Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.44 (August 21, 2008) ============================================================
"The wish for peace. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
The flag with five interlocking rings, a symbol of the Olympic Games, was designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who is often referred to as the founder of the modern Olympics.
The five rings represent the union of the five continents. Moreover, the colors used for the Olympic flag -- blue, yellow, black, green, and red rings on a white background -- are said to have been chosen because the flags of almost all the nations of the world can be drawn with them.
This design symbolizes Baron de Coubertin's wish to realize a better, peaceful world by bringing together people from countries across the globe to the Olympic Games.
However, if we take a look at their history spanning just over 100 years, the Olympic Games had to be canceled during two world wars. During the Cold War, Western countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics and the Eastern Bloc countries boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics. Japan was to have hosted the Olympics in Tokyo in 1940, but the decision was made to call it off in 1938, the year after the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
It is true that the Olympic Games, despite the wish for peace, have come under the dark cloud of war and other situations in the international politics of the times.
Last week, on August 15, the 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II, I laid a wreath at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, after which I attended the annual Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead at the Nippon Budokan.
During the war more than three million people died, including those who fell on the battlefields and at the home front. Among the war dead were those who lost their lives during the aftermath of the war in remote foreign countries. Moreover, Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations.
Out of profound remorse, the Government of Japan has been committed to a path as a peaceful nation throughout its post-war history. The present peace and prosperity of Japan are built squarely on the precious sacrifices made by those who lost their lives to the war.
We cannot deny that there is a trend of some powers unilaterally pursuing their interests, while parts of the international community face unstable situations these days.
Nonetheless, we should move forward, indifferent to inward orientation and keeping our hearts open and eyes firmly focused on the world. As a Peace Fostering Nation, Japan will continue to actively work toward the establishment of lasting world peace.
The current Beijing Olympic Games has brought together athletes representing a total of 204 countries and regions, the greatest number in the history of the Olympics.
"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle."
Baron de Coubertin believed that the importance of the Olympic Games was not that the athletes from different countries compete against each other to win, but rather that they see each other making their utmost endeavors. He surely believed that this would overcome cultural and national differences and lead to mutual understanding, thus ultimately contributing to world peace.
It is truly splendid that the Japanese athletes have been reaping a crop of medals day after day, but the best thing is the refreshing sight of athletes who have exerted themselves fully and tried for all they are worth, regardless of whether or not they have managed to win medals.
There are just four days left until the close of the Beijing Olympics. I very much hope that the whole world will be treated to the refreshing sight of athletes fully realizing the results of all the efforts they have made.
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