In terms of my academics, I want to focus on two areas that I have displayed my research skills. One disciplinary is history. The other is in my internship. For history class, we had an internal assessment that we have to write. I wrote my essay on the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan in December 1941. Coming from a Japanese background, I was able to use Japanese and English to conduct my research. Therefore, I became aware of the bias present and contrasted them with each other.
For example, a skill in particular that I developed was balancing an event that has two sides of arguments in two languages. A problem I encountered was which source to believe in. The research paper from Hiroshima University mentioned how Japan was only buying time by conducting various peace treaty agreement meetings. Quoting both Kichisaburo Nomura and Isoroku Yamamoto, the essay was built on the notion that Japan did not have a substantial negative impact by the oil embargo. I compared and contrasted that with the research paper by the University of Waterloo mentioning Japan’s state at the time as a “crisis.” These two sources are effectively on the opposite ends of the spectrum even though it is talking about the same event. So when these conflicts happened, I had to find more sources that supported either statement. That is when I found an article written by the Yomiuri Shimbun War Responsibility Reexamination Committee. This was a useful source as it was written by an American author in a Japanese company. They mentioned how the United States’ had “significant interests in Asia” and wished for Japan’s “ultimate defeat.” The use of the word “crisis” in the source before, most likely would have been exaggerated to paint Japan as a scapegoat. By finding common ground in these three sources together, I concluded that Japan did suffer majorly with 80% of oil is cut off; however, they felt confident that they would be able to secure more oil by increasing efficiency in areas such as Manchuria. Therefore, this process is especially important to be repeated by checking the works cited for the Japanese and American sources. That is how I was able to find the Yomiuri Shimbun source which was under the Hiroshima University source. So it is also important to focus on places where the sources have omitted. For example, how the Hiroshima University omitted valuable quotes and statistics by Japanese generals about Japan’s inferiority in going to war with the United States. The quote “Japan, believing Germany would win the war against the Soviet Union” and “Navy didn’t want to go to war” were some quotes that were omitted. These quotes were potentially omitted to avoid portraying Japan’s decision to attack Pearl Harbor as erroneous.
Another time that I had to use my research skills was during my internship when I had to conduct fishery research on behalf of Sailors for the Sea Japan. Our team had been working on passing a bill regarding traceabilities of Tuna in Japan. Although the number of tunas in the Pacific have been decreasing at an alarming rate, Tuna consumption has been rapidly increasing. The bill aimed to monitor fisheries around Japan to avoid overfishing of tunas. I was placed in the research team to find statistics on the volume of landings (how much fish the fishery caught). I found two things to be the most difficult. One was finding statistics for every fishery in Japan. The other was the confidence of the data. Although the government mandated fisheries to publish their landings monthly, many fisheries did not record their catches as accurately. For the former problem, it was due to the fact that a simple google search could not find the statistics. I decided to stop relying on google and contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for their statistics. They guided me to a locked government site that had a comprehensive record of every fishery – a site not reachable with a simple search. This site, hence resolving both of my concerns. Using the data that I found from the site, I created the following graphs and tables
From this experience, I learned that professional research needs to be aware of the bias that is present and recognize the value of it. Another thing is that Google may not be the answer to every concern I have. From this, I learned that finding resources is most efficient when you vary your domain of research.