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Remarks by Hon'ble Ambassador H.E. Shri Sujan R. Chinoy on Martyr's Day

Ven. Mikio Asai & members of Japan-Bharat Sarvodaya Mitrata Sangha

Prof. Minoru Kasai

Ladies and Gentlemen

Today we commemorate the 68th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In India, we observe it as Martyrs' Day, to pay homage to the Mahatma and to others who sacrificed their lives for the Nation's Independence. October 2, which is the Mahatma's birth anniversary, has long been declared by the United Nations as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Mahatma Gandhi was born an Indian. He was steeped in Indian tradition, but at the same time, he rose above the differences of race, religion and language to become a truly humane and compassionate human being.

He devoted his life to fighting injustice and inequality, no matter how difficult the path. He believed in the power of conviction and the importance of the moral compass that guides our actions from within.

His legacy of "Truth" "Non-violence" helped India achieve freedom from colonial rule without bloodshed. This is perhaps the only example of its kind in human history. Today, his teachings are a shared global patrimony.

The path that Mahatma Gandhi took inspired many, whether Martin Luther King Jr's civil rights movement in the USA or Nelson Mandela's fight against apartheid in South Africa. The values that he stood for have acquired a new relevance today in a world full of intolerance, conflict and violence.

Mahatma Gandhi was truly ahead of his times. He believed in gender equality long before it became a buzzword even in Western societies. He warned of the need for sustainable development long before the world woke up to the adverse effects of environmental degradation and global warming.

I am touched by the deep affection and reverence that many in Japan have for Mahatma Gandhi.

I appreciate the dedicated efforts of Japan Bharat Sarvodaya Mitrata Sangha in sharing Mahatma Gandhi's life and message with the people of Japan. We recall the most venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, who founded the Japan Bharat Sarvodaya Mitrata Sangha and shared the Mahatma's advocacy of truth and non-violence. He met Mahatma Gandhi at his ashram in Wardha in 1933 and Gandhiji affectionately called him Fujii Guruji. On his part, Fujii Guriji said, "The basis of my spiritual foundation comes from the teachings of Buddha. However, Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent movement inspired the founding principle of my action".

I am happy to learn that it was Fujii Guruji, who had presented to Gandhi the famous three monkeys exhorting – "See No Evil", "Speak No Evil", and "Hear No Evil". Incidentally 2016 is the Year of the "Saru" (Monkey) in the Japanese Zodiac. I hope we can all imbibe these exhortations particularly in the Year of the Saru.

It is Mahatma Gandhi's sacrifice that gifted to millions of Indians freedom in a sovereign and democratic Republic. On 26 January 2016, India celebrated its 67th Republic Day. It was a matter of great honour for all Indians that the Prime Minister of Japan, H.E Shinzo Abe, was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Parade in 2014. Prime Minister Abe, a great champion of India-Japan ties, further cemented our "Special Strategic & Global Partnership" through his most successful visit to India from 11-13 December 2015. His visit has imparted fresh momentum to our relationship, building further on the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan in September 2014.

India and Japan enjoy a unique, warm and friendly relationship that can be traced to the time of Bodhisena 's arrival in Japan in 736 AD for the consecration ceremony of the Great Buddha Statue in the Todaiji Temple. Buddhism, which spread from India to East Asia, is a key element in our shared historical and civilizational heritage. It has shaped our common outlook.

On this solemn occasion today, let us pledge to work together to spread Mahatma Gandhi's eternally valid message of truth, peace and non-violence.

Thank you.

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