On August 14, 2019, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Tajikistan to interview His Excellency Mr. Mirzosharif Jalolov Asomuddinovich.
Tajikistan and Japan have been sharing diplomatic relations since 1992, with recent strengthening in reciprocal cooperation and parliament on a legal basis. H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that Japan was among the first countries to recognize Tajikistan's Independence. He expressed that Japan has supported Tajikistan through trainees and ODA, which his country greatly appreciates.
[Culture and Tourism]
H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained that Tajik people are very hospitable. He noted that they are, in fact, too hospitable that it has been a problem for tourism and the hotel industry! Tajik families keep the best things for the guests, and welcome visitors to their homes, especially in rural areas.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov finds that the culture in Tajikistan is one of the oldest in the world, as the Tajiks have been one of the most ancient people in Central Asia being the descendants of Aryan people. He also noted that more Tajiks are living outside of the country than inside it.
Moreover, H.E. Mr. Jalolov appreciates the conservative lifestyle that people in Tajikistan live. H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that although it is not necessarily useful to stick to traditions, traditional customs are part of one's identity that should be cherished. For example, Tajik people to this day still use old artifacts and use traditional furniture and sleep on the floor.
One of H.E. Mr. Jalolov's main goals as the Ambassador is to bring more Japanese tourists to his country, which has been increasing over the years. Because of the nation's mountainous landscape, H.E. Mr. Jalolov recommends wild and eco-tourism. Activities enjoyed by tourists include rafting, mountain climbing, and hiking.
The nation is also very rich in historical sites and treasures. H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that because Tajikistan is at the end of the silk road, there are various ancient remains, including castles that date back almost 5000 years. There are many picturesque and beautiful places across the nation.
With the motto to unite, H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained that Tajikistan had been involved in domestic wars from the 1992~1997. He shared with us four of the goals Tajikistan is undertaking.
The first is the industrialization strategic goal. 70-75% of the population live in rural areas and are engaged in agriculture. Yet with a growing population, H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that there is a need for more jobs.
The second is to break out communication debt. Now, there are bridges to Afghanistan being made to facilitate more movement.
Thirdly, H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained that energy self-sufficiency is a massive goal for the country, which has been achieved! The nation operates on hydroelectric power.
Finally, H.E. Mr. Jalolov mentioned that there is still a long way to go with the goal of food security.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained to us the amicable relationship between Tajikistan and Japan. The two countries share political and legal frameworks that are interacting, and the countries share high-level visits of Prime Ministers. The two countries also have common positions on international issues and have not engaged in any disputes.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov hopes that there can be more trade and economic relations, which are still not intact due to the distance between the countries. H.E. Mr. Jalolov expects that Tajik green products, such as wild pistachios, grown without fertilizers or pesticides, or sweet licorice roots used in medicine, can be exported to Japan.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov's goal as the Ambassador of Tajikistan is to develop interactions between his country and Japan in terms of trade,
economics, investment, and tourism. He is also keen on the educational collaborations between the two countries, including the sciences.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that education in Tajikistan comes from the Soviet era, known for its high literacy rate. As there is a growing population, many new schools are currently being built in Tajikistan. Tajik students are continuously learning and finding new ways to solve practical problems.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained that it is essential to fight for peace for unity, but also education. He noted that everyone during civil wars was highly educated; even the soldiers have been in schools. He expressed that people need to understand what is happening in societies, and to do that, people must be educated first.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov appreciated our literacy rate project as a "noble initiative." He explained that there are many schools for refugees and training for the elderly who have not received formal education. He hopes that such initiatives can be put forward in various countries, especially in Asia or Africa. He also noted that it is crucial to learn about each country's rules and mentality, which can differ significantly concerning their educational values and focuses.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov noted that globalization is a phenomenon that has been present for a long time, since the ancient world and era of the silk roads. H.E. Mr. Jalolov perceives that since the 15-16th centuries, the "institutionalization" of globalization has been occurring, in modern society and ordinary communities who are exhausting its capacities. Now, globalization is interconnected within institutions, politics, international economies, and financial sectors, while before, globalization was affecting tribal and family units. H.E. Mr. Jalolov mentioned that this widescale globalization brings new challenges, including terrorism and wars, emphasizing the vulnerability of the current system. These problems are also asymmetric, as there are certain vulnerable people and countries affected the most. H.E. Mr. Jalolov explained that we need to fight these problems of institutionalization with more interactions, utilizing our new strengths in information and technology. He hopes that governments and nations can come together to build new orders and peace.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov expressed his values for female engagement. As a traditional country, Tajikistan is still a patriarchal nation. He explains that there is still a lot of ways to improve female participation in Tajikistan, such as to increase opportunities for studying and positions for company workers and government officers. One of the initiatives taken by the government is the annual presidential scholarship for girls in remote areas, which helps girls to access higher education.
