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TO SRI LANKA’S GREAT FRIEND JAPAN WITH LOVE

17 March 2013 07:08 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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- By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe

The friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan was consolidated over six decades ago with the great speech made by J. R. Jayawardene, the then Minister of Finance, at the Conference held on the Treaty of Peace with Japan(commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco or San Francisco Peace Treaty), between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, United States. It came into force on April 28, 1952.

J.R. defended Japan in its hour of need when many western nations demanded payment for reparations for damages caused during the Second World War. At that time Japan was struggling to achieve economic stability immediately after the Second World War and such payments if made would have affected the economy of Japan adversely.

This treaty served to officially end the Second World War to formally end Japan’s position as an imperial power and to allocate compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war, who had suffered Japanese war crimes. This treaty made extensive use of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies’ goals.

" We do not intend to do so for we believe in the words of the Great Teacher [Buddha] whose message has enabled the lives of countless millions in Asia, that ‘hatred ceases not by hatred but by love’ "

A major supporter for a post-war free Japan was the delegation from Sri Lanka, then Ceylon. While many were reluctant to allow a free Japan capable of aggressive action and insisted that the terms of surrender should be rigidly enforced in an attempt to break the spirit of the Japanese nation, the Ceylonese Finance Minister J.R.Jayawrdene spoke in defence for a free Japan and informed the Conference of Ceylon’s refusal to accept the payment of reparations that would harm Japan’s economy. His reason was “We in Ceylon were fortunate that we were not invaded, but the damage caused by air raids, by the stationing of enormous armies under the South-East Asia Command, and by the slaughter-tapping of one of our main commodities, rubber, when we were the only producer of natural rubber for the Allies, entitles us to ask that the damage so caused should be repaired. We do not intend to do so for we believe in the words of the Great Teacher [Buddha] whose message has enabled the lives of countless millions in Asia, that ‘hatred ceases not by hatred but by love’.’ He ended the same speech by saying “This treaty is as magnanimous as it is just to a defeated foe. We extend to Japan the hand of friendship and trust that with the closing of this chapter in the history of man, the last page of which we write today, and with the beginning of the new one, the first page of which we dictate tomorrow, her people and ours may march together to enjoy the full dignity of human life in peace and prosperity”.



Minister Jayewardene’s speech was received with resounding applause. Afterwards newspapers such as the New York Times stated “The voice of free Asia eloquent, melancholy and strong with the tilt of an Oxford accent dominated the Conference. The ablest Asian spokesman at the Conference was Ceylon’s Finance Minister J. R. Jayewardene”.(Wikepedia) Such was the great oratorical ability of J. R. Jayewardene who defended Japan thereby forging a bond of friendship between our Nation and Japan that stands true to this day.

The similarity of international support displayed at this Conference with the proceedings of the Human Rights Committee Conference held presently in Geneva vis-à-vis support for a struggling Asian Nation such as Sri Lanka is remarkable indeed.
The well known sayings that history repeats itself and a friend in need is a friend indeed comes to mind. In spite of the objections raised Japan had to pay compensation under the Treaty.

" The friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan was consolidated over six decades ago with the great speech made by J. R. Jayawardene, the then Minister of Finance, at the Conference held on the Treaty of Peace "

During the recent visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa to Japan, the ties of friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan were further strengthened and a joint statement was issued titled ‘Strengthening Japan-Sri Lanka Partnership beyond the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations signed by Shinzo Abe Prime Minister of Japan and President Mahinda Rajapaksa The following important agreements aiding the economic prosperity of Sri Lanka were made at this meeting.
  • Noting the steady economic growth of Sri Lanka, both leaders underlined their desire to nurture a favourable environment to forge closer economic and trade linkages. The two leaders, to this end, decided to promote intergovernmental economic dialogue and to strengthen bilateral trade as well as Japanese investment in Sri Lanka.
  • President Rajapaksa highly appreciated Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) over the years which played a significant role for the social and economic development of Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to continue cooperation for Sri Lanka’s sustainable growth. In this context, the Government of Japan decided to extend loans totaling approximately 41.1 billion yen and grant aid totaling approximately 2.7 billion yen to areas including infrastructure development and disaster prevention.

During the above visit the Japanese Prime Minister and other Japanese leaders said that the progress achieved by Sri Lanka following the conclusion of the conflict, is extremely praiseworthy. They further stated that more Japanese nationals are showing willingness to visit Sri Lanka as the security situation has returned to normal. The Japanese leaders also recalled with gratitude the assistance provided by the Sri Lankan government and the people of Sri Lanka to Japan, in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami two years ago.

Sri Lanka must continue to strengthen its ties of friendship with all the friendly nations in the World thereby ensuring strong international support for the well being of our Nation. The writer wishes to salute Japan our great friend for standing by Sri Lanka in its hour of need as Sri Lanka stood by Japan in their hour of need.
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