Critical Analyses of the Phrase, "Oushu
Rengou" to indicate the European Union
in Japan and the Political Nature of the
EU Masami KODAMA
This article covers the use of problematical phrase, "Oushu Rengou," to indicate the EU. Since the EU delegation to Tokyo has adopted this phrase and mass media have followed this way, it has become a "standard" expression as the Japanese naming of the European Union. In this article, the following elements will be examined. They are as follows: Firstly, the connotation of the phrase, "Oushu Rengou." Secondly, the appropriateness of this phrase to indicate the entity which has a potential direction towards a federal body. Thirdly, "spill over" effects on the related academic words of the European integration, such as Customs Union and Economic and Monetary Union, following the adoption of the phrase by the delegation. Finally, the mentality and inclination of the academics and media who tend to use the phrase, "Oushu Rengou."
As a result of the analysis of the phrase, it can be concluded that it has vital defects. It cannot differentiate the EU from the associations such as ASEAN and EFTA, nor does it identify "F-word" arguments among the Member States over a future structure of this political entity, since the word, "Rengou" has a connotation merely of association or confederation in Japanese.
A ghost is haunting Japan. Its name is "Oushu Rengou." This modern ghost is, troublesome, because she wears a magical hat called "mass media", producing enormous numbers of newspapers, and misleading the Japanese public to the labyrinth of understandings of the nature of the European Union and the development of European Integration.
This article covers the serious problems concerning the understanding of the political nature of the European Union that scholars specializing the EU in Japan are facing, by analyzing the ways of translation and examining the ideas behind the selection of words in the Japanese media in Japan.
Nippon Shinbun Kyoukai Yougo Touitu Iinkai(The Word-Unifying Committee of the Japan Association of Press), consisting of almost all newspapers in Japan including prestigious Nippon Keizai Shimbun (the Japan Economic Journal) and the Asahi Shimbun, now adopted the phrase, "Oushu Rengou" to indicate the European Union in early 1992. As a result, leading daily newspapers such as the Yomiuri Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun, once having used the phrase, "Oushu Doumei," followed this decision and changed their own usages to "Oushu Rengou." This unified expression enters our daily life from morning till night like a flood of water. It is easy to imagine the impact of the press which has such wide spread publicity. Taking the case of Asahi alone, it has some eight million subscriptions.
In the association of media there is a committee which decides how to translate new foreign words expediently. Sometimes this kind of committee is useful to avoid the confusion brought about by the various ways of translation. This might be the reason why this committee was set up. But this time the case is quite different. There is a big danger in forcing our general public to a one-sided view of the European Union and to lead to a wrong way of understanding the European Union. More serious is that many scholars, who have the responsibility to make the substance of the EU clear, are facing psychologicalpressures by being forced to follow this way of translation against their own will.
The scholars who use the traditional way of translated phrase, "Oushu Doumei" face questions from their students in class as to why they are using this "less familiar" way of referring to the EU, because the mass media, including above-mentioned leading newspapers and public TV like NHK (equivalent to BBC and France 2), are using the words of "Oushu Rengou" as an "official" or "standard" way oftranslation.
１． Pre history
Let me show you the situation surrounding our academics before this problem occurred. The European Community (as an entity of European integration covering three Communities; ECSC, EURATOM, EEC, now EC since 1993) has been an important objective, not only for business and the media, but for the academics in Japan, since EC/EU has exerted such an enormous influence in the international economic and political scene. In fact, there are many Japanese companies and factories deployed in Europe. For them, to defend their interests, the companies concerned need at least knowledge of the Community law and the legal system of the EC/EU.
For long the European Community has been translated as "Oushu (European) Kyoudotai(Community)." Nobody had questioned this established translation.
Therefore scholars in Japan have peacefully shared the same word and connotation with the media. But once the EC had transformed and developed into the European Union as a result of hard negotiations in the Inter-governmental Conference (IGC) for the Treaty on the European Union from December 1990 to February 1992, the situation became complicated and difficult. For the first time, we faced the problem of how to translate the EU into Japanese.
