A speech that shaped the history of the world
Seventy years ago, in September 1951, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed and Japan was readmitted to the international community after World War II. The historic San Francisco Peace Conference with the participation of 51 nations was convened to determine Japan’s status in the post-World War II international system.
JRJ in San Francisco
While a number of countries pleaded for strict conditions and sanctions against Japan for its part in the war, the then Ceylon delegation, led by then finance minister JR Jayewardene, pleaded for Japanese independence and rejected war reparations. While insisting on peace, non-violence and compassion and referring to the teachings of the Buddha in the Dhammapada, Jayewardene said: “We do not intend to seek reparations (for damage to crops. in Ceylon during World War II) because we believe in the words of the Great whose message ennobled the lives of countless millions of people in Asia, that hatred cease not with hatred but with love.
Jayewardene’s defense of Japan and his memorable September 6, 1951 speech to the conference received overwhelmingly positive attention. The subsequent impact was greater. Not only did this help Japan re-enter the international community and avoid harsh sanctions, it also earned Sri Lanka a true friend and long-standing Japanese support.
Seventy years later, the speech of former Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene is still remembered by the Japanese people with reverence and appreciation.
Here are the opinions expressed by several intellectuals to the Daily News about JR Jayewardene’s speech at the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference that changed the history of the world:
“JRJ’s speech is remembered by the Japanese with deep gratitude”
Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Seventy years ago this month, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed and Japan was re-admitted to the international community after World War II. On this occasion, I would like to recall the historic San Francisco Peace Conference held in September 1951, during which the government of Ceylon, represented by JR Jayewardene, then Minister of Finance, supported Japan by expressing its strong support for a free and independent society Japan has waived demands for reparation and, thus, most effectively solidified the tone of the Peace Conference.
In his moving speech of September 6, 1951, JR Jayewardene eloquently underscored the spirit of the San Francisco Peace Treaty – that is, reconciliation, fairness and generosity, with the eternity of truth. expressed in “Hatred does not cease with hatred, but with love”, which was ennobled in sacred scripture – the Dhammapada. The moving speech reflected the wholehearted support of the friendly people of the beautiful island of Ceylon and continues to resonate louder in the hearts of the Japanese people with deep gratitude.
In fact, the Buddhist ligature between Japan and Sri Lanka is ancient, and it was Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala, one of the main creators of modern Buddhism, who pioneered binding our hearts by this common faith of peace, and ignited the warmth of friendship on his first visit to Japan in the late 19th century. With the presence of special bonds that united us in the deepest sphere of our soul, the relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka has been strengthened through the test of time.
Next year, Japan and Sri Lanka will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. I would like to take this opportunity to renew my firm resolve to further consolidate our mutual cooperation and prosperity, while embracing the righteous spirit that had germinated in San Francisco.
“JRJ’s speech helped restore the battered pride of Japan”
Monument in honor of JR Jayewardene at Kotokuin Temple in Kamakura, Japan.
The Japanese people lost a lot because of World War II. But I think the biggest loss for our people has been their pride. The speech delivered by the former President of Sri Lanka, the late JR Jayewardene, at the San Francisco conference helped the Japanese people regain their shattered pride. Among other impacts, I think it was the most important for the people of Japan.
Jayewardene’s speech was very timely for Japan, which was struggling on many fronts in the devastation caused by the war. The section that touched my heart the most was the one where he referred to the teachings of Buddha and said, “Hate does not end with hatred, but with love.” In doing so, he called attention to the value of Buddhist principles such as compassion, love, and loving-kindness. He refrained from making religion the main focus of his message and fearlessly called on the international community to guarantee a free and independent Japan.
The Japanese people still remember this speech given by Jayewardene which changed the course of our country. Recently, when I spoke about it on a TV show, the response was overwhelming. However, unfortunately, the younger generation is not very aware of the importance of this for the development of their country after WWII. I think it is our duty to make them aware of this historic speech.
“JRJ wanted to help another Asian Buddhist country”
Prof SATO Takao
Chief monk of Kotokuin temple, Kamakura, Japan
At Kotokuin Temple in Kamakura, we built a monument in honor of Jayewardene. It was built in 1991 when my grandfather was the high priest. There is a lot of history regarding Kamakura and the former president of Sri Lanka. En route to San Francisco in 1951, Jayewardene landed in Japan and visited Kotokuin Temple. My grandfather told me that he was very impressed with the thinking and character of the politician from Ceylon then. Jayewardene visited Japan again and a person called Kamisaka Moto took care of him. He wanted to build a monument in honor of Jayewardene and the Kotukuin temple was chosen.
