How would you describe yourself in relation to religion and belief?
I would describe myself………I’m not religious but I believe in something………..the kind of system…..like a natural system……there’s a kind of law of……normally, if someone says the Law of Gravity, it’s a similar thing, it does exist……I think we are being led and being, not controlled, but always looked after by some people or something great. I believe in something like that, and karma obviously, what goes around comes around. I definitely believe in that.
Was that something you grew up with?
I have….mainly more like Shintoism, which is not necessarily believing in God but god does exist in everything, for example don’t waste the food because things died for you, don’t kick the tree, don’t treat the object badly, because everything has got its own being and value, so make sure that you respect everything. That’s the kind of thing…..a bit like religion, but also like philosophy as well.
So Shintoism still influences you quite a bit, even though it’s difficult here?
Definitely, have a respect in everything we do. Every small thing has, not a feeling, but see yourself in it. Put yourself in other people’s shoes, put yourself in that situation, put yourself in that object. I do try.
Do you miss any of the festivals?
It’s not like I miss it, but I do wish there was a good way to pass on to the next generation, especially in this country. Western Europeans are very different, they have a very disposable way of thinking. In a way it is true, nothing lasts forever. Sometimes we say oh you cannot treat things like this because they’re irreplaceable. But in this world there is nothing irreplaceable. In this world some things are more rare, some things are more expensive. So, it’s easy to replace a bottle of water, but it’s harder to replace a national treasure cup. But, technically and fundamentally, it’s the same thing, it’s a tool to put the water in it. So, it’s good to see that and have respect. But I wish I could teach that kind of side to next generation, my son and stuff like this. But it’s different, this culture is different. That’s why I find it hard sometimes. That’s what I miss, for the next generation
Do you think that Great Britain is an equal and a tolerant society?
Erm, that is a difficult question. Only because to be able to answer that question well, you must have correct information, I can give my opinion based on what I only know.
That’s great, that’s what we’re asking for really
I think the British Government tries very hard to make everything equal, respect for minority religion. Compared to France, if you go to France, Islamic people aren’t allowed to put the veil and stuff like that. Again, for example, if you go to someone else’s house……like say in my country. Because in Europe you go into the house without taking your shoes off, so when I’m here that’s how I do it. But in Japan it’s different, you go into the house and take the shoes off, that’s their idea of respect. The point is, even though it seems strange and wrong to me, if I visit your house in Europe I’m going to keep my shoes on, because it is the done thing here……there’s a possibility that they’re going to make a mess on your carpet, but I believe that following the rules here is the right thing to do, so if there is mess, so be it. The British Government is doing the opposite, saying that everyone is different, so if that is what you believe I will let you do it. I think British Government is trying very hard, but they don’t necessarily have the right approach. So my answer, is yes compared to other countries, they try to be very civilised in the UK, but I’m not sure that their policy is the best one. Maybe I believe that there are lots of things they can do better, but again, it’s not very simple.
So what would you say would be a better way, if you were Prime Minister?
I….religion is a very difficult part, and obviously if I was Prime Minister, lots of people would give me opinions which would influence my thinking. Obviously, the Prime Ministers not saying it because that’s what he believes, he’s saying it because he needs to be Prime Minister therefore he needs people’s support, and the people who support him have got bit power and things they want to protect, so the Prime Minister has to protect that, so it’s not necessarily easy……
I’m not sure…….let’s put it this way, let’s make it simple, if I was the Prime Minster I will try not to promote the kind of religion which believes only in one God. I would try not to give too much power to the kind of religion which believes only in one God, because, if you go back to history, the religion people who believe only in one God, always cause the trouble. Because sometimes they use that to control people……because I want this…..but what can I can do….ah, maybe if I use God as an excuse, maybe I can get that….oil and everything. Obviously, that’s not a right way of using it, but it’s the same as education. People who are not educated are being controlled, religion is often spread most effectively when people are poor, and need some kind of help, because it’s so much easier to control people in a vulnerable position. If people are rich, clever enough….kind of, they don’t need much of help.
Religion is kind of………obviously, because I follow Shintoism, I would say that you shouldn’t just follow one god, instead kind of spread everything out: so maybe follow your ancestor, maybe your teacher, just give a bit more respect to everyone, maybe instead of believing in God, just listen to everyone, make a good decision, value democracy, I dunno, I will try, but I’m not sure I answered the question well.
