Address by President Nelson Mandela on acceptance of honorary doctorate from Waseda University, Tokyo - Japan

4 July 1995

Master of Ceremonies;
Honourable Dr Takayasu Okushima;
Members of the Boards and staff of Waseda University;
Dear Students;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Few moments express the affinity between nations than the communion of ideas. Fewer still reflect the respect they accord one another better than the recognition of their mutual contribution to the good of humanity. Such is what this occasion symbolises. And such is the joy and humility with which I accept this honorary doctorate from Waseda University.

Our joy and humility are deepened by the realisation that it is more than the deeds of an individual which are at issue. I accept this accolade on behalf of our rainbow nation, on behalf of all the people of South Africa. It is they who sacrificed for democracy. It is they who reached out across racial barriers to make our small miracle happen. It is they who are laying the basis for human rights, determined to build a prosperous society.

This august occasion today represents a confirmation of a bond forged in struggle against apartheid; a bond strengthened by the achievement of democracy in South Africa. And we wish to thank you once more, for the contribution you made to our efforts.

Waseda University, as with others, is renowned for its excel lence and its contribution to the economic miracle that the "land of the rising sun" has come to symbolise. Experiences such as yours are crucial as South Africa sets out along the road to reconstruction and development.

We are today grappling with mammoth tasks to address the legacy of apartheid: simple things that other countries take for granted, such as equal opportunities to all children, free and compulsory primary and secondary education, and linking up such education to the developmental needs of the country. The experience of Japan will indeed stand us in good stead, as we build the human resources needed to restructure our industries and ensure that they are internationally competitive.

South Africans are fully aware that these endeavours will take time and much effort to realise. They require patience and fortitude.

But we are confident of success because we know that the nation possesses these qualities in abundance. They are qualities which inspired a struggle that defied might and arrogance. They are attributes that inspired persistence in negotiations to the very end even when conditions seemed intractable.

South Africans value democracy, because it was so difficult to accomplish. Our experience has taught both sides of the former apartheid divide that conflict cannot bring happiness.

We value democracy because it has laid the foundation for lasting peace. Gone is the racial animosity that once made our country notorious. And as visitors from here and elsewhere will attest, the Rugby World Cup recently held in our country was one vivid expression of this.

Confidently and steadily, we are entrenching the culture of human rights in our body politic. We are eliminating the problem of crime and violence which, in great measure, has its roots in the apartheid past. South Africans, as well as foreign investors and tourists who have visited our shores, are secure in the knowledge that we are succeeding.

Therefore, in thanking Waseda University, we bring you a message from a nation that is proud of its achievements, a nation that has identified its common mission as the rapid socio-economic development of the country.

In pursuit of this objective, our plans for reconstruction and development are underpinned by sustainable policies.

Central to our approach is the rational utilisation of the country's resources: to move at a pace that the country can afford. To facilitate economic revival, we have abolished the dual currency system and introduced measures that will guarantee the security of investments. In due course, we shall be eliminating any other constraints such as the non-resident share-holders' tax.

Underpinning these policies is the that has become the hallmark of our democracy. Besides formal political structures, the engine-rooms of our economic revival are bodies which bring together employers, government, labour and other role-players.

We are not, as a country, immune to the vicissitudes of occasionally turbulent labour relations. But the abiding common interest that we share is valued by all sectors more than the differences that occasionally arise. Above all, we are in the process of finalising labour legislation that will eliminate causes of the kinds of conflict that can be easily prevented or at least more rationally managed.

All this has laid the foundation for the economic upturn that our country is experiencing for the first time in many, many years.

Master of Ceremonies;

We in South Africa do recognise that, to succeed, we have to rely on our own resources. But we are also conscious that, in today's integrated world, no country can achieve this on its own. In the same vein as security for a few within a country is insecurity for all; prosperity in one country cannot be sustained if the rest of humanity wallows in hunger, disease and ignorance.

In this context, we appreciate the humane approach which underpins Japan's international relations. The best that humanity represents is in many ways reflected in your pursuit of peace and commitment to a consistent policy against nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. They are reflected in Japan's commitment to a greater and more relevant role for the United Nations to bring about peace and prosperity across the globe.

The fact that Japan is classified as the largest foreign donor, and that it is committed to "south-south" co-operation, is itself laudable. This is indeed unique, coming as it does from the second largest economy in the world.

This poses the possibility of the development of a lasting partnership across the globe on the basis of a new paradigm. As the world approaches a new millennium, we from South Africa are confident that Asia and Africa have the potential to blaze a new trail of harmonious and mutual relations between big and small economies, developed and developing nations, and between those who are tapping their potential to the full and those yet to do so.

Japan - a country that has risen like a sphinx from the ashes of war; a country that has embraced peace with a passion; a country that has graciously acknowledged wrongs of the past - such a country is well placed to play a leading role in this world renaissance. A country that weathers fearsome natural disasters with such calm and fortitude, and displays an astonishing work ethic and innovation, will be central in building a new and better world.

Master of Ceremonies;

This new and better world requires that relations are based on mutual respect and benefit. It is a world that should eschew the economics of dependence and inequality; a world sustained by a substantial economic relations rather than mere aid.

It is for this reason that South Africa is thankful for the many areas of co-operation that have been built in the short period since we attained democracy. The benefit accorded our exports to this country, and co-operation between our scientific institutions in industry, are a good example of this.

Above all, we value very highly the efforts of both our ministries of trade and industry and finance to create the basis for transfer of technology and the training of small and medium entrepreneurs. We are confident that these efforts will result in even greater co-operation in areas of investment that entail job creation and human resources development.

In the same vein as Japan sees great opportunities in South and Southern Africa, our country and region recognise the huge potential in the growing and dynamic markets of Japan and Asia.

And so we come to your shores with a message of hope about the vast opportunities in both our countries and regions. We come confident of the great potential across the globe to enter the new century spurred on by the common ideal of improving the conditions of all, especially the poor.

South Africa is certain that our relations with Japan can only grow from strength to strength. Our country, with foreign policy imperatives that are common to those of other democracies, can now develop beneficial partnerships without let or hindrance. We are proud that, at last, the constraints of racism, humiliation and duplicity which apartheid imposed on diplomatic and other relations with Japan, are now consigned to history.

Thus, can our two nations steadily but surely join hands under the beautiful rays of the rising sun in common pursuit of happiness.

It is in this spirit that I accept the honour Waseda University has bestowed on me and the people of South Africa.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation