Pelpola Vipassi Foundation

Japan & Sri Lanka

The relationship with Japan & Sri Lanka

Junius Richard Jayewardene (Sinhalese: ජුනියස් රිචඩ් ජයවර්ධන,Tamil: ஜூனியஸ் ரிச்சட் ஜயவர்தனா; 17 September 1906 – 1 November 1996), famously abbreviated in Sri Lanka as JR, was the leader of Sri Lanka from 1977 to 1989, serving as Prime Minister from 1977 to 1978 and as the second President of Sri Lanka from 1978 till 1989.

Junius Richard Jayewardene Junius Richard Jayewardene Japan & Sri Lanka

The friendship between Sri Lanka and Japan was consolidated over six decades ago with the great speech made by J. R. Jayawardene, the then Minister of Finance, at the Conference held on the Treaty of Peace with Japan(commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco or San Francisco Peace Treaty), between Japan and part of the Allied Powers, was officially signed by 48 nations on September 8, 1951, at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, United States. It came into force on April 28, 1952.

J. R. defended Japan in its hour of need when many western nations demanded payment for reparations for damages caused during the Second World War. At that time Japan was struggling to achieve economic stability immediately after the Second World War and such payments if made would have affected the economy of Japan adversely.

This treaty served to officially end the Second World War to formally end Japan's position as an imperial power and to allocate compensation to Allied civilians and former prisoners of war, who had suffered Japanese war crimes. This treaty made extensive use of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to enunciate the Allies' goals.

"We do not intend to do so for we believe in the words of the Great Teacher [Buddha] whose message has enabled the lives of countless millions in Asia, that 'hatred ceases not by hatred but by love' "

A major supporter for a post-war free Japan was the delegation from Sri Lanka, then Ceylon. While many were reluctant to allow a free Japan capable of aggressive action and insisted that the terms of surrender should be rigidly enforced in an attempt to break the spirit of the Japanese nation, the Ceylonese Finance Minister J. R. Jayawrdene spoke in defense for a free Japan and informed the Conference of Ceylon's refusal to accept the payment of reparations that would harm Japan's economy. His reason was "We in Ceylon were fortunate that we were not invaded, but the damage caused by air raids, by the stationing of enormous armies under the South-East Asia Command, and by the slaughter-tapping of one of our main commodities, rubber, when we were the only producer of natural rubber for the Allies, entitles us to ask that the damage so caused should be repaired. We do not intend to do so for we believe in the words of the Great Teacher [Buddha] whose message has enabled the lives of countless millions in Asia, that 'hatred ceases not by hatred but by love'.' He ended the same speech by saying "This treaty is as magnanimous as it is just to a defeated foe. We extend to Japan the hand of friendship and trust that with the closing of this chapter in the history of man, the last page of which we write today, and with the beginning of the new one, the first page of which we dictate tomorrow, her people and ours may march together to enjoy the full dignity of human life in peace and prosperity".

Minister Jayewardene's speech was received with resounding applause. Afterwards newspapers such as the New York Times stated "The voice of free Asia eloquent, melancholy and strong with the tilt of an Oxford accent dominated the Conference. The ablest Asian spokesman at the Conference was Ceylon's Finance Minister J. R. Jayewardene". such was the great oratorical ability of J. R. Jayewardene who defended Japan thereby forging a bond of friendship between our Nation and Japan that stands true to this day.