Strictly speaking, for Japanese scholars this was not a new problem. We had already faced this word when Tindemans Report on the European Union appeared in 1975. At that time the EU was translated into not as "Oushu Rengou" but as "Oushu Doumei." One of the very early examples was the work done by Katayama Kenji (Professor Emeritus at the Kwansei Gakuin University), first president of the Japan Association for EC Studies (Katayama, 1978). It is surprising that in the Far East there was a scholar who saw the importance of this report and the EU clearly at this stage. In those days it was common to translate the word, "Union" as "Doumei" as this shows us. But not in any sense had the problem of how we translate it into Japanese had provoked serious arguments. The way to translate the words was a limited problem, because only a small number of scholars had interest in the EU and partly because less attention was paid by the media to the EU. In fact, this EU that Belgian prime minister Tindemans had submitted still remained a paper plan for future European integration without any entity.
Time has changed the way of translation of the European integrational organization. The deepening of the European Integration made the honeymoon-life between the academics and media and among academicians themselves end in discord. Then, in the wake of the adoption of the phrase "Oushu Rengou" there occurred serious problems of how we see and translate the political nature of the EU. Since the word, "Rengou" has a connotation of "Association" in itself, this hinders the formation of a good understanding on the very political nature of the European Union.
２．Problematic nature of the word of "Rengou" in the context of usages to explain the movements of European Integration.
Let me show some examples of translations in Japan concerning international organizations. The European Free Trade Association(EFTA) is translated as "Oushu Jiyu Boueki Rengou." The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has translated as "Tounan Asia Shokoku Rengou " for more than twenty years.
The difference between the EU and the two above-mentioned international associations is clear in terms of levels of economic integration and in its substance as an organization of regional integration.
The EFTA, is an organization which has no common external trade tariffs imposed upon the third countries, though it has abolished the internal trade tariffs. Much less than ASEAN. ASEAN is nothing but a loose international organization based on the governmental co operations in the region of the South East Asia. It is planning to reduce the trade tariffs to 5-0% in the year of 2010. No indication of the common external tariffs and the common market as such are there at this moment, as far as ASEAN is concerned.
Another example is the United Nations. This is translated as "Kokusai Rengou" in our language. Needless to say, the UN is an organization based on international cooperation among the sovereign states. Especially the Big Five is keeping the veto in the Security Council in the UN. Veto means unanimity. A body in which members have veto power must act with unanimity. Unanimity might cause a delay in the decision-making. It is a typical way of decision-making of the intergovernmental organizations composed of the sovereign states, while it is the idea of unanimity that is gradually being replaced by the majority voting in the decision making process in the Council of Ministers in the European Union. 14 provisions for the qualified majority voting were newly introduced in the Council under the Maastricht Treaty (R. Corbett,1993, p.90).
The word, "Rengou" is also used in the cases when corporations and firms organize ad hoc cooperation for the short-term interest to complete a certain project. We call this "Kigyou Rengou" (Company Cooperation). In our context it is just enough to show to foreign people who have less knowledge of Japanese language that the word, "Rengou" is being used to indicate these organizations inJapan.
The EU is not this type of organization. It is an organization that completed abolition of the internal trade tariffs in 1968 and that even has a plan to introduce a single European currency, named ECU or Euro, in 1999 at the latest under the provisions of the Treaty on the European Union (apart from its probability of materialization) after finalising the Single Market in the end of 1992, and to establish the majority voting system as a rule in terms of market integration under the provisions of the Single European Act in 1987.
Some more problematic examples could be pointed out. First, once the media in Japan translate the EU as "Oushu Rengou" without giving any conceptual distinctions between Union and Association in the EU, it is now extremely difficult to distinguish between the Association agreement of the EU with third countries, such as Poland, Hungary and Czechs on the one hand, and the accession of the applicant states to the European Union, on the other. As a result, the following type of article is to appear on the newspapers in Japan:<While Norwegians have failed to give approval to the accession to EU in the national referendum on 28 November 1994, the Central and East European nations already signed the Association agreements ("Rengou Kyoutei") are expecting the accession to the European Association ("Oushu Rengou").>
It is totally absurd for a state having a status of "Association" to join the European "Association." Like this, the academics and media who use the phrase, "Oushu Rengou" to indicate the EU often have a very tendency to neglect the terminology in the European Union.
