Report on Foreign Dispatch to Lebanon and Egypt

~March 16 to March 31, 1999~

by KURITA Yoshiko (Chiba University)


Purpose: Interviews and collection of materials concerning prospects for democratization in the Middle East


Outline of Activities:

(1) In order to investigate the political situation in Lebanon after the civil war, I attended a symposium on the electoral system and another symposium on the freedom of the press with regard to newspapers in particular. I interviewed activists from political parties including the Lebanon Communist Party and materials related to issues on religious factionalism, which remains a significant obstacle to the development of democracy in Lebanon.


Because the political situation in Lebanon is still inextricably related to Palestinian issues, I also made contact with Palestinian activists and influential thinkers living in Lebanon. My conversation with A. Saig , director of the Center for Palestinian Studies, was particularly enlightening. I also visited refugee camps in Saida and Beirut for a glimpse of Palestinian life in Lebanon, although my time was limited.

Also, thanks to an introduction by Professor M. Dahel, I had the opportunity to give a short presentation on the past and present status of Middle Eastern Studies in Japan to the History Department of the University of Lebanon.


(2) In Egypt, I interviewed various thinkers and political activists, including members of the League for National Progress , concerning the political and social status of Egypt today. In addition to interviewing political leaders of Northern Sudan who are currently in exile in Cairo, I also participated in a conference on current Sudanese political and military affairs held by a leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement which is supported mainly in southern Sudan.