Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 2004 … In a series of meetings with top Japanese government officials, leaders from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised Japan's role in fighting global terrorism and its continued strong alliance with the United States in bringing democracy to Iraq, while urging Japan to continue to work constructively for peace and democracy across the Middle East.
"With the demise of Yasir Arafat and so many other changes to the Mideast landscape now taking place, we stand at an historical moment of unprecedented challenges and opportunities," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The Japanese alliance, with its continued support for and friendship with the United States, has never been stronger or more important.
"We want to extend our deep appreciation to the Japanese people for standing with the United States during these challenging times. Japan has a vital leadership role to play in helping to bring democracy to Iraq, in combating the global menace of terrorism and in fighting against nuclear proliferation in southeastern Asia and throughout the world," the ADL leaders said.
Since arriving in Japan on Nov. 8, the 15-member ADL delegation has held a series of meetings in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo with top Japanese governmental officials and business leaders. They have discussed racism, anti-Semitism, anti-bias education and Japan's bilateral relations with the U.S. and Israel. The mission culminates with Mr. Foxman's address on Nov. 16 to the Japanese Diet on the importance of moral courage and the legacy of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who issued thousands of travel visas to European Jews during World War II.
In addition, the delegation has officially extended an invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to receive ADL's Distinguished Statesman Award for his courageous leadership in the struggle against terrorism and steadfast friendship to the U.S. in this challenging time, as well as his continued critical role in working toward stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction both in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia. Previous winners of the award include French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, U.S. Ambassadors Madeleine Albright and Richard C. Holbrooke, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Foreign Ministry Urged: Take More Balanced Role at U.N.
In a meeting with Motohide Yoshikawa, Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, the ADL delegation praised Japan's role in democratizing Iraq, in fighting terrorism, and in offering support in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The leaders called on Japan to take a more balanced role at the United Nations, where its voting record on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been skewed. "While Japan has a history of strong bilateral relations with Israel and the United States, the voting record at the United Nations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at odds with that record," said Mr. Foxman. "Japan continues to be one-sided in its voting, which is contrary to the strength in their bilateral relations with the United States and with Israel."
Expansion of Diversity Education Envisioned
In meetings with the vice minister of education, the mayor of Osaka, the governor of Tokyo Prefecture, vice governor of Osaka Prefecture and with local and national business and educational leaders, the ADL delegation has encouraged Japan to continue the expansion of diversity education in the schools using ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute as a model.
ADL officials discussed with Japanese officials their idea of starting an essay contest in the schools based on ADL's Sugihara Essay Contest in the United States, which encourages American high school students to write an essay based on the moral lessons of the experience of Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat in Lithuania who issued thousands of travel visas to Jews during World War II, enabling their escape from the Holocaust. Each year, with generous support from All Nippon Airways, ADL's contest brings several students from different areas of the United States to Japan to learn more about this little-known chapter in Japanese history, and to further explore Japanese culture.
The Japanese officials have expressed interest in extending ADL's Sugihara project, both by bringing additional anti-bias training programs into schools in Tokyo, and by launching a similar essay contest in Japan, where Japanese students would write essays about Sugihara and moral courage. The winners of the Japanese contest could then be flown to the United States as part of a cross-cultural exchange.