３．The word, "Doumei"
Let me touch upon the connotation of the word "Doumei". "Doumei" in Japanese, has several meanings. This word is being used in many ways in many fields. To take an example, the relationship between Japan and US based upon the military pact is called "Nichi-BeiDoumei". The military alliance between Japan and the British Empire signed in 1902 just before the Russo-Japanese war(1904-05) was also called "Nichi-Ei(Japan-UK) Doumei." As these cases show us, it is true that the word, " Doumei" sometimes has a connotation of military alliance in Japanese. Two professors talked about this connotation as a reason why theyprefer "Rengou" to "Doumei" to indicate the EU. This is quoted by a Japanese editor of the Gekkan (monthly) EC, a information journal issuing from the EU delegation(Gekkan EC, 1992, p.13) for the general public in Japan.
It was at the very time that the word problem of how we would translate EU into Japanese got serious in the wake of the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in February 1992. The editor of the Journal of the EU delegation flatly admitted there that these talks on the connotation of the word had affected the selection of the word, "Oushu Rengou" in the journal. If the word, "Doumei" was rejected because of its military nuance, as was written by him, it seems very groundless, since the EU stipulates in the preamble of the Maastricht Treaty " the eventual framing of a common defense policy, which might in time lead to a common defense." In the security of the Union, the Western European Union (WEU) is stated to be "an integral part" in Article J.4. We must here again point out the WEU is being translated as "Sei-Ou (West European) "Doumei (Union)" in Japanese.
Take another example. In the context of international organization, we translate customs union into " Kanzei Doumei". All the usages connote vital and sometimes fatal relationships uniting the partners who constitute such "Doumei" relationships.
We cannot help but say that the image of the European Union in Japan is as if it were something like the European Association, for the word, "Rengou" means Association in Japanese. Ironically enough, the information office of the EU delegation to Tokyo has adopted this translation in a less sensible way, without giving any serious consideration what their decision would mean and what impact their decision would give via mass-media, even though it has the task of making the EU known to our public with precision.
The process of the adoption of the phrase, "Oushu Rengou" in the EU delegation is hard to understand from outside, but only a very limited number of the academics should have been asked the opinions about this very important problem by the delegation. No doubt, the adoption by the delegation had played a vital role in the decision of the aforementioned word-unifying committee to adopt the translation.
It is natural for the media to follow once the delegation adopts the translated naming. Yet the founding fathers of the EC would be astonished if they knew that the EU delegation to Tokyo, a subordinate branch of the European Commission is using the words describing the entities which have no aim to integrate further beyond association or confederation.
The worst thing is that the future image of the European Union has already fixed in Japan as an association or a confederation due to the adpotion of the word, "Rengou" by the EU delegation to Tokyo, even though both the federalists and the intergovernmentalists have still been arguing bitterly about the future of Europe.
An important thing to remember is that, as Burgess clearly points out, historically speaking, the phrase 'European Union' made the "intergovernmentalists feel as comfortable as federalists with it" (Burgess,1989, p. 76). Never does the word, " Rengou" connote this neutrality. Nor can the delegation see the "F(ederal)" word argument in the inter-governmental conferences during 1991. In Steyger's analysis of the political nature of the Community by using the F-word, this is one of the most important elements of the Community and the Union (Steyger, E., 1995, Chap.1).
In the next section, the connotation of the word, "Rengou," in relation to the political nature of the EU will be further touched upon.
４．Is the EU a "Kokka Rengou "confederation?
One of the important features of the federation is that it has the power to control the currency as well as control over the foreign policy and defense. Pliakos especially emphasizes the vital effects of the establishment of the monetary Union by saying that " L'emergence d'une soverainete monetaire communautaire brise le moyau dur de la souveranete etatique, avec des effets imprevisibles."(Pliakos, 1993, p.223). Emergence of the monetary sovereignty is a very important point to differentiate a federation from a confederation. Whether apolitical entity is federation or not depends on the belonging of these powers to this entity. Taking note of these points, let us consider more about the way of usage in Japanese.
We translate "federation" as "Renpou", while we do "confederation" as "Kokka(state) Rengou " in our language. To translate the EU as "Oshu Rengou" has a certain implication. Those who use this word, "Rengou," have a pre-conceived notion or a hidden inclination or expectation to see that the EU is confederation. How to grasp the political nature of the EU, of course, is one of the biggest and difficult problems even among the European scholars. It is beyond the mere problems of translation in Japan.
In one aspect, the EU looks like a federation and in another aspect, we see the characteristics of a confederation in the EU. Probably, it lies somewhere between confederation and federation. But here we must emphasize the fact that, clearly, the EU has a certain inherent motivation and dynamics towards some sort of a federal Europe, not just stopped at the Confederation of the member states, much less than the Association.
