2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Grußworte
Mr. Oh Jae-Shik
(Director of Korea Social Education Institute)
1) I am grateful to the religious leaders of Japan who took the initiative to pre¬pare this international conference to protect the Japanese Peace Constitution. As a Korean citizen I actively support this movement, and will continue to do so with you. North and South Korea are focused on resolving their Cold War legacy and seeking peace for the Korean Peninsula along with a new stability within North- East Asia. The Six-Party Talks that were held for this purpose made definite progress, though many difficulties were also encountered. The six participants in this pro¬cess cannot cast off their national interests, but they all support the common ob¬jective of overcoming the remnants of the Cold War regime in this region to set up a new lasting order.
2) Korea, Japan and China have been invited to participate in ASEAN+3, an international framework centered on East Asia. It is very important for ASEAN's ten countries and the aforementioned three countries in North East Asia to build solid relationships based on cooperation and trust. Given this historic task, it is imperative that Korea, Japan and China be able to see beyond their competing interests and strengthen their mutual trust.
3) Japan plays a vital role in the Six-Party Talks as well as in its relationship to the ten ASEAN countries. What is most important in creating a new order is to build relationships based on trust. Therefore the government and citizens of Japan must strive to never betray the trust and cooperation of not just their immediate neighbors but all Asian nations.
4) In 1955, leaders from Asia and Africa gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, to work out a new order in the aftermath of World War II. 52 years have passed since then. I would like to propose a Bandung II conference to overcome Cold War lega¬cies and create a new order in North East Asia. Japan must seek a leading role in these efforts. German efforts since the early 50's to help bring about the EU are impressive and can serve as an example.
5) I trust the will of the Japanese citizens and their determination for peace. Their will, as shown with regards to such issues as Yasukuni Shrine and textbook revisions, has made a deep impression on Koreans. 1 hope that this favorable im¬pression will spread beyond national borders and build a solid cooperative rela¬tionship among citizens.
Thank you very much.
Rev. Cally Rogers Witte
(Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries Co-Executive,
Global Ministries, United Church of Christ)
I am asked to bring greetings, and it is both an honor and an embarrassment for me to be here, bringing greetings on behalf of North American Christians. It's an honor of course, as the other speakers have said, to participate, to be part of, these holy conversations. It's an honor to be here, in a country, the only country with a peace constitution and with this beautiful and inspiring Article 9. I am committed to going back to the United States, and to speak of 9 for the world, from what I have learned here. To realize what our world would be like if we all had an Article 9 in our constitution. So it is a great honor to be here. But it is also a terrible embarrass¬ment, to be here, as a Christian from the United States. From the country, the first country to use nuclear weapons, to kill hundreds of thousands of people, to be in the country that suffers that, that knows that reality so well. It's embarrassing to be here, representing a country, which continues to think that military solutions, the use of force, is the way to solve problems. if I had it in my power, or authority, I would apologize on behalf of the United States. Instead, I certainly join many others; those of you, I'm sure, are from the United States, I'm sure; join in confess¬ing our failure to stop the militarization in our own country. The situation of Chris¬tians in the United States has been very difficult for many years in relation to the military. But particularly so in the months leading up to what seemed to be prob¬ably inevitable; the bombing and invasion of Iraq. Before March of 2003, many Christian pastors and layleaders participated in prayer vigils, in worship services, ecumenical worship services; for peace. Interfaith prayer vigils for peace, partici¬pated in marches, and rallies. I know I had a big poster-board sign that said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." And I kept it in the trunk of my car, which is a Honda; (my third Honda) so that I would have that sign in the car at all times, if I came upon a peace march, or rally, or heard about a church that day that was gathering to pray for peace. But after March of 2003, once the war started, the church was very silent in the United States. And that is something we confess. We didn't know what to do. We didn't want to fall into the trap of the way we reacted in the Vietnam War, when we seemed to blame the soldiers, and to make them feel terrible when they came home from war; we didn't want to do that to the soldiers this time, even though we didn't agree with what our government was doing. It's only been in the last year or so, that we've seen the churches again begin to find their voice; not enough; it hasn't done any good yet; but to begin to find our voice to speak out. And, before our United Church of Christ national meeting this summer, the five of us who are officers of the United Church of Christ wrote a pastoral letter to the churches, saying, we call the church and all of us to confession; to confess our failure to stop this war, and other militarization; and to call us all to work for peace. It turned out that we did not expect that to be our resolution, but it turned out that the general senate at our national meeting simply said, "We want to add our names. We want to vote for this to be our letter as well." And 67,000 other people in our church have signed that letter; and this story is being repeated in the other denominations in the United States. I'm standing here as your representative from both the United Church of Christ and with my colleague, David Vargus, the co-executive with me as co-executive of global ministries of the Christian church, Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ. On an ecumenical venture to do all of our global mission work together, for the last 11 years. Many other churches have found ways to speak out. Our general minister and president of the United Church of Christ went to deliver these 67,000 petitions against the Iraq war, to Congress, in October, where he was received with respect, even by Congressmen who did not agree. Then he went to the white house, to deliver the 67,000 petitions to the president; and they had asked for an appointment beforehand, and they were not received; so he stood in the place in front of the white house where you're not allowed to stand unless you expect to be arrested; and was arrested, for taking those petitions. I hope that this one small step is symbolic of many other steps that Christians in the United States can join with you and other religious people around the world, And people of conscience, to try to create a world in which all of us would live by Article 9, so it is indeed a great honor to be here today.
