Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday, November 27: A Sunday with Family and Friends in Tokyo

It was my second free day. I spent the morning with Mark and Brian. We went to Tokyo tower and then we walked to Roppongi and ate at Brian's favorite sushi place. I still cannot eat raw fish, but I tried it the night before. Once was enough. At a sushi place, I liked eby and misso soup.

In the afternoon we met with Fumitaka Saito. My first impression of him: He looks exactly like he did 20+ years ago. He looks great!

Fumitaka took us on a tour of ancient and modern Japan in less than 2 hours. I visited my third Buddhist temple while in Tokyo. In the first one, I learned how to burn incense and heard monks praying. I also bought my future luck for a dollar. My future looks good according to a little paper I received there. At the second temple, I had a guided tour from two elderly gentelmen who provided a special tour opportunity for 200 JFMFers. At the second temple, I learned about several aspects of this religion. The temple that Fumitaka took us is 400 years old. I want to learn more about Asian religions. Out tours are so quick, I have a hard time processing all the new information I am gathering.

At 5:30, I met Yunko and Yohei at the Sun City District. Fumitaka is a very lucky man. His family is lovely. They took us to a lovely restaurant, where I had the best food I have had in Tokyo. Yohei picked the restaurant. I hope they will come to Oklahoma City so we can try to show them as good of a time as they provided to us.

It was hard to say good-bye to Fumitaka and his family as well as to Mark and Brian who return to the States today, Monday, November 28. Mark will arrive in OKC an hour earlier than he left. That is amazing.

I leave for Yanagawa at 5:30 today. It is 3:58 now. I probably will not be able to write until the end of next week. I will keep a regular journal from now on.

I hope "you all" had a great Thanksgiving. Pray for me because Yanagawa will be different than Tokyo. NO ENGLISH! NO Internet!

In Yanagawa, I will visit a university, a middle, lower and high school. It will not be so bad if it were not for the fact that this is the first delegation of teachers going to Yanagawa ever. We have a big responsibility. I will try to do my best to represent Oklahoma.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday, November 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26

From 5:30-8:30: I walked to the Temple located next to my hotel. I loved the 6:00 service and seeing the monks on daily routines such as cleaning and preparing to sell things to tourists. In the summer, I will research the ancient beliefs in Japan. I am fascinated by the peace the young monks project. I found out the majority of monks in this temple are from 18-25 years of age. I saw several women as monks also. I do not when, but I need to go up the Tokyo Tower sometime before I leave.

9:30-11:30 Friday November 25: This was the first day we had to make choices. The selection in the morning allowed me the following choices:

1. Special Education: Shigeru Narita, Professor Hyogo University of Teacher Education
2. Math Education: Eizo Nagazaki, Curriculum Director, National Institute for Educational Policy and Research
3. Women's Status in Japan: Mariko Bando, Director, Research Institute for Gender Equality
4. Peace Education: Koji Ikeda, Chairman, Yokosuka Disabled Veterans Association, Tomoko Yanagi, Teacher, Hiroshima, Misuzugada High School. Moderator: David H. Satherwhite, Japan-United States Educational Commission

In Oklahoma, I signed for Peace Education, but Mrs. Inoguchi presentation made me change my mind. I wanted to hear more about gender equality in Japan and I went to Women's Status in Japan. Mrs. Bando gave us a historical perspective and the current changes in this area. The foundation of the difference started with availability of education. Mrs. Bando said that in the past women could not go to school after age 12. Then, their academic challenge in schools was lower. If they attended college, they had to attend Women's Colleges, but no co-ed. After the Constitution: 96% of girls go to high school and many of them go to college. They will soon match the male enrollment rate. Women live longer 85.6 years old, men: 78.6. Their diet is good: Not great amounts of oil or sugar and they do some exercise.

The problem educated women face now is "no equal opportunity to use abilities in the work force." They leave the working force by age 30 to have their first child. They have to stay home and take care of their children for the first three years of life. The policies support, either mother or father 'one year leave of absence for the first year of life of a child." 70% of women leave their jobs. Because of this, employeers do not want to invest training time and money to help women move up the ladder. They loose their seniority after age 30. There is 60 years old compulsory retirement age. They are hoping to move it to 65 in the future.

