Remarks by H.E. Mr. Kazuo Kodama
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
at the Special commemorative event on the occasion of the Day of Vesak
United Nations General Assembly Hall
7 May 2012
Venerable Buddhist monks,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to have this opportunity to address you on the occasion of the Day of Vesak. I particularly thank Ambassador Kohona for taking the lead in organizing this event.
At the outset, I would like to reiterate Japan’s deepest gratitude for the humanitarian, moral, and spiritual support it has received from people around the world since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March of last year. The entire nation of Japan, both its government and its people, will continue its efforts toward a quick and steady recovery, with the friendship and solidarity of the international community.
Vesak is recognized as the most sacred day in Buddhism and is commemorated by hundreds of millions of Buddhists around the world.
Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the mid-sixth century. Since then, Buddhism became deeply rooted in Japanese society and culture, influencing other religious traditions as well as the way in which the Japanese people live. Although there are multiple religions observed in Japan, the influence of Buddhism is everywhere; it continues to influence many traditions, observances and aspects of daily life of the Japanese people. Buddhism imprinted enormous influences in the hearts of the Japanese in various ways.
I am delighted to see that representatives of Japanese Buddhist Temples and organizations in New York are participating with us today to celebrate the Day of Vesak, or Hanamatsuri in Japanese.
The number of the Member States which have adopted systems of either parliamentary or presidential democracy now exceeds the number that constitutes an absolute majority at the United Nations. The United Nations should encourage this trend and also address the challenges faced by many countries in their respective transitions to democracy.
The principle underlying such an endeavor must be a culture of peace, which Japan has long supported both in the United Nations and in other fora. Buddhism itself is a faith that is characterized by a spirit of tolerance, a respect for diversity and non-violence. These teachings of Buddhism are as important as ever today.
As the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights instruments enshrine, we believe deeply in the right to practice one’s religion or beliefs, in democratic principles and institutions, in the rule of law, in religious pluralism, in engaging with youth and in full political participation for all citizens, including women.
Japan therefore supports and is actively participating in initiatives of the United Nations in this area, including the activities of UNESCO and the relevant General Assembly resolutions on the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and the elimination of intolerance.
I sincerely believe that today’s event numbers among these initiatives. Through this event, we hope that other religions, faiths and civilizations around the world can gain greater knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist faith, tradition and culture, which no doubt will contribute to the deepening of mutual understanding between people.
In concluding, I would like to join the other participating countries today in extending our sincere congratulations on the Day of Vesak and Hanamatsuri.