Koichi Hori

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Culture as the base of our country: Prof. Inose

This is an article I wrote in response to the request from Japanese Institute of Electrical Engineers in 2001. The original is in Japanese. This rough English translation is done by me.

The interview with Professor Hiroshi Inose to ask and record his memories of telecommunication research was planned on 20th November 2000. Just one month before the planned interview, Professor Inose suddenly passed away of heart disease.
The authors are still in deep sorrow, and I cannot be willing to write this article. Professor Inose was too great professor for me to write anything about him. When I was asked to be an interviewer to interview with Prof. Inose, I refused the offer at first, because I thought we should not bother Prof. Inose in such extra work. When I was a young associate professor, I once asked Prof. Inose a question. The question was if I could decline to be some committee members. At that time, I was members of more than fifteen committees. When I was appointed as associate professor, Prof. Inose advised me that we should work not for ourselves but for the society. Following this advice, I tried to do my best but I thought being members of fifteen committees at the same time was too much. Professor Inose did not answer directly to my question but gently asked me which committees I was serving in. Then he told me his memories of each committee and never said that I should decline some of them. Prof. Inose was always gentle to young researchers and students. He always treated us as gentlemen. He did not give me any direct answer to my question, but I thought he gently taught me the importance of social service again. When I heard that Prof. Inose was willing to receive the interview, I recalled this memory of my young day and accepted to be an interviewer. Now I cannot but think the accumulation of the extra jobs shortened Prof. Inose's life. I feel like complaining that Japanese governments and research institutes requested Prof. Inose too much extra work, though I hear Prof. Inose’s voice from the heaven saying I must not say such rude complaint. Prof. Inose was born in 1927. He loved art and he wanted to be a scholar to study the history of art.

Let me quote Prof. Inose's memory of the days around World War II from the lecture note of his last lecture at University of Tokyo.

In December 1941, the Greater East Asia War broke. Listening to the radio, my father got angry and said to me `It is insane to begin this war. You should be careful not to lose your life in this war.' Japanese ordinary middle-class citizens had this sound mind even in that era. I myself did not have confident ideas, but the situation of Japan got worse and worse. Before that time, I wanted to be a scholar to study art, but Mr. Takeo Katou whom I respected suggested me that I should study engineering. He said I had the talent and that I should survive this war and rebuild Japan with technologies after the war. Since schools of engineering had the conscription privileges, all my relatives also asked me to go to engineering.

I lived in a dormitory at high school. In the Autumn of 1943, when we were taking poor meals at the dining room of the dormitory, radio news announced the news of drafting the students in humanities studies. Silence occupied the dining room. I could not look at the faces of my friends in humanities studies, because I was conscious that I chose engineering to save my life. Many colleagues in humanities studies went to war and never came back. I clearly remember the memory of that day.

On the fifteenth August 1945, the war ended. My house was burnt by air bombing. Tokyo was burned land all around. We could see clearly Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tsukuba from Tokyo. Only the building of Hibiya auditorium remained. One day, in Hibiya auditorium, the traditional Noh drama was played by the five traditional school masters. I was so encouraged by this Noh drama. Though we were defeated in war and I was depressed, I was so glad to confirm that we have this great culture. I thought that we should rebuild our country based on our culture. In the meantime, our national policy of cultural nation disappeared, and the economy got the first priority. Our nation has become money earning nation. Now we should reconsider what are the important values. We should contribute to the world through philosophies, cultures and science. Why not rebuild our country based on cultures?

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