I learned that Jayewardene visited Japan before going to San Francisco because he personally wanted to witness the situation in Japan at the time. He had spoken to my grandfather about the importance of helping Japan as an Asian Buddhist country. When Kamisaka proposed the monument, my grandfather readily agreed. Jayewardene’s reference to the teachings of Buddha in his speech “Hate does not end with hatred, but with love” is inscribed in the monument.
The comments of the late Jayewardene are also very important today, especially in these troubled times when the world is facing the Covid epidemic as well as many violent conflicts.
Before the pandemic, we had about two million visitors a year. Lately we’ve been doing a film about the monument and Jayewardene’s speech and also Kamisaka Moto has written a book that I helped edit. Several years ago Jayewardene’s grandchildren visited our temple to view the monument. The large Buddha statue at the temple is a great attraction and is world famous. Having the JR Jayewardene memorial on the same premises is a tribute to the late Sri Lankan politician who changed Japan’s journey into history.
“JRJ helped Japan restore international relations after WWII”
Prof. NOGUCHI Yoshinori
Former Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
During World War II, Japan suffered heavy losses and its people were devastated. Allied forces occupy Japan. Before the San Francisco Conference, the Japanese were terrified that there would be more restrictions and difficulties. They believed that the Allied forces would recover the damage from the war from Japan.
The Japanese were so worried that some of them protested against the conference. Japan has waged war on 46 countries. Relations with other countries were therefore at their lowest. The Soviet Union and several countries at the start of the conference called for strict sanctions against Japan, including claims for damages. However, Jayewardene was adamant and said his country was against the imposition of severe restrictions on Japan. “The purpose of the treaty is then to make Japan free, not to impose any restrictions on the recovery of Japan,” he said.
Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, was a British colony. British forces were therefore present in the ports of Colombo and Trincomalee and Japanese planes had attacked these ports. Crops in Ceylon, especially rubber crops, have been severely damaged.
Jayewardene’s speech had two very important points; one is that Ceylon’s position was not only that of its country, but was that of other Asian countries as well. He also proposed the Colombo conference linked to the peace treaty with Japan.
He argued that the development and independence of Japan was important for the development of the entire Asian region. He also cited Buddhist scriptures on the importance of compassion and love. He received a great applause from the audience. The next day, all Japanese newspapers highlighted his speech.
The then Prime Minister of Japan told Ceylon that Japan has a true friend. After the 1951 conference, the peace treaty was signed and Japan established bilateral relations with Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, following a proposal from Jayewardene, Japan participated in the Colombo Plan Conference on October 6, 1954, marking the start of Japan’s official development assistance. The government of Japan has designated October 6 as “International Cooperation Day” to increase public awareness and participation in international cooperation among the Japanese people.
Japan has since aided Sri Lanka’s development efforts in many ways with landmark initiatives such as the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital and the Cosmos Fellowship Program which, among many others, bear witness to this. The Cosmos scholarship has helped many deserving students to continue their education and reach great heights.
“SJGH a gift from Japan to thank JRJ”
Dr Rathnasiri A. Hewage
Director, Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital
Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital is located in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte and is one of the main healthcare facilities in the country. The hospital was donated by Japan in appreciation of President JR Jayewardene’s support in Japan and diplomatic efforts on his behalf after World War II. The hospital received 1,000 beds and all other amenities in 1983. Although the hospital operates under Sri Lanka’s free health system, it also contains a section where citizens can pay for private rooms and facilities. more personalized levels of treatment and care.
The appreciation of the medical community and the general public in Sri Lanka should go to Japan for this wonderful facility. The hospital is built according to the green concept with a lot of emphasis on the environmental aspect. We have always strived to improve this quality. However, some of the hospital’s facilities and infrastructure are currently in need of refurbishment and we hope Japan will help again.
This wonderful facility is due to the efforts of former President JR Jayewardene. The friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan was consolidated more than six decades ago with the great speech he delivered at the conference held in San Francisco to sign the peace treaty, between Japan and the United States. allied powers. JRJ defended Japan in his hour of need.
(Photos courtesy of the Embassy of Japan, JR Jayewardene Center, and Rukmal Gamage)