Another problem Japan faces due to the "3 year rule for women": Young women are choosing not to have babies. Japan's population is aging. Women are not getting married until they are 27 years old. Men wait until they are 29. 54% of women, age 25-29 never get married because it is difficult to have work and family. Some do so if they have extended family support. There is a lack of childcare in Japan.

If women want to go back to work at age 40, they cannot aspire to get managerial jobs, only part time work.

How can women change their situation in Japan? Women are becoming a politican force. 23/408 elected were women last year. Mrs. Inoguchi is not as influential as she should be, but at least she is an important part of the Diet now.
Besides the inequality of opportunity to use ability in the work force, Japan is also changing in other areas such sexual and domestic abuse and violence. Now they have laws such as the antidomestic violence law and sex with minors and pornography are prohibited by law. Japan also has long term insurance: Home health care first and nursing home coverage is divided by 10% covered by the individual and 90% by insurance.

Concerning the divorce rate in Japan, Mrs. Bando said that 200,000 couples divorced last year. The surprise was women are asking for divorce. After divorce, some women go on welfare. 90% of divorces are in agreement from both parties. Only 1% goes to court. Husbands do not pay anything.

Japan has a problem with sexual harrasment on the job. Employers are encouraged to deal with it and discourage it. It takes 10 years for the courts to deal with this type of cases

Regarding childcare; a great need in Japan; there are none for the first 3 years of life. You either use your extended family or stay at home. At three years, there are 23,000 daycare centers with huge waiting lists

Post-Trip Reflection

I realized why children want to be child care workers as their number one option after high school. This is a good job possibility. What I still wonder is why there are so many male teachers if education is the only place women can go back and regain their status after the three years rule.

I am also puzzled about the reality of a geisha today. The red district is still doing booming business after dark. Men drink too much and do not go back home for days. How are Japanese women handling this? How does a single mom make in Japan? What is their welfare for single women with children like? I did see men homeless, but I did not see any women on the streets.

I felt I had made a mistake taking this option because I would like to have gone to the Peace Seminar; but I learned a lot and for the Peace Seminar, I can contact the people who presented and ask questions.

11:30-1:00 Buffet lunch at the hotel

1:00-3:00 I had a choice between two project resources: The Arts and Japan-U.S. Collaborative Environmental Education; Master Teacher Program, Edward Jones, Senior Researcher, Tama University.

I had a very difficult time with this choice because my follow-on plan is on the arts. I also have students interested in solving global warming so I made what I thought to be a best decision: Environmental Seminar.

Most of the seminar information was for people who had not read the website. I felt dissapointed because I wondered what I was missing that could help me at my festival. In this seminar, I learned about future city, which is also in the website, I just had not read it. I realized that I could be the master teacher regarless if I do not have background in science. There must be a JFMF teacher in the team to apply. I also learned that Japanese are slow to start but persistant with this program. US partners are enthusiastic at first, but do not follow through. I also learned that "Internet ability" is defined with a different perspective: the Japanese underate themselves and the Americans overate themselves

All information about this program can be found at Below are some highlights from their Global Knowledge Creating Web:
The Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program (MTP) is a major bi-national program of inquiry-based collaborative education. In the past five years, it has brought together students and teachers from two hundred schools in Japan and the United States for educational exchanges and online learning activities. The MTP is fully funded by the Government of Japan and operates in accord with Japan's long term educational plans.
Consequently it seeks to develop the resources needed to effectively implement the new "Period for Integrated Studies" initiated by Japan's Central Council on Education. The Council instituted this proposal, because it recognized that current educational practices in Japan tend to foster the consumption of information through rote memorization at the expense of innovation and creativity. The Council wants schools to move beyond this to provide students with an education that enhances their "zest for living" and provides them with "room for growth."
From their online application: The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program is undertaking its eighth year of exchange programs in collaborative environmental education using information technology. Under this program we invite JFMF past participants from the United States and Japan to organize school teams to participate in an inquiry-based education process that combines exchange visits with the use of information technology to carry out ongoing environmental education activities. The MTP program is designed to encompass both primary and secondary level schools.-(They want ALL inclusive teams)
The program combines an overall unifying project with teacher-developed partner-school pair projects. The unifying project is a biodiversity survey, called BUGS & Soil. Participants develop their partner-school pair projects based on the project areas listed in the application form project concept page. Once a concept is approved, the partner teams will develop, refine and implement it through a collaborative effort. The program's goal is to create a viable system of international collaborative learning that combines off-line experiential learning with on-line educational information exchanges.

