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"Asia must arm itself with skills f

Subject: "Asia must arm itself with skills for peace by DASSK

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February 26, 1996


By Saburo Ito
Asahi Shimbun

RANGOON -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi urged the normally low - key Japanese people to raise
their voices for the promotion of peace, in a recent
interview with Asahi Shimbun.

The interview was held in conjunction with Suu Kyi this
month becoming a member of the Asahi Shimbun
international forum, Create 21, Asahi.

The forum was created in 1991 as part of the newspaper's
efforts to offer views and suggestions on Japan's role in the
next century.

Other forum participants include former Costa Rican
President Oscar Arias Sanchez and novelist Kenzaburo Oe,
both Nobel Prize laureates.

In recalling her stay in Kyoto in 1985 and 1986, Suu Kyi
said "I felt that many Japanese people cared about more
than just business. But I think the consciousness of some
Japanese people perhaps needs to be aroused a bit, and
(there is a) need to give voice to the many many people in
Japan who do care about peace and justice.

"Perhaps those who care about peace and justice are not
speaking loudly enough."

The 50 - year - old Burmese peace activist said the
Japanese people were in a unique position to push for
peace because of their historical experience.

"The Japanese people have a lot to contribute to peace
because they have known the horrors of war and  ... the
benefits of peace," she said.

"Japan has changed tremendously since the end of World
War II. Japan has found how much you can benefit under
peace ... and a democratic system that guarantees human
rights," she said.

In order for Japan to play a positive role in promoting
peace, however, Suu Kyi urged the Japanese "not to just sit
and hope that peace will come."

"I think the Japanese people must study how peace is
linked to justice, to human rights and to democracy and to
do what they can to promote it," she said.

She said Japan had many lessons to provide in the
development of Burma.

As the leader of the National League for Democracy, Suu
Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989 by the ruling

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

The ruling junta released her from house arrest and lifted
the ban on her political activity in July 1995.

"Since Japan is a country that has improved and developed
and progressed very much under a democratic system, I
feel certain that the people of Japan would sympathize with
our desire for democracy," she said.

"The desire of the people of Burma for democracy is based
on the conviction that only if we have a system that
guarantees basic human rights will we be able to make
genuine progress."

Suu Kyi also expressed her belief that as an economic
superpower, Japan was in a position to serve as a role
model for Burma and other Asian nations.

"Japan, as the leading economic nation not just in Asia, but
in the world, has a duty to make people understand that
economic growth is not everything, but it is the
development of the people, the happiness and fulfillment of
the people that is most important."

On a more personal level, Suu Kyi said the development of
democracy in Burma would allow her to revisit Japan.

"As soon as we get democracy, I should be able to travel
abroad," she said. "So if you want me to come to visit
Japan soon, you must help us to achieve democracy

She recollected fond memories of her time in Kyoto.

"I have always been fortunate that I like the places where I
have to live," she said. "And the longer l stayed in Kyoto,
the more I liked it. So l was sad when I had to leave

She said the neighborhood where she lived in Kyoto had a
village atmosphere and she became very good friends with
the people she met there.


by Aung San Suu Kyi


So much has been said about peace one questions whether
there is anything left to say. And yet, "peace" as a concept
has never lost the freshness of its appeal. Particularly in
Asia, expressions such as shalom, salaam or shanti bear
repetition many times over, confirming and reinforcing
man's eternal desire for peace.

All over the world, New Year is a time to wish each other
peace and prosperity. However, there is no single Burmese
word that means "peace." The expression nyeinchan is a
compound of the words for "extinction" and "coolness."

The latter word connotes ease and happiness, while the
former signifies the cessation of the fires of passion.

The allusion here to the taming of one's desires as a
precondition for the internal quest for peace is fundamental
to the teachings of the Lord Buddha, which continue to
inspire so many Asian peoples even in our age of gross

For without the quelling of all those instincts that
contribute to human greed, pride and hate, what possible
hope can there be for peace in human society? The same
message lies at the heart of all the major religions of the
world and of the ethical standards they hold in common.

The need to develop paths to peace has not decreased
despite the sweeping changes that have taken place in the
balance of political and economic power in recent decades.

The impressive performance of some Asian countries in the
economic field over the last few decades has won
widespread admiration. It is natural for people to expect
that a betterment in material conditions would bring
happier times.

The onslaught of materialism

Yet never has it been the case that wealth and riches have
been able to prevent human conflict, with its attendant
suffering. The peoples of Asia have long prided themselves
on the possession of ethical standards and spiritual values
that are above mere material considerations.

As more and more Asian countries enter the ranks of
affluent nations, it will become increasingly evident
whether or not those standards and values that are held to
be a particularly Asian heritage can withstand the
onslaught of materialism.

Will we become more compassionate and caring or more
calculating and egoistic? Will we develop greater vision
and deeper understanding or will our interests narrow down
to mere profit - making? Can we use the lessons learned
from economic achievements to help improve our social
and political condition?

It has been said that a key element in the economic success
of many Asian societies is trust in the commercial sector.
The same has to be true of the social and political spheres,
where justice founded on trust and public confidence bears
lasting fruit in peace and stability.

