【October 2018 No.399】6th Global Inter-Religious Conference Held in Hiroshima

The 6th Global Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution, the “peace” constitution, was held June 13-15 at the Hiroshima International Conference Center. Many Kyodan members, including Moderator Ishibashi Hideo, joined together with representatives from member churches of the National Christian Council in Japan, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox churches, and several other Christian churches. Also represented were various Buddhist sects, such as the Jodo Shinshu Otani sect, the Honganji sect, the Nichiren Nihonzan Myohoji sect, and the Rissho Kosei-kai. Overseas participants were from Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, Germany, Australia, Canada, the UK, and the USA. In total, there were 250 attendees.

This approximately biennial conference took place this year at an International Conference Center located next to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Resource Center, which made the reality of atomic threats feel closer. After the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations, the historic handshake on the Korean Peninsula between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, and the Singapore summit meeting between the leaders of North Korea and the USA, this conference opened amid circumstances that suggest to peace-seeking people of faith an advancement toward the true “proactive contribution to peace” proclaimed in the Preamble and Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution. And yet, this is also a time when the Abe cabinet is forcing on the Diet its political agenda, including the revision of the Preamble and Article 9.

The conference offered a diverse program, beginning with a keynote lecture by Mr. Yuasa Ichiro, founder and representative of the NGO Peace Depot, titled “Toward the Realization of Peace and a Nuclear-Free Zone in Northeast Asia,” testimonies of atomic bomb survivors, reports on the spread of military presence in Okinawa and Miyako Island, presentations from several overseas participants about initiatives for peace in their countries, and a final plenary session to complete a joint statement. It was a wonderful opportunity for people of different faiths to share deep prayers for peace.

Through this conference it was made clear that for Japan, Article 9 is not only an expression of our desire for safety and peace in our own country but also represents a solemn confession and promise to the world—especially to neighboring countries of Asia—that Japan will never again commit the mistake of invasion. Fittingly for such a “global” gathering of “religious persons,” we also affirmed the self-evident truth that the peace-seeking spirit of Article 9 is at the heart of each of our faiths. The words of a Buddhist participant, who said, “Our strong commitment to safeguard Article 9 must begin from repentance and confession” informed me that the deep confession and regret of our churches for their collaboration toward war is also present within the hearts of Buddhist followers.

In our last activity together, we gathered at the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound to offer a litany of prayers, according to the tradition of each faith group represented.

(Tr. DM)

                               —Akiyama Toru, general secretary





(秋山 徹報)

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