Rev. Ron Fujiyoshi
(US-Japan Committee for Racial Justice, UCC-USA)
My name is Ron Fujiyoshi. I am honored to bring you greetings from a small grass-roots organization, the U.S.-Japan Committee for Racial Justice.
First, I want to confess as an American that I am not doing enough to stop the War in Iraq and Globalization led by the USA. I dance on the edge of despair constantly. I want to commend the National Christian Council in Japan for initiat¬ing this Asia Inter-religious Conference for shouldn't our religious organizations be offering our people "hope"?
Our U.S.-Japan Committee for Racial Justice helped plan a conference Tochi Wa Inochi (Land is Life) in June 1996. Both the USA and Japan were releasing statements that 50 years after the end of World War II the sufferings of the war were ended. We invited eighteen survivors to gather in Okinawa, the symbol that the sufferings of the war had not ended but were still continuing. Among the 18 survivors who told us their stories were two Filipina and one Korean women sex slaves of the Japanese Army, a Marshallese woman whose family was removed from Bikini atoll so the US Military could test atomic and nuclear bombs beginning in 1946, a Chinese survivor of the Nanking Massacre, a Kanaka Maoli who lost his land for use as a US Military weapon range, A Black/Okinawan woman born and raised in Okinawa, a Chamorro from Guam who lost his family land to the US Mili¬tary, a Taino woman from Puerto Rico, a US colony, a Shoshone Native American whose land was contaminated by testing, a Japanese American woman who was caught in Japan during the war, an Ainu woman who faced cultural genocide, a Tahitian widow of a worker who died from cancer due to contamination from un¬derground French nuclear testing, a Korean "Pipokja" a Hiroshima A-bomb survi¬vor, a Korean ex-prostitute at a US Military base, and an indigenous person from Taiwan's Orchid Island. In November 2001 after the 100 year anniversary of USA colonialization of Puerto Rico, Cuba, American Samoa, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii, our organization helped to plan I Tanota I Linalata (Our Land is Our Life) on Guam. Among the survivors were a woman from Vieques, Puerto Rico whose movement stopped the US Military from testing, a Filipina opposing the US base at Subic' Bay, an Ainu woman survivor, a Palauan woman who helped pass a Nuclear Free Constitution, a Marshallese from Ebeye, a slum island off of Kwajalein, a Kanaka Maoli from the Makua struggle against the US Military live firing, an Okinawan against the US bases, and Chamorro survivors against the US Military bases in both the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and on Guam.
In November 2003 our organization helped plan La Tierra Es Vida (Our Land is Our Life) in Vieques, Puerto Rico. Survivors representing the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Guahan (Guam), Hawaii and Native Americans in New Mexico joined with Puerto Rican ex-Prisoners of War released by President Clinton and the victorious survivors of Vieques. Our U.S.-Japan Committee for Racial Justice has brought survivors to the Marshall Islands on March 1st, the anniversary of the Bravo H-bomb test that was 1000 times the strength of the Hiroshima A-bomb. Survivors stood in solidarity with the Marshallese survivors of the 67 atomic and nuclear tests done by the US Military. On March 1, 2005 a survivor from Chernobyl joined other survivors from Vieques, Hawaii, Philippines, Guahan and New Mexico.