The move to introduce a single currency is one example. A Confederation which has a single currency is totally contradictory in its definition. We should remember what had happened in the process of the fall of the Soviet Union. Immediately after she lost the power-center as a Federal entity, almost of all the republics which had composed the Soviet Union turned to the introduction of their own national currencies.
Furthermore, the fact that the words," a federal goal," in the draft by the Dutch government remained even until the final stage in the IGC is another example. In fact, the stipulation of the principle of subsidiarity in the Maarstricht Treaty also shows this. To meet this principle, the Federal Republic of Germany was obliged even to revise (or with their positive will) the Basic Law (esp. Art.23). This principle is obviously related to the federal structure,as most scholars have agreed (Church & Phinnnemore, 1994, Cass, 1992).T.C. Hartley, a British EC law professor, flatly admits the federal character of the EU by saying that "interestingly federal elements are strongest with regard to the judicial and legal system of the Community" (Hartley, 1994, p. 9, footnote).
Returning to the context of this article, it must be said that the EU is more than a static confederation. One of the most conspicuous pieces of evidence for this is that the expression of "ever closer association" once used, in Article C in the Common Provision to establish the purpose of the European Union in The Non-Paper of the Luxembourg Government on 12 April 1991 in the Inter-governmental Conference(IGC) under Jacques Santer's presidency of the EC, was carefully changed to the "ever closer union" in the process of negotiations, which has long been used as the way of defining Europe (Luxembourg Government,1991;italics added) .
To our great regret, in Japan, we cannot identify this very meaningful an important change of the key word in European integration in the IGC at all, since the EU delegation in Japan and our media are translating "Union" as "Rengou."
By being given the name of "Oushu Rengou" to the European Union, "Spill-over" effects start influencing to other related words. The Economic Monetary Union (EMU) is one such case.
EMU is a one of the very essential components of the so-called three "pillars" structure of the EU in pararell with the pillars of the Common Security and Foreign Policy(CFSP) and the Common Justice and Home Affairs(CJHA). Now some scholars begin to translate The Economic Monetary Union as "Keiszai Tsuuka Rengou" to take a balance, since they have adopted the words of "Oushu Rengou" according to the logical way of thinking to maintain consistency.
Once the word Union is translated as "Rengou", this should be used in the same fashion. Obviously, one of the most important aims of EMU is not to introduce another currency in parallel with national currencies already existent, but to create a single currency in place of these currencies. That is to say, the introduction of a single currency is totally unthinkable in the Association (Rengou) or Kokka Rengou(confederation) where the member states keep the sovereign power over their own currencies. At this moment, fortunately most of the media and many more scholars are still sticking to the expression of "Keizai Tsuka Doumei" to indicate EMU properly. But their way of translation is inconsistent and illogical. They are translating the European Union as "Oushu Rengou," while still using the word of "Doumei" to indicate the Economic Monetary "Union".
No positive reason is being given by the scholars and media why they differentiate the Union of the EMU from that of the EU by naming former as "Keizai Tuuka Doumei" and latter as "Oushu Doumei" in Japanese. In both the EU and EMU, the word, "Union" is being used in English.
In addition, we must remember the fact that the European political leaders organized two Intergovernmental Conferences, one for the Economic Monetary "Union" and one for the Political "Union," which covered CFSP and CJHA in the process of the formation of the European Union.
Another victim is customs union. It has been long established as "Kanzei Doumei" in the world of our translation. In Japan "Customs Union" has now begun to be translated as "Kanzei Rengou" in spite of the long established tradition. Even long established translated word now has been badly affected in the wake of adoption of the word, "Rengou" which means association or confederation.
So long as the media translate the EU as "Oushu Rengou," we suffer from a lack of any clear sense of the federal direction in which the EU is going. "Primote" (supremacy) of the Community laws over national laws, introduction of a single currency, the increasing role of the supra-national Parliament in the face of "democratic deficit" in the decision making process and the common foreign and security policy are all unique elements and phenomena in this entity.
As long as they see the EU as a sort of Association of member states, media cannot appreciate these elements with precision at all. Media in Japan can neither realize the meanings of these unknown phenomena precisely, nor understand the reason why member states in the EU were so tough in the negotiations of the IGC for the creation of European Union as was shown by the attitude of the British Conservatives.
