Full speech as follws
Distinguished Members of the Head Table,
On behalf of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, let me extend a warm and affectionate welcome to the distinguished delegation for your presence here today. I would greet them the traditional Sri Lankan way by saying ආයුබෝවන්” which means may you have long life.
It was on your own accord that you decided to come all the way from Japan to show your interest in our country and its people by celebrating our 70th Independence Anniversary. This gesture of goodwill is greatly appreciated.
We are grateful to the Most Ven. Ohtani Maha Thero and the Honganji Foundation, Minster of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka and various other institutions that encouraged these events.
The selection of the theme of the conference “Departure to the future of Sri Lanka and Japan”, signifies your noble intentions to develop and further strengthen our bond of deep friendship and mutual respect for each other.
As much as our 65 years of Diplomatic Relations between our two countries, it is with pride and great admiration that we remember the speech delivered by our late President J.R. Jayawardene in September 1951, having represented Sri Lanka. He made that historic remark, highlighting the Buddha’s teachings. I quote “Hatred Ceases not by hatred but by love” unquote.
As a nation you still remember these valuable comments which paved the way for Japan’s Journey to be a developed nation with peace and prosperity. You as a nation still respect President Jayawardene and refer to him at many state functions; not forgetting the past is a rare and noble human virtues. Japanese have this quality in abundance.
In today’s message from Hon. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Jayawardene’s contribution to the peace conference and its subsequent positive impact had been highlighted.
We have had frequent exchange of visits by leaders of both countries and the enormous contribution made by the Japanese Government for the development and prosperity of our nation is deeply appreciated by the Sri Lankan people.
We are grateful to Most Ven. Chohjun Ohtani and the Honganji Foundation for the enormous assistance extended to uplift Buddhism, Culture and several social service projects undertaken by the foundation.
Tsunami Memorial Featuring Bhamiyan Buddha, International Buddhist Museum at the Temple of the Tooth Relic etc. are lasting monuments displaying your regard and affection for Sri Lanka and it’s people.
We celebrated 70 years of parliamentary democracy last October in the presence of Speakers of the South Asian Parliament. During these 70 years we have had two unsuccessful military coups, 2 youth insurrections, and 30 years of terrorist activities. Despite these obstacles we maintained democracy throughout the period.
We now have a national Government with President and Prime Minister representing the 2 largest political parties. We have a mature and understanding opposition leader. All these top leaders have one common agenda, to build our country as a united, truly democratic and prosperous nation.
It is my view that history will never give this opportunity again. We now have the world attention and respect.
We saw the very positive friendly comments made by your Foreign Minister Hon. Taro Kono during his visit to Sri Lanka last week. Pains taking efforts by your envoy in Sri Lanka, H.E. Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma to strengthen the bond of friendship between our two countries must be specially mentioned here. He is treated as a close friend to our nation.
Ven. Ohtani, Hon. Members of legislature, Your Excellency Ambassador, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for the presence of your distinguished delegation which made us feel that we have sincere friends who care for us and see to our well-being. It is a great source of strength to us.
Please accept our warmest greetings and best wishes for the ensuring year. May the New Year usher peace, prosperity, happiness and good health to you and your family members.
Thank you for all your goodwill and kind attention.