ARUN - Social Investment Platform | Series: Book Review No.8 

Series: Book Review No.8

myanmar01

 Shingo Okubo, ARUN Partner Attorney, Associate Professor of University of Yangon

In this series, I have a little different approach; instead of focusing on social investment itself, I chose titles that give insight to the Asian society, in which ARUN mainly invests. It will be useful to know the country and the society in which we invest in order to understand social investment in Asia.

Asia in Washington by Kent E. Calder

Japanese title: Washinton no Naka no Ajia, Chuo Koron Shuppan

Dr. Calder, who is a prominent researcher of Japan and Asian studies in the United States, uses Asian countries’ diplomacy in Washington D.C. as case studies, and analyses the influences of the other countries including the United States in the Asian economy and security. Even without Dr. Calder’s analysis, it is obvious that the world is tightly interconnected and Asia is no exception. An effort to establish AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) in 2015 is a good example. In the book, it is also pointed out that Japan and China, the two countries with a large scale economy, are not necessarily able to have the huge influence in comparison with the other Asian countries. Actually, policy makers, business persons, and university scholars from each country are communicating frequently through various channels. Dr. Calder himself has taught political economy in the University of Yangon in Myanmar, which re-opened last year after 25 years. People living in Asia, including Myanmar, the country called the last frontier because it is least developed in Asia, are starting to think about issues at the same level as the rest of the world. In order to make progress with the people in Asia not through conventional investment but through social investment, sometimes we need to gaze the bigger picture. Currently, Asia is in an important pivotal point generating many discussions on issues in Asia, and as one of the Asian countries, Japan needs to participate in the discussion. Dr. Calder once told us heatedly (literary, in a 40 degree classroom), that we need to re-think where Japan and other Asian countries are heading in relation to the rest of the world. Remembering his words and with the help of this book, I am hoping to deepen my understanding during the summer vacation while turning my dusty globe on my bookshelf. After viewing the large picture of the global trends from Washington D.C., to become aware of the recent challenges in Myanmar could also be useful for understanding the Asian society. myanmary02

Where China Meets India by Thant Myint-U

(Japanese translation: Biruma Haiwei:Chuugoku to Indo o Tsunagu Juujiro

published from Hakusui-Sha)

Another title is a travelogue and novel written by a Burmese historian. With his rich knowledge, he explains the history while trekking a road from North East India through Burma and Yunnan Province (the majority of which are danger zones with military conflicts), that took him several years. He hopes that the cross roads that connect China and India where Myanmar is located could become the 21st Century’s Silk Road, while he presents his careful observations of the situation from the viewpoint of national security, including behind-the-scene negotiations. Casual reading, yet unlike simple travelogue, the book gives a satisfaction of reading both high quality history text and Kotaro Sawaki`s Shinya Tokkyu (Midnight Express), which used to be the bible of back-packers. The author, Thant Myint-U is also a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where Professor Calder teaches. He has two doctorate degrees in History from two Cambridges; Harvard University in Cambridge, MA and the University of Cambridge in England. Having former Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant as his grandfather, Mr. Myint-U himself has worked for the United Nations in former Yugoslavia and Cambodia. His abundant experience and knowledge distinguish the book from many other titles on Myanmar on the bookstore shelf. The previous title that I introduced is an opportunity to grasp a lecture in a university in Myanmar, and the later title helps to share the concerns of the intellectual people in Myanmar. I hope both titles will help us think about the solutions for the social problems in Asian countries as equal partners. Asia, ARUN’s investment target, may become the crossroads of China and India, as well as the United States and Japan in the near future.


September 2020
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