‘Hand of friendship extended 70 years ago embraces shared vision of peace and prosperity today’ | Daily News

‘Hand of friendship extended 70 years ago embraces shared vision of peace and prosperity today’

Remembering J.R. Jayewardene’s historic San Francisco speech

On the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka, President Ranil Wickremesinghe said: “Seventy-one years ago on September 6, 1951, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed and Japan was readmitted to the international community as a free and equal country, after the end of World War II.

“It was widely known that there was a difference of opinion among major world powers on the provisions of the Treaty. At this Conference, Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known) played a major role in supporting post-war free Japan. On this occasion, Sri Lanka’s representative, the then Finance Minister J.R. Jayewardene, argued for Japan’s independence and rejected war reparation for Ceylon, in order not to harm that country’s economy, based on the eternal words of the Buddha, that ‘hatred ceases not by hatred but by love, which has ennobled the lives of countless millions in Asia’.

“I recall vividly, the late former President J.R. Jayewardene describing to me, at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo enroute to San Francisco, the conditions of the war-ravaged Japan. Since its readmission, Japan has become Asia’s economic miracle, and has been exceptionally magnanimous in extending assistance and cooperation, in a myriad of ways, towards the advancement of developing nations in the world, including Sri Lanka.

“On this momentous occasion, I also wish to recollect that Sri Lanka’s statement in San Francisco was based on the non-aligned foreign policy of our first Prime Minister, the late D.S. Senanayake, who supported the freedom of Japan, and was of the same view as the former Japanese Prime Minister late Shigeru Yoshida that the post-war world should not be dominated by a few blocs and maintaining peace in the world being paramount.

“In the concluding remarks of that historic speech by the late J.R. Jayewardene on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka at San Francisco he said, ‘We extend to Japan a hand of friendship and trust that with the closing of this chapter, the last page of which we wrote 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’.

“Inspired by the legacy of these visionary leaders, I am determined to further strengthen and consolidate our mutual cooperation and partnership with Japan, while embracing our aspiration for peace, inclusivity, transparency and stability, which germinated in San Francisco and continues to flourish today in our bilateral relations.”

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, said: “I am pleased that a special supplement is being issued to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the historic San Francisco Peace Conference that paved the way to the conclusion of the historic Treaty of Peace with Japan.

“Sri Lanka takes pride in the contribution we made towards this noble goal at the Colombo Conference of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers in 1950, the first forum that advocated freedom for Japan which evolved into the San Francisco Peace Treaty.

“Sri Lanka’s then Finance Minister J.R. Jayewardene made an inspiring speech accepting the Treaty of Peace with Japan and raising his voice in support of a free and independent Japan. Citing an excerpt from the Dhammapada that “hatred ceases not by hatred but by love,” Jayewardene’s strong voice from Asia moved the audience by his assertion that Sri Lanka would not seek reparations despite the damages caused by air raids.

“The conclusion of the Peace Treaty paved the way for Japan to resume its international role as a free and independent nation and to make an outstanding economic recovery. Today Japan plays a very significant role in supporting developing countries sharing the dividends of her economic prosperity. Japan’s rise since the end of World War II is a significant achievement and all of us in Asia continue to work closely with Japan to achieve the aspirations that we mutually share.

“Sri Lanka’s gesture of goodwill at the most trying time for Japan has been cherished by the people of Japan for generations and the relations between the two nations since then entered a unique phase embracing cooperation in multiple spheres. The Japanese Government’s remarkable solidarity and support extended to Sri Lanka is a matter of particular pride for our people.

“I wish to place on record with great contentment that over the past seven decades, relations between the two nations have grown dramatically. Japanese overseas development assistance to Sri Lanka and inbound investments is very significant. Employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in Japan have increased and our bilateral trade has grown significantly.

“The Japanese Government bestowed Sri Lanka in 1982 a state-of-the-art national television station Rupavahini which offers citizens of this country access to timely information on a digital platform that invariably improved the standard of living. The Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital was another signature gesture that was granted as an outright gift by Japan, both symbolize the benign friendship of the Japanese people.

“It is significant that as we reach this milestone in our relations Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented crisis and reaching out to our friends in the international community for support.

“As we reminisce the trajectory of our achievements over the years let us resolve on this special day of the 71st anniversary of the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the seven decades of our diplomatic relations to further advance the mutual interests that we share.”

Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Hideaki Mizukoshi said: “Today, September 6, occupies a special place in the history of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka. It is the day when a new horizon began to emerge for the two countries, brought into light by no other than J.R. Jayewardene.

“The historic speech delivered by the then Finance Minister, representing the Government of Ceylon at the San Francisco Peace Conference, was a decisive statement that Japan and Sri Lanka had embarked upon the new journey of friendship. On September 6, 1951, J.R. Jayewardene concluded his moving speech with the following passage:

“We extend to Japan a hand of friendship, and trust that … with the beginning of the new chapter, the first page which we dictate tomorrow, her people and ours may march together to enjoy the full dignity of human life in peace and prosperity.”

“Over the course of the past 70 years, our relationship has followed this lofty vision of J.R. Jayewardene and continues to unfold new chapters as envisaged by this great luminary. The undying spirit that dwells in the speech is the “light of hope” which had gently embraced the Japanese people at the time when they were trying to climb out of the ashes of war.

“We are guided by the same spirit as our relations evolve everlastingly in the “light of hope”. It is our intention here today to showcase our diplomatic journey by connecting the past, present, and future in a chain of hope, while commemorating the birth of the first light upon the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations.

“I wish to express my cordial appreciation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe for extending his kind message in the memory of J.R. Jayewardene. I would also like to thank the Foreign Affairs Ministry, led by Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and our stakeholders for joining hands with us to create a special programme to be aired on Rupavahini tonight (19:30 to 20:30), titled ‘The Eternal Light of Hope in Unyielding Spirit’.”

Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) Chairman W.B. Ganegalasaid: “On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the Peace Conference, I am happy that SLRC, the national television, has been given the opportunity to be a part of this event organized by the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka. “

National Youth Services Council (NYSC) Chairman/Director General Ravindra Samarawickrama said: “We are proud to be an active partner in these celebrations as the existing proof of benevolence of the people of Japan, being a grant recipient in early 1980s. The Head Office of the NYSC located in Maharagama is a precious gift from Japan.”

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