No, that’s a fantastic answer. When do you think the State definitely should intervene where individuals are expressing/acting on their beliefs?
When someone is trying to use it for their personal benefit and is hurting someone else by doing so. For example if you start to try to control or manipulate other people to try to achieve something you want to achieve, and if you’re using that as a religion, I believe that that’s not a good way, or that’s not the original aim, not what the religion was created for I think. So if a particular religion became a tool for someone else, someone else’s own ego, I think that’s the moment we should say that we just need to stop and discuss things because this is not cool!
Every culture has a different way of thinking/doing things, obviously. Islamic State has got different ideas about doing things. Some religious people get married very young….it’s a difficult thing, if someone is arguing would you go there and try to stop them, it’s just you know, their problem so pass on. But some religions and religious reasoning seems like it’s clearly created to take advantage of weaker people. And powerful people just try and justify their self by using the God or using law or using religion. So people aren’t stupid, well hopefully not, so if people realise I think that’s the time where everyone has to say just stop. I’m not saying that we’re disrespecting you, but we need to re-discuss. But everything has moved on with time, you know time, place, change. Religion changes; law changes, so I think that now is the time to rediscuss about it. We don’t have to force people to change anything, but is this really the way to make everyone happy?
Because I believe religion is to make everyone happy and fulfilled, it shouldn’t be opposite. If by doing something, you are making other people upset or you are being used by someone else, I believe that’s the wrong way to live. So when people realise that, maybe we need to just calm down and re-evaluate and recheck the system I think. I’m not sure I’m knowledgeable enough, but I will do my best.
So, do you feel that you have a moral responsibility to vote?
Yeah, yeah, I think we all should, because if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.
Do you think that it’s harder for some groups in society to engage with democratic system?
Well, yes, definitely. That’s probably what some religions did a long time ago, to try to ignore smaller, minority and weaker parts of society, they were not to be heard and were only there to be used by powerful people, as a tool. Like obviously, young children and poor people and uneducated people are still being ignored, and not just British government; but lots of people are trying to change that, providing a free phone number, so you can ring and speak to someone who can help with your situation. We’ve seen similar changes with employment. If you go to China, or a Third World country, still you will see employees being used like slaves, some people even get to the point of killing themselves, that’s how hard that is. But now in this country, an employer needs to be careful with what they say because they can be f-d as easy as employee, so in a way, there is much much more they can do, but generally in this world the British Government is doing much, much better than before. I think we’re in the right direction.
Do you know vaguely how Parliament works and the House of Lords?
Would you like to explain to me?
Okay….. basically there is the elected House of Commons and they are responsible for making laws, but there’s a process where the House of Commons votes on legislation and then the House of Lords who aren’t elected, also vote. And normally both the House of Commons and Lords have to agree something before it becomes law. Now there is a safety net that says if the House of Commons vote for something three times, and the House of Lords have refused twice, the third time the House of Lords can’t veto it any more.
Ah right, oh complicated!
Basically, so the people who are elected ultimately can say, okay, we don’t care, we’re having our way. But the House of Lords can slow things down a lot.
Oh I think, yes, I think we had a similar problem in Japan recently, I’ve got a feeling. Sorry, please carry on.
So, is it appropriate that we’ve got this other House, the House of Lords, who have a role in making the law?
Ah, if that’s a question, it’s a very hard one to ask, only because to be able to answer that I should have alternative idea and I just don’t have any better solution. Obviously, it doesn’t sound like the best way to do it, because the person who is not even voted has got power to decide, but…..
It used to be, until really quite recently, that basically the House of Lords was made up of people who just inherited the title. And were just there because they’d been born into a family. The way it’s changed is that most members are now appointed by governments. We think you’ve served for a long time in a particular field, been at the top of your profession as a surgeon say, and because you’ve excelled in something we think you’ve got a contribution to make. But the problem is it’s governments appointing them, so there is a risk that they then appoint people who have given money to their political party, their friends….
