our ways the Jap. way
It is rare for a diplomat to speak bluntly in public about the ills
and evil ways of his host country. When they do so, it is either
because it is part of their brief or because of a genuine, sincere
concern for the predicament of the host nation and belief that were
it to mend its wayward ways, it would be able to fulfil its full
remarks by Japanese ambassador Akio Suda at a Rotary Club meeting,
reported elsewhere in this page, were probably prompted by both
such considerations and are undoubtedly accurate.
the envoy of the country which has provided us with the most amount
of aid - be it grants or loans - the Japanese ambassador certainly
has a rightful interest in the weaknesses and aberrations that are
preventing Sri Lanka from making the most of such generosity and
improving its economic position.
out that he dislikes the word donor, even though Japan is the biggest
'donor' to this country, he says Sri Lankans should snap out of
our dependency syndrome. Foreign aid is meaningful only if the recipient
country makes enough use of it to develop itself and come out of
the poverty and debt trap - rather than being eternally indebted
and survive by going about with begging bowl in hand.
Japanese envoy has uttered some home truths about us that should
make every right thinking Sri Lankan feel ashamed. He hesitates,
he says, to stroll along the banks of our canals and lakes because
of the stench of carelessly disposed waste.
points out, quite rightly, that this lack of cleanliness affects
the psychology of the people as well as the social and economic
development of the country. For instance, a factory that is not
kept clean cannot produce a product of good quality.
as a nation are far too lethargic and uncaring in our conduct towards
others and our obligations towards the country. A good example of
our lethargy and hypocrisy is the casual way we discard our garbage.
We don't hesitate to criticise the government or others of their
inability to clean up garbage from the streets while we ourselves
take the easy way out and dump our own waste in the most convenient
way - by the roadside, into a nearby stream or even a neighbour's
sort of mentality definitely gets reflected in the way the nation
works and, although there may not be easy ways of measuring it,
obviously has an impact on our economic progress.
the depressing and gloomy picture painted by the Japanese envoy,
his remarks about the way Japan overcame its own deficiencies and
severe pollution problems offer some hope.
instance, in the 1960s major rivers in Tokyo were so polluted by
industrial waste there were no fish in them. This is somewhat similar
to the way industries and individuals make our rivers and canals
a convenient dumping ground for industrial and household waste with
the authorities either turning a blind eye or too corrupt to do
anything about it.
a decade later Japan managed to transform its polluted rivers into
beautifully clean waters full of fish and leisure boats. It is possible
to transform Colombo's streets and waterways in the same way.
19th century Japan imported intellectuals and professionals from
the West at high cost but made full use of their expertise in building
up it's own society and skills. And the reconstruction of Japan's
devastated economy after its defeat in World War 2 with aid from
the USA and World Bank offer hope for us to come out of our own