Osami Takeyama, Mayor of Sakai City
First, I would like to thank everyone for taking time out of your busy schedule to come to today’s award ceremony for the 2nd SAKAI Peace Contribution Award.
Please let me congratulate Mr. Tauchi Motoi, Ms. Agalyn Nagase and LALA Association members on receiving these awards. I also would like to extend my congratulations to their families and the people involved with Kokoro-no Kazoku social welfare corporation and KAFIN Filipino mutual aid organization.
As you know, the 21st century is aiming to be the “century of peace and human rights”. However, unfortunately continuing conflicts, poverty, famine, infectious diseases and other human rights violations across the world still threaten the lives and dignity of many people.
As members of the international community, it is important for us to take an active interest in various problems around the globe, to think positively about solutions and take action.
Sakai is famous for the Mozu Kofungun (ancient tumulus cluster) and its largest tumulus the Nintoku-tenno-ryo Kofun as well as for being a self-governing city in the medieval era. We are proud of our history, traditions and the spirit of freedom and independence that has been passed down to today.
Particularly during the medieval era, Sakai was well-known around the world as the most peaceful city in Japan and it enjoyed prosperity as an overseas trade center independently ruled by its residents. During this time, Sakai-born Sen no Rikyu established the foundation of the tea ceremony culture, in which he insisted that the tea house was a place of peace, where everyone is treated equal regardless of social status. This mentality has been passed down as the signature of our culture to respect peace and human rights.
Based on our history and culture of peaceful development, we established the SAKAI Peace Contribution Award to project the message of importance of peace and human rights from Sakai to the world, and to contribute to building a peaceful society. It is our hope that this award will encourage people to deepen their understanding of the value of peace and human rights.
All of the recipients, whose work has been recognized by this award, have contributed a great deal to addressing various issues and I firmly believe that they embody the ideals of the SAKAI Peace Contribution Award.
Later on, Mr. Kawashima, a member of the Screening Committee will introduce the prize winners specific achievements and we will hear directly from each of them
Through this award, Sakai City will continue its efforts to support those who are steadily working towards the establishment of peace and human rights and ultimately the realization of international peace.
On a final note, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Masaaki Ueda and other Screening Committee members, people of The Asahi Shimbun Company and all the other people involved for their tremendous contribution to this award and I wish for the health and success of everyone here.