Evening Program: This started the weekend on our own. While US educators were taking trips to Hiroshima, Kamakura, Kyoto, et. I went to dinner with Mark and Brian. We took the subway for the first time on our own. A nice Japanese man guided us and we went to Shinjuko, where the movie Lost in Translation was filmed, after we ate in Roppongi at a sushi place. They did not serve wasabi with sushi. I felt I was not going to be able to survive in Yanagawa. I could eat raw fish with wasabi, but not without it. Mark told me they had wasabi in the rice, but it is not the same as killing my palate with wasabi. I think I just do not like the consistency and smell of raw fish and nori (seaweed). Wasabi helps hide those flavors. Brian had found a place where I could blog for an hour for the same price they were charging me for 30 minutes at the hotel. I spent sometime blogging with Brian before returning to our hotels.

Final Friday's Reflection
On Friday I went to two seminars. The first one was on Japanese Women Today and the second one was on Environmental opportunities with the Master Teacher Program. Both were interesting, but very long. I was a few minutes with Mark and Brian, but I was so tired, I went to sleep early

Saturday, November 26: Day on our own: I was tempted to go to an Ikebana and Tea Ceremony workshops available at about $50 per seminar, but I decided to spend the day with Mark and Brian.

In the morning, I heard about Mark and Brian's Japanese adventure with our friend Fumitaka. They visited Mount Fuji, Osaka, and Kyoto. I saw their pictures and heard their stories about hotels, the bullet train ride, the food, Fumitka's generosity and love for pictures and video and their a few hours of adventure on their own. Fumitaka had been with them almost everyday since they arrived. Mark, Brian and I took the subway for the first time on our own. At first is was kind of difficult to decide what botton to push, but since some of the directions are in English, we were Ok and went to Ginza, an amazing shopping area. Everything was very expensive, for example a pair of $150 jeans is being sold for over $300 dollars. The department stores were amazing. The quality of the displays was great. I saw great looking food and fruits (so far, every fruit I have tasted is sweet and perfectly chilled). The streets of Tokyo were spotless. They have 1000's of people who moved in an orderly fashion. If I saw a foreign looking face, it was a member of my group. That is really weird. The population seems homogeneous. The cars drive as the population, in an orderly, quiet way. There are fake dishes in front of every restaurant. The subway is as all in Tokyo, orderly and spotless. Young Japanese girls are noisy from time to time, but most of the time the noise comes from our groups. I like Tokyo, but I think it would be difficult to live here because of the language and cultural barriers.

In the evening we went Roppongi again to eat sushi at Brian favorite sushi place. I was so tired, I went to bed at about 11:00

I slept for the first time until 3:30. I felt rested, but I also felt like I got off a cruise ship.

I will not be able to continue writing from Yanagawa because they do no have Internet connection at the hotel and the guide said that she did not know if they had Internet cafes.

So far the experience is amazing. I love being here, although the food is still something I am not really knowing how to take at times. I do not like fish that tastes like fish. They seem to place seaweed on everything. I know with time I will get use to eating healthy.

Flat Stanley is doing ok. I did not place pictures of the trip until my return to the USA because the Internet cost was going to be too much.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Tokyo Program: Thursday Nov. 24, 2005: Fish Market, Host city , Economics, Politics, Education and Role of women in Japan

Early Morning Reflection: My day started at 2:30 in the morning. I have not been able to sleep past 2:30 yet. I left a wake-up call. Since I did not answer, they sent a bellboy to wake me up. I cannot believe how attentive the hotel is to our needs. Well, my lack of sleep must be jet lag. I felt a little bit weird not making plans for our two free days, but I will meet Mark, Brian, and Fumitaka's family. I want to keep my schedule free. The other teachers plans sound exciting, expensive, and time consuming. I will see Tokyo first! I wonder how Mark and Brian are doing. I can hardly wait to see them and hear about their experience with Fumitaka.

At 4:00 a.m. I went dowstairs and joined a group going to the fish market. We took a taki. The takis were also an experience in Japan. They are very clean. The taxi drivers wear gloves and the doors opened automatically. They drive on the right side of the street. My fear going so early was finding a taxi to come back on time. Everything had been so on schedule that I did not want to be late for anything. The fish market was interesting, but I did not get to see an auction. It was huge and compared to other fish markets, spotless, and almost silent. It was not as exciting as the Seattle fish market or I was just too tired to have a more positive view. I wonder how much money exchanges hands by 6:00 a.m. at this market on a daily basis. As we were leaving the fish market a taxi appeared and took us back to the hotel without any problems, but charged us more due to traffic. The teachers I went with were nice. I only remeber John, a native American who was going to spend his days in an area near Tokyo. I remember thinking how lucky he was. I like big cities and my assignment was a small rural town.

The schedule of the day was:

7:00-8:30 Breakfast
9:00-9:30: Presentation of books: byKenji Miyazasa
9:45:10:45: Host CityOrientation
11:00-12:30: Japan's Economy: Takahiro Miyao, Profesor, International University of Japan
12:30-2:00 Buffet Lunch
2:00-3:30: Japanese Government: Yuji Tsushima, Diet Member, Kuniko Inoguchi, Minister of the State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs. Moderator: Hiroya Ichikawa, Professor, Faculty of Comparative Culture, Sophia University
3:45-5:15: Japanese Education: Tsutomu Kimura, President, National Institution for Academic Degrees
6:30-8:30: Welcome Reception


As I said before, I joined tours in progress. I do not feel well. I am tired and I do not feel like socializing very much. I think I do not socialize because I know I cannot plan anything with them since I will be with my own family during the free days. Despite my lack of energy, I managed to be at the right place, at the right time and I joined the tour to the fish market without much planning. The group I joined was very nice.

Breakfast was amazing. I loved that rice was served at every meal. I loved their breakfast salads and the potatoe sandwiches. Every day they assigned sitting with a different criteria to insure us meeting as many of the 200 educators as possible.

We received free books. I decided to give the book of poetry to Mr. Britton. A teacher was reading it and she said it was difficult. Charlie could tell me what he thought of it and use it with his students. The other books will go to the Lower Division. I will present them to Susan Bruce because her kids are writing a grant for books. I will also give one book to the Stanley Club because Stanley came with me. After the publishing company made the book presentations, we were asked to sign-up for a Pen Pal Program. One of us will win the opportunity to write to 17 students from Nara. Their English teacher had requested this from the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. If I win, I will have to create a service-learning project for this Pen Pal Project.

Host City Orientation: I do not why I was a few minutes late. To make-up for my tardiness, I quickly volunteered to gathered gifts from my group for all the institutions we were visiting. I was surprised by only a few had brought gifts for the schools we were going to visit. I have books about US cities, schools, pens, caps, and candy. If I were to do it all over again, I would prepare a service-learning quilt for each school. I know Caitlin's DVD is a very special gift. I wish I had brought a copy for each school.

Information provided on Yanagawa: 76,000 people, beautiful canals and boats. It is a tourist area, mainly tourism from Korea and China. We would stay at a Japanese style hotel (New Hakury Soh), in a single room. We will eat eel and nori and drink sake, the main products of the region. Yanagawa is the Venice of Japan and a samurai area.

Preparations for our flight to Fukuoka and bus trip to Yanagawa: We were to colored tag our luggage the day before and place it outside our room. We were to take a change of clothing on our handbags. I felt I was taking a cruise to Yanagawa.

Dress code and other details for the Yanagawa trip: We were also told about the required dress code for every day. Our official translator, Mikey, would join us at Fukuoka. We were expecting weather in the 60's and there were no hair dryers in the hotel. The hotel would make two available if needed. We also needed to exchange money at the hotel in Tokyo because there was no foreign currency exchange in Yanagawa. I had already exchange most of the money I wished to spend at the San Francisco Airport, therefore, I was not concerned about it. They also said big stores took credit cards. We were told that NO ENGLISH would be the rule in Yanagawa. I was afraid and excited. From Yanagawa I will not be able to blog because the hotel does not have Internet access.

Economics Lecture: Takahiro Miyao, Professor, International University of Japan, Head, GLOCOM Platform ( This lecture was amazing. The professor, skillfully and clearily, compared the US and Japan economies. He said that comparing and contrasting them gives a better mutual understanding between the two countries.

The gross domestic product=national income of the USA population is 36,000 compared to the Japanese $ 27,000.

The difference in the saving behavior is USA: National: 15%, household:0%. Japan: National: 25%, Household: 10%. A household in the USA has: cash/ deposits of 15% , Stocks/M. Funds: 45%.

The Japanese household: Cash/Deposits: 60% and Stocks/M. Funds: 10%.

He explained the difference in the following way: 1: Culture, 2: Experience.

US Culture: Consumption=American Dream, Risk=Challenge to take.
Japan's Culture: Concumption=Indulgence, Risk=Gamble to avoid.

Richest People: The biggest surprise to me came when he described the richest generations: USA: Baby Boomers (40-59), post WWII Generation, Consume and Invest in stocks. He was talking about me.
Japan: Elderly (65 and older), Pre WWII Generation, save and hold cash/deposits.

What are the consequences?
USA: Too little savings, too much consumption, more imports than exports (Trade deficit $660 billion in 2003).
Japan: Too much savings, too little consumption. More exports than imports (Trade surplus $132 billion in 2003).

What to learn from each other?
USA: Consume less and save more, avoid unnecessary risk in investment, improve manufacturing productivity.
JAPAN: Consume more and save less. Take risks and meet challenges. Improve non-manufacturing sectors.
If this area is of interest, there is a forum: Thank you Mr. Miyao. It was an easy presentation to follow.

Two members of the Diet talked to us after lunch. It was interesting to see how respectful the staff was and how they made us behave.

Japanese Politics Lecture: Diet Members
Kuniko Inoguchi, Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs
Yuji Tsushima, House of Representatives
The focus of the presentation was a description of the Diet, how it works, the latest election, issues on citizen involvement in Japanese government policies and gender equality.

What is the Diet? Defined by the Constitution of Japan as the highest organ of state power and the sole law-making organ of the state.