Our media do not know the reasons why the member states are so energetically arguing about the future of the EU. Obviously, it is because the future of EU directly affects the lives of the sovereign states.
However, our media tend to report only the conflicting phenomena, although media themselves have an inherent tendency from the start to turn their attentions to unusual events rather than daily business. It is a federal direction which causes serious discord among the member states in the EU, and it is this direction that the media, with the word, "Rengou," cannot appreciate well.
In fact, it is surprising that our media have a very pessimistic and negative mentality regarding the prospects of the EU. They underestimate what the EU has been doing in various parts of the policy fields. To tell the truth, the plan to introduce a single European currency under the EMU is an astonishing event. From the beginning, the press in Japan has regarded this as a totally unrealizable policy object, so that their reports are surprisingly superficial. From the perspective of the analysts who see the direction in which the EU goes and who see the efforts of political leaders in Europe to realize the new entity, tough negotiations among the member states of the EU are neither very unusual nor surprising at all. The selection of the phrase, "Oushu Rengou" reflects this negative mentality of Japanese media and scholars sharing the same view with them.
If the EU is something like a European association or a confederation as the Japanese media are assuming, there is no reason for Madame Thatcher, having a faith in the parliamentary sovereignty based on the nation state and standing its politico-cultural background, to be so suspicious about the EU. She is suspicious because, as a die-hard nationalist, she can perceive more than anyone else the direction in which the EU tends to go. She rocognizes and fears that the development of the EU in a federal direction means loss of the British sovereignty. This is clearly shown in her speech at the House of Commons in October 1990, just before her resignation.
"I vigorously rejected the Delors concept of a federal Europe in which the European Parliament would be the Community's House of Representatives, the Commission its Executive, and the Council of Ministers its Senate. 'No, no, no,' (Thatcher, 1995, p.833).
As far as her suspicion about the federal development of the EU under the leadership of the Delors Commission, her assumption is, to some extent, plausible, since it is certain that the democratic legitimacy of the Commission is not fully assured at present; the European Parliament does not exercise the right of initiative nor fully supervise the Commission and the Council of Ministers, although the national parliaments supervise the executives, a fact which is often pointed out as a "democratic deficit" (Bogdanor,p.7).
But apart from the criticism by Thatcher, let me show the following remark made by an academic analyst writing on the structure of the EU in relation to the prospects of the EU.
"The saying attributed to the President of the Commission,Delors, that by the end of this decade approximately 80% of the law which relates to the economy will be Community law of[sic] national law based on Community law, is probably utterly realistic( Everling, 1992, p. 1052, footnote).
A ghost named "Rengou" is creating a very difficult situation in Japan, not only in deepening the understanding of the political nature of the EU, but also in seeing its dynamic move towards a federal Europe. This ghost leads to a labyrinth of endless confusions in our understanding of what the EU is like and what the EU is not like.
Japan Association For EC Studies (Nippon EC Gakkai), established in 1980 covering some 250 members composed of the academics and the people concerned, including businessmen and lawyers, is still keeping the title of the Association not as EU but as "EC," although the European Community as a whole structure of the three Communities has developed into the European Union in Europe in the wake of the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty in February 1993. The reason is that once we try to change the title of the Association obviously we cannot help but face the most important problem of the naming. It is very related to the problem of how we recognize and identify the EU, this very unique "supra-national" entity, with precision.
At this moment, it must be said that the perceived future destination of the EU will indefinitely stay at Association or Confederation in Japan, so long as the EU delegation and the media translate the European Union as "Oushu Rengou," and they translate "ever closer Union" as "Issuo Kinmituna Rengou."
It seems that the time has come to have serious arguments and debates. It is hopefully expected that the ghost will be "exorcized" in the near future.
l Masami Kodama is Professor of European Integration at Nagasaki Junshin Daigaku (Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University). Ancien student of the College of Europe, Belgium, (Jean Rey Promotion), and one of co-translators of the Maastricht Treaty into Japanese. The Japanese version of this Treaty appeared in theform of the following book from JETRO in 1994 with some comments and explanations under the editorship of Professor Kanamaru of Doshisha University, former President of the Japan Association of EC Studies. Kanamaru Teruo ed., EU towaNanika: Oushu Doumei no Kaisetu to Jouyaku. (What is the EU?; Explanations on the EU and the translation of the Treaty on the European Union).
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