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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

UPF-Japan Commemorates Interfaith Harmony Week

Japan-2022-01-20-Think Tank 2022 Forum Japan, January 20: IAPD Session

Tokyo, Japan—UPF-Japan’s Think Tank 2022 Forum held the 119th Interreligious Forum as its Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) session, which took place in-person in Shinjuku, Tokyo and online on January 20, 2022. Seventy people, including scholars and Ambassadors for Peace representing the Shinto, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian faiths, attended the event, whose theme was “Prayer for the Bonds of Japan-Korea Friendship and Peaceful Unification of Korean Peninsula” and was also convened as a commemoration of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2022.

The program opened with prayers for peace, with four representatives of the Shinto, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian offering a prayer. Afterwards, video messages from four religious leaders who have been actively involved in the IAPD were shown. One of the leaders, Rev. Jokai Ishigaki, who is chief priest of the Jodo-shu sect of the Jodo-ji Buddhist Temple, introduced a memorial in the temple grounds that is dedicated to victims of the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake who were from the Korean Peninsula. In addition, he reported that some cyclists who participated in Japan’s Peace Road project in 2021 had visited his temple and offered flowers and prayers for world peace and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. 

Following the messages, Mr. Masayoshi Kajikuri, chairman of UPF-Japan, gave remarks. He began by speaking about the origin of the word religion. He explained that the English word religion came from the Latin word religio which means to connect again, and said that religion has a role to reconnect God and human beings. He continued, saying that religion in Chinese characters 宗教 (shukyou) means to teach the origin. He emphasized that the mission of religious leaders is to teach that the origin of man is in God.

Speaking on the theme of the event, Mr. Kajikuri said, “Leaders from different fields, including politicians, academicians and business leaders, have the special task to help realize the unification of the Korean Peninsula. When we consider the division between South and North Korea, we should not approach this issue from a human standpoint, but need to seek what is God's will.”  In conclusion, he said that religious leaders should assume the most important role in the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula by seeking God's will.

Next, Mr. Shinobu Ishimaru, coordinator of IAPD-Japan, reported on the chapter’s activities in 2021. He reviewed seven major events that took place during the year, including the Interreligious Forum that was held on the theme “Friendship between Japan and Korea and Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula” and an IAPD session of an International Leadership Conference (ILC).

Mr. Ishimaru also spoke about the monthly webinars of the World Clergy Leadership Conference (WCLC), an affiliated network of Christian ministers, which can deepen exchanges between ministers beyond their national borders. In concluding his report, he said, "We reaffirm that religious leaders have a significant role and mission to build world peace. So, this network should be more vitalized to develop…into the future."

The program continued with the participants learning about UPF's peace vision through  a reading of "North-South Unification and World Unification Will Be Accomplished By True Love," a speech UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon gave during a speaking tour in Japan in February 2000.

At the end of the event, Dr. Yoshio Kawakami, president of IAPD-Japan, gave an overview of the IAPD and spoke about some of the activities it has carried out in support of the peaceful unification of Korean Peninsula. He said, “It is not so easy to solve the divided North-South Korea issue, but we will never give up on achieving unification.” He expressed his determination to see religious Ambassadors for Peace cooperate with each other and ascertain how they can contribute to Korean reunification.

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