Professor Higashi’s seminar students met with former President Gusmao and former Prime Minister Alkatiri in Timor-Leste (17/03/2017)

 Daisaku Higashi, an associate professor at Sophia University, explains in NHK TV news about how the Timorese political leaders reconciled and achieved peace.

(Source: NHK)

 The link shows NHK English Program, “News Room Tokyo”, which was aired in the world on March 17, 2017. The program includes the interviews with former President Gusmao, former Prime Minister Alkatiri as well as the comments by Professor Higashi.

(Source: NHK)

 Here are some highlights of the program.

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 Professor Higashi: I conducted a study-tour in Timor-Leste from Feb 26 to March 5. I took 13 students from Sophia University to see the progress of peacebuilding there. They visited several places, including the police station in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. The police officers told the students that Timorese police had started implementing community policing in each village, learning from “the koban system” in Japan. Some Timorese police officers had been sent to Japan to learn the community policing system.

 The group of students from Sophia University also had the chances to meet and ask two key leaders of Timor-Leste: former Prime Minister Alkatiri and former President Gusmao about how the two leaders were able to make moves toward reconciliation.

 In the video, Mari Alkatiri responded to the question by students “Why it was possible to work together with Mr. Gusumao?” He replied, “We love this country. We love this people. That’s the reason why. If you love the people, you need to do everything possible to avoid wars, to avoid conflict,” he mentioned. “That’s the reason why, after some misunderstanding, some miscommunication, we decided to communicate with each other. We tried to understand the difference, and tried to get a consensus in the areas that really set the peace and stability.”

 Professor Higashi explained that the student group was also able to meet also with former President and Prime Minister Gusmao. He has remained very influential in the nation’s politics, and talked about the strengths of East Timor. Mr. Gusmao responded to the students as follows:

 “Inclusiveness is to force to create a sense of state. Democracy is exchange of opinion, discussion…’No, no, what you are doing is bad,’ discussing it. ‘Oh yes, sorry, you were right.’ Like this. Put together ideas to develop the country, and especially, I will tell you again a new concept maybe for you: the building of the state.“

 Gusmao has worked hard to end the civil war and rebuild the nation. He now visits conflict zones around the world and talks about the importance of dialogue, based on his experiences in East Timor.

(Source: NHK)

 He emphasized to the students,

 “Young people, young generation, put this in mind. Japan should export peace. Don’t be part of rivalries. Dialogue, dialogue, persuasive dialogue, honest dialogue, and we will allow peace in the world,” Gusmao says.

 Beppu (Anchor): Why did these 2 formerly bitter opponents decide to finally work together?

 Professor Higashi: A critical moment was when Gusmao resigned from his position as prime minister in 2015, and surprisingly appointed Rui de Aroujo, a member of FRETILIN, as his successor. Since then, it has been the de-facto coalition government between CNRT and FRETILIN in East Timor. Since then, they’ve had a very good relationship. In conducted academic research in East Timor in 2008 and at that time, both Alkatri and Gusmao were really critical of each other. But now they are very confident that they can work together.

 Beppu: What can we learn from East Timor about post-conflict reconstruction? We do know there are many examples in which a conflict ends, peace comes, but again the country falls back into conflict. What is the key to cut this cycle?

 Professor Higashi: For instance, South Sudan was created in 2011, but President Kirr and Vice President Machar started military clashes in 2013. Ongoing conflict in South Sudan has produced 1.5 million international refugees. I think the lesson of East Timor is how leadership can work together to create peace, to stop this kind of violence.

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