Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Japan's Historic Mission
HANABUSA Masamichi / Former Japanese Ambassador to Italy

December 13, 2004
In the annals of mankind various nations that rose and fell over centuries are recognized for what they left for posterity.

The Romans laid the foundations of Western civilization with the Roman Law and Christianity. The world owes the British the parliamentary system of democracy. The Americans would probably go down in history as the nation that developed the most destructive military power.

Seen on the scale of millennia the Japanese have developed a unique continuous civilization, absorbing various foreign cultures. But as things stand now, Japan might be registered in history as a nation that for a while in the 20th century rose spectacularly but faded away with the gradual decline of its population.

However, there still is a very important enterprise for the Japanese that might be recognized centuries later as their historic mission accomplished. The Japanese people can contribute towards the realization of political, economic and cultural equality among the peoples of the world. If future generations of Japanese make a conscious effort to continue the achievements of their forebears, this enterprise may give our people a place in the honor list of world history.

The Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 solemnly declares that all human beings are born equal irrespective of their race, religion, etc. Yet it is far from reality. It is only 150 years since America abolished slavery. Political colonialism faded from the surface of the earth only a few decades ago. When it comes to religion, pundits have it that the world may be on the verge of serious confrontation between Christianity and Islam. The world still is incredibly unequal among the peoples that inhabit this globe.

With regard to political equality among nations it is an undeniable historic fact that the many wars Japan fought in the 20th century ushered in the political liberation of numerous subjugated peoples of the world. I must, of course, hasten to add here that Japan too was culpable in East Asia in the suppression of its neighbors. I am also aware that such an interpretation of history would be denounced by our immediate neighbors as "thoughtless words of Imperial Japan."

Japan's reputation in the world was greatly damaged by the last war. But the despicable colonial status quo would have persisted much longer had it not been for Japan's military challenge. Japan's track record after the war contrasts with what it did during the war. Since 1945 not a single person has been killed abroad by Japanese bullets. Its vast economic power has been directed towards the augmentation of wealth and improvement in living standards in the developing world through its ODA program.

Political independence cannot be maintained without concomitant economic foundation that supports it. The thrust of Japanese economic collaboration with the developing countries after its defeat in the last war has been directed at efforts to help these economically laggard peoples stand on their own feet much sooner.

Japanese aid has been characterized by its emphasis on the importance of the spirit of self determination in the developing world. For example, Japan's aid philosophy clearly prefers technical aid to promote agriculture rather to food aid per se. As an economy geared to manufacturing, Japan has naturally contributed towards industrialization in Asia through the activities of its private sector. It is indisputable that Japan played a leading role in ushering in tigers and dragons in Asia. If our people aspire to promote this historic mission, therefore, we must overcome the present aid fatigue and redouble our economic and technical help towards the needy peoples of the developing world.

Furthermore, it is desired that the Japanese let its influence felt in the world in favor of cultural tolerance. The Japanese aversion to see things in black or white and their tradition to accept the co-existence of various values may be turned into an advantage in this connection. Japan can preach for more political and religious tolerance in the world's conflicts. We must raise our voice and declare that no culture is above other cultures, and that cultures of all nations are equal. Genuine peace and harmony can prevail only when all nations of the world enjoy their independence- political, economic as well as cultural. I would like to see our nation set this destination as our historic mission and do our utmost to achieve it.

The writer is Chairman of the English-Speaking Union of Japan.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

英 正道 / 元駐イタリア大使

2004年 12月 13日










(筆者は日本英語交流連盟 会長。)
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