It’s so hard to…..it’s come down to it, everyone has got different interests. Everyone benefits from different things. Ultimately, every single one of us could put our hands up and vote and express how we want things to be, and it would be great. But again, people who are making decisions should be more educated and more experienced, so therefore we believe, the decisions they make are more appropriate. They probably believe the decision they would make is better than the decision we would make, I believe. I’m not sure about that. You know I always believe there is a better way, we need to find a different way to make things better and better and better, that’s how we evolved you know. I guess that’s one of the things.
The way you explain it, the government is trying to step up and not be too corrupt, but as you say there is no guarantee the government is not corrupt. So, again I guess at the moment if it’s functioning, that’s the best we can do at the moment but, time will tell us, there must be a better way. That’s my opinion.
The point of that question is really the next question, because as well as the people who are appointed by the government, there’s quite a small number, but they’re there as of right, of bishops from the Church of England. There are no religious representatives as of right. People like the Chief Rabbi are often there because the government has decided it would be a good thing, but there is no guarantee that they will be there. But the Church of England bishops are there because they’ve always been there.
Well, more just like they have a right to be there. Whereas the others have been appointed, and although they have the same rights when they get there, if the government were to decide one day not to appoint the a senior rabbi, they could do that. Is it a good thing that the bishops are there at all? Would it be a good thing if there were no religious representatives as of right? Would it be better if all religions were represented?
I…….religion, non-religion, comes down to we’re all human, so we have to make some kind of decision. Subconsciously, consciously we be always erm controlled by what’s good for us. So obviously, if there are religious people there they will argue about things they want to protect, things they want benefit. They will always want to be in a better position, and they will make sure to do that for their people and for themselves. And if religious people weren’t there, the people who were they instead would be doing the same thing, but instead of religion would trying to protect their own interests, whatever they were. So you, my personal opinion is, actually it doesn’t make much difference. As long as we have human beings involved, there is always a conflict. But it’s just that religion has so much more influence, that’s all. If you have two individual people arguing, the worst thing that it likely to happen is that they end up punching each other, that’s it. But if there’s religion involved it becomes like a war and effects a lot, the money, time, lots of people could die. At least one to one, one person could die, that’s it. So, but fundamentally it’s not that big a difference. As long as we exist, as long as we go on making decisions, big or small, it’s the same I think. In my opinion.
Do you know about this?
Could you explain to me, just in case.
Basically, the way in which different groups in society, people judges, politicians, government. There are checks and balances so that no one of those groups can override the others totally and have too much power. So this section is on whether the system that we’ve got working.
So who is in charge of the system?
Nobody, I mean, the problem about the UK is that it just sort of grew up by accident.
Ah, it’s alright!
I mean, we don’t have a big plan. We don’t have a written constitution, a codified constitution sorry, at all. It just sort of grew up
So, sort of like unspoken, unwritten?
There are certain things that are written down in certain places…….but you know like Japan obviously has a proper codified constitution.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Okay, I know that there are issues about how it came into being, but it’s still there. And most States like France, or Spain have a written document with these are the rules we play by. We don’t.
What about America?
America, they make a really big deal of it. That’s why they won’t get rid of guns, it’s in the American constitution that citizens can carry guns around.
Can that be changed? But I guess they make so much money from guns
Yes, it would, they can change it by voting, but it’s obviously harder to change the constitution than to make a normal law. But we don’t have our constitution written down in one place.
Are we the only country like this?
Us and Israel. But Israel is quite new State, so goodness knows why Israel doesn’t.
There must be a reason.
Well, with us it was just because we never really had a revolution and it’s always worked. I mean we had a Civil War, when the king got his head chopped off because he was trying to boss everyone around too much. And after that we kind of just muddled along, and the kings and queens got less and less power and Parliament got more and more power, and we sort of, by luck, peacefully sorted out a situation where everybody was kind of vaguely happy. So that means in some ways there are things that aren’t really logical…..like we’ve got the House of Lords. If you were setting up the State was a blank piece of paper and thinking how do we do it, you wouldn’t do it that way, but because it’s always worked and nobody’s really killed anyone since the 17th century, it’s kind of just
Naturally evolved? Well, that’s very civilised, I must say.
It kind of works.
Surprisingly, it’s working better than…..oh cool. Sorry, what was the question?
What do you think are the best ways for society to keep a check on people exercising power?