When H.E. Mr. Jalolov was a child, he wanted to become a miner. This was because he has the same birthday as miners day. Later, he became interested in engineering because of his father. Then, at 13 years, he wanted to become an interpreter or translator, so he studied English on his own. It was his third language after Tajik and Russian. Then, he went to a technological university to study engineering in China in Chinese, and then studied in Japan in Japanese as the first Tajik to receive a Japanese scholarship!
H.E. Mr. Jalolov's message for students is to "be honest with yourself." He hopes that everyone can learn as much as they can, as he believes that knowledge is the most valuable thing for a student. He explained that what you learn in childhood is what is imprinted in stone in your memory. H.E. Mr. Jalolov introduced to us a Persian saying that goes, "The knowledge itself is the light in your heart" and "shields from any bad in your life." This portrays how education prepares people for their lives.
H.E. Mr. Jalolov also recommends students to learn foreign languages and travel more, especially for Japanese people as they live in an island country. He hopes that through their studies and travels, students can interact and find solutions from outside their societies because no society is perfect.
On August 22nd, 2018, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Tajikistan to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr. Hamrokhon Zarifi.
H.E. Mr. Zarifi explained that the education system of Tajikistan has been a great system, as it prepares the students for a comfortable life and surviving in different situations. The system of education is ongoing since the Soviet era, and is based on German principles. He described the education to be “worldly”, as it covers a wide scope of knowledge that is taught to all genders, from repairing items at home, sewing, and using electric equipment. H.E. Mr. Zarifi gave us an example of the usefulness of such knowledge in daily life. In Japan, it is common that if you have two different air conditioners, you would invite two different technicians to repair them, but in Tajikistan, most everyone would be able to repair their air conditioners by themselves!
Yet one drawback of Soviet education that H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted is its focus on politics. This makes the education less specialized that that of Japan’s, for example. H.E. Mr. Zarifi explains that the specialized education of Japan has been a great quality.
Another quality of education as mentioned by H.E. Mr. Zarifi is the fact that it has been free of charge since Soviet times. H.E. Mr. Zarifi’s ten siblings were able to graduate until their masters degree for free, although now it is only partly free. However, since old times, there has been a large growth in children. In urban areas, families can have 4 to 5 children, and the number increases to 7 to 11 in rural areas. This has provided a lot of labor to the country and has helped with its development, but has put a burden on the government to pay for schooling.
Culture and Tradition
H.E. Mr. Zarifi mentioned that Tajikistan is very rich in history. The people of Tajikistan are mainly Tajiks and Uzbeks, and during Soviet times, the area of central Asia that divided into five separate countries had been one. H.E. Mr. Zarifi explained that Tajikistan and Japan have had contact since the 7th and 8th centuries, through transactions in the Silk Road. The continental trading route has led to the sharing of certain cultures, such as Buddhism, women’s traditional dresses, and calligraphy, which Japan and Tajikistan share similar styles.
