Consul-General Yoichi Suzuki of the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, speaking at the Nobel Peace Prize commemorations in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth NH (December 31, 2006) – The year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 became an opportunity to recognize a TR little remembered – the President who wielded not “a big stick” but instead used the good diplomatic offices of a powerful nation in the interest of peace.
At the commemoration event on December 10, 2006 – one hundred years to the day on which the Norwegian Nobel Institute presented the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize to President Roosevelt -- a group of citizens in Portsmouth, New Hampshire presented an official replica of the Nobel Peace Prize to the commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, that hosted the formal negotiations between Russia and Japan and 1905 and today operates a Treaty Rooms Museum in the building where the negotiations took place.
In presenting the replica medal, Charles B. Doleac, co-chairman of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee and founder of the Japan-American Society of New Hampshire which hosted the commemoration, read a letter from Geir Lundestad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. The letter said, in part, “We are honored that you are celebrating the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Theodore Roosevelt. The basis for the committee’s decision was stated in the presentation address as ‘President Roosevelt’s happy intervention to terminate the bloody war recently waged between two Great Powers, Japan and Russia.’ Roosevelt took strong interest in the peaceful solution of disputes along several different lines. When I visited the White House a few years ago, I was pleased to see Roosevelt’s peace prize medal prominently displayed in the Roosevelt Room right across the hall from the Oval Office.”
After commenting on the symbolism of the room where the Nobel commemorative event took place – the original ballroom at Wentworth By the Sea Hotel where the Japanese delegation welcomed their Russian colleagues to a celebratory feast on September 4, the night before the Treaty was signed -- Mr. Doleac introduced guest speakers Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand, Theodore Roosevelt Association President Dr. Cathal Nolan, Portsmouth Shipyard Commander Captain Jon Iverson and Consul General Yoichi Suzuki of the Japanese Consulate in Boston by saying “Americans don’t like to read history, they prefer to celebrate it in a manner that is effective for the future.”
In his speech, Consul-General Suzuki noted that in 1905 Japan “made a wise decision to respond to Theodore Roosevelt’s offer to mediate” and that Japan’s lead diplomat in Portsmouth in 1905, Baron Jutaro Komura “sought the trust and confidence of Theodore Roosevelt” and ultimately succeeded “because of the trust between the players in their shared objectives.” The Consul General suggested that the United States and Japan, facing difficult issues in trying to achieve the shared fundamental objective of peace and stability in East Asia might “remind ourselves of the spirit of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty.”
For full details on the Nobel Peace Prize commemoration, click here. The Japan-America Society of NH is now working with the New Hampshire Division of Records and Archives, the US State Department, the Library of Congress and the Norwegian Nobel Institute on several initiatives for 2007 including the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Legacy Project and a traveling version of its “An Uncommon Commitment to Peace” exhibit. For more information, click here.