I went to Japan in October 1999. There were already changes occurring in Russia. At the end of December 1999, as you know, Yeltsin resigned and the current administration of President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin came to power.
Asiya Yusufovna (Sadykova) had several Japanese acquaintances there, and she arranged for me to meet Professor Khakamada, Irina Khakamada's brother (half-brother—they have different mothers) and a specialist in Russo–Japanese relations [Irina Khakamada is a Russian economist, politician, and journalist].
I met him, and he worked at a different university, the Faculty of International Relations of Aoyama Gakuin University, a large private university.
He says to me: "Larisa, if you want, come to my seminars on Russo–Japanese relations. Maybe you can speak, talk about Tatarstan; that would be very interesting."
I said "Of course, that'd be great." Then I started going to his classes as I studied at another university.
In 2000 (20 years ago) in the fall, Putin made his first visit to Japan and took representatives from Russian regions with him. Our then President Shaimiev went with him. Khakamada Sensei asked me and I told him about Tatarstan, about the federal agreement, about its status, and so on. This was my topic as a journalist.
And Khakamada told me that he had said to Shaimiev "Your student from Tatarstan comes to my classes, Mrs. Usmanova." Shaimiev says: "yes, I know her." I mean, I'm sure someone put a folder on his desk before his trip. He probably had heard about me because I, as a journalist, was writing about that topic, being in Tatarstan, in Kazan.
And this also contributed to the fact that Khakamada told me: 'You're probably thinking about where to go next, to graduate school, a master's course? If you want, come to my university, I can give you a recommendation, but you'll still have to pass exams.
I had to decide. The scholarship was a state one, and the university was private, and studying there is more expensive than in a state school. But it all worked out somehow, because the teacher was highly regarded. That was how I got into that university to study international relations.
What was nice was that half of the classes were in English and half in Japanese. The university is located across from the UN University. The UN University is the only one of its kind in the world, and it's located in Japan, just across the street from my university in Tokyo.
And we also had lectures there, which I went to; we had classes there too, well, not classes, but public lectures. Both Gorbachev and Clinton, who was already out of office by then, came there. It was quite interesting training.
Then I was looking for a university for my scientific work and found out that, in one of the prefectures of western Japan, in Shimane (next to Hiroshima), a university for regional studies opened with a large media center and a new library. They recruited the first students, very few, three people for doctoral studies.
Education in Japan starts in April. I got there in the spring. The archives of Shirō Hattori, a very famous Japanese scientist, arrived at the media center there at the same time. He was a scientist, linguist, polyglot, knew up to 40 languages, and received an award from the Emperor of the Rising Sun for his activities.
He had studied the roots of the Japanese language, where Japanese came from. His wife was a Tatar emigrant from Russia, Magira Agi (Ageeva), and he spoke to her in Tatar. He died in 1996.