Best way to check? ………………………..Best way to check. It sounds very different.
I suspect it’s very different from the little I know about Japan and the way Japan works.
Could you tell me?
I mean……I might be……I get the impression that culturally there is a stronger sense of personal responsibility and that you should be mindful of what you do and the effect that it has on others.
It’s a case of respect and education isn’t it?
Whereas we tend to have desire to look over at what someone else is doing, rather than thinking what someone else is doing.
Well, you know lots of people question about Google. They have got a computer system checking the ranking, but the even that is set up humans. As long as humans are involved it’s very difficult to make a fair judgment. I must say I cannot really say.
I don’t think that anyone has a good answer really.Whenever you’ve had any reason to deal with public bodies, schools, hospitals etc. Have you felt that your views and beliefs have been treated with appropriate respect by people in authority?
Let me think……I always, because it’s my personality, something need to be changed, I need to do this, so could you provide this for my students, could you do this for me. But I always want to believe that people are doing their best. If things are not happening, it’s like there’s a problem in the system, it’s not that they don’t want to. Obviously, if they don’t have money, they cannot use money they do not have. Obviously, everyone wants to provide the better quality of education but we always have to do the best with what we have. I don’t see this as a limit, I just try to do things to make best out of limited information and tools, to make the best out of it. I don’t feel like I’ve never been treated fairly. Someone said the result in life is exactly equal as how much you put in your life. So if we’ve not been treated fairly or haven’t been given what we deserve I think because we haven’t given enough or we haven’t achieved enough. So in that kind of sense my answer is no. Possibly, maybe, but I believe this whole system works very fairly, but not just fair for one person, fair for whole world benefit. So therefore I never felt treated badly or unfairly.
Do you think that freedom of expression has strengthened or weakened in recent years, especially in light of Charlie Hebdo?
I don’t think freedom of expression got any stronger or weaker, it is as it is I believe. It’s just always the situation surrounding people. For instance, Communist countries, people couldn’t express themselves without being punished. But actually, one of the things my teacher told me long time ago, one of the eye opening things was…..he told me Daisuke, well this was in Japan so I don’t know about this country….Daisuke, there is not such a law that you cannot kill other human beings but there is a law if you do this, you will be punished. So always, we have a choice, but there is a consequence comes with it. So I don’t think it’s a question of weakened or strengthened, it’s just depending on the consequence we can more express. It’s easier to express how we feel if there is no consequence.
Is there a difference between a consequence coming from the State and from other people? Because the role of the State is usually to try to prevent people from imposing consequences on other people, or at least consequences over a certain threshold, like shooting someone.
It is a fine line, that is. The question is whether freedom of expression has got weaker or stronger, in my opinion, it hasn’t changed. And it shouldn’t change. Only the people who make a decision to express their artistry, will change probably. Because we’re all human, even if someone will die we still have got choice. The person who drew the funny picture of Islamic State, he knew what he was doing. Obviously it was an art. But I’m not sure how necessary the Art was. There is a difference between freedom of expression in art and someone saying on Facebook, ‘oh, she’s a bitch’. What the artist did was kind of the same thing, he used it to make fun of the religion. That is what he believed. It is a freedom of expression, but very low, uneducated way of expressing it, it is kind of similar to…..it should be freedom of art….need to be done to change someone’s life or to be heard. But what he did was kind of like, very immature things. The consequence he had, I wouldn’t say that was the right thing to do, obviously not. He should have known what he was doing when he stepped into it, it’s not the same as you saying ‘oh your mum is a b1tch….’. You know what I mean? It’s a dangerous group, what was he going to do? Did he want to change their opinion or was he just making fun of them? If he was trying to make fun of them, it’s not a freedom of expression, just being silly. So that’s my opinion. Obviously, I’m not saying that he deserved to be dead, I wouldn’t say that. It was just all silliness I think, or both as bad as each other I think.
How do you think that the Arts can positively influence society and promote freedoms?
