Your Excellency, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, trustees of
the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honor for me to have been selected as one of the recipients of the Ramon
Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding this year. I wish to express my
deep appreciation to the members of the Foundation for giving me this award, and to all of
you gathered here today. This award is not only for myself, but for everyone who took part
in greening the desert.
I am especially grateful for the interest taken by our friends in the Philippines, and our
fellow Asians, in the problem of desertification, and for this great honor bestowed upon
my humble self today.
I consider the desert a place that is not suited to human life. This is the reason why
people living in the desert suffer from poverty. It has always been my belief that plants
and trees are life itself, and that by planting trees in the desert we participate in
creating life. By so doing, we provide peoples of the desert with a means to escape
poverty, and live a bountiful and meaningful life.
You are aware of our problem in Asia. One-fourth of the earths landmass is composed
of deserts. I find it significant that people from Japan, a country with no desert, are
able to rise up and join forces with the people of the Philippines, to help our desert
brothers and sisters all over the world in overcoming poverty. I believe that as Japanese,
who have no experience of the desert, this is our fate, our duty, indeed our life.
In receiving this award, I am especially moved by the deep understanding of the people of
the Philippines, and their desire to recognize, and help, our endeavors.
I really can not find the words to express my gratitude. My heart is full of gratitude and
I am now 96 years old, but I am filled with the desire to give my all to make every person
in the world a happy person! That perhaps best explains my feelings on accepting this
Our world is a world of turmoil, of strife, and of wars. This is the reason why we can not
find happiness on earth. In the midst of all this, I find this recognition and assistance
from the Philippines an encouragement for us in Japan to continue our efforts to help the
peoples of the world in attaining happiness. For this, I am truly grateful.
Thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart.