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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2012 Autumn Issue]>[News & Chuo University News] German Ambassador to Japan Dr. Volker Stanzel, skilled in Aikido and the tea ceremony, visits Chuo University ~Delivers a lecture on acquiring critical ability~


[News & Chuo University News]

German Ambassador to Japan Dr. Volker Stanzel, skilled in Aikido and the tea ceremony, visits Chuo University
~Delivers a lecture on acquiring critical ability~

Dr. Volker Stanzel (64), German Ambassador to Japan, was invited to deliver a special lecture as the climax of Chuo University International Week (German), an event held to learn about Germany and reconsider Japan. Dr. Stanzel studied abroad at Kyoto University and is known for his knowledge of and affection for Japan. Following his lecture, Dr. Stanzel enjoyed a tea ceremony and held Aikido practice. He spoke in Japanese during his lecture and his friendly personality mesmerized many of the audience members. (Held on July 10th in Classroom #8304, Building No. 8 in Chuo University Tama Campus.)

With the emotion of a goalkeeper

When he was about 20 years old, Dr. Stanzel majored in Japanese Studies, Chinese Studies and Politics at Frankfurt University. He has a good knowledge of Japan-Germany relations, as well as German relations with Asia. In 1972, he studied abroad at Kyoto University, becoming familiar with Japan and learning Aikido. The theme of Dr. Stanzel's lecture was "What Can We Learn from 150 Years of Japan-Germany Relations?"

He began the lecture by asking students and other audience members to describe Germany's image among Japanese people.

"Beer, Mercedes-Benz (automobile), Beethoven (music), soccer."

Conversely, he introduced image of Japan among German people as "sushi, manga, animation, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster."

According to the Ambassador, Japan and German have a high level of interests in each other. Furthermore, he says that the countries share similar values. Both Japanese and German people are diligent and form the same kind of strategies. These many similarities led to deepened exchange, said Dr. Stanzel as explained a historical view which spans 150 years.

The large screen in the room displayed close-up photographs of intense expressions on the faces of Oliver Kahn and Eiji Kawashima, goalkeepers on the national soccer teams of each country. "Proper judgment is vital," said Dr. Stanzel. "Goalkeepers are always anticipating the movement of the ball. Similarly, you should all develop your ability to think." Many students nodded in agreement at this easy-to-understand explanation.

Ogai Mori as a role model

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake, Germany developed a domestic energy policy calling for abolishment of nuclear power and a shift to renewable energy. 80% of German citizens agreed with the policy. While emphasizing the ability to think critically, the Ambassador stressed the importance of proper judgment while questioning whether this policy judgment was correct.

All of the students were filled with the same question: How can the ability of proper judgment be cultivated? "You must observe carefully," was Dr. Stanzel's answer.

The Ambassador raised author Ogai Mori as an example. While studying medicine in Germany, Mori closely observed Germany and wrote the novel The Dancing Girl. Dr. Stanzel praised the book as realistically expressing conditions in Germany at that time, as well as the lifestyle of Japanese foreign students.

"During classes, pass your own judgment on statements made by your instructor. Judgment ability cannot be acquired through learning or imitation. You have to make judgments yourself. This is important during your daily life, your university life and after you have gained employment."

During the Q&A session, the Ambassador answered questions from 8 Chuo University students.

"What can we learn from Germany?" asked a 1st year female student from the Faculty of Commerce. In response, Dr. Stanzel pointed out that while Japan and Germany are similar, there are some differences. Specifically, Japan is an island nation, while Germany is located in central Europe and therefore has a high level of international awareness. Therefore, he recommended that Japanese strengthen their international sensitivity and perspective.

The Ambassador listened happily to questions asked in German and praised the askers effort in studying to become so fluent. Dr. Stanzel also introduced his blog. "If your classes are dull, take a look at this," he said while writing the blog address (refer to next page) on the blackboard, ending his lecture by making the audience laugh.

Stopping a real sword

A scene from Aikido training. The German Ambassador to Japan is pictured on the right.

After the lecture, Chuo University students presented the Ambassador with a bouquet of white lilies and a CD of a mixed-gender chorus singing Beethoven.

Dr. Stanzel then accompanied Chancellor & President Tadahiko Fukuhara to the tea room Kohakuan. While enjoying a tea ceremony held by the Chuo University Tea Ceremony Club, the Ambassador deftly showed his proficiency in the tea ceremony even while sitting in a chair.

Afterwards, Dr. Stanzel went to Gymnasium No. 1 and changed into an Aikido uniform. For about 30 minutes he trained with members of the Aikido Club.

The Ambassador gracefully and expertly performed the Aikido which he had learned while studying at Kyoto University. Even when training with an opponent wielding a real sword, his outstanding judgment ability left no room for the opponent to attack. "Thank you very much. I will never forget training with you today," said the Ambassador with a bow when presented with a wooden sword at the end of training. Dr. Stanzel's lecture and Aikido training also made it an unforgettable day for Chuo University students.

Born in Kronberg in 1948. From 1968, majored in Japanese Studies, Chinese Studies and Politics at Frankfurt University. From 1972, he studied abroad at Kyoto University. Joined the Foreign Service of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1979. Acquired his PhD in philosophy from Cologne University in 1980. Afterwards, worked at the German Embassies in Italy and South Yemen, as well as for the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Has held positions including Foreign Policy Advisor to the German Parliament, Manager of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Civilian Use of Nuclear Energy at the Foreign Office in Berlin, Director-General for Political Affairs (Asia, Africa, the Middle East) at the Foreign Office, and German Ambassador to China. Assumed his current position in December 2009. Currently planning a walking course through Tokyo and Shibamata for days off. His blog Ambassador's Diary can be viewed on the homepage of the German Embassy to Japan (Japanese/German languages).