The U.S.-Japan Committee for Racial Justice wants to join with you in continuing to build ties of solidarity between the survivors and movements struggling against US, Japanese and other hegemonic powers that oppress the world's peoples.
Thank you for having me here!
Rev. Dr. Thomas Philips
(President/Council of Churches in Malaysia)
Respected and distinguished religious leaders and delegates to this conference.
It is with great joy and honor that I bring warm greetings to you all on behalf of the Council of Churches in Malaysia. Malaysia is a nation comprising of various ethnic communities, cultures, traditions, faiths with distinct uniqueness blended together to form a nation of nations. Perseverance of the unity in diversity is the hallmark of success as we move ahead as a progressive society. Yes, we do have our difficulties but preserving peace amongst the various diversified communities has always been the greatest of priority. Therefore a sense of respect and an accommo¬dating spirit is needed to ride the storms of life.
Now I have come with confidence to a nation that once instilled fear to the world, a nation that was despised and hated by all in a period of time. A nation who had experienced the most painful legacy with the worst destructive bombs rained on them in history that brought the most terrible devastation ever seen by mankind of their times. A glorious nation brought to her knees now stand high above others because they were not prepared to be trapped in the history of the past. Their pride as a nation made them rise up to move on, not seeking self pity but with fortitude and sacrifice. This nation has become what she is today because of the selfless contribution of the people in the land in rising up and as such they are able to stand tall and continue to move on. We cannot deny the past but we need to be careful in not being cowered in it.
The peace and tranquility of a seemingly contented world is being shattered with the loss of countless lives in the exclusiveness of religion, creed, color, etc. and it is seen from the north to the south, from the east to the west with the slogans of 'War on Terror' and 'clash of cultures' bring chill to the bones. The vandalism of nature brings its curse of destruction and death through the ferocity and viciousness of nature in unprecedented ways. The egocentricities of human hearts are being wit¬nessed by the rise of turbulence, conflict and violence and it is affecting all aspects of human life and the world is becoming a bleak and insecure habitat.
Today we live in a time of rapidly evolving changes in the geopolitical realities with uncertainties and unpredictability. Even at a time of advanced technological progress that no generations have ever witnessed, we are still insecure. The progress of technology has brought forth increase in wealth, yet millions all over are still affected by the disparity of the distribution of dividends of the Good Earth. Along with that, many still are combating sickness, poverty, violence, and the list goes on.
As we gather together to discourse on issues that affect us, it is encouraging to witness and give salute to all the delegates here who carry the burden of overcom¬ing the curse of violence and war in this generation in giving hope to those affected directly or indirectly and to the future generation. Your deep passion for the good of all humanity and well being of all God's children and creation have brought you here from different parts of the world to affirm positively to empower and uphold one another and work towards a policy for all the children of this earth to move forward triumphantly.
It had been said that by analyzing the parts recovered from the Titanic, scientist have come to the conclusion that it was the impure rivets made from wrought iron rather than steel caused the ship's hull to open like a zipper. The Titanic proves the foolishness of spending resources on fancy equipment and public promotion while neglecting the ordinary parts. Nations are like ship and many of their people are like rivets. Although rivets seem insignificant they are essential for holding the ship together and keeping it afloat. Members of global community need to be riv¬ets without any defect. Therefore we need to positively affirm the sanctity of life to defeat violence and in empowering the nations.
As I draw to a close, I am reminded of a man who went to see a doctor to seek help:
The doctor asked, 'What is your problem?'
The man replied, 'I am having difficulty in sleeping'
Doctor asked, 'Why can't you sleep?
The man answered,' It is because of the dogs in my neighborhood. They keep barking all night.
Doctor assured him, 'Ok. I have the latest and the most expensive tablets. You must take one every night and come back after one week.
After one week, the man staggered to the doctor's clinic and fell on his chair looking extremely tired.
Doctor asked, 'How are you now. Were you able to sleep well?
The man said, 'I am very, very tired. I was not able to sleep the whole week. Doctor asked, 'Did you not follow my instructions?
The man replied, 'Doctor, I kept awake every night trying to catch the dogs. Even if I catch one, the dog refuses to swallow the tablet.