Arts……….shouldn’t need to be explained, should go direct into your mind and heart. A while ago I was in London or Birmingham or wherever, and they started art………put all the famous art in bus waiting station……….I think that was an absolutely great idea, bringing art not just in the museum. Obviously, it was not real thing, not the same impact, like watching ballet in the cinema, it’s not the same, but they made an opportunity, created an opportunity for other people to kind of inspire, tickle their heart, because life can be sometimes so…………….make you like a robot. Sometimes you need to be like that, go to work, not be too sensitive, it’s not worth feeling everything, sometimes you need to protect. Sorry what was the question?
How can the Arts positively contribute to society, especially in terms of freedom?
Through the Art I believe that it will open our eyes and make us realise what kind of feeling and opinion we have. And I would like to…I believe that using the Art as a tool to connect with the others and I think that’s the answer. Art is a tool to connect and er try to transfer, make other people understand the message you are trying to give by influences other people’s opinion or theory or principle it will kind of grow other people. It is achieving something by not doing something….you try to do some kind of difficult step, once you have achieved it you feel like, suddenly feel like a different person, reborn. I think Art has got power to do that, makes you suddenly grow, mature. Makes other people happy, enables you to connect with people. That’s my programme.
Have you ever felt any restrictions in your own artistic freedom?
My answer is I have never tried that much. Being a professional dancer you really think that a ballet company is an artistic group but at the end of the day it’s a company which needs to make a profit, therefore reputation, and ballet is a traditional way of art, it cannot be outside of or breaking too much the box of that tradition. So in that kind of sense, yes, and also the way I approached to the work, wasn’t sometimes accepted. That’s one of the reasons I quit when I did, from being a professional dancer, because the way I act the way I believed, my theory, my principle wasn’t accepted in my working place and when I put my own self, my freedom and belief and like stable job plus kind of career dream, my own belief won over this. So, yes, I feel like it’s been…..my own expression and exploring the art has been condensed, contained, but I have got nothing against it, I’m not going to say this is wrong. Because I understand everyone has got an opinion, everyone has got a different vision, artistry and no one should say you are wrong you are right. That’s one of the beautiful things about Art, because everyone is different. But when you become a member of an organisation, even artistic organisation, they have to achieve something. They need everyone to express choreographer’s artistry in the piece. It’s like when you are drawing with paint, someone going I don’t want you to go right I want you to go left (gestures with hands-changing the direction of one hand by grabbing the wrist). It doesn’t make any sense, I need the pen to do what I say so in that kind of sense, yes, but I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing, I understand that.
That’s quite useful and interesting, because I think lawyers look enviously at people who do creative things and perhaps overestimate the amount of freedom that there is.
Yes, it’s not that much big difference, I don’t think. True freedom is difficult. I’d much rather be in amateur, rather than professional, because I’ve noticed that once I become professional what I love to do becomes job. My heart was in dancing but I need to dance, I needed to be there because I would get paid, and I feel like I need to lie to myself. I started to feel like one of the most crucial, one of the most important part of myself was going to be taken away soon, and that I had to stop. I couldn’t lie to myself. I could lie to others, I’m good at it, which is not a great thing! But there is one person I cannot lie to…….. myself. Once I start to do that, that’s the really, real time that I’m giving up my life and going to die. I spiritually die, it doesn’t matter my body and life is carrying on, it’s no point living. That’s a very artistic way of seeing things!
Anything else you would like to say on this topic?
Great, I’ve got a great message for everyone, especially British people (grabs Dictaphone closer) Try to accept things as it is, try not to change other people, that’s when people become eager and fight against you. Things cannot be changed, just accept as it is, then from there move on. I think that’s the best way for respecting everyone. Just, people try to manipulate others, fight and change and life is just a tool we have given from God. We are…..we shouldn’t be controlled by…..we shouldn’t be a slave life, we use life to make our life richer, not opposite. To be able to do that we have to take control of our own life. We should know clearly what we want, and once we find what we want, I would really strongly advise you to follow that and, because that’s the only way to achieve your own happiness. Thank you.
Daisuke Miura has been a professional ballet dancer since 2006, working with The Serbian National Theatre, Ballet Russe, Ballet West, Duchy Ballet and Ballet Cymru. He continues to guest star and recently performed with Cerys Matthews, at venues which included Saddler’s Wells. He was also nominated for Best Male Dance Artist in the Wales Theatre Awards. Daisuke now spends much of his professional time teaching and coaching, and is highly respected in the field.