02 July 2006 --
It is with a deep sense of loss that I learn of the death of Mr. Ryutaro Hashimoto, the former Prime Minister of Japan. His long and distinguished career in public service is known to all. But Mr. Hashimoto was also one of those rare individuals who has had very broad international respect that remained undimmed after his retirement from office. I had met him earlier when I was Vice-President of the World Bank, but I had the privilege of getting to know him first through our shared interest in water issues, and especially during the 2003 Kyoto World water Forum. I had the pleasure of knowing him better still though our contacts relating to the Japan Arab Dialogue, an initiative of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. There, Mr. Hashimoto headed the Japanese delegation and I headed the Egyptian delegation. His mastery of detail, his precision in word and deed and his unfailing courtesy to those of us who could not speak Japanese, left an indelible impression on all of us. But I also saw his appreciation of culture, and his delight at discovering the new, and his pleasure and pride in explaining Japanese culture to the non-Japanese. I also discovered that he was a talented photographer, and I still cherish a gift he gave me, a special album of photographs he took and the comments that affixed to each picture. It is by these aspects of Mr. Hashimoto the man of many facets, as well as by the memory of our more formal dealings, that I will always remember him. My condolences to his family and to his nation. For the whole world, we lost a man of distinction and of wisdom. May he rest in peace, and may continuing the legacy of his work be the tribute that we pay him.