SAKURAI Yoshihide Professor
- Human Sciences / Sociology
- Specialized Field
- Sociology of Religion, Thai and Asian Studies
- Research Subject
- Cult problems and New Religions, Engaged Buddhism in Thailand, Asian Religions in Global Age
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Attracted to the national character that makes people in Thailand enjoy life, I’ve come to know the various faces of “the land of smiles.”
Thailand is a country with wide hierarchical and regional discrepancies between people. When I wrote the article about how people in Thai villages lived in economic hardship, you might imagine they’re living from hand to mouth. But Thailand has been one of the world’s leading rice exporting countries. Even in poor rural areas, people rarely had all the rice produced in the previous year, which indicated they’re completely free from starvation. But the prices of agricultural products were too low for them to earn enough cash to send their children to junior and senior high schools. NGOs for international support promoted regional development, while community members helped themselves by working away from home.
The reason I’m attracted to research on Thailand lay in the fact that the optimistic national character of the people there allowed them to enjoy their lives even with the economic gaps between them and the unstable political situation. The philosophy of reincarnation in Buddhism regards our present lives as transient. I believe the religious culture, in which those who have accumulated virtue are sent to another world after death, supports Thais’ daily lives.
- I’ve been to Thailand many times, in some cases at my own expense.
- Professor Sakurai (center) specializes in research on Northeastern Thailand.
Think about your own affairs by yourself.
Mental exercise before going into the real world
University is a place where you acquire knowledge and cultivate the judgment and intellect necessary in society. The university staff assume responsibility for watching over the development of our students. Preventive measures against cults on campus, on which I’ve long focused my energy, are in line with this initiative. We make efforts to create an environment where students can foster their independent human nature by learning freely.
Sociology is a science that provides ways of looking at society. How should we become committed to a society with social issues and human relations that haven’t been clearly resolved? It depends on you to provide solutions to these issues. Look back on our own society through different cultures. Senior classmates who have been tackling regional research overseas and international students who are here to learn about Japanese scholarship and culture are sure to inspire you.
[You can obtain a qualification as a social researcher.]
In an attempt to persuade people through the media, including through newspapers, TV and the Internet, the chair of the program invariably cites research results as the basis for argument. However, I wonder whether the argument is valid. Without any knowledge of research methods, contexts and sociological perspectives, people can be easily deceived. Sociology plays a role in providing opportunities for students to acquire the cultural literacy necessary for unraveling social information.
Regardless of what faculty or graduate school you attend, the mere completion of academic subjects in the course of humanities and social sciences at university is rarely linked directly to obtaining a national qualification, although credits are given to these subjects. In addition, it does not follow that the qualification serves as a guarantee to enter a profession. Still, I believe if you go out into the world with a certificate indicating that you’ve acquired expertise, you’ll surely be offered a post relevant to your field.