The wealth and power of nations wax and wane, subject to
the principles of commerce, the development of,
technology, the challenges of the new and unexpected, and
the frailties of human nature. The life of nations is
calculated not in decades but in centuries, and to ensure
sustained progress and stability there is a need to develop
institutions and processes that allow for change without
upheaval and for the peaceful solution of conflicting
interests that are bound to arise even in the best - ordered

Conflict, it can be argued, is fundamental to all forms of
life. But just as we have to accept that for most people
suffering and happiness coexist in various shifting, unequal
measures, so surely it can be seen that the very presence of
conflict in our midst points to its antithesis in attainable

Every conflict is but the repetition of those that have
occurred throughout the long vistas of our shared past, even
if the form those conflicts have assumed has varied
constantly from time to time and from place to place. Their
nature and outcome, the mental and physical misery caused
by human folly, is always the same.

But the universality of conflict and suffering is matched
also by the skills of conciliation that have had to be
developed by most human societies at various levels, from
the nuclear family to the nation state. All the means of
resolving conflict that have ever been used lie before us
like an open book, and it is up to us to make constructive
use of the lessons that can be learned from the history of
the human race.

It has been argued that war itself is a legitimate means of
attaining peace. The problem of using evil means in pursuit
of a just end will doubtless continue to exercise thinking
people for generations to come.

The answer to that problem may never be settled to
everyone's satisfaction, but everyone can surely agree on
the absolute need to identify and uproot the seeds of strife
before they grow to gather pace and momentum beyond all

I believe we can, at the present time, take some cautious
comfort from what appears to be a reduction in the
immediate threat of wars caused by invasion. It would
seem, for the moment at least that a sense of restraint and
rationality has been brought to the territorial ambitions of
nation states though to be complacent about: the situation
can only invite future trouble.

If, however, we can detect a lessening of human misery
resulting: from foreign interventions, the same is decidedly
not true when we consider the pervasive suffering caused
by political, social, and economic injustice and most
noticeably, by ethnic hatred.

A lack of human understanding

The last is usually the result of grievances caused by a
sense of injustice or of prejudices fostered by lack of
human understanding.

To attempt to eliminate, disguise or conceal by repression
the expressions of human grievance caused by injustice --
in fact to try to impose peace by the exercise of
authoritarian power alone -- reminds me of the Buddhist
notion of "conventional peace" (sammuti shanti), which is
traditionally contrasted with "momentary peace" (tatanga
shanti) and "total peace" (accanta shanti).

Buddhists are taught to cultivate the transient form of
peace through constant mental awareness as a means to
attaining that all - embracing peace that is synonymous
with the goal of nirvana. But peace of the "conventional"
variety has been described as "imaginary peace without
practice; for instance, the peaceful life one can attain due
to the saving of a powerful being, which is nothing but a

It follows that the peace (or, perhaps more accurately,
quiescence), resulting from artificial coercion or
intervention is nothing more than a dangerous illusion and
has to be recognized as such. The truth of this has been
amply borne out in recent history.

We have seen how long - festering grievances and
animosities burst into open conflagration when
authoritarian forms of rule collapse along with the means
whereby those urgent problems were hidden from view.
Systems which sweep aside fundamental problems of
social and political injustice in the vain hope that such
problems, if ignored long enough will vanish, cannot
achieve long - termstability.

The notion that "peace without practice" can only be of an
imaginary order points to the essentially active nature of
any process aimed at achieving genuine peace.

The skills of arbitration, mediation, negotiation and
compromise will acquire ever - increasing importance as:
the world continues to shrink -- in a movement that is
already bringing its manifold cultural and political
diversities into closer and closer contact. The potential for
both conflict and harmony on this planet now seems greater
than ever before, as the speed of change accelerates beyond
anything comparable in human history.

The time is fast coming to an end, if it has not done so
already, when conflict and peace in Asia can be separated
from the turmoils and harmonies of Africa, the Americas,
Australasia or Europe.

To be a peacemaker

Those who would be peacemakers have to develop
transparent sincerity, a keen understanding of differing
points of view, and an ability to compromise, which
includes a willingness to give up prejudices and privileges
that obstruct the path to conciliation.

Our success in the great task of generating peace on this
earth will depend finally on our ability to recognize our
common humanity and our shared goals, which transcend
and rise far above the cultural and political divisions of all
nations and continents of the west and east.

Peace is too important to be left to chance, to be allowed to
deteriorate into the imaginary form that results from lack of
positive endeavor. We need to strengthen and develop
regional and international institutions that work actively for
peace, specializing in the resolution of conflicts and in the
promotion of harmony both within and between nations.

The last decades of the 20th century have been an era of
impressive economic achievement for some parts of Asia.
But our continent is still rife with social and political
injustice as well as ethnic and communal strife.

Should we not resolve to work toward removing injustices,
putting an end to strife, and making the 21st century an era
not just of Asian prosperity but of Asian peace that may
spread to all peoples of the world?

Aung San Suu Kyi is the 1991 recipient of the Nobel Peace
Prize, awarded to her for her nonviolent struggle for
democracy in Burma. After being released last July from
six years of house arrest by the country's military
government, she was restored as general secretary of the
National League for Democracy, a party she helped found
in 1988.

(This is the first of a series of articles to be contributed by
members and former members of Asahi Shimbun's "Create
21, Asahi" forum once every month. The Japanese
translation of this article appears in the morning edition of
today's Asahi Shimbun.)