A welcome visit
If there is one
diplomat that is popular with all Sri Lankans he should
unmistakably be Yasushi Akashi, a frequent and a most welcome
visitor to this country. It is not out of place here to state
that this suave and cherubic figure has made a favourable
impression in the hearts and minds of all patriotic Sri Lankans.
This is because he has held himself with great aplomb as a
diplomat unlike some of the Western envoys who frequently
descend here attempting to tell Sri Lanka how to conduct its
business. This roving Ambassador from Japan has right through
been circumspect and understanding of the dynamics of the
conflict in Sri Lanka.
On Friday, he made his 17th visit to Sri Lanka and this at a
time of a dramatic unfolding of events in the country relating
to its three decades old war. And like all other visits he has
held his counsel and not deigned to dictate to the Government as
to the course it should pursue. His visit therefore, was bound
to have had a calming effect after the flurry of visits here
undertaken by Western diplomats trying to force their own
recipes down our throats on how to address the conflict.
Not for him to urge the Government for a ceasefire or a
temporary pause to permit the civilians to escape. This, as a
true diplomat, he realises is not within his remit. Especially
at a time global terrorism is on an ascendency. Even when a
reporter asked Akashi if he was aware of heavy armed attacks in
the No Fire Zone, the reply was that he did not know where the
firing was coming from.
Unlike his Western compatriots he did not rely on
unsubstantiated reports or swayed by the current Westerly winds
hostile to Sri Lanka. He could afford to be assertive with what
Japan being the largest aid giver to Sri Lanka.
Nor did he make sweeping statements about the condition of
IDPs after visiting these centres during his visit. Commenting
on the Transitional Centres he said “ they could be better but
for the sudden influx of several thousands within two weeks”.
He obviously did not see conditions akin to concentration
camps. Implicit in his statement was the fact that the
Government has done its utmost under the conditions obtained. He
also commended the good coordination and cooperation between the
Government Departments and officials and the UN, UNHCR, UNICEF
and other relief agencies.
Essentially a Peace Envoy, Akashi was also pleased with the
great store laid by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on a political
solution as against a military one whereby all the people of the
country could live together in friendship and harmony.
But the coup d’ grace was delivered when he said that Japan
did not agree with the view of other members of the Co-chairs
that economic assistance should be linked to success in the
It has been the practice of Western Governments to use the
aid bludgeon on the Sri Lanka Government to fall in line with
their recipes for the resolution of the on going conflict. To
the eternal credit of President Rajapaksa, he has been one
leader who firmly stood up to this challenge and asked these
countries where to get off.
Perhaps it is this resistance that have rankled the West who
are now trying every trick in the book to derail the successful
military victory and throw a lifeline to the LTTE.
True, conditions of peace is the ideal backdrop for any aid
to be successfully utilized. Hence an insistence by donor
nations for a negotiated settlement to the conflict. But today,
what we see is an insidious attempt by certain powers to reverse
the victories achieved on the war front and to make the country
a hostage to Western agendas. The suggestion that the LTTE
leadership surrenders to a third party is one such ploy.
Beside, being the convenor of the Co-chairs, Japan and Akashi
in particular is not unaware of the tortuous journey the so
called peace process underwent with the LTTE, finally springing
on an Interim Self Government Authority (ISGA) on the then UNP
Government as a fait accompli.
Therefore, it is not without reason that the Japanese peace
envoy has not prevailed on the Government to let go of the
military offensive. He only said he expressed hope that the
Government will remain faithful to its policy of restrain and
zero casualty of civilians. There was no talk of a pause in the
military operations or a ceasefire. This is in sharp contrast to
the Milibands and the Kouchners whose real intentions are
Perhaps being an Asian Akashi empathises with the position of
the Sri Lankan Government. Japan had been one of the few
countries who had blocked sanctions and even strictures from
being delivered against Sri Lanka at international forums in the
Hopefully, this attitude of the world’s second largest
economic power would rub off on those western busybodies who
never tire of lecturing and hectoring to Sri Lanka on human
rights and above all how to conduct our own affairs.
The people of Sri Lanka would forever be grateful to Japan
for her stance.
Akashi has always held himself with dignity and deportment
and is perhaps the only foreign diplomat who is welcomed with
open arms by the people of this country. No doubt his current
visit and stand on Government’s position would have further
helped cement this bond.