Respected and distinguished members of this conference, it had been said that a conference room is a place where everybody talks, nobody listens and then goes back to continue to disagree. The issues of life cannot be detached from its reality. It is through the wisdom, sharing of experiences and the commitment to seek new ways of liberation from the curse of war that we can free humanity. There is much to be done. We cannot act alone and therefore in exercising respect to one another let us together deliberate on the theme of this conference. It is hard when we are put down to avoid responding in kind. It is difficult to resist even just a touch of vengeance. It is the insecurity that resort to this kind of behavior. Those with moral integrity and noble in character are able to reach out with confidence People need to rise up to this task.
A traveler, who came from Europe to India many years ago, was asked: What do you wish to see in India? His reply was: 'The Himalayas, the Taj Mahal and Mahatma Gandhi.' It was neither wealth nor power that made Gandhi so famous. He became famous for certain good quality that he possessed. He always practiced what he taught. He did not do evil to any body; and also, he did not even consider the evil doer as wicked. He wished him well; and wished all well; he wished well to everything, and at all times. He looked upon all with love, and worked all through life to put an end to hatred and to spread love. From ancient times such a man of love has been called a 'Mahatma 'in India. Mother Theresa said, 'I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper's wounds, I feel I am washing the Lord him¬self. Is it not a beautiful experience' - 1974. Again she went on 'we ourselves feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop' Therefore we cannot and should not hesitate to make the journey of faith because it can make the difference.
May the Spirit of God guide you all in your deliberation with wisdom and dis¬cernment at this conference. I wish to congratulate the National Council of Japan for the audacity in taking up this challenge in the course of her nation after the last war. I wish you all the best as you endeavor to make this world a peaceful place to live in for the global family.
May God's peace be with you. Thank you.
Rev. Kwon Oh-Sung
(General Secretary of NCC in Korea )
On behalf of Christians in Korea I'd like to extend warm greetings to religious leaders in Asia gathered here hoping peace on the Northeast Asia. And I also give thanks to NCCJ and persons who work for this important meeting.
Postwar Japan and its people after World War II have adopted the article 9 in their Constitution, reflecting on their past militarism and hoping not to happen the same tragedy in the future. It is a measure to prevent Japan from the possibility of any revival of militarism to attack other countries while ensuring of its own national security. In fact, the article has played an important role on maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula as well as in the Northeast Asia for last 6 decades.
However it is now actively debating on the issue of revising the article both in the government level and in a part of society. Facing with the right-winged asser¬tion to build a political order based on nationalism with setting force of '???????? (general nationalism?)', it has raised grave concerns among Asian neighbors who fear that the revision would let return to aggressive militarism and consequently re¬sulting damage to neighbor countries. In military aspect, Japan has already reached to high level in the world. The point is in that its military power might not be limited in its national defence. We understand that the article 9 prevents Japan from overexercising its power. It is also not merely a matter of Japanese internal political issue. Therefore we are here.
Both leaders of South Korea and North Korea have agreed on building peace regime on the Korean peninsula when they had the Summit meeting last October. There will a new page for peace in the North East Asia including Japan and China, if peace system will take over the North-South relation that is divided and antago¬nistic to each other. Establishing of Peace regime on the Korean peninsula will bring an important turning point moving forward permanent peace on this area. In this regard we believe that all kinds of attempt for the Japanese government to revise the article 9 must be promptly put a stop, otherwise it will be a threat of war and aggression to neighbor countries. For peace in the Northeast Asia it would be wiser to pursue common life and common prosperity in various ways like building 'collective self-defence system' among respective countries rather than amending the article.
At this critical point it is very important for Asia religious leaders seeking peace to gather and to oppose attempts to revise it. I believe that this meeting will be an pressure in various dimensions to the Japanese government which attempts to revise and be a chance for the Japanese to recall the importance of the article 9. Furthermore I expect that we here could discuss practical measurements to achieve true peace in the Northeast Asia including Japan, China, North Korea and South Korea.
The theme of NCCK for its 56th General Assembly is 'Peace, Life and Church'. I , as General Secretary of NCCK, promise that we NCCK will commit ourselves to achieve peace together with other religions in our country, while opposing revi¬sion of the article after having a result of this meeting. I hope that this meeting comes to bring a fruitful conclusion and to suggest concrete practical plan.
Mr. Steven Leeper
(Chairman of Board of Director/Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation)
Thank you for this opportunity to speak. I am very grateful to you also for gath¬ering here to defend Article 9. However, I am speaking now to ask that you, as you work for Article 9 and peace in general, give some time and attention to nuclear weapons. This is a critical problem that is particularly urgent right now, and yet most people do not have it in their consciousness at all.
There is a lot of speculation in the media and on the Internet that the US might attack Iran and, if it does, that it might use nuclear weapons. You may not believe this, but we know that the US has been developing so-called "useable" `nuclear weapons. We know that in June 2006 they planned a test called Divine Strake, which would have detonated 700 tons of chemical explosive at the Nevada test site. The Department of Defense admitted that this test was to observe the effect of a small nuclear weapon on a hard underground structure. We also know that Doug Bruder of the Department of Defense said in April 2006 that, "There are some very hard targets out there that right now we would not be able to defeat with conven¬tional weapons. They would probably require nuclear weapons."
In July 2006, the acclaimed journalist Seymour Hersh, writing for the New Yorker magazine, explained that the Bush administration was asking the Pentagon to make plans to use nuclear weapons in Iran, but the Pentagon was resisting. Then, in June 2007, in separate Republican and Democratic debates, all the candidates were asked directly, "Would you use a tactical nuclear weapon in Iran?" All the leading candi¬dates said they would. The mere fact that this question was asked and answered in the affirmative with zero public outrage shows that the American public has fallen to an extremely low level of consciousness regarding this issue.
The international community will decide in the next two years whether to eliminate nuclear weapons or let everyone have one. If we let everyone have one, it is only a matter of time until they are used. If they are used, Article 9 becomes moot. No one will be able to control the hatred and fear that will be released. On the other hand, if we manage to control and eliminate these weapons, we will have taken a giant step toward a world in which Article 9 will be applauded for its farsighted contribution to human survival.
Some people think we should first create a peaceful world, then nuclear weapons will fade away naturally. I disagree. Eliminating nuclear weapons is by far the easiest problem now confronting the human family. If we cannot agree to elimi¬nate these obviously illegal, inhumane and obscenely dangerous threats to our existence, how can we possibly address the far more complex problems of global warming, dying oceans, sharing of scarce resources, and redistribution of wealth? In building a peaceful world, we should start with the easiest step, and that is the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Article 9 is a vital issue, but it will prove meaningless if we fail to control nuclear weapons. Please, whatever else you do, make sure that your leaders know that you want them to do everything in their power to prevent the use of any nuclear weapon of any size in any location for any purpose whatsoever. A good way to start is to make sure your mayor is a member of Mayors for Peace, and I am pleased to inform you that Mayors for Peace is now open to Japanese members, so please make sure your Japanese mayor becomes a member.
Rev. Chisho Shinma
(Buddhist Nichirenshu Peace Association)
My name is Chisho Shinma, one of the organizers of this conference. Allow me to share with you something about myself. The Niima family is originally from the Shizuoka area, but I was born in Kobe, as was Ms. Doi, and grew up there. I have been a Buddhist priest for 53 years. The day after my fifth birthday, the Liutiaogou Incident, or the Manchurian Incident, began. And when I was 11, the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred, which began Japan's full-scale invasion into China. When I was 15, war against the United States and Britain began. So I grew up in wars.
As you can see, I am an old man, 81 years of age. Being a Buddhist priest is busy enough, but I have many other titles. I am a Representative Member of the Japan Conference of Religions for Peace and Chairperson of the Executive Board of the Asia Buddhism Conference for Peace Japan Center. In the Nichirenshu Buddhism sect, I serve as Chairperson of the Rissho Society for Peace and Chairperson of the Human Rights Promotion Committee, which meets monthly in Tokyo. In the area of human rights, I have been a member of Amnesty International since my youth. Its Kobe branch is based in my temple where members hold bazaars and other activities in support of its causes. In addition, I am represent various groups for peace, environmentalism, and human rights. Buddhist priests are often called on to get involved, and I am trying to respond to the best of my ability.
My temple is famous for its peace activities and has even made its own 'anti¬nuclear peace declaration'. As far as I know, this was only the second and last time for a temple to do so. When the temple was rebuilt 18 years ago, a carved a relief in the shape of a bomb gradually changing into a dove in the outer wall of the build¬ing. This design, representing the abandonment of war in favor of peace , was inspired by a German leaflet from a major peace rally that I attended in New York.
During the Pacific War, as Japan began to lose, young men were forced to join the military to prevent defeat. I was among those sent to the forefront, enlisting as a pilot trainee for the Japanese Navy when I was 17 and determined to die before my family and friends. But 21 months later the war ended, and I have survived to this day. In 1954, when a campaign against atomic and hydrogen bombs, began, I gradually began to join peace activities. In the 50 years since, though I do not speak English, I have attended peace conferences and various other meetings abroad, travelling overseas 27 times and visiting 17 countries. When there were four major peace marches in New York, I joined them all. I especially remember the 'Millions March' held in New York during the UN General Assembly's Second Special Session on Disarmament in 1982. Ten Buddhist priests from our Nichirenshu sect carried drums and marched with four hundred thousand others. I also joined the Hague Appeal for Peace, held at the close of the last century. The first clause of the Prin¬ciples advocated at this meeting called on every government to adopt a resolution prohibiting war, much like Japan's Article 9. I was deeply moved by this. Article 9 is now transcending its national boundaries. This is significant.
There are many people, even among the religious community, who say, "What if other countries come to attack us? Don't we need armaments?" I think the idea of protecting a country with armaments may have had some utility up through the 19th century. The justification became uncertain and more often wrong in the 20th century, and I declare that for the 21st century the idea is clearly wrong. Human society has changed. Wars that were fought with swards, spears and bows to kill tens and hundreds of people turned into wars with small arms and machine guns that killed tens of thousands. Soldiers are no longer the only casualties - tens of thousands of civilians also get killed. And now a single nuclear weapon can kill hundreds of thousands of people. In these circumstances, war is suicide for humankind. It should never be carried out. I sincerely hope that mankind is smart enough to know better.
Bishop Shoji Tani
Vice Chair, Okinawa Christian Conference; Committee Chair, Nihon Seikokai Peace and Justice Committee)
I am grateful that the Okinawa Christian Conference is included among the sup¬porting organizations of this Article 9 Interfaith Conference, at which participants from over 13 countries are seeking to preserve Article 9 of Japan's Constitution and promote its intent.
Each of the programs offered over the last three days has been rich in content and well thought out, and has taught me much about Article 9. Though we are gathered to consider Article 9, one can also say that it is Article 9 that has allowed us to transcend the bounds of Christian denominations and religious differences to experience a new unity. I sense the workings of a power far greater than our own here. I extend my sincere thanks to those who helped organize this event and to those who have taken care of all the arrangements.
Perhaps some of you were shocked my Rev. Taira Natsume's proposal at the first panel discussion. I will continue to follow with interest and pray for the non¬violent struggle to obstruct the construction of the base in Henoko.
Another important item I would like to convey to you is that, hidden in the shadow of Article 9, Okinawa suffers from separate status from the mainland in being occupied by mighty U.S. military bases. To know the suffering and sadness of others, nay, to share in their suffering and sadness is most important to us people of faith, though in reality, this is very hard to do.
On Sept. 29 of this year, 116,000 people gathered at a park in Ginowan City in Okinawa. At the same time, 6,000 people gathered in Ishigaki City some 500 km away, as seen in this photo. This was the first time so many people had gathered for any event in Okinawa. I believe these crowds came together because they were encouraged and inspired by the non-violent struggle in Henoko.
These 116,000 people were gathered to express their anger at the rewriting of high school social studies text books, as ordered by the Ministry of Education, to omit the fact that the mass suicides at the Battle of Okinawa were ordered by the Japanese military. These mass suicides took place in March 1945 as U.S. and Allied forces pressed towards Daikyo . Many residents in various parts of Okinawa took their own lives in this great tragedy.
When residents learned that U.S. forces were invading, they fled into caves and moats. And as the U.S. forces drew closer, they took the lives of their own relatives because they were told never to surrender. If captured, they were told the men would be slaughtered, the women raped, and even the children and elderly would not be spared. This is what they were told by the Japanese Military under the authority of the Emperor. Those who believed the official line were overcome by fear and chose death over capture. Surrender, after all, was viewed as betrayal.
