A delegation of seven persons, led by World Council of Churches General Secretary Olav Tveit, was scheduled to come to Japan on Aug. 1, 2014 for about a week to make official visits to various places around Japan. However, due to Rev. Dr. Tveit’s sudden hospitalization, all events on the schedule, other than the planned visit to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s official residence, had to be postponed. The purpose of the visit to the prime minister’s residence was to hand-deliver personally to Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga two resolutions adopted by the WCC Central Committee at its July meeting. These resolutions, entitled “Towards a Nuclear-free World” and “The Re-interpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution,” were written to communicate the voices of the 500 million followers of Christ in churches in 140 nations that are members of the WCC. Its head office in Geneva felt that the timing for communicating these resolutions was critical, so they decided that Rev. Dr. Chang Sang, head of the Asian region of the WCC, and Kim Donson, WCC executive secretary, should make the visit in place of General Secretary Tveit.
Rev. Chang was accompanied by Rev. Nishihara Renta, member of the WCC Central Committee; Rev. Kato Makoto, executive secretary of the Kyodan’s Commission on Ecumenical Ministries; Rev. Ueda Hiroko, former acting general secretary of the National Christian Council in Japan; and Noguchi Yoichi, executive director of the Niwano Peace Foundation. They met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga on Aug. 4, and after exchanging business cards, Rev. Chang communicated through an interpreter the message from the WCC for about 15 minutes.
Concerning the resolution entitled “Towards a Nuclear-free World,” Rev. Chang said that nuclear weapons and real peace were simply two things that cannot exist together and that nuclear power plants should be phased out. With respect to “The Re-interpretation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution,” Article 9 is viewed not only by East Asian countries but also by the world at large as indicative of a country that loves peace and as a diplomatic asset for Japan. Likewise, the non-military aid Japan has
been giving, which is based on Article 9, is also viewed very favorably. In addition, Rev. Chang said that while Christians in Japan represent only a small minority of the population, the churches have been acting as a beacon of light and hope within Japanese society and that the WCC stands in solidarity with the Japanese churches and the issues they face and will endeavor to support them in every way.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga’s response was consistent with the Japanese government’s stance, but the total length of the meeting was about twice the originally scheduled time, having lasted 20 minutes. Thus, it was a very productive and meaningful meeting from the standpoint of communicating to the Japanese government the voices of both Japanese Christians and Christians from around the world and of indicating that the Christians of the world are watching what the Japanese government is doing. (Tr. TB)