2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Grußworte
Rev. Toshimasa YAMAMOTO
Generalsekretär des National Christian Council of Japan; Vorsitzender des Vorbereitungskomitees
Geleitwort zur englischen Dokumentation
It is widely pointed out that the Article 9 has been accepted by Asians as Japan's promise to never again embark on military aggression overseas. It is like a "life insurance" for Asians. Chalmer Johnson, a former professor at UC Berkeley in California, said in an interview in a documentary titled "Japan's Peace Constitution," that Article 9 is an objective apology to the Asians who suffered under Japanese militarism during WWII. If we eliminate Article 9, as an objective reality, what we are left with is all these politicians' subjective apologies, which will lead to accelerate tensions and fears between Japan and Asia.
In the light of these dangerous moves in Japan, we cannot be passive spectators. Last year we called the religious community in Asia and the world to gather in Tokyo for an "Asia Inter-religious Conference Article 9 " in November, 2007. Responding to this call, about 40 religious leaders and church representatives from Asia as well as from other areas in the world participated. A total of 220 people from Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Japan attended. Following the conference, the Global Article 9 Conference organized by NGOs was held on May 4-6, 2008 in Makuhari, Japan. Article 9 was no longer limited to the Japanese Constitution but becoming a world-wide Article. As we keep this momentum going, we plan to have a follow-up working group meet to continue the work of the Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 and Peace in Asia. The first is to be held in Tokyo in October 2008.
We are very happy to present the speeches and the English translations of speeches from the conference in this report. We apologize for the delay of finalizing the report largely due to the translation work. Some of the speakers did not have written speeches so much time and effort went into transcribing the talks before translation. We apologize if there are some discrepancies. We would appreciate it very much if you could send us your comments and any critique that you may have after going through the report.
Last but not the least, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organizing committee members, co-sponsoring churches and organizations as well as to all the participants from near and far. Special thanks also go to all the staff of NCCJ (National Christian Council in Japan) for their dedicated effort to publish this report for you.
Kardinal Peter Seiichi SHIRAYANAGI
Co-chair; früher Erzbischof von Tokyo
By the way, upon my return from Rome yesterday, I caught a cold. I am a bit worried that my speech can spread my germs to all of you, but here is my speech, nonetheless.
I think that it is truly wonderful for people from different religions and countries to get together and discuss common concerns. I sincerely hope that we can deepen our mutual understanding through dialogue.
It has been said that in this modern day and age we are ruled by a "civilization of death". Everyday, newspapers and the television news inundates us with stories of murders and suicides without any regard for the sacredness of life. In addition, abortions have been legalized to carry out murders openly. Care for the elderly is deteriorating. Isn't this similar to the attitude that the Nazis in the past had toward those that they saw as useless? But it is war that makes the "civilization of death" advance more than anything else. We have had two major world wars during the past one hundred years. And so much blood was shed really for nothing. But after the wars ended, we have had new conflicts. Moreover, in the meantime, merciless genocides have been carried out with advanced weapons. As we see new weapons being produced to kill more people, it fills us with horror. In such a time as this, what must we do? I believe that the answer is Article 9.
We should not wage war but wage peace. Let us adventure forth not towards war but towards peace. This path is really the only path that gives light to the future. I believe that truly sincere and patient dialogue instead of conflict can give our future a better prospect only when people with a variety of views promote them. I sincerely hope that we have truly a wonderful outcome for our conference today. That concludes my brief message.
Rev. Yusei MURANAKA
Co-chair; Tendaishu Buddhist Priest
The moon probe Kaguya recently made the news with an unforgettable photo of the earth seen above the moon's surface. It depicts a beautiful earth, shining with vivid colors in an eternal space. One would assume the human race inhabits this earth to create a flourishing history and culture. But the reality is that humans have trained themselves to kill others and nations excel at strategies to oppress. Nature is being destroyed, and so is culture and civilization. When we look at the earth, it makes us realize that the prevention of global warming is an urgent task. Anyone can see that it is necessary for the international community to cooperate, and most of us hope that action will be taken to avoid a looming crisis.
As we consider the difficult issues we face, we should remember that things are always related and relative. A way must be found even for conflict elements to coexist. True peace is found in finding the right way to accommodate differences and in learning to create and support harmonious relationships.
Looking back, we have come to base our morality on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution in which "the people of Japan" "renounce war" as the basis of our morality. However, reality is such that efforts to move in direction have not fully matured yet. What is important is that we respect and protect this constitu¬tion in order to make "the renunciation of war" absolute. And we must spread this idea to all people of the world so they may embrace it. With that wish in mind, we have come to convene today's Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9.
Thank you for your attention.