Citizens were each given two hand grenades. One was for the enemy, the other for one's self. Those who could not escape detonated the hand grenades, and when that did not end their lives, parents aided kids. kids aided parents, and siblings assisted one another in ending their lives. In the face of this tragic reality, the Ministry of Education claims that the Japanese military never gave such orders, and that suicide was chosen of the citizens' own will, in order to die a beautiful death for their homeland. It is against this distortion of truth, contradicted by the testimony of many survivors, that the citizens of Okinawa raised their voices in anger. And underlying this anger is the legacy of emotional pain from the Battle of Okinawa and the post-war separation from the mainland. Mainland Japanese fail to understand this pain. They cannot truly share our sentiments as their own.
Last month I attended a World Christian Council peace forum on the Unification and Reconciliation of the Korean Peninsula. I also visited Kongousan in North Korea, where a resort is being developed by the South Korean conglomerate Hyundai. It allowed me a glimpse, though limited, of the lives of North Koreans. There is such a chasm in the standard of living between North and South that it left great sorrow in my heart. What troubled me most was the realization that the separation of the two Koreas was due in large part to Japan's colonial occupation. During the Korean War there were many mass killings, and I was even told that these were carried out in the style of the Japanese military. I learned of the pain still felt by residents of a country torn in two, and that pain now lingers in my own heart.
In May of 2007, the Okinawa Christian Council hosted a performance of the play December From Hell, which deals with the Nanking Massacre. This year marks the 70th anniversary since December 13th, 1937, when Japanese forces captured Nanking. The performance is a theatrical reading by the husband and wife team of Yoshiharu Watanabe and Ryoko Yokoi . and is a confessional drama about two people who were deeply involved in the atrocities committed by the Japanese forces. It filled me with great remorse and regret for the hundreds of thousands of Chi¬nese people who were made victims of the ferocious savagery of the Japanese mili¬tary. And I am also very sorry that I was ignorant of these events and did not know the pain felt by the Chinese people until now.
Two commanders who directed the Battle of Okinawa - Lieutenant Generals Michiru Ushijima and Isamu Chou - were also involved in the Nanking Massacre as commanders. They projected their own misdeeds in Korea and China on the invading U.S. forces, telling the people of Okinawa how the invaders would do what the two were perhaps so familiar with, being perpetrators themselves , and terrorized their own people into mass suicide.
Much pain lingers in the shadow of Article 9 - the pain we feel from the Battle of Okinawa and our separate status from people of the mainland; the pain inflicted by Japan's colonial rule on the people of various Asian nations; the pain from the lingering division of the Korean Peninsula. It is not only my desire, but I feel it is our duty, to share in this pain as if it is our own, and let it motivate us to protect Article 9.
Dr. Lin Ming-Chu
On behalf of the EAR of CWM, I'd like to express how fortunate we are to be able to participate in this conference. This is the first time that the EAR will fuse with a church outside of CWM, and pursue God's work together. Although Japan is con¬sidered in the Northeast Region of Asia, we are open to welcoming NCCJ since we are all part of the Asian region. With the same vision for God's mission, mere boundaries cannot separate the enthusiasm that we share. We're very excited to be moving forward in God's work by building a partnership with more churches other than the CWM family.
Our priority will focus on the concerns and lifestyles of the people that we represent; in particular, we will work closely with the safety and welfare of the people, and how we can better experience God's love in our everyday lives. We are always striving to be empowered each other with our ministry, to positively influ¬ence one another to spread God's word.
This conference about Article Nine is the opportunity that we have been wait¬ing for. It is a chance for us to come together as God's children and learn from each other, to partake in experiences that we would otherwise be unaware of. Here, we will be able to discuss and resolve issues about the world around us in the light of God's love and justice; through peace, we will be able to open the eyes of the people around us, and encourage them with God's justice and peace.
We hope to connect with more churches in Northeast Asia, to reach others about God's mission through the integration of different cultural experiences. With all of these efforts, it is our hope that the partnership between CWM and NCCJ, and others as well to be strengtened in God's Kingdom.
May we all share the security and peace in our homeland through our action together as a result of participation in this conference. On behalf of CWMEAR, my deep appreciation to the contribution of NCCJ and their partners for making this great event for us.