15 MAY 2010


Yokio Takasu did more for Japan during the month of April than merely preside over the Security Council. Its Permanent Representative, who was once a senior U.N. Secretariat official, introduced a human touch to promote a culture of peace. As he led the Council in its official task to maintain international peace and security, Takasu nudged his colleagues to operate in the right atmosphere. Elaborate speeches or pompous admonitions were avoided. It is not in the nature of that Japanese diplomat in particular. Instead he resorted to a very simple, yet effective presentation: a Japanese tea ceremony.

Habitually, a country that presides over the Council offers some sort of coffee/refreshment combination to other delegates, particularly during hours of consultations and deliberations. Instead, the mission of Japan made a full presentation of an elaborate tea ceremony. As its presidency happened to coincide with the welcome Cherry Blossom season of harmony, Ambassador Takusa personally took time to elaborate to his colleagues its inner meaning. In sophisticated yet simple terms, he reflected his country's great culture of respect for human dignity, reminding -- very subtly -- that Japan had indeed paid a tragic human cost in war. He explained that during a tea ceremony, it is required that participants should leave their weapons outside and join others with a warm heart and open mind. To share in a gesture of harmony is a welcome step towards contributing to the atmosphere of peace.

Some delegates were stunned. Most delegates were impressed, though for a brief while. One interpreter told us that the sensitive and wise tea ceremony analogy presented in a calm friendly voice almost brought her to tears. It was a tough act to follow.