Who is Sri Lanka’s best foreign friend? On a very personal level I would not hesitate to say it is Japan. Yet, the base for that answer has nothing to do with personal preferences. It is fact-based. The bond is historical. For anyone who is not foolishly biased or ignorant, the answer is not surprising. Sri Lanka and Japan is not bonded in a new-found friendship. From the age-old days of Sirima Bandaranaike to the shrewd political diplomacy of J.R. Jayawardene, Japan has been Sri Lanka’s best friend. In a world of foreign policies, political diplomacy and personal gains, Japan has been nothing but a true friend of Sri Lanka. Unlike the present form of invasion and colonisation shrewdly taking place in the context of Lankan economic crisis, Japan has been that gem of a friend we all dream of.
In our many years of friendship there never was a moment of fishing in murky waters. Japan has been Sri Lanka’s most sincere friend. It is the same Japan centred Nippon Donation Foundation which continues to help and assist Sri Lanka generously. Even at this moment of chaos and crisis, they extended their hand. Lankan cricketing legend Roshan Mahanama was also at the function. In memory of his father who has been his biggest influence and inspiration in life, Mahanama addressed the gathering. “As a tribute to my father, I have decided that wherever possible, I will start any speech with the following phrase, ‘I am at peace at the crease than saying my piece on occasions like these,” his tone was jovial.
Mahanama is the Brand Ambassador for many charity organisations and very active on social work. Nippon Donation Foundation could not have had a better man, in unblemished excellence both as a professional and human being, supporting the cause. “I was involved in 64 projects with my father and close friends, post tsunami. We even worked in Kalavanchikudi. Then, post-Easter attacks I went to all the churches which suffered, even Zion church,” he said. It was amusing to hear a very candid Mahanama saying that he is, “Done with two thirds of his life and there are no hidden motives behind all this charity work.”
The most interesting was to hear the the Chairman of Nippon Donation Foundation, Yuma Muranushi. In spite of this being only his second visit to Sri Lanka, his genuine interest and happiness were evident. Just as he was delighted to be working with the cricketing star, he made a special mention of Dr. Ruwan Perera who continues to be the strength and the strongest link between the two countries. “Japanese are known for their transparency and their honesty. It has been our great pleasure to join my friend, Dr. Perera to assist Sri Lanka. This is my second visit to Sri Lanka. Last time, we donated to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, this time we also have the cricketing legend Mahanama with us.” Muranushi said how they have organised themselves as a Society to help Sri Lanka using their personal connections.
“From the much younger days of my life, being an entrepreneur my mission was to give back to the society. I will get my fellow entrepreneurs in Japan to rally around me and for this. We will help Sri Lanka to go forward from here,” Muranushi said with such strong assurance where his determination and sincerity were deeply felt. Muranushi, who is in Sri Lanka on the invitation of Dr. Perera, the National Director for the Nippon Donation Foundation, has previously donated Rs 10 million worth of medicine to the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. He is facilitating former Sri Lankan Cricketer Mahanama, for his continuous social work and donations during these challenging times. Muranushi is also in Sri Lanka to seek avenues to expand his commercial and CSR activities widely in Sri Lanka through donations and FDIs on a long-term basis.
Dr. Perera has his heart right with a crystal clear vision on how he must do to help Sri Lanka. His contribution has always been sound yet unexposed. While remaining true to his Japanese roots and values starting from his undergraduate days, Dr. Perera continues to nourish his Lankan home. Unlike many who make a beeline to get themselves in the limelight, Dr. Perera is happy being the solid, unseen foundation. Dignitaries, his personal contacts whom they have made a part of Nippon Donation Foundation itself speak reams on their focus. Hidden agendas or fattening their own pockets are completely out of context.
The sincerest message they convey is their transparency. The process is something nobody needs to fear about. There is no cheating, stealing or untruths that at the end of the day, you walk out of the premises thinking how noble the Japanese are; and how simple life becomes when you do not have to wear a mask to cover your ulterior motives. Apart from the many other projects of theirs, they look forward to give scholarships to Sri Lankans to study in Japan. Nippon is another name for Japan. Nippon Donation Foundation truly personifies the shining sun, spreading light and warmth to the paradise isle now crying pearly tears.
By Priyangwada Perera