This interview is part of our ongoing series of portraits of Global Voices contributors. Translators are behind-the-scenes contributors who allow readers to read our content in other languages.
Interest in a particular country is often one of the reasons that takes a reader from being just that to become a contributor to Global Voices. Japan is at the center of Gaël's concerns right now, but it was thanks to his interest in Bangladesh that he first discovered Global Voices.
See here for other portraits of bloggers and translators of Global Voices worldwide.
[All links forward to French articles unless noted otherwise].
Were you a frequent Global Voices reader before starting to translate into French?
Gael Brassac: I discovered Global Voices in early 2009 at the university, when I was carrying out research on the monitoring of geopolitical strife in Asian countries. I had heard of a mutiny within the Bangladesh army. Sources of information were quite rare in the press, but on Global Voices I discovered a very good article [en] by contributor Rezwan, which helped me a lot! Gradually, I began to translate for the site and I also now contribute as an author.
Which Global Voices article that you have translated struck you the most?
GB: One of the first that I translated was about Egypt in June 2010, ‘My name was Khalid and I was not a terrorist‘ [en]. It explained why this young Egyptian, who had incriminating videos of the local police, was murdered by those same officers. The article showed widespread corruption throughout the state of Egypt, all throughout the police force. Less than a year later, everything changed, but demonstrators in Tahrir Square did not forget Khaled, and waved his portrait during the best as well as the worst moments of the Egyptian revolution.
You live in Drôme, France, but Japan is central to your life, especially at this time. Why Japan?
GB: Blame it on the TV series Club Dorothée and its Japanese manga animation when I was a kid! As a teenager, I started reading my first series of manga like Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, GTO, and Rurouni Kenshin, among others. As for literature, I read Murakami Ryu, Haruki Murakami, Osamu Dazai, and Ryosuke Akutagawa in particular. I wanted to learn the language and live in the country. At first, I studied English and Japanese with the intention to start a business between France and Japan, but the marketing and strategy courses got the better of me. I preferred to engage in something where a commitment to solidarity and human beings were the main concern, not money. After a year in Japan, I trained in management and did a humanitarian project at the University of Aix-en-Provence, France, and that’s where I met my girlfriend Zainichi, a Korean citizen born in Japan. Currently, I'm looking for humanitarian work in France, Japan or elsewhere. But when I get old, I will for sure go to live in Japan.
How have you coped with following current events [in Japan] from France?
GB: The week after the Japan earthquake, the tsunami and the [Fukushima nuclear power plant] radiation leaks, I was very stressed. I actively followed the news but the mass of conflicting information in the traditional media gradually put me off, and in order to be less on the edge, I selected a single source of information, a forum. When a disaster like this happens in a country where one has so many good memories, a girlfriend, friends, and where one still hopes to live, it is difficult to handle. But I'm sure that Japan will rise above it as it was able to do so after the Second World War. I hope it will adopt a progressive policy on sustainable energy and take the right decision just as they did when they wrote the article 9 of the Japanese Constitution of 1946 when they renounced war forever.