Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for joining us at the Gagaku Concert tonight. I hope you have enjoyed the performance.
I would like to thank the Japan Society for co-hosting this event, and Mr.Umeda and the International Shinto Foundation for their generous cooperation in making tonight’s concert possible.
This concert has been organized to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Japan’s membership in the United Nations. In saying this, I hasten to note that our co-host, the Japan Society, will celebrate the 100th anniversary, the centenary, of its foundation in the years 2007 and 2008, and I wish to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Richard Wood, President, on the upcoming celebration.
Our history as a UN Member State therefore is only half as long as the history of the Japan Society, and I might add that it represents only a small fraction of the 1,400 years’ history of gagaku music.
We are proud, nevertheless, that in the 50 years since its accession to the UN, Japan has walked a long, steady path to become a nation that has the ability to contribute to building peace, enhancing stability and promoting development in the world.
In December 1956, on the occasion of Japan’s accession to the UN, then Foreign Minister of Japan, Mamoru Shigemitsu, stated in the General Assembly, “Japan believes that the United Nations is the world's central driving force for peace”. That message and spirit still guide our commitment to the work of the UN in support of peace, consolidation of peace in post-conflict situations, development assistance and many other challenges facing the international community today.
I believe that for many the musical notes of gagaku touch our hearts with a rhythm and sound that can be perceived as the source of life or the fertile earth that produces the flora and fauna. We are privileged to have the Ono Gagaku Kai to perform for us today. Established in 1887, the Ono Gagaku Kai has beautifully interwoven its activities with the pure spirit of gagaku music.
I am particularly pleased to note that 23 members of Japan’s national parliament have sent congratulatory messages for today’s event. For the sake of time, I will not attempt to read the messages to you. However, their messages include a reaffirmation of Japan’s strong commitment to world peace and the importance of harmony and a sense of tolerance, as embraced by Asian culture and embodied in gagaku music. I thank our parliamentarians for these words of congratulation with much respect and appreciation.
Lastly, may I once again express my appreciation to all of you for joining us and my warm wishes for your prosperity and happiness.