The House of Representatives, forming the National Diet together with the House of Councillors, plays an important role in running the State. It enacts laws, designates the prime minister, decides the national budget and approves treaties. Other important functions carried out by the House include focusing the popular will by discussing a variety of issues, from the future course of the country and world peace to the daily life of the people, conducting investigations into government to see whether its administration is being carried out for the public good, and considering petitions presented to the House by the people.
Members of both houses are elected by universal adult suffrage. As of the last general election, the membership of the House of Representatives was reduced from 500 to 480 (Public Offices Election Law, revised February 2000). The four-year term is unchanged. The House of Councillors membership is 252, with half of its members elected every third year for a six-year term. House of Councillors:
The Subject of the Diet Presentation: Gender Equality Issues, Mainstreaming Gender, Empowerment Equality: The election of Mrs. Inoguchi was a great victory for all female candidates. Her mission is to change from the inside and empower Japanese women to have positions where they can make real difference. Mrs. Inoguchi expressed the need to become competitive because of the lack of natural resources in Japan. She wants to make sure the government of Japan will be on the side of the people in need of its help. She wants to empower young people to think about having babies without the fear of loosing their work status. She wants to create the infrastructure that is going to allow women to work and take care of their babies in the first three years of life. Young women should not have to choose between child birth and work.
Both officials agreed that the Japanese working force needs better working conditions. Institutions have to change to allow Japanese workers to participate in every level of society. There is a need for more time off to dedicate to family responsibilities (both for men and women) such as aging parents and community volunteer activities. Full time workers who dedicated 24/7 to their jobs is decresing. There is 4% unemployment in Japan. Both Diet members agreed that modernization without loosing the Japanese traditional values was needed. They also agreed that there is a disconnect between the government and its people that needs to be fixed.
Education Reform in Japan Lecture by Tsutomu Kimura, National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation:
Mr. Kimura said that the educational system in Japan is highly centralized. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT) prescribes the course of study, authorizes texbooks, pays the total costof textbooks for compulsory education, half of the salaries for public school teachers in compulsory education (k-9th grade). The other 1/2 is paid by a tax source and local tax. The local governments take the responsibility of implementing the MEX directives. The MEXT also organizes training courses , subsidizes the cost of construction of school biuldings and runs 89 state universities.
There is 100% enrollment in elementary and lower secondary schools
99% enrollment in upper secondary schools
50% participation in higher education
0 illiteracy ratio
Reasonably high international performance
Mr. Kimura shared the following concerns about Japanese education:
1. Children have large amounts of knowledge but lack in "ability to learn and think by themselves" and "the ability to apply their knowledge."
2. There is excessive competition for (university) entrance examinations.
3. There are too many "crammies." Students spend many hours at academies preparing for entrance examinations to universities.
4. There is a deterioration of academic performance
5. Schools are dealing with incidents of school violence and bullying
To deal with the above problems in 1995, the Central Council for Education was created. Its goal: Educational Reform. It is dealing with the current problems:
a. Japanese children under stress (excessive competition from examinations, underdeveloped social side and moral sense, delayed development of independence, problems concerning health and physical stamina, continuing decline of educational power of families and communities)
b. Japan is loosing its strong sense of family and community
Main solution according to Mr.Kimura: Produce "creative" individuals and provide more "diversity" and "flexibility" in the Japanese educational system. The education system should give children and youth "Room to Grow" and "Zest for Living."
Future Model for Education in Japan:
Nurturing Zest for Living to cope with an acutely changing society
Ability to identify problems for oneself, learn by oneself, think for oneself, make independent judgements and actions and solve problems properly. (with intelligence) (Service-Learning!!)
Implementation of a 5-day school week (students go to school or academics all week)
Relaxation of excessive examination competition (how do they hope to do this?
Liaison between school, families, and communities (Service-Learning!!!): Opening schools to the outside world, reducing the role of schools (what does this mean?), strenghthening the educational power of families and communities.
Rich sense of humanity to be capable of self-reliance, cooperation with others, compassion for others. (emotion) Service-Learning again!!!
Health and phusical strenght to live a vigorous life.
More free time for children: strict selection of educational contents and thorough mastery of basic essentials- (Teach less with mastery of essentials)
Education suited to individual abilities and aptitudes (Multiple Intelligences)
Break from uniform education. Improvement of entrance examinations: Diversified selection procedures, Introduction of unifying secondary schools Lower+Upper secondary schools, no exam at age 15 to enter a high school.

The day ended with an official welcome reception. Happy Turkey Day to everyone!!!!! The food and drink selection were amazing. Another day in which the Japanese government is treating us like VIP's . An annoucement was made at the reception: Carmen Clay, your family is waiting for you outside! That is how I found out that Mark and Brian had arrived to the Tokyo Prince Hotel.


Three amazing presentations. I felt less tired and I was able to take good notes. The handouts are priceless.

The economics and Diet presentations made me questioned: what would my present situation in life be had I followed my dream as a teenager: Be in the diplomatic service with background in law and economics. Both presentations were fascinating.

Mrs. Inoguchi is a poster child for what Mr. Kimura described as the solution for Japanese educational problems now: She was creative, diverse in her thinking, and displayed zest for living. I was so proud to hear that she was an AFS student. She has inspired me to work harder, learn more, and strive to make a difference.

I understand Mrs. Inoguchi "making a difference", but I am not sure how Mr. Kimura will educate for change: providing "zest for living", creativity, diversity, flexibility and safeguard their traditional values, moral side and commitment to academics; in a society that is as rigid as this one seems to be . When I reflect on Mr. Kimura's solutions for the challenges of Japanese education, his solutions seemed to be a description of "Service-Learning" with broad based integration and the power of funding backing their attempts for change. I will see what the reality is at Yanagawa schools.

Last thought for the day: I did not know that Toyota is the richest company in Japan and the best students in the world in Math and Science are from Singapure, Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan. USA came as # 19 in the internatinal competition in Math and Science.

The speeches, the food and drinks at the Thankgiving Reception were very nice. Mark and Brian went to eat and came back to my room. They had a wonderful time with Fumitaka. I was so tired after a full day of workshops that we did not do anything else. We had a few hours of sharing experiences and they went back to their hotel. We will eat dinnner together tomorrow.


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