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Japanese youngster touts teen exchanges

Updated: 2022-01-19 08:55 ( China Daily )
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Daichi Nakashima introduces his first novel, Polaris of the Border, at a reading event in Tokyo. [Photo/Xinhua]

TOKYO-Daichi Nakashima, an editor at a Japanese publishing house, said at a recent reading event in Tokyo that he hopes his novel can help more Japanese, especially teenagers, increase "their understanding of other cultures and contribute to the cross-cultural communication between Japanese and Chinese teenagers".

In 2019, Nakashima, who won the Panda Cup Japan Youth Essay Contest, wrote a letter to President Xi Jinping to send his greetings and best wishes and express his willingness to promote greater friendship between China and Japan.

Xi wrote back to him, expressing his hope that the young people of the two countries will make positive contributions to creating a better future for bilateral relations.

Nakashima was greatly encouraged, saying he has taken it as his mission.

Since then, he has spent his spare time helping Chinese students apply for Japanese universities at an overseas study service agency, while volunteering to help students who have just arrived in Japan catch up on the Japanese language.

During this process, Nakashima gained a deeper understanding of the difficulties foreign students face in their study and life after coming to Japan, and their efforts to integrate into Japanese society, which he recorded in his first novel, Polaris of the Border.

The main character, a Chinese girl who followed her mother to Japan as a child, tells the story of her struggle to assimilate into Japanese society and to find her identity while helping foreign students and befriending many foreigners.

The novel won the 61st Children's Literature Award for New Writers organized by Kodansha, a publishing house in Japan.

The novel combines elements including Chinese pop songs and popular foods, from which readers can learn about Chinese culture and people's living conditions. The Kodansha jury says it is "a work that crosses borders and thinks from a global perspective".

"There is a lot of children's literature in Japan about Japanese children overcoming difficulties and achieving success, but there are very few works featuring foreign children, and there are very few novels about cross-cultural communication. Maybe that's why Polaris of the Border stands out," Nakashima says.

Nakashima says he wishes that people would communicate across cultures while keeping in mind their own cultural roots.

"Due to the pandemic, people from Japan and China have had fewer opportunities to meet and communicate in the past two years. I hope Japanese readers can understand the side of other countries through my novel," Nakashima says.

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China. I hope my novel can be translated into Chinese in the future and contribute to the cross-cultural communication between the young people of the two countries," he says.


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