H.E. Mr. Zarifi expressed the importance of keeping cultural identities, including aspects of language and behaviors. This has been a challenge since times of globalization, as richness and interconnectivity may allow people to lose their specific traits and parts of identity. On the other hand, families without much richness can have more time connected with their surroundings, such as their casual chatting and preparation of food. H.E. Mr. Zarifi emphasized the importance of the rural identity Tajikistan families have, as they hold old cultural lifestyles to heart. One cultural quality H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted is well preserved is the mentality of hospitality and kindness. He explained that Tajikistan families are very friendly and welcoming to guests and neighbors. Another unique quality of Tajikistan’s preserved tradition is its clean language. H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted the language in Tajikistan has been preserved and unmixed that ancient texts that date back to the 10th and 11th centuries can be read and learnt without difficulties.
Tajikistan is continuously making effort for encouraging the younger generation to keep their national identity and traditions, which H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted is similar to Japan. He found that Tajiks and Japanese both share a respect for their history, culture, language, dress, and religion. The respect for family, especially for the elderly, is one quality that H.E. Mr. Zarifi finds is similar between Japan and Tajikistan.
H.E. Mr. Zarifi explained to us his passion as working as the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Japan. He explained that Tajikistan and Japan have been sharing a good political relationship, which has been the most important aspect of their bilateral relations. H.E. Mr. Zarifi commented that he hopes to create good economic and trade relations, as well as cultural connections between the two countries as well. Some specific points he explained he would like to work on is tourism, visas, and lectures. Furthermore, H.E. Mr. Zarifi appreciates that Tajikistan and Japan are working on similar issues such as water and peace building.
The natural environment of Tajikistan is a quality of the country that H.E. Mr. Zarifi feels fond of. Tajikistan is home to beautiful high mountains, with lakes at higher elevations than that of Mount Fuji. Similar to Japan, Tajikistan has areas prone to earthquakes. Furthermore, Tajikistan has very large glaciers, that can be over 70 kilometers long, and this has been a great water source for the region. In fact, H.E. Mr. Zarifi explained that the Tajik mountains generate 60% of the water in Central Asia!
H.E. Mr. Zarifi recommends seeing the sheep called Marco Polo Sheep, that live in the mountains, 4,500 to 6,500 meters above sea level. They live on the border between China and Tajikistan. There are also famous stones at a valley called Childukhtaron, which means “forty girls”. This name comes from the legend that forty girls fought and went to the mountains to become stone.
As a child, H.E. Mr. Zarifi aspired to become an engineer; with his skills and tools, he wanted to repair anything. H.E. Mr. Zarifi assured that now at home, he has been repairing “anything”!
The message H.E. Mr. Zarifi has towards the students of Japan is to appreciate the efforts and achievements that the past generations had done for Japan, and to continue that initiative of improving the country. Japan was built up rapidly since its crash of World War Two. H.E. Mr. Zarifi sees that it is always the obligation of the youth to continue to build their countries as respect of the past generations.
The youth in Japan is a minority, and very valuable for the nation as the nation is experiencing a severe inverted age pyramid. “People in Japan have dogs but not children!” H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted some modern phenomena of the youth, such as the spread of mobile phones, which can be both advantageous and disadvantageous for society. Mobile phones allow for an immediate and infinite source of information but decreases time spent with friends and family. H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted that in such aspect, the youth is losing the most important thing, of face to face communication. He then mentioned that perhaps this is an issue that is prevalent especially among developed countries.
H.E. Mr. Zarifi sees that people have been constantly fighting throughout the past centuries, sometimes for nothing. There have been insurmountable natural territory, people, and economic value that were lost in civil years. H.E. Mr. Zarifi stated that “the creation of peace is better than the result of the best war”. He believes that everybody should work on achieving peace, and keep in mind that war never solves problems but increases existing problems/
H.E. Mr. Zarifi noted that peace comes from dialogue, both on the individual and political levels. He hopes that all countries, especially neighbors, should keep dialogue as the one solution for overcoming international issues. Furthermore, it is important that politics cannot lose patience. He hopes that young diplomats and students learn political sciences very seriously, as the future always rises form the past. He noted that finding arguments for solving issues in itself is diplomacy.