Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Yasuhisa Kawamura, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at the Special Commemorative Event on the Occasion of the Day of Vesak

Venerable monks,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor for me to speak on this occasion of the commemoration of the Day of Vesak. I would like to thank Ambassador Srivihok of Thailand and Ambassador Perera of Sri Lanka for taking the lead in organizing this event.
In Japan, Buddhist temples all over the country hold “Flower Festivals”, or “Hana-matsuri” in Japanese, on April the 8th to celebrate the birth of the Buddha. At these festivals, we often see children parading with a model of a white elephant, which is a reference to a story of the Buddha’s birth. Celebrants of all ages pour sweet hydrangea tea on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers.
(You can see how these festivals take place through the pictures on the screen.)
It is said that the first “Flower Festival” was held in Japan in the year 606, following the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the mid-sixth century. Although there are other religions observed in Japan, the influence of Buddhism has become deeply rooted in our society and culture since its arrival in Japan.
Celebrating the day of Vesak reminds us of the spirit of Buddhist teachings including tolerance, harmony and mutual understanding, which also gives us guidance in resolving problems in the international community.
Just two weeks ago, we expressed our deepest condolences to the victims of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka right here in this General Assembly Hall, and reaffirmed our commitment to stand together in support of peace building and sustaining peace efforts in Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately, in the world today, we still have to confront the spread of violent extremism and conflict stemming from differences of opinion, interpretation, intolerance and lack of mutual respect. In this regard, interfaith and intercultural dialogues are as necessary as ever.
Japan therefore actively participates in initiatives undertaken by the United Nations towards the promotion of dialogues among different cultures, including through the activities of UNESCO and promoting the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and also supports other relevant resolutions.
To conclude, I would like to offer my best wishes to those celebrating the Day of Vesak, as well as my sincerest hopes that Buddhism can inspire our efforts to sustain peace through its teaching which foster peace and mutual respect in the hearts and minds of every and each person.
I thank you.