brand of realism intriguing. It seems natural to avoid conflict as well as those who would challenge, contradict and criticize your actions, ideals and stance, but Noriaki actively seeks to know his opposition and to have dialogue with them. At first I could not understand why he was so passionate about seeing things from their point of view or trying to understand them, but I find know that without such dialogue to put our own thinking on trial, we can or may never find the flaws in our own logic nor effectively persuade others.
I saw this attitude reflected in his answer to the question of censorship. Sometimes, it would seem, even the benevolent and “correct” act of censoring words aimed to be derisive and without any obvious edifying points, might be counteractive to the pursuit of the “greater good.” What is thought will be thought regardless of whether or not it is said. Is it not better to have these sentiments—even the worst of them—out in the open where those of us who disagree can attempt to understand them (and, personally, subsequently refute them) the way Noriaki does? I think so.