The Japan Foundation, Bangkok
It seems difficult to define what is "pop" and what is "cool". If I had to do so, the former is what the energetic younger generation is interested in and the latter is what the mature generation smartly dressed in a suit is interested in. In June 30, 2009, "Pop Culture Corner" was opened in the 35-year-old Japan Foundation, Bangkok (JFBKK). At this corner, the latest songs by J-pop artists in DVD are updated monthly and cutting-edge magazines for youngsters are provided. Although the number is limited, Japanese films and animated cartoons are also available. The influence of "pop" topics and information is spreading gradually. Situated at a corner of the library, each user of Pop Culture Corner has to listen to the material with a headphone. Even with such restriction, the users' eyes or backs silently indicate that they are experiencing something exciting. We are greatly relieved at this sight.
In Thailand, just as in other countries, the economic development has caused various environmental problems that bother citizens and the government. It had been regarded that this field did not involve cultural exchange, but JFBKK collaborated with the Office of the Supreme Administrative Courts of Thailand that organized a special lecture on "Environmental Justice: Learning from Japanese Experiences" in August 6, 2009. Professor Noriko Okubo from Osaka University gave a detailed account of various administrative lawsuits against environmental issues in Japan, from a pollution of a copper mine in Ashio in Meiji Era to Minamata disease and traffic pollution. Prof. Okubo described these issues specifically and in chronological order, clearly indicated that they are contemporary matters for Thailand today. We were pleased with compliments from judges in suites, stating that it was the "coolest" lecture they had ever attended. In September, the second lecture will be held with two experts from Japan.
"Pop" and "cool" might be expressed with different passions, but both can be found in our immediate surroundings.