The 2003 Ramon Magsaysay Award|
for Peace and International Understanding
RESPONSE of Tetsu Nakamura
DR. TETSU NAKAMURA
Your Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, fellow awardees, ladies and gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to have been selected as recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding this year. At the same time, I am impressed by this recognition of warm sympathy from friends in Asia. I understand this award is not for my own achievement, but also for that of the 300 local Afghan and Pakistani staff of the Peshawar-kai Medical Services, the Peshawar-kai head office staff and the 12,000 Japanese Peshawar-kai members who have been supporting our work for the past 20 years.
In the past 20 years, we have faced almost all possible conflicts and distresses in the Asian region: religious conflicts; restriction of states; the conflict of ethnic majority vs. other ethnics; tribal strife; contradiction between rural and urban areas; the struggle of rapid modernisation versus traditional society; the expanding gap between rich and poor; and the contradictions between so-called "modernized advanced nations" and developing nations.
Even under such a situation, different people were able to co-operate with each other, probably because we have respected "life" and have made every effort to seek common ground as human beings. Although this was not always easy, and sometimes great patience was needed, my experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan tells me it is possible to find this common ground, and to strengthen it by working together in mutual respect. I am convinced that we have something to share as human beings by understanding the differences among each other, even in diverse Asian regions. War is not the solution.
Under the recent climate where the international community approves the exercise of state violence without hesitation, as seen in many developed countries, Asian brothers who are in a vulnerable position are denied the opportunity to open their mouths, and thinking citizens are forced to be silent. It is unbearable to lose our own identities, to be deprived of human pride and peaceful lives. Despite the problems of kaleidoscopic politics and transient international attention, we shall continue to share life’s joys and sorrows with the local people in Afghanistan and Pakistan,in addition to acting as witnesses to their condition.
I hope that our small contributions to this corner of Asia will become a sacrificial building block for symbiosis and harmony, transcending any established positions